The Highlands Ranch Herald comes down on the side of Douglas County’s approval of the Sterling Ranch Project. Here’s an excerpt from their editorial:
District Court Judge Paul King ruled that commissioners had erred in allowing Sterling Ranch to prove water availability at each phase of construction, rather than for the entirety of the project. King’s ruling was a response to a lawsuit against the board of commissioners filed by the Chatfield Community Association. The ruling, which the county says it will appeal, is rooted in a 2008 state law. It is easy to find out what HB 08-1141 says. It is much more difficult to discern what it means. And we find that to be a problem. Some interpret the law to mean developers must show adequate water through build-out. To others, the legislation gives local governments discretion to do what Douglas County did in allowing Sterling Ranch to show proof of water a phase at a time.
State Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, opposed the measure. He says as written, it is open to “multiple reasonable interpretations” and that it is a hindrance to responsible development.
If the law is to be strictly interpreted to mean all of a development’s water must be secured from the outset, it creates a daunting climate for Colorado developers…
Developers who have the foresight to incorporate land and water conservation into their plan should be rewarded, not punished. Sterling Ranch appears to be a water-conservation model that will be emulated in the future, and it provides water taps to established neighboring developments whose wells are running dry.
It would be ironic and a shame to allow a cloudy water law to hinder this project with a bright future.
More Sterling Ranch coverage here.