Pitkin County commissioners are evaluating whether they will keep the chicken coop

What happens when the Pitkin County Commissioners walk into the chicken coop? Potentially, this will result in a more informed decision on a proposal to historically designate an Intermediate Valley Farm.

Commissioners were unable to agree on May 11 on a proposal to award historic designation to three buildings on a century-old farmhouse in Emma. Some felt it was worth trading incentives to coax the preservation of the old buildings, while others thought the proposal was too high a price to pay.

The commissioners will therefore leave the conference room and go to the farmyard on June 6 to reassess their positions.

The farm in question was established by Joseph and Sidonie Dossigny in 1907. Their original house burned down and the current residence was built in 1925. A chicken coop and barn were built around the same time as the house, all using plank and batten coverings. .

“The Dossigny family was one of many Italian immigrant families who left their country during difficult economic times and settled in the valley, particularly in the Emma/Basalt/Woody Creek area to farm and ranch “, according to a request submitted to the county.

Sarah Adams, a land use and history planner, said the property helps paint a picture of what immigrant farms and ranches were like in the Emma area. The house, barn and chicken coop are easy to see from Emma Road. Happy Day Ranch, with its classic brick Victorian house, and the old Cerise Ranch, known as Emma Farms, are just down the road. Italian immigrants also settled in these two properties.

The Dossigny family sold the farm in 1950. It changed hands a few times until it was purchased by the Zordell and Fite family, who owned it for decades.

The farm creates a nice break between the higher density subdivision of Horseshoe Drive and Orchard Estates.

Alex Sarratt and Lyn Segal bought the property in 2021. They have the right to demolish the house, no questions asked. Pitkin County has no historic preservation requirements in its voluminous land use code. Instead, development incentives are usually offered when a property is considered historically significant. Suzannah Reid, the county’s historic preservation officer, said Dossigny’s farmhouse is a good example of how Italian immigrants to the Roaring Fork Valley put down roots in the late 1800s and early 1900s. .

Sarratt told county commissioners last week that he knew nothing about conservation and historic preservation when he bought the farm. He and his partner are excited to live there, repair some buildings and preserve the history.

“I think I feel very lucky to have this property,” Sarratt said.

The owners propose to avoid the demolition or alteration of the three historic structures, which have changed very little in almost 100 years. In return, they are asking for additional square footage for a possible new residence on the site and the designation of two transferable development rights, which they could sell. The TDR market has exploded in recent years at prices well over $1 million. It allows buyers to add up to 2,500 square feet of development in areas of the county the government considers “reception sites.”

Larry Fite, who grew up on the farm, spoke out in favor of the preservation plan.

“It preserves the family farm as it was and has always been, long before we got there,” Fite said.

The proposal is in line with other historic preservation proposals at Emma. Owners of Emma Farms received three TDRs in exchange for the historic preservation of three structures in 2010. Also that year, the owner of Happy Day Ranch received one TDR in exchange for preserving the historic home.

But some departmental commissioners hesitated at last week’s meeting to grant two TDRs for the preservation of the Dossigny farm.

Commissioner Francie Jacober said she did not consider the farm to be “special” and did not support the granting of TDRs in exchange for its preservation.

“It’s not ‘Happy Day(s)’,” Jacober said.

Commissioner Kelly McNicholas Kury also said she was “fighting” to award a TDR in exchange for the preservation of a barn and chicken coop.

Commissioner Greg Poschman said he was unsure if he could support allowing TDRs, which could result in 2,500 square feet of additional construction at an unknown location.

Commissioner Patti Clapper countered that the creation of a TDR and the ability for owners to sell it provides the funds needed to preserve and maintain the historic farmhouse and other buildings. She said the farm was representative of an important period in Pitkin County history.

Commissioner Steve Child, whose family has ranched for decades in the Roaring Fork Valley, said he would like to visit the site to better understand the site’s proposal and historic value.

After visiting the site on June 6, commissioners plan to vote on the proposal at their June 22 meeting.

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