Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect a change in the date of a community meeting for the Independence developer to meet with area residents. The meeting, originally scheduled for March 9, will now be held the evening of March 24.
The Independence neighborhood, located off Hilltop Road north of Elizabeth, has announced proposed updates to its Planned Urban Development (PUD). A planned urban development is a real estate development that integrates residential or commercial buildings with open spaces in a single project.
The announcement is the first step in a long process that would require a series of approvals by county officials, with the county commissioners being the final entity for the PUD changes to be allowed.
Higher-density developments remain contested in Elbert County, with many long-term residents wanting to maintain the county’s rural way of life. The proposed PUD amendment aims to alleviate some of the concern residents have about the Independence neighborhood.
Developer Tim Craft and his team have broken down their plan into five categories: smart rural planning, additional amenities, increased open space, road/traffic improvements, and water conservation.
Below is a breakdown of the proposed amendments, or the rationale behind them, by Craft and his team.
Smart rural planning
• Growth is inevitable, and smart growth in Elbert County is crucial. As development pressures increase in Elbert County, it is essential to identify the right location for new homes. Independence is uniquely positioned to accommodate growth because of its proximity to Douglas County and Parker, its limited impact on Elbert County road infrastructure, and its availability of groundwater resources.
• We submitted the PUD Amendment application to increase the number of homes within Independence by adding neighborhoods and open space to a portion of land set aside in the northwest corner.
• This is a natural progression of keeping pace with our growing community — this land has always been a part of Independence — and has been carefully evaluated and designed to create more opportunity for families to join our community.
• These additional homes will bring increased benefits to the entire county, including road improvements, water conservation measures, and the addition of useful amenities.
• By adding additional homes, we will be able to provide an increased number of amenities and needed services, including neighborhood retail, a school site, additional parks, and trail improvements.
Increased open space
• The PUD amendment will increase community open space from 42% to 50%. This is achieved by adding additional open space (along with additional homes) in the northwest corner of the community.
• The PUD amendment will enable major road and traffic improvements for Elbert County, including:
o Delbert Road (CR 1) connection to CR 158 (Hilltop Road), which will significantly reduce traffic coming into the main entrance of the community on Hancock Way.
o The connection will also provide emergency vehicles with access to CR 166 (Singing Hills) and Parker going north, reducing response times by one half — a major benefit for all Elbert County residents.
o This connection will also decrease commute times and traffic for all Elbert County residents by creating a more direct and third route to Denver/I-25.
• The community’s 300-year water supply — which meets the stringent requirements of the county and has been verified and approved by the state of Colorado — has been designed to support the additional proposed homes and retail.
• The overall indoor and outdoor water usage at Independence is significantly less than traditional communities, which helps to protect the long-term viability of the aquifer.
• Independence’s state-of-the-art, redundant water conservation system offers the highest level of water recycling available in Colorado.
A community meeting will be held on March 24 at 5:30 p.m. in the Elbert County Fairgrounds Exhibit Building, 95 E. Ute Ave. in Kiowa, for those interested in learning more about the amendment.