Developers win delay of vote on Open Space master plan

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By Ramsey Scott

A final vote on Jeffco Open Space’s master plan has been delayed for a month by the county commissioners to allow more comment. 

The vote had been scheduled for Feb. 11, but a delay was requested by several real estate development groups. The commissioners voted 3-0 to delay final approval by a month. 

The real estate groups in attendance told the commissioners they weren’t given enough time to comment on changes made after public comment ended Dec. 20. Those changes were published by Jeffco Open Space on Jan. 3, with subsequent public comment ending Jan. 9.

The proposed guidelines are an update to Open Space’s 2008 master plan.

Kathryn Isenberger, a corporate officer with Bear Creek Development Corp., said that because the final changes came amid the holiday season, real estate companies weren’t given enough time to review them. 

Isenberger, who said her company had no specific issues with the plan, said the maps available online were difficult to read.

“We really just want a little more time to take a look at the mapping. We appreciate the comprehensive process that went into this plan and for the commissioners extending the time for us,” Isenberger said.   

Isenberger and the other real estate groups said they wanted time to review the maps to see if any land they own was targeted for possible acquisition by Open Space. 

County Administrator Ralph Schell, who headed the county’s Open Space agency for 11 years before taking his current position, said landowners could have their properties removed from the master plan’s maps of areas targeted for possible acquisition. 

Fred Baker of the real estate development company Ojala and Co. said his firm wanted to make sure that would remain true in the future. 

“What we’re really saying is to memorialize what everyone understands now to be the case. We’re really there to represent all landowners, including Jefferson County,” said Baker, who’s also part of the Jeffco Economic Development Corp.’s Forward Jeffco Initiative. “We just want to expand on that disclaimer.”

Both Baker and Isenberger praised the work done on the plan and said the request for a delay should not be seen as criticism of the county, the Open Space Advisory Committee or Plan Jeffco, an advocacy group for open space in the county. 

Margot Zallen, chair of Plan Jeffco, asked the commissioners not to delay the plan her group and others had been working on for almost 18 months. She said the public should now be given time to respond to any changes made after the additional comment period.

“I think they’ve had five weeks to come up with specific concerns or recommendations, and they made none,” Zallen said. 

Thea Rock, spokeswoman for Jeffco Parks and Open Space, said the reopened comment period would focus only on any changes made to the plan after the Dec. 20 meeting. The county commissioners are again set to vote on the master plan during their March 18 public hearing.  

The new comment period will close at noon Feb. 24 to give Open Space time to prepare documents for the March 18 meeting, Rock said. 


Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine. Check back at www.columbinecourier.com for updates.