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Stand firm

Editorial

Something is coming to the forest above Jacks Valley, and it sounds ominous.

Developer Jeff Dingman wants a master plan amendment that would allow a 300-home subdivision on what is known as the Schneider Ranch, a beautiful, forested piece of property in Clear Creek Canyon.

Critics of the proposal are already worried the requested amendment would undermine Douglas County’s master plan and expose some neighborhoods to more traffic. They want the amendment rejected. Some hope the U.S. Forest Service can engineer an exchange that puts the Schneider property into public hands.

The debate over the amendment, which goes before the Douglas County Commission Thursday, is likely to be passionate. But an ugly undercurrent surfaced this week.

In an interview with The R-C, Dingman pointed out existing zoning allows 115 houses on the property. But that alternative, he said, “won’t offer the same benefits” as allowing the 300 homes the amendment would bring.

While Dingman insists he will bring a “quality project” to Clear Creek Canyon either way, his explanations suggest otherwise: Grant the amendment, and the amenities the county desires can be included. Reject it, and the developers will respond with a bare-bones project under the current zoning – one that could include bulldozing a meadow.

The Schneider Ranch is private property, and in the end its owners are free to do whatever they want within the permitted zoning.

The Douglas County commission’s decision on the amendment should be based on what’s best for the master plan and the county, not a developer’s implication of an inferior project that already has approval anyway.