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 September 1, 1999

Homes may replace shooting park

Mile Hi Shooting Park in unincorporated Weld County is being sold to a company that wants to develop the 80-acre park as part of 922 acres planned for new homes, a golf course and office and retail uses.

The developers, three partners operating as Littleton-based Vista Ridge LLC, would like to start the golf course next spring and phase construction of the houses — slated to be less than $200,000 to $1 million — over five to 10 years. A shopping center anchored by a grocery store would go up in the initial phases of development.

The entire deal, however, hinges on annexation into the city of Erie.

“We fought it for over a year. But if they develop this property, we’d be gone anyway, so we just became part of it,´ said Ray Stafford, who purchased Mile Hi Shooting Park with partner Randy Pennington in 1980. The park was built by Winchester Western in the early ’60s. Stafford said property surrounding the shooting park already was under contract, so he knew it was only a matter of time before his business would be shut down.

The shooting park was purchased about 1970 from Winchester Western by the Denver Metropolitan Trap Club, which, according to Stafford, was “forced out of Sloans Lake because of too many houses and the safety deal again.”

The proposed annexation, called Vista Ridge, is north of Colo. 7, bound by Weld County Road 3 to the west, with its eastern boundary about « mile east of Weld County Road 5, according to Hallie Sawyer, community development secretary for the town of Erie.

The developers are Greg Kent, Barry Talley and Andy Chaikovsky — who are partners in Denver-based General Land Development Corp. They have been working to assemble the property for a couple years. Louisville-based Richardson & Associates Realty is working on the Mile High deal, Stafford said. No sales price was disclosed.

Talley described his project as mixed-use with about 800 acres to be developed for up to 2,400 homes. He predicted it would be a “really upscale golf-oriented community.” The office and retail uses would total 85 acres.

Talley would not give a ballpark figure of the worth of the property.

“We’re hopeful that it does get annexed, and that it’s well received by the community,” he said.

Vista Ridge has applied for annexation but is in the process of submitting materials to the community development department.

“The whole deal revolves around everything being OK’d by the city,” Mile High’s Stafford said. “They haven’t even got us annexed into the city yet. If something blows up between the developer and the city, nothing would happen.”

Said Talley: “I can’t stress enough the upscale landscaping and community facilities. There’s a school site. It’s going to be a great place to live.”

John Lee, executive vice president of Boulder-based Community Development Group, which has proposed the 2,700-acre Northfield annexation, said he was familiar with the Vista Ridge proposal and had seen the plan. Erie is amending its comprehensive plan for the town, he said, “so any future annexations (that matches) the master plan, the city probably has some kind of responsibility to deal with it in a fair manner.”

If Mile Hi closes, hundreds of weekend trap, skeet and other shooters would lose a popular place to practice. The shooting range also runs trap leagues on weeknights.

The next-closest shooting range would as far as Watkins or Fort Collins. A private, membership-driven club east of Erie in unincorporated Weld called Green Mill Sportsman’s Club does offer trap shooting, but 60 people are on the waiting list for memberships. Boulder also has a small, private gun club with a waiting list of years to become a member.

Gun shop owners said the impact of a closure of Mile Hi was unclear.

“You don’t know until it happens,´ said Daryl Billings, owner of Brighton-based Bait N Bullet Shop.

Mile Hi Shooting Park in unincorporated Weld County is being sold to a company that wants to develop the 80-acre park as part of 922 acres planned for new homes, a golf course and office and retail uses.

The developers, three partners operating as Littleton-based Vista Ridge LLC, would like to start the golf course next spring and phase construction of the houses — slated to be less than $200,000 to $1 million — over five to 10 years. A shopping center anchored by a grocery store would go up in the initial phases of development.

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