Douglas County is hosting a public workshop on October 4 for review of the county’s water regulations


From the Highlands Ranch Herald (Rhonda Moore):

County planners on Oct. 4 will host a public workshop to review proposed revisions to Section 18A of the Douglas County zoning resolution. Section 18A is the resolution that addresses the commissioners’ discretion to determine when an applicant shall satisfy the adequacy of the water supply for a proposed development. It is also the section of the county’s zoning regulations at the heart of the Sterling Ranch lawsuit.

In May 2011, commissioners approved the Sterling Ranch application to rezone 3,400 acres in a development planned for up to 12,000 homes. At the same time, the county approved an exception to section 18A of its regulations to permit Sterling Ranch to prove its water supply at each phase of construction, rather than at the beginning of the planned development. The board’s decision was challenged in court and, on Aug. 22, a district court judge ruled against the county.

Commissioners asked staff to revisit the county’s regulations to ensure the county remains aligned with state statute, said Commissioner Jack Hilbert.

Meanwhile the Sterling Ranch has asked the judge to reconsider. Here’s a report from Rhonda Moore writing for the Castle Rock News Press. From the article:

In a motion filed Sept. 12 in Douglas County District Court, the motion asked District Court Judge Paul King to have a second look at his Aug. 22 order in favor of the Chatfield Community Association that reversed the Douglas County Board of County Commissioner’s approval of the Sterling Ranch planned development and water appeal.

With their approval, commissioners granted Sterling Ranch permission to rezone 3,400 acres in a development planned for up to 12,000 homes. In tandem with the rezone, commissioners approved a water appeal that granted Harold Smethills, Sterling Ranch managing director, to prove an adequate water supply for the development at each plat filing, or phase, of construction.

King’s ruling came about a year after commissioners approved the Sterling Ranch application. King applied a state law that says “the Board has no authority to approve the application without the Applicant demonstrating the adequacy of the water supply.”

Attorney David Foster, on behalf of Sterling Ranch, hopes King will reconsider his decision. His argument is two-fold: that the rezone is not for new construction, it is for use; and that the state only requires a water analysis at one point during the development process.

More South Platte River Basin coverage here and here.

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