Sunday, September 30, 2007

REFINANCE: If you're struggling with a mortgage that has become hard to pay, due perhaps to an adjustable rate that adjusted itself upward more that you expected, you may want to refinance into a different, more stable loan. After all, interest rates are still on the low side, historically speaking. You may want to consider refinancing just because current rates are lower than what you're paying.

Refinancing involves taking out a new mortgage on your home; usually at a lower interest rate, decreasing the amount of your monthly payment. If you can get a new loan at a rate 1 or 1/2 of a percentage point lower than your current mortgage you can reap sizable interest savings over 15 to 30 years.

Friday, September 28, 2007

SOLAR: For the seventh consecutive year, energy efficient homes in La Plata County will be open to the public through a self-guided tour. Each year the La Plata County Solar Tour offers innovative homes that feature passive solar design, active solar hot water and photovoltaic arrays for independent and grid tied systems. Homes selected for the tour also offer a variety of energy efficient building, lighting and appliance choices.

This local educational opportunity is sponsored by the National Solar Tour, an annual event held in communities across the county on the first Saturday of October., National Energy Awareness month and throughout the autumn months. Home and building owners demonstrate solar and other installed renewable energy and energy efficient features. Tour guests learn how they can reduce energy demand through energy efficiency and how to supply energy from clean renewable energy sources.

For more information on national solar tours and activities please visit the American Energy Solar Energy Society at

Sunday, September 23, 2007

THE IRON HORSE INN: Owners of the Iron Horse Inn have received preliminary approval to demolish the 157 unit motel and build 203 condominiums and townhomes in a new development to be called North Animas Village. Long considered by locals to be the northern boundary of Durango it will be sad to see it go. The Iron Horse was the first place we stayed when Mary and I were considering a move to Durango 17 years ago.

The plans for North Animas Village include a unique approach to the affordable housing crisis in Durango. The developer has introduced the idea of a Transfer Fee Covenants as part of the preliminary application that was approved by the Citry Council.

The covenant would require developers , and later homeowners reselling the properties, to give 1 percent of the sale price of a home to the La PLata County Regional Housing Authority to go toward the agency's land-trust and down payment assistance programs. It will be interesting to follow this innovative concept as it develops.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

WATER: The public packed a hearing Tuesday on a plan that would pipe drinkable water to a 400 square mill area where many residents rely on wells or trucked-in water.

The proposal which voters would have to approve, is to create the La Plata Archuleta Water District. Residents of the district would pay a special tax to fund the construction of water treatment facilities and pipelines that would supply dependable water to rural southeast La Plata County. The project, at an estimated cost of $85 million, also would cover a corner of southwest Archuleta County.

Inclusion in the district would be voluntary. So far almost 670 residents have asked to be excluded.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

CONDOS: The Durango City Council voted 4 - 1 Tuesday to approve the preliminary plan for North Animas Village, which would replace the existing Iron Horse Inn with 203 residential condominiums.

The council approved the preliminary plan with the condition that developers I.H. Management negotiate with the city and the Regional Housing Authority to provide money for affordable housing by charging developers and future sellers a percentage of each unit's sale price. The developer's attorney estimated that the transfer fees would raise $300,000 in the initial construction phase and as much as $1 million in the future from the resale of units. Of course, the actual amount of revenue raised would depend on market conditions.

Monday, September 17, 2007

HILLSIDE/RIDGELINE: Durango city planners are working out the kinks in an interim ordinance aimed at protecting the city's hillsides from future development.

A hillside and ridgeline ordinance was one of the first goals of a new Council that changed dramatically in April's election. The council expressed concern about the growing number of residential and commercial projects being built on higher ground throughout the city which critics say negatively affect Durango's scenic beauty.

The interim hillside ordinance prohibits new construction on slopes of 30 percent or greater and addresses sightlines for structures built at the top of a slope. For existing lots on slopes between 20 and 30 percent that are not yet developed, the ordinance does not prohibit development, but it does require a separate review by city planning staff before construction can begin.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

1995: $145,000
1996: $160,000
1997: $150,000
1998: $163,500
1999: $170,438
2000: $199,250
2001: $230,000
2002: $252,000
2003: $275,503
2004: $300,000
2005: $357,700
2006: $422,982

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

DURANGO: We just returned from a brief holiday to Orange County, CA (Newport Beach to be exact.) Newport Beach is a beautiful area but the exact opposite of Durango. Money and wealth were on display.

For example, automobile dealerships noted were Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, Ferrari and Bentley; no Ford or General Motors. The vehicle of choice, hands down, is Mercedes or BMW. Every vehicle was sparkling clean. We now refer to Newport Beach as "the land of the spotless automobile."

The median price of housing in Orange County is $653,000; twice that of La Plata County.

People were everywhere; thousands and thousands of people. They were not unfriendly but certainly were not as open and down to earth friendly as Durango. Perhaps that is a result of living shoulder to shoulder and being crowded together.

A tour of the Balboa Island harbour was an eye-opener. Huge yachts and sailboats lined the docks. More than just a few were obviously in the million dollar plus category.

We returned even more appreciative of our Durango lifestyle. Pickups with dogs in the back, friendly people in blue jeans, and most of all the beautiful green and majestic mountains.