Douglas County commissioners are considering zoning regulations changes that would let them approve new high-density developments without regard to the character of the existing neighborhood. These changes would give developers an easier route to getting multi-family, HUD projects, apartments, and other urban-style housing inserted into Douglas County's longtime single-family traditional communities. Governor Polis is attempting a similar result with the terrible SB23-213 that steals the zoning authority of citizen-elected council members in towns across Colorado, handing one-size-fits-all control to the state in the name of more “affordable housing.”
The county's proposed zoning changes come after the commissioners voted 2-1 (Thomas and Teal yes, Laydon no) to rezone so a 220-unit apartment complex can be built on the northwest corner of Scott Avenue and Parker Road. Over 50 upset homeowners from Stone Creek Ranch and the Pinery, many of them residents for decades, testified at the January commissioner hearing to voice their concerns about strained water resources, more traffic, and other problems. The month before, the eight-member Planning Commission had voted unanimously to deny the developer's rezoning request because this large development didn't meet some of the rezoning criteria, primarily that it was not compatible with the character of the surrounding neighborhood according to current zoning regulations and the Douglas County Comprehensive Master Plan. Two commissioners ignored the advisory body they had appointed and voted to rezone anyway. Now the proposed zoning criteria changes would essentially allow more apartments to be built by removing the requirement for new development to preserve the character of the existing neighborhood. Zoning is the mechanism that determines the very nature of a community; zoning criteria preserve the reasons that residents love Douglas County and have invested their sweat, tears and savings into their homes and raising their families here. These families have every right to expect local government to preserve their communities without being labeled NIMBYs.
Government should not permanently alter neighborhoods after thousands of families have moved in, trusting the existing rules.
Also, changing the zoning criteria as proposed would make it nearly impossible for citizen groups to appeal the commissioners' rezoning decisions. It's probably not a coincidence that the local homeowners' group that objected to the rezoning is doing just that; their appeal is now before the Colorado District Court. Bit by bit, state and even local governments seem allied in their determination to chip away at our property rights and urbanize our neighborhoods. If you're concerned, email your county commissioners who will meet in May to vote on the new zoning rules: BOCC@douglas.co.us