Image Link 07/11/2017

July 11, 2017

Meeting opened by Chair Dan Rosales. Pledge of allegiance led by Justin Klassen. Eight members of PC present.

Continuance of June 27, 2017 hearing. No public comments to be taken at this meeting.

Baseline Engineering introduced staff available for questions.

Continuation of Applicant Rebuttal

Tim Craft showed slides - almost 5,000 page application in total.

-plan to install 4 more wells, have met 300 year supply requirement

Water consultant engineer spoke - went through water court process; no objections were filed; water court judge signed off in 2006 (before Independence was property owner)

Craft stated that they have no plans to pump water out of Elbert County (even though proposal states that they can). 65% of new residents will only be on EC roads for about 1/2 mile. Will create 4,000 temporary jobs and 500 permanent jobs for the county. 20% of new residents will spend their tax dollars in the county; net positive of $250,000 to county each year; (Editor note: Being up so far up north, residents would have no reason to drive to Elizabeth over more services that are available in Parker. Also, jobs jobs purported to be created in the county are ridiculously overblown as to be unbelievable)  

Diane Miller, attorney for Craft, stated that special districts allow new developments to “pay their own way.” No HOA anticipated for Independence (makes taxes that are imposed tax deductible). No new taxes will be applied to anyone outside the community.

Planning Commission/Preliminary and Final Plat Questions

  • Single entrance and exit unsafe. Elizabeth Fire department stated that as subdivision grows, they will require multiple access points.
  • Excess water….what will you do with it? Craft says there are currently no plans for excess. Water engineer stated that they don’t want to “have to go back to the water court” so they apply for as many uses as possible in initial application (reason for justification of provision to sell water).
  • No water to be sold outside of county, without permission from BOCC is in proposal. Would Craft accept a condition of approval stating that water won’t be sold outside the county? “Yes,” per Craft, (Editor: Get it locked down, with stiff fines for doing so) 
  • “best treated wastewater” in CO coming out of treatment plant
  • Average water bill for Independence family? $65.00 month total (inside and outside) (Editor: Compare to Wildpoint and Parker averages)
  • Traffic impact - dedicated left turn lane and left/right accel/decel lanes?Yes, in first phase.
  • Heavy equipment on our poor quality county roads? Will Craft maintain/improve county roads? EC Road and Bridge will monitor.
  • Subdivision improvement agreement that was supposed to be completed before public hearing is not yet completed. Will be done for BOCC hearing - PC should make it a condition of approval.
  • Wells - don’t know how deep they will be until drilled; estimated depth of Denver 1500 ft; solid casing required by state above Denver aquifer; Arapahoe 2000-2500 ft deep; neighbors fear their wells will be drawn down - “immeasurable amount of difference” per water engineer; will start with only 2 wells (1 in Denver, 1 in Arapahoe); will not impact Upper Dawson; at build out, will use 293 acre ft per year for all 920 units
  • base cost of homes/“affordable housing” has changed substantially - now up to $340,000; how many homes will be sold at base cost? 95 in first neighborhood of 300+ homes;
  • how will bond payment be made when no homes are yet built? “Capitalized interest fund”
  • how many other subdivisions has Craft done? Tallman Gulch is his 4th community. All were distressed. Also involved in 25 master plan communities previously. No failures to date.
  • How will EC be protected (financial surety)? “Have plans in place”
  • Overlay district is in place of HOA. May include an HOA at a later date for patio homes.
  • Transportation - 9900 additional vehicle trips/day. Reservations about roads not being improved before project starts; traffic study “weak” per Bob Lewis, PC member; if PC chooses to require road connectivity early on, it’s not feasible and can doom project to failure; will not build that road (connecting to Delbert) until after first 370 homes (there are 328 homes in first phase); first phase and road connectivity will take 3-6 years; does not have any off site right-of-ways
  • mosquito control? Included in overlay district
  • open space in native grasses - how to minimize grass fires? Have been working with fire dept; will follow up and address if needed.
  • schools - will children in this neighborhood attend Douglas County schools? Developer can’t influence specifics of school construction
  • board of Independence individuals won’t live in Independence; residents of neighborhood have no say in how their mill levy dollars are spent, who is on the board, etc. When will residents be allowed to be on the board?
  • recommendation to survey for methane gas - one abandoned well on property; Baseline didn’t feel that Craft needs to monitor well, just locate it. Info is available electronically.*
  • will have only downward facing lights to protect night sky
  • off site impact fees are at discretion of county - sourced from developer and builders
  • filtered effluent system - to test for ecoli
  • CDPHE review of PDR (process design report) currently underway; date uncertain for completion; last step in state review
  • copy of draft covenants submitted in final plat application; in electronic copy*

*Several PC members were unaware that their paper copies and electronic copies were different, so had not read the electronic copies.

Special District Questions

  • metro districts - why 6 special districts? Large project; each stage of development corresponds to a special district; after infrastructure is paid for, 4 districts will go away; just water/sanitation and overlay districts will remain; can’t determine boundaries of developments yet; a new bond every 4-6 years for each district as development happens (which translates to a 16-24 year build out)
  • once bonds are paid off, districts either dissolve or are absorbed into overlay district
  • positions on board in community - where is input of taxpayer? Process for electing people to boards; first board members are developers because they are the only property owners
  • effect of Gallagher amendment on financial projections? service plan states that district can increase mill levy to level of year before if legislature makes changes
  • why does water/sanitation district say “off site” concerning providing water? So the sanitation plant can serve other developments in county and commercial development along other county roads; Kyle Fenner stated that this is what the county wanted.
  • Craft said they can’t have a performance bond; county has performance requirements that they plan to follow
  • PC can request that applicant change service plan or request such change can be a condition of approval
  • Staying within the county with water is not a material modification; sending water outside the county is a material modification to the service plan
  • Meters required on wells per state decree
  • Trails not designed for horses; guided by PUD; some boundary areas available for horses; dedicating “significantly more” right of way than is required
  • Community center/pool - pool will be open to all citizens in county; fees will be charged for non-residents; date for community center/pool? “In the future….not exactly sure when.” Hopefully at 50% completion level.
  • Back-up plan if water system fails? First in the state reclaimed water/effluent for single family lots; not first in country - technology has been in use for years; good system for new developments; generator in case of power failures

No acknowledgment was made nor was any discussion held of citizens’ concerns from the public testimony at the previous Planning Commission meeting; interesting to note, citizens against this development outnumbered citizens in favor by a 4 to 1 margin. Citizen concerns were completely ignored.

Motion to continue discussion to a future date because PC members had not all been aware of differences in electronic information and paper copies. Kyle Fenner stated that all PC members had been made aware of these differences. Tim Craft stated that his firm had presented everything timely, and that it was “expensive” to bring all of his staff out to EC each time. Motion failed 5-3.

Several of the PC members admitted that they hadn’t read all of the information presented in electronic form, yet they voted not to continue the hearing. Consequently, they were clearly rushing ahead to vote on the Independence proposal, knowing full well that not all of their fellow planning commissioners had read all of the documentation.

Motion then made to accept the Water and Sanitation District - with condition of approval that water not be allowed to be exported out of the county and 3 additional conditions of a approval recommended by staff. Motion never taken off the table, nor voted on, nor withdrawn. (Robert’s Rules of Order were nowhere to be seen).

Some members of the PC felt too rushed to make anymore decisions (at 10:53PM). Mr. Craft was clearly unhappy with this decision and tried to get the hearing continued until the next day; however 5 commissioners were unable to meet on Wednesday evening. Kyle Fenner also attempted to schedule the continuance for the next day, clearly in violation of the 24 hour notice requirement for public meetings.

Motion to continue to July 18 made (after 11PM, a violation of county regulations). Moved, seconded and approved.

This meeting was an embarrassing demonstration of the lack of proper procedure and protocol for a Planning Commission. All parties, from the public to the staff to the applicant, were justifiably frustrated and disappointed at the lack of professionalism and absence of a semblance of order (i.e. Robert’s Rules of Orders). It is incumbent upon the chair of the Planning Commission, particularly as development knocks on the door of Elbert County, to resolve the inefficiencies that were evident, and to make sure that all members of the Planning Commission have performed their due diligence.

As one citizen stated, heading out the door, “This was the most poorly run meeting I’ve ever attended. Robert’s Rules of Order were clearly lacking.” And from another citizen, “This was painful to watch.”

- Jill Duvall