The Jeffco commissioners voted 2-1 on Sept. 30 to approve rezoning 7 acres at Swede Gulch and El Rancho roads to allow a mixed-use development consisting of 22 residential units and 5,000 square feet of commercial space in a 36,000-square-foot building.
The project, east of Wal-Mart in the El Rancho Center, was back in front of the county commissioners after the planning commission concluded Sept. 10 that 12 units, not 22, were justified.
Numerous homeowner associations in the area objected to the size of the building and the prospect of switching uses from commercial office to residential.
Commissioners Kathy Hartman and Jim Congrove voted to approve the rezoning, while Kevin McCasky, who preferred the 12-unit option, voted against.
Several neighbors said they were supportive of the Village at Elk Rest Meadows development as planned at 12 units, but not at 22. The developer argued the project wouldn’t be viable at 12 units.
“Since nobody is altering the floor-area ratio, it’s either 2,400 average square feet per unit or 1,200 square feet per unit. If you have 1,200-square-foot units, you will see relatively few children. So ultimately the community might find that although there are more units, there will actually be fewer people,” Hartman said.
“It’s important we find places for people who work in the community and teach,” she said. “We are reaching the point where people who work come from less-expensive places. This will not be affordable, but it will be more affordable than what currently exists in the Evergreen market.”
Congrove voted yes without making a comment.
“As the one who remanded the case back to the planning commission because of the question about density, I have visited the property numerous times,” McCasky said. “I recognize it is a transitional property. I’m in favor of the planning commission proposal. I think it blends in well with the transitional character of the other uses.”
Speaking for the Swede Gulch homeowner association, Elizabeth Campbell endorsed the planning commission proposal, saying the multi-use combination resulted in excessive density.
“It has always bothered me that there are no recommendations in the community plan for density in multi-use projects,” Campbell said.
She also said it had not been proven anywhere that 12 units of residential could not be viable.
After the meeting, developer Bill Parker said he plans to do his best to make the project a quality effort, since he lives in the same neighborhood and most of the people who objected to it are his neighbors. A factor in his favor was the neighbors’ realization that 22 units might actually produce fewer people than 12 units, because the larger units would accommodate more families with children.
He promised not to scrape off the entire lot and re-landscape, but to keep as many natural features as possible.
Project summary, Village at Elk Rest Meadows
• Approved density per acre: three units per acre
• Density to the north: 2.3 units per acre
• Density recommended by planning staff based on assumptions in the Evergreen Area Community Plan: 1 to 6 units per acre
• Square feet residential: 29,000
• Square feet retail: 5,000
• Dwelling units: 22
• Parking: 155
• Non-disturbance area/open space: 3 acres
• Build-able area: 2.9 acres, predominantly 20-degree slope or less