Larkspur, Colo., Battles Yogi Bear Expansion Plan

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December 17, 2009 by   - () Leave a Comment


Golf carts line the entryway to Yogi Bear Jellystone Park in Castle Rock, Colo.

Golf carts line the entryway to Yogi Bear Jellystone Park in Castle Rock, Colo.

Larkspur, Colo.'s town board tonight (Dec. 17) could settle a two-year rift among residents over plans to expand the Jellystone Park Camp-Resort to include a 90-room lodge, restaurants, stores, an RV center and as many as 400 campsites.

Ian Steyn — owner of the campground along Interstate 25, 3 miles north of Larkspur — wants the town to annex his 105 acres and rezone it to allow him to develop it into a large-scale commercial resort, according to the Denver Post.

The new National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) headquarters is on property purchased from Steyn, whose Yogi Bear park is nearby.

The campground, noted for white teepees visible from the highway at the Tomah Road exit south of Castle Rock, currently caters to campers and RV users.

Steyn's neighbors are nearly unanimous in their opposition to his plans, saying the campsites and fire pits will present a serious threat to the safety of their heavily wooded homesites. They also say the noise and light pollution would distress them, as would the potential crime that could come with the transient RV and camping crowds.

Neighbor Dan Krueger, 72, retired to a 1-acre site west of the campground 10 years ago.

"We shouldn't just open everything up to commercial development," he said. "There ought to be some areas we keep open and clean. We worry about fires from the campsites. My one acre has 125 trees on it."

Some neighbors also say they have been left out of the process because they live in unincorporated Douglas County, not the town of Larkspur.

The Larkspur planning commission voted 4-1 against the proposal in August, stating the project was too large for the town to manage, that it wasn't in the town's best interests and that it would bring limited economic benefits. The commission also worried that the project would create traffic problems, particularly at a crossing over the railroad tracks parallel to I-25.

The town council votes tonight on the plan, which was first submitted more than two years ago.

"If I knew then what I know now, I doubt I ever would have proposed this," said Steyn, who laughed as he recalled that he once thought his plan could be approved by May 2008. "There's been a tremendous amount of friction about this, but I believe most of it comes from misinformation."

Sue Smith, who lives southwest of the project, worries about the proposed gas stations, restaurants, and RV sales and service center.

"This will kill the little town of Larkspur," she said. "Plus, we all live among giant ponderosa-pine trees. One careless camper, and we're all gone."

Town Manager Matt Krimmer estimated that if the project is fully developed in three to five years, tax revenues could reach about $250,000 a year.

Larkspur, with 200 residents, has an annual budget of about $1 million, he said, two-thirds of which comes from the summer Renaissance Festival.

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