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Publish Date: 5/5/2005

Del Camino is considered a mixed-use development area by Weld County officials. Those Weld officials say they are worried that the massive number of new houses slated to be built in the southwest portion of the county will turn out like Del Camino. Times-Call/Lewis Geyer

Incorporate mentality
Local leaders want to avoid Del Camino-style growth

DEL CAMINO — Josh Bailey lives in Del Camino. And where is that?

“I don’t even know where the Del Camino area officially is,” Bailey said Wednesday from the door of his home.

Bailey moved to the Idaho Creek subdivision west of the Interstate 25 and south of Colo. Highway 119 from the Denver Metro area a few months ago. He said he likes the family oriented neighborhood because people are nice.

So far, he has no complaints about Del Camino, even if he isn’t sure where it is.

Others who know the exact location of this tiny unincorporated town are not so generous in their assessment of its character.

Some southwest Weld County leaders say Del Camino is a poorly planned sprawl.

In addition to Idaho Creek and a bank, Del Camino is home to a drive-through truck wash, a liquor store, a nightclub, a bar/restaurant, fast-food restaurants, the southwest Weld County Complex, a trailer park, a few gas stations and several hotels, some offering pay-by-the-week rooms and others offering trucker showers.

Those Weld officials also say they are terrified that the massive number of new houses slated to be built in the southwest county will be Del Camino multiplied.

“I think when you have people planning that don’t live in the area, you’re going to have Del Caminos popping up all over the place,” said Firestone Mayor Mike Simone. “Municipalities do it better. Building a community is a process; you learn from your mistakes.”

Mead Mayor Richard Kraemer agrees that urban development should happen within existing cities and towns, which would be responsible for building roads and planning subdivisions like Idaho Creek.

Del Camino, which is in unincorporated Weld County, sprang up without any planning, Weld County Commissioner Mike Geile said, noting he doesn’t have any real problems with it.

“It certainly does have businesses that cater to the highway system,” he said. “It has come to its design by itself. It’s evolved into a business center that serves the area well. It really does work together, if you look at it.

“That whole area is a work in progress,” he added.

Weld County leaders estimate that approximately 240,000 people will live in unincorporated southwest Weld County in the next 20 years.

And those officials, who will decide what gets built in a 75-square-mile swath of unincorporated land surrounding Mead, parts of Firestone and Frederick and the northern part of Erie’s planning area, say they don’t intend to let another Del Camino happen.

The Weld County Commissioners earlier this year announced they intend to hire consultants to study how the county might provide parks, shops, churches and other amenities in the southwest portion of the county.

On Monday, however, they turned down the sole consulting bid for the 75-square-mile mixed-use development area because it didn’t meet their expectations.

The commissioners will have to restart the bidding process to find a firm to study how to serve the so-called MUD. County planners originally expected the study to be completed this year.

Now, it will probably be 2006 before it is finished.

In the meantime, Weld County commissioners will likely consider plans for 17,000 new homes, leaving it up to developers to figure out how to design and pay for roads, parks and landscaping.

And that has officials in neighboring towns worried that, without a specific plan, all of southwest Weld County could look like Del Camino.

“There’s just all kinds of fears about what’s going on. We’re all kind of nervous about the number of people who are coming into the area,” Longmont Julia Pirnack said at a recent meeting with her Weld County counterparts. “I just want to make sure people have a good place to live and that we don’t turn it into a nightmare.”

Former New Jersey residents Tom and Nancy Bartolillo say they don’t know much about Del Camino or the growth on the horizon.

They are simply glad that the Idaho Creek neighborhood is quiet and that there’s a King Soopers not too far away.

“It’s affordable. That’s why we’re here,” Nancy Bartolillo said, comparing the area to Louisville, where the family lived for a while. “(Louisville is) so congested; I wouldn’t want it to be like that.”

Jenn Ooton can be reached at 303-684-5295, or by e-mail at jooton@times-call.com.

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