Development Proposal Generates Growth Debate

A third public hearing for Dry Creek, a 2,000-acre subdivision between Brighton, Fort Lupton and Dacono was tabled by the Weld County Commissioners after eight hours of discussion and testimony. Staff from multiple departments opposed the project, saying it would not be financially sustainable with a $6 million gap between Dry Creek’s property tax revenues and the County’s cost for providing services. Residents from adjacent towns also raised concerns about the density of the project, which would add at least 20,000 people to the area. In fact, the project is so ambitious so significant that it would require an amendment to the County’s Comprehensive Plan to approve it, prompting an interesting discussion about the cost of growth and how to pay for it. Ultimately, the Commissioners decided to postpone their decision and the applicant is expected to return before the Board in February.

What is Good Planning? The Weld County Commissioners held another study session to discuss Recorded Exemptions (RE) and how to control the number of lots split off large parcels in agricultural zones. Most of the Commissioners (Bill Garcia, Sean Conway and Barbara Kirkmeyer) want to see options for landowners with incentives to encourage them to plan the future development of their land in a thoughtful way so that access points make sense and service delivery is efficient. David Long disagreed, saying he didn’t support any limits but wants good planning with “vision.” Commissioner Kirkmeyer voiced concern about costs REs create for the County, saying “the RE process is not a property right.” In the end the staff was directed to research and draft changes that would create incentives for property owners to split off parcels with some kind of planned process however, the devil is in the details. What is good planning? It was something for which all the present commissioners expressed support but without consensus on the definition it is impossible to predict how the RE process might change in the future.

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