A proposed housing development in Black Forest is closer to happening, despite residents’ concerns that it would threaten the area’s rural character and water supply.
El Paso County commissioners voted 4-1 Tuesday to approve a preliminary plan for the Retreat at TimberRidge, which would put more than 200 homes near Poco and Vollmer roads. The decision marks the first step in subdividing the property, but commissioners resolved that final plats won’t be recorded until a pending lawsuit over the development is resolved.
A group of residents sued the developers and the county last spring, saying the board of county commissioners “exceeded its jurisdiction and abused its discretion” when it approved a rezoning for the Retreat.
During a Tuesday hearing, residents reiterated many of their concerns, including that the development violates long-term county planning documents, such as the Black Forest Preservation Plan, meant to preserve the area’s rural nature.
Most of the lots would be less than an acre, but they would range from about 12,000 square feet to 5 acres, said John Maynard, a consultant for the property’s owners, Jacob Decoto, Arroya Investments and TimberRidge Estates.
The owners maintain that issues over density were resolved when commissioners rezoned the property, he said.
County planners now are reviewing an application for a final plat of 10 lots north of Arroya Lane. Classic Homes is buying the rest of the land and would seek to plat the remaining lots, Maynard said.
Opponents argued that data are insufficient to show there is enough groundwater to serve the development, which also would rely on wells and a metropolitan district.
“High-density urban housing should not use this limited water, because it’s going to run out,” resident Christopher Korch told commissioners. He said the neighbors could be forced to drill new wells or move elsewhere if the groundwater supply is significantly depleted.
But review criteria for the preliminary plan did not include water sufficiency, commissioners noted. The developers have asked that commissioners wait until they consider final plat applications before deciding whether there’s enough water.
Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez Jr. said he would vote “no” due to concerns about water supply and the development’s smaller, urban-like lots.