Douglas County sued over Sterling Ranch ruling

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The Chatfield Community Homeowners Association filed a lawsuit against Douglas County for the board of county commissioner’s decision to approve the controversial Sterling Ranch subdivision.

The lawsuit was filed June 14, about a month after commissioners approved the developer’s request to subdivide more than 3,400 acres in the Chatfield Valley and gain an appeal to the county’s water regulations.

The proposal met with resistance from surrounding communities, which decried the water proposal and accompanying plans to add more than 12,000 homes, construct a sports village, recreation center and commercial district to the rural area along Titan Road.

The lawsuit alleges the county either abused its discretion or exceeded its authority in the Sterling Ranch decision, said Lance Ingalls, Douglas County attorney. The developer, Harold Smethills, sought and gained court approval to add Sterling Ranch to the lawsuit as a party to the case, Ingalls said.

County commissioners heard the Sterling Ranch application during public hearings that spanned eight county commissioner meetings and included public comment from about 100 people. Public comment was divided on the application and included input from people for and against the proposal.

The county commissioner’s May 11 decision on the application was a unanimous vote to approve Sterling Ranch, with conditions that ranged from requirements to ensure Sterling Ranch will satisfy verbal promises and commitments made throughout the public hearings to making the developer’s commitments in its video application a guiding element of the development.

The county is in the process of having the recordings from nearly 40 hours of public hearings transcribed for purposes of the appeal, Ingalls said. The transcripts, along with thousands of pages of written documentation that were part of the public hearings, will become part of the Sterling Ranch record and provide the framework for the legal arguments to begin, he said.

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