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Boulder County commissioners approve Wheeler Ranch purchase, #Boulder #CRE

Posted on: Jun 14 16

by: admin

By John Fryar
Staff Writer

POSTED: 06/14/2016 04:32:37 PM MDT | UPDATED: 31 MIN. AGO
Boulder County commissioners on Tuesday approved the county’s $8 million acquisition of Wheeler Ranch, a 230-acre cattle ranch southwest of Colo. 52 and East County Line Road.

The purchase will add the ranch north of Erie to the county’s open space holdings, continue its agricultural uses and preserve it from possible urban development.

“This property’s been on our high-value list” for possible county acquisition “for a long, long time,” said Commissioner Deb Gardner.

Gardner thanked members of the Wheeler family — who weren’t at Tuesday’s meeting — for agreeing to sell it to the county, and to “the public, for giving us the funds” in the form of voter-approved sales tax collections, in order to cover the $8 million purchase price.

Commissioner Elise Jones joined Gardner in voting to proceed with the acquisition. Commissioner Cindy Domenico did not attend Tuesday’s meeting.

No members of the public showed up to speak at the commissioners’ hearing on the Wheeler Ranch purchase. Formal closing on the commercial real-estate transaction is expected to occur late this year or in early 2017, according to Mel Stonebraker, a land officer in the county’s Parks and Open Space Department.

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Stonebraker said the purchase will include four residences now on the property as well as various outbuildings, water ditch shares and mineral rights. The county plans to sell two of those houses — and the 1.5-acre lots on which they sit — when the current residents’ leases expire.

Under the pending agreement with the current owners of the ranch, Boulder County will lease the agricultural land and the other two homes back to Dee Jay Smith — one of Jack and Donna Wheeler’s daughters — and Smith’s two sons for a period of five years, giving them the right to renew that lease for at least another five years after that.

When that agreement and lease with Smith and her sons expires, the county intends to sell the a 7-acre lot that includes the third residence — along with an associated agricultural dwelling unit — to a future private owner.

The Wheeler Ranch includes the confluence of Boulder Creek and Coal Creek, and Stonebraker said those stream corridors are a habitat for a variety of wildlife. The property has about 55 acres of wetland and 55 acres of riparian features that provide a potential restoration area for the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse.

John Fryar: 303-684-5211, jfryar@times-call.com or twitter.com/jfryartc

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