Editorial: A good precedent
Douglas County Commissioner Kelly Kite said it best in summing up his reasons for voting to deny a master plan amendment that would have allowed 300 homes on the Schneider Ranch in Clear Creek Canyon:
“It’s not just the project itself,” he said. “In the end, it does not meet what is in the master plan.”
What is in the master plan are hundreds of carefully chosen principles that, if followed, will let Douglas County grow in an orderly manner that preserves its unique character.
The amendment sought for the Schneider Ranch land was one piece of a big puzzle. But as any puzzler knows, one wrongly-placed piece that appears to fit can knock a hundred other pieces out of alignment – in this case, by setting a precedent. Douglas County couldn’t afford to take that chance.
The Schneider Ranch property can still be developed, and the developer says he’ll proceed with 115 homes and a golf course, minus some of the amenities, like a sewer system and improvements to Clear Creek Road, that he would have provided had the amendment been granted.
Maybe the developer will rethink that strategy and decide the benefits of those amenities outweigh their costs. Maybe not. Either way, the property owners have the right to develop the land within the existing rules, and if the market will support a high-end subdivision that doesn’t include those amenities, so be it.
Douglas County leaders should be commended for standing up for the master plan. There will be other challenges and passionate debates. But now there’s a precedent: One that puts the values of the master plan above the values of one project.