4,000 home development receives Council’s approval

Samantha Ye

City Council approved the master plan for the proposed 1,000-acre Montava development in northeast Fort Collins on Tuesday night. 

Montava is proposed to accommodate over 4,000 housing units and up to 750,000 square feet of non-residential uses, including a 40-acre working farm, an 80-acre community park and 160 acres of naturalized area, along with schools, trails, and civic use spaces, according to the most recent City documents.

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It would be accessed primarily from Timberline Road and is located about four miles from Colorado State University. 

The size and scope of the Montava development are relatively new to Fort Collins, which usually approves developments in the hundreds-of-homes size. 

This difference can be attributed to Montava’s design as a “New Urbanist” community. 

New Urbanism is based on the idea of human-centered planning with walkable communities, services integrated into neighborhoods and different housing types. It acts as an alternative to suburban sprawl, according to the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy think tank. 

Where the City might otherwise develop this large plot of land in a “piecemeal fashion,” the master plan allows for the sort of large-scale coordination necessary to accommodate Montava’s proposal. 

The 1,000 acres planned for Montava are located next to the Budweiser Brewery Experience, roughly between Richards Lake Road and Mountain Vista Drive. It is currently very empty.

Known as a Planned Unit Development, the Montava master plan is multi-phased, to be built out over 25 years. Now that Council has approved the PUD, the developer HF2M can start detailing their plans and eventually submit individual Project Development Plans for each phase of the Montava development. 

The City must approve each PDP as they are submitted. When that happens, Council can call the project back for review during an appeal period.

“It helps when I picture the PUD overlay as a paint-by-numbers canvas,” said Councilmember Susan Gutowsky. “We took a blank 1,000 acres and overlaid it with a detailed guide telling us where to paint.”

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Over a dozen residents spoke about their concerns with Montava, particularly the traffic such a large development would bring. The northeastern roads as they are now already show congestion problems, several residents said.

The subject had dominated the first Council hearing on Montava on Jan. 14, according to the Coloradoan.

City staff addressed those concerns at the second reading Tuesday night, saying they have identified road infrastructure improvements that will be built out in conjunction with the Montava build-out. 

Each phase review will include traffic impact studies, particularly impacts on Country Club Road and the Lemay intersection.

Councilmember Ross Cunniff was the only person to vote against the plan. Other councilmembers expressed satisfaction with the report and said they hoped citizens continue to stay engaged with the process through each PDP.

“I think that this is a good vision for the community, and somebody took a … plan and made it come to life,” Councilmember Emily Gorgol said. “I look forward to seeing how it develops and dealing with some of these issues.”

Samantha Ye can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @samxye4.