Lyons Ridge gets final approval

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By Pamela Lawson

Jefferson County commissioners have voted 2-1 in favor of a proposed subdivision near C-470 and U.S. 285 that will bring 230 homes to land near the scenic Dakota Hogback.

The final hearing was June 10.

The 284-acre parcel, owned by Colorado Christian University, will be sold to Shea Properties, which will complete the project. Abandoned buildings at the location from a former college campus will be torn down by December, a Shea representative said.

Commissioner Kevin McCasky led the vote in favor of the development, with Commissioner Jim Congrove also approving it.

Chairwoman Kathy Hartman voted against the proposal for several reasons, she said.

Hartman said the number of homes, which represents twice the recommended number for that area in the South Jeffco Community Plan, was a main reason she was opposed.

“I believe ultimately it has doubled the density of the plan. There is no way I can support this; therefore, I vote no, ” she said at the June 10 hearing.

In addition, she did not agree with the applicant’s contention that the housing project would be less intrusive than what could have been built. The university contended that, under existing zoning, it could have built a 1.9 million-square-foot campus.

McCasky reiterated that in his concluding comments before approving the latest proposal.

But Hartman does not believe the campus plan would have made it through the platting process.

“It’s currently zoned for that, but there were restrictions with parking (and more) that would have made it impossible,” Hartman said.

And she was “surprised,” she said, at the last hearing in April, when McCasky introduced the number of 230 homes as an adjustment to the application. It was 50 fewer than the applicant had requested (at 280 homes) but far more than what staff or the planning commission had recommended.

McCasky indicated at the April hearing he has had some association with the university over time. But he said Tuesday night that he had no financial interests in the project.

Since the last hearing in April, which was continued, representatives of the project have met with county staff to modify the proposal to better meet staff recommendations.

More open space was allotted in one of the two use areas, and cul-de-sacs will be built, among a list of requirements.

“This proposal can be considered compatible,” said Tim Carl, director of transportation and development for Jefferson County.

During the final hearing, some residents asked commissioners to take a serious look at the traffic impacts the project will have on Belleview Avenue — a road that is already heavily used, they said. One commissioner reiterated that traffic studies would be required of the developer when the project reaches the platting phase with the county.

The university has been trying for many years to develop the parcel located near the picturesque Dakota Hogback.

Around 2001, Colorado Christian University proposed building a large campus on the property but met opposition from county staff. In 2006, the university returned with a proposal to reduce the size of the campus and add single-family homes, but the number of homes exceeded that allowed under the agricultural zoning.

Carl noted during his presentation June 10 that the project had been a “challenging process for us all.”