Density increase proposed in the Timbers

Roughly 170 people attended a meeting at the Pikes Peak Grange in Franktown to discuss a proposal that would increase housing density in an upscale neighborhood south of Parker. Courtesy photo
Chris Michlewicz
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Homeowners in one of the most upscale neighborhoods in the Parker area are coming out against a proposal to reduce lot sizes and increase housing density.

An early October meeting at the Pikes Peak Grange in Franktown brought out roughly 175 residents who wanted more information on the possible amendment to the Pinery Planned Development Plan and Guide.

Ashton Denver Residential LLC, the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based owner of prime real estate in Timbers at the Pinery, has sent “pre-submittal” documents to Douglas County’s community development planners to explore reducing larger properties to lots as small as a quarter-acre. The proposal affects three filings comprising 225 acres in the area where South Pinery Parkway becomes Democrat Road. Existing lots range from a third of an acre to 1.5 acres.

Dave Brehm, president of Plan West Inc., a Denver firm representing Ashton Denver Residential, said the company has “floated the idea of adding no more than 150 lots” in the Timbers, as its commonly known, but he cautioned that no final decisions have been made and a formal application has not yet been submitted. Plan West is still investigating potential impacts to schools, traffic, water and infrastructure.

Those impacts, along with the fear of lower property values, are what surrounding homeowners are most concerned about. Grant Bowry, a 19-year resident and former board member for the adjacent Misty Pines subdivision, said noise and traffic could negatively affect quality of life.

The lack of details has resulted in rumors that as many as 500 lots could be added to what is already approved. Bowry and a few other opponents have created a website, www.stophighdensity.com, that details their concerns. He said the high turnout at the October meeting “went to show us that 99 percent of people are upset with this proposal.”

Bowry has sent emails and made phone calls about the plans to HOA leaders in High Prairie Farms, Evans Ranch, the Pinery, the Timbers, Misty Pines and other small affluent enclaves, where lot sizes typically measure one acre and up.

Brehm says the real estate market is dictating the possible change in plans. Properties that previously supported homes in the $800,000-$1 million range are no longer selling, and there is increased demand for $400,000-$500,000 homes.

Karen Lowy, a resident who attended the October community meeting, said maximizing the remaining developable space would mean the loss of dozens of ponderosa pines that help define the neighborhood. Additional vehicle traffic is also a worry for Timbers residents, who already fight congestion during peak travel periods.

In a letter to the county, Brehm said his intent is to preserve the “character of the development by maintaining open space and by being respectful of the topography, existing trees, and surrounding neighbors.” In an interview, he said Ashton Residential will be careful not to jeopardize a successful brand that has taken several years and millions of dollars to build. The absence of definitive information about the proposal is because the group is still in the exploratory phase.

“When we have a decision, you’re going to find I’m pretty much an open book,” Brehm said. “I don’t have hidden agendas. I’m not out to destroy anyone’s life.”

Brehm expects a formal application to the county sometime in the first half of November.

Bowry said he understands the need to adapt to market trends, as he has struggled to keep his own business open, but he hopes the developers will wait for the demand for high-end homes to return.

 

The proposed amendment to filings 27 and 29-32 would:

Increase the total number of lots allowed; reduce the number of larger lots and increase the number of third-acre lots; add another lot size less than a third-acre; reduce the minimum lot size to allow 10,000 square feet for a “lifestyle product”; modify the PD plan; and provide a conceptual lotting diagram to illustrate the intent of the amendment.

Source: Letter from Dave Brehm to Douglas County