Castle Pines City Council approves rezoning
Castle Pines City Council unanimously approved a proposal to rezone nearly 300 acres of land on the northeast corner of I-25 and Happy Canyon Road.
The property was designated as agricultural land but has long been targeted for development. The City initiated the rezoning with the consent of the landowner, North Canyons LLLP, which is building The Canyons mixed-use area east of the highway. In approving the rezoning and two amendments to the planned development on February 14, Council members said it will bring more jobs and recreational and entertainment opportunities to the community, meeting the goals set by residents and council in the City’s 2021 Comprehensive Master Plan.
During a meeting in late January, Council members listened to arguments against the rezoning from homeowners living in Happy Canyon, a longstanding rural-residential neighborhood adjacent to the 300-acre parcel. Residents expressed concerns over the density of the proposed development, the impact of the traffic it will generate, its incompatibility with surrounding uses, and what they say is an absence of a proper buffer between their neighborhood and the buildings that will eventually be built next door.
The City Council spent recent weeks considering the feedback, and three council members said the decision “weighed heavily” on them. They expressed sympathy for the residents in Happy Canyon, but said they were bound by a narrow set of criteria when reviewing such proposals (see related article next page) and said they had to think about the community’s interests as a whole.
The City’s Planning Commission, an advisory board to City Council, voted 4-1 against recommending approval of the proposals because they did not meet three of the main five criteria for approving the rezoning and amendments.
“I’m challenged by the fact that our planning commission voted no,” said City Councilman Roger Hudson, who noted he has never before gone against a recommendation from the Planning Commission.
City planning staff, however, recommended that the Council approve the rezoning and amendments. Both city leaders and neighbors pointed out that it is unusual for the City to initiate such a proposal for privately-owned land.
Neighboring residents and two council members expressed concerns about how the development will affect wildlife, which continues to be pushed out of their habitats and into neighborhoods. Councilwoman Deborah Mulvey said she is bothered by the landowner’s stated intent to develop the land quickly. City planners said Castle Pines staff has been in discussions with the Colorado Department of Transportation and Douglas County about reconstructing the I-25/Happy Canyon Road interchange, which is tentatively slated to occur in 2027, to accommodate an increase in traffic.
Principal uses on the land, which abuts northbound I-25, now include civic and community facilities, government offices, recreation facilities, a library, museums, fire stations, minor utility facilities, multi-use trails, a community garden, municipal facilities, and a transit corridor. Permitted uses by special review by the City include educational facilities, office complexes, entertainment facilities, cultural facilities, medical complexes, light-industrial development, and sporting facilities. Some land has already been set aside for passive and active open space.
Future site improvement plans and other proposals for development will have to individually go through the City’s review process.
By Chris Michlewicz; map provided by the City of Castle Pines