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Alps Boulder Canyon Inn eyed as facility offering mental health care to underserved youth

Daily Camera - 9/7/2022

Sep. 7—The historic Alps Boulder Canyon Inn could soon be converted into a group home for young people with mild to moderate mental health symptoms.

The property, nestled into Boulder Canyon, is located two miles west of Boulder. Sandstone Care, an outpatient rehabilitation services facility with several other locations including one in Broomfield, is hoping to modify a previous special use approval that allows the property to operate as a bed and breakfast.

"They have requested to convert the property from a bed and breakfast to a group care facility for at-risk teens and children," Boulder County Planner Pete L'Orange said. "They have requested it be reviewed as a minor modification to the previous approval that established the bed and breakfast."

The current special use approval supports the existing bed and breakfast use on the nearly 12.5-acre site. It allows for up to 24 guests as well as an owner- or employee-occupied residence.

According to earlier Camera reporting, the inn was built in 1870 to serve travelers heading to Colorado's mining districts. Its location at 38619 Boulder Canyon Drive is near the Boulder Creek by Wedgewood Weddings venue and the Chapman Drive Trailhead.

Sandstone has proposed using the Alps Inn and its grounds as it currently exists with no modifications aside from minor cosmetic upgrades and completion of unfinished interior areas.

The number of clients would not exceed the existing guest capacity at the Alps Inn with Sandstone maintaining the existing 12 bedrooms with two single beds in each room.

In its application, Sandstone suggests its proposed use would lessen impact to the community, traffic and the environment. As an example, it notes that linens need to be replaced daily in a lodging facility such as what exists today, but in a group care facility, linens may be replaced weekly.

The facility would fill a gap in the community and reach an underserved population, given that the lack of symptom severity makes those who would be using the group home ineligible for acute psychiatric treatment at hospitals and other spaces offering higher level treatment.

"Unfortunately, this specific problem is not one that Boulder County has escaped unscathed," the legal team representing Sandstone wrote in the special use review application.

In its application, the team goes on to cite Boulder County data that indicates 27% of Boulder County high school students have reported feeling sad or hopeless in the last two weeks.

Six percent reported having attempted suicide; 16% had purposely hurt themselves without wanting to die; and 12% had a plan for how they might die by suicide.

Given the prevalence of this, the conversion of the property is an important step in addressing the growing gap in mental health services needed by adolescents, the application states.

Moving forward, L'Orange noted that Boulder County planning staff has three options. It can determine the request is, indeed, a minor modification, permitting the remaining work to be handled internally by staff.

It also could decide it's instead a substantial modification, which would require review by the Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioners.

Additionally, staff could fail to make a determination, which would send the request to the Board of County Commissioners to decide. The County Commission's determination would send the application through the same process depending on whether it's a minor or substantial modification.

To look through the application, visit Comments on the project can be submitted throughout the planning process by emailing and referencing Docket No. SU-22-0008.


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