Ask Douglas County Commissioner Jack Hilbert what is at the heart of the matter in the lawsuit over the Sterling Ranch development, and he’ll tell …
This item is available in full to subscribers.
If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.
Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.
If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.
Ask Douglas County Commissioner Jack Hilbert what is at the heart of the matter in the lawsuit over the Sterling Ranch development, and he’ll tell you it isn’t just about Sterling Ranch.
It’s about the county’s ability to make decisions when it comes to long-term development, he said. That’s the reason the county is poised to appeal the Douglas County District Court ruling that reversed the commissioners’ approval of the 12,000-unit development in northern Douglas County.
The commissioners were successfully challenged by the Chatfield Community Association on Aug. 22. That’s the day that Douglas County District Court Judge Paul King found in favor of the group’s request to reverse the county’s approval of the Sterling Ranch planned development and water appeal.
In the county’s opinion, the judge’s ruling was an incomplete interpretation of state statute, Hilbert said.
“I really don’t care what happens with Sterling Ranch. (King’s) decision impacts how we handle water, that’s the problem,” Hilbert said. “What’s most important is the long-term implication on our decisions that pertain to water.”
When the county approved Sterling Ranch, it circumvented a state law that requires all developers to prove they have sufficient water for potential homeowners at the start of development, according to King’s interpretation.
In the Sterling Ranch planned development, the developer Harold Smethills agreed to prove his water supply at each phase of the development, before acquiring permits to move forward.
King’s decision strips the county of the ability to design a thoughtful master plan and plan long-term communities, Hilbert said.
The Chatfield homeowners who sponsored the lawsuit see the county’s effort as something else.
“Judge King is quite clear that it was an abuse of discretion by the board of county commissioners and Sterling Ranch … that they didn’t have proof of water and they chose to look for that later,” said Dennis Larratt, vice president of the Chatfield Community Association. “We expect Douglas County will pursue an ongoing process and we expect (Sterling Ranch) will come back with a better plan in the future. One that has water.”
Smethills in August announced two agreements with Aurora Water for the initial phase of the development. In a statement following King’s ruling, Smethills said the development is in the process of gathering more water for Sterling Ranch and is moving forward with the project.
Other items that may interest you
We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.
The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.