Elizabeth trustees OK rezoning for growth

Group still hopes to halt development in area at west end of town

The Elizabeth Board of Trustees recently approved a rezoning of agricultural land to planned unit development (PUD) in the west end of the town.
Developer and applicant Jim Marshall requested approval to rezone 425.9 acres located south of Highway 86 and immediately east of Legacy Ridge Street to accommodate residential, regional commercial, mixed-use commercial, public, and semi-public land uses.
Town documents refer to the land as the Elizabeth West Property.
This expansion would add a significant new section to the already controversial Elizabeth West development. In the fast-growing Elizabeth area, some residents are excited for new commercial and residential developments, arguing that it will allow for more local amenities and shopping opportunities as well as keeping tax dollars local. There is also a portion of the Elizabeth community that is against the growth of Elizabeth, wanting to keep it rural and agricultural.
After a presentation by the developer representatives and argument for the validity of the rezoning by Mayor Pro Tem Angela Ternus, the rezoning proposal was approved by the Board of Trustees in a 5-1 vote on Nov. 15. Linda Secrist voted against the rezoning and received significant applause from the anti-development group that was present at the meeting.
Ternus outlined several criteria that the proposed rezoning met, arguing for the approval of the proposal. In the Town of Elizabeth municipal code, Chapter 16, Article 1, Section 240, Subsection F, there are nine different approval considerations that the Board of Trustees looked at when determining the validity of a rezone. Ternus went through all nine citing how the rezoning proposal met the criteria. She also gave her official opinion on each.
Below are the nine criteria as outlined in the municipal code as well as the mayor pro tem’s comments.
1. A need exists for the proposal.
“Based on a newly completed Elbert County housing needs assessment … total housing need in Elbert County over the next 10 years is estimated at approximately 3,050 units and nearly all the population and household growth over the past 20 years has occurred in the unincorporated areas of Elbert County. The maximum dwelling units in this proposal are 623 to be built over the next 10 years and therefore I believe that checks the box for `a need exists.’ There’s also some commercial components to this proposal, which this will provide jobs for local citizens and therefore cut down on commute time and pump more money into our community and county that can be used for improving wages to town and county employees and increase service levels, all of which are needed.”
2. The particular parcel of ground is indeed the correct site for the proposed development.
“Its west entrance is located just south of an already familiar developed intersection and the commercial component will be along Highway 86, providing good visibility for the future businesses. And this is the type of use envisioned in the 2019 comprehensive plan.”
3 and 4. There has been an error in the original zoning OR there have been significant changes to warrant a zone change.
“I don’t believe this to be the case, or has there been significant changes in the area to warrant a zone change. And that, I do believe is true. Seventy-one percent of the current housing stock per the new housing needs study in the county is in the northwest Elizabeth and Parker zip codes. Although the three incorporated towns, Elizabeth, Kiowa and Simla, only contain about 12% of the total units. That is down from 14%. More opportunities for jobs in an area where the majority of the population lives, I believe needs to occur. This will enable some of that.”
5. Adequate circulation exists, and traffic movement would not be impeded by development.
“Based on the traffic studies done and speaking with our traffic consultants and the developer’s traffic consultants, it will not reach the level of failing.”
6. Additional municipal service costs will not be incurred which the town is not prepared to meet.
“Based on the financial analysis done by the town’s finance director, an anticipated revenue to be generated at full build-out will exceed the anticipated cost. Therefore, it meets this criteria.”
7. There are minimal environmental impacts or impacts can be mitigated.
“Already in the PUD documents, there is a whole section on tree protection and preservation. This lays out the requirements to preserve a good sized section of standing trees. Therefore, I believe it meets that criteria.”
8. The proposal is consistent with the Town Master Plan maps, goals and policies.
“This proposal exceeds the anticipated open space acres that were in the original plan. Therefore, it meets that criteria.”
9. There is adequate waste and sewage disposal, water, schools, parks and recreation, and other services to the proportional degree necessary due to the impacts created by the proposed land use.
“Schools, parks and rec, fire, and other services that the town does not provide were all consulted on this proposal and have had their opportunity to enter comments and speak directly to the developer to come to an agreement as to what they believe their district needs. As far as water and sewage disposal, we are way below our capacity. There will be no additional issues taking on these additional homes as far as wastewater. After many questions about water and reuse … we have been assured by our water consultants that there is water sufficient for this project at complete buildout, which will be in approximately 10 years. Therefore, I am voting 'yes’ on this proposal.”
During the meeting, Elizabeth Town Hall was crammed with anti-development protesters, hoping to influence the Board of Trustees vote in a coordinated effort by a group of concerned citizens.
On Nov. 12, three days before the meeting on the rezoning, an anti-development group met at the Pawnee Hills clubhouse in Elizabeth to coordinate their efforts to protest the Board of Trustees rezoning vote. Led by Elizabeth resident Cindy Angers, there were 13 people at the anti-development meeting, discussing their plan. Knowing that the rezoning proposal was likely to pass, the group brainstormed ways to combat the next phase of the Elizabeth West development process as well as future development in and around the Town of Elizabeth.
The group cited several reasons why they are against the growth of Elizabeth and the Elizabeth West development. These include increased traffic to the area, perceived limited water resources, and general shift of the Town of Elizabeth from an agricultural community to a suburb. The group created a threefold plan to combat the Elizabeth West development.
1. Create protest signage for the Nov. 15 meeting (no signage was used at the Board of Trustees meeting)
2. Make flyers to advertise an upcoming petition
3. Create a petition to combat Elizabeth West
“We moved out here for space. We don’t want King Soopers down the road. When we moved here we knew we’d have to drive for big shopping and we are fine with that,” said Lisa Krasinski. “Right now, we can see the Front Range, next it will be rooftops. We knew when we bought out property that the property owner next door would want to sell. We thought it would be at least five-acre lots or something, not these high density homes. We need to stick to slower growth.”
Former Elbert County Commissioner Robert Rowland was at the anti-development meeting. Halfway through, he excused himself from the meeting, explaining that though he appreciated what the group was doing, he did not fully agree with their anti-development stance. Instead, he is more concerned about water availability.
“I’m concerned about the water that we have,” said Rowland. “If the water is there, bring on the development. Growth will come. It’s inevitable, but I want to see science, real concrete data that we have enough water to sustain a development like this. We need a groundwater study. Water should be the number one consideration when it comes to development.”
Moving forward, the anti-development group plans to create a petition for Elizabeth residents to sign. Their hope is that they can stall the Elizabeth West development at one of its many approval stages over the next few years. They also plan to tackle the issue of development in other areas of Elizabeth, aiming to keep Elizabeth as rural as possible.
To listen to the Board of Trustees meeting audio, visit townofelizabeth.org/meetings.
If you are interested in learning more about the anti-development group, email organizer Cindy Angers at NorCal7@gmail.com.
Elizabeth development, Elbert County, Colorado, growth, rezoning


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