School, not senior housing, planned on land

Chris Michlewicz
Posted

Nine acres of land originally primed for a senior living center could soon be home to a project that serves an entirely different generation of Parkerites.

Preliminary plans for the Mountain View Senior Center, a proposed 55-and-up independent living facility, have been on the town’s books since 1997. But there were no final approvals and construction never occurred. Now American Academy, a Castle Pines-based charter school, is hoping to open a second campus in the same spot on the southern edge of Clarke Farms.

The Parker Planning Commission recommended Dec. 13 that town council approve a zoning amendment that would allow for the construction of a public or private school on property that has long been designated for an independent living facility. The amendment would also increase the maximum allowed building height, from 25 feet to 45 feet in one planning area, and from 35 feet to 45 feet in another.

Several neighboring residents sent letters objecting to the changes. Cristine and Wade Hardie, who live on Cornish Place in Clarke Farms, say they are concerned that higher buildings on the elevated property will be “unsightly” and seen from all over town. Many others expressed deep concerns over increases in vehicle traffic during student drop-off and pick-up times. The school’s main access point would be on Motsenbocker Road, roughly 1,000 feet south of Mainstreet.

The Douglas County School District says the charter school is needed because of overcrowding in local elementary and middle school classrooms. The district and American Academy say the location is “suitable to absorb excess Parker students,” the amendment says.

Last summer, the school announced it had found a site in the Meridian Village subdivision, but those plans changed because American Academy has a waiting list and was planning a lottery, which would have excluded some neighborhood children. The school purchased the site adjacent to Clarke Farms earlier this month.

The addition of schools as a permitted land use was in “response to market changes,” according to the amendment recommended by the planning commission. A phone call to Mountain View Builders & Development LLC, the Elizabeth-developer of the proposed senior living center, went to a disconnected number. The developer submitted a site plan application in 2008, but did not file documents that validated the financial stability of the project, said Grant Penland, senior planner for Parker.

Two senior housing developments, Parker Assisted Living by Morningstar and Life Care Center of Stonegate, have opened in the Parker area within the last year.

Town council will consider approving the zoning change during a meeting tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 10 at town hall. The school concurrently submitted a plat and site plan application with the zoning amendment. Those stages of review will likely go in front of council in late January, Penland said.