Town officials will soon decide whether to approve the first step for a development that could change Parker's western landscape.
Stroh Ranch Development is asking to amend its planning documents so it can use 1,536 acres of land south of Stroh …
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Town officials will soon decide whether to approve the first step for a development that could change Parker's western landscape.Stroh Ranch Development is asking to amend its planning documents so it can use 1,536 acres of land south of Stroh Road, on the east and west sides of Crowfoot Valley Road, to build Hess Ranch. The project could include as many as 3,379 homes, condos and townhomes.The Parker Planning Commission, an advisory board to Parker Town Council, voted 5-0 to recommend approval during a meeting Sept. 10 at town hall. Town council will decide whether to accept the amendment during a meeting at 7 p.m. Sept. 21 at Parker Town Hall, 20120 E. Mainstreet.What Hess Ranch could entailThe development could include single-family homes, condos, triplexes and townhomes, as well as two commercial centers — one at the future intersection of Stroh Road and Chambers Road and one at the future intersection of Crowfoot Valley Road and Chambers Road. The mixed-use areas could have housing densities as high as 14 dwelling units per acre.If approved, the community would also include two elementary school sites, a fire station and dozens of neighborhood parks covering 67 acres.Depending on market conditions at the time of construction, the western portion of the site, which abuts Rueter-Hess Reservoir, could be age-restricted housing, including active-living patio homes for those 55 and older. Maximum building heights in Hess Ranch would be 50 feet.A little bit of historyHess Ranch makes up the southern half of what was once Anthology, a massive proposed development split in half by the Town of Parker as “part of a settlement offer to end years of litigation” following a shake-up in ownership of the land, said Patrick Mulready, senior planner for the town.The bifurcation of the property and deletion of a golf course was a “means of making this equal between both parties,” he said.The northern tier of the property is known as Anthology North, a planned development that proposes 2,596 residential dwellings on 1,536 acres. The plan for that subdivision was amended Sept. 10 so the development designs were in agreement with one another.The amendment recommended for approval by the planning commission establishes Hess Ranch as a stand-alone development that loosely follows the original plan for the southern half of Anthology.The land changed hands in 2003 and became known as SunMarke before being sold again in 2007 to Pivotal Investments, which called the project Anthology.Changes to the original planThe removal of a golf course that was intended to wind through Anthology contributes to a reduction of 234 acres of open space in Hess Ranch and increases the total yield of residences by 783 units. However, roughly 25 percent of the Hess Ranch site will be designated as open space, satisfying the Town of Parker's minimum requirement of 20 percent open space.Because of the lawsuit settlement, the future alignment of Stroh Road was slightly altered, putting all four corners of a commercial center in Hess Ranch.Mixed-use areas allow for a combination of retail, office or service commercial, and multi-family residential uses. The Hess Ranch PD proposes to increase the overall acreage of mixed-use land by 84 acres, for a total of 113 acres.Open space areas in Hess Ranch will align with those in Anthology North.What residents are sayingResidents of Pradera, an upscale neighborhood south of Parker, say that public opinion is being ignored. They recently fought against a proposed development on their northern border and are now considering an appeal after the decision did not go in the neighborhood's favor.Jim Fahrny, who moved from the Horse Creek neighborhood to Pradera in 2011, said traffic will become a major issue at the corner of Hess and Chambers roads. He once traveled north to Lincoln Avenue to get to Interstate 25, then switched to Ridgegate Parkway before it became bogged down during peak travel times. He now backtracks south on Crowfoot Valley Road and through Castle Rock to get to the highway to avoid traffic problems on the west end of Parker.“(Developers) are supposed to build roads concurrently to handle development,” Fahrny said. “They're not doing that anywhere.”Another Pradera resident, Jim Weber, pointed out that rapid growth and traffic congestion were the top complaints cited in a recent survey of Parker residents, but he said elected officials are approving proposed developments anyway.Mayor Mike Waid recently said if a property owner submits development applications that abide by Parker's guidelines for such projects, officials cannot deny the requests.What the developer is sayingGary Hunter, manager of Stroh Ranch Development, did not respond to an email request for an interview. But the company sent its current government affairs manager and former Parker Town Council member Tracy Hutchins to present the Hess Ranch proposal to the planning commission Sept. 10.The project has been in the planning stages for years and delayed by a multitude of issues, but is now on track for permits and future subdivision applications.“It's been a long time for this to come to fruition,” said Hutchins, who also served on the Parker Water and Sanitation District board of directors before stepping down last year.It's unclear when construction would start if the Hess Ranch amendment is approved by town council Sept. 21.
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