Sterling Ranch to go before commissioners

Development to be discussed at July 10 public hearing

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The Sterling Ranch planned development will seek approval from Douglas County commissioners for a second time this coming week.

The county approved the project in 2011, but a 2012 court ruling by 18th Judicial District Court Judge Paul King stated that the project did not have sufficient water secured to break ground. Plans for Sterling Ranch call for a 12,000-home community on 3,400 acres northeast of Roxborough State Park.

After requests to have the ruling overturned, Sterling Ranch officials submitted a 121-page filing to the county in March stating that it had since met the necessary water requirements for build-out and that it is ready to begin the 25-year development.

“The ruling said that we must have 25 years of water before we can start, so we set about to obtain sufficient water for the entire development, and we’ve done that,” said Harold Smethills, Sterling Ranch managing director, following an agreement to acquire 4,200 acre-feet of water from Dominion Water. 

At the time of King’s ruling, Smethills said Sterling Ranch had already purchased 88 million gallons from Aurora Water — enough to meet the needs of the first plat scheduled for the phased development. Plans at the time, he said, called for purchasing or leasing the remainder of the water on a phase-by-phase basis.

Now, Smethills says, they have all the water required, and he expects the county to give the project the green light once again.

Jim Kreutz, the attorney who represented the Chatfield Community Association in the suit that halted the development in 2012, said Sterling Ranch’s filing might not satisfy all of the issues they had raised in court.

“There may be other unresolved issues, such as transportation and other regulations we didn’t feel that they complied with,” Kreutz said. “The court didn’t address the other issues because they only ruled on the water issue.”

Kreutz said that if his clients do not feel those other issues have been addressed, there is a possibility the Chatfield Community Association will file suit again.

Along with the homes, the Sterling Ranch development has plans for multiple parks, 30 miles of trails, three wildlife corridors, a multi-field athletic complex, a hospital, fire services, schools, and a town center patterned after Littleton’s historic downtown.

“We’re hopeful that we will be able to start moving dirt by the end of this year, and that if all goes well, we’ll start to see homes coming up in 2014,” Smethills said.

The public hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. July 10 at the Philip S. Miller Building, 100 Third St. in Castle Rock. 

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