Parker planning commissioners voted 5-2 to approve the site-plan amendment submitted by Dominium Development to build a 204-unit affordable housing apartment complex in the Stroh Ranch neighborhood. Stroh Ranch sits between Hess Road, Stroh Road, South Parker Road and Motsenbocker Road.
Residents of the Ironstone condominiums and surrounding homeowners have opposed the project for months, citing increased traffic, invalid easements and the quality of renters the development would bring.
More than 300 residents attended the Dec. 14 meeting, filling council chambers and all overflow rooms, waiting to hear the outcome of the meeting. Opponents of the development wore red shirts to show solidarity and opposition to the plan. Extra police officers were on hand, and signs were placed in the lobby reminding attendees that there would be no open comment period and to remain respectful and peaceful.
Commissioners asked questions of Town staff members regarding the project. Following the conclusion of the meeting, officers surrounded commissioners and refused any contact with the public.
Residents of Stroh Ranch were not happy with the decision.
“The Town of Parker really, really (has) caused a serious series of legal problems for themselves,” said RJ O'Connor, president of the Stroh Ranch Homeowner Association. “They openly admitted that they were violating the town's codes and guidelines on development. We will be taking legal action.”
The Ironstone HOA will be taking legal action as well, according to president Ron Meier.
“We had our lawyer present. They're going to guide us to what the next step is, but as far as we're concerned, we'll vigorously protect our property rights,” Meier said.
According to Meier, one of the legal issues they are pursuing is that Dominium has not filed for an easement to gain access to Ironstone Way, which would bear the burden of increased traffic.
“It appears there is no easement for them because they never filed for one,” Meier said.
According to O'Connor, until now only the Ironstone community has had a strong legal case because of the lack of easement, but after the meeting he said Stroh Ranch and neighboring Acres on the Green HOAs have valid legal issues.
"There are going to be a sereies of HOAs that will be part of the lawsuit, and the items of contention are being assembled right now, and there are many according to our lawyers," said O'Connor.
Lawyers for the HOA did not return requests for comment.
Opponents who gathered in the parking lot after the decision were dispersed by police officers.
The debate over the development involves zoning ordinances that were set in place decades ago. The land was approved for 576 multi-family units to be built in 1997. The three-phase project stalled after two buildings, the Ironstone condos, were built. Dominium filed a site-plan amendment last year, with the intention of building out the third phase of the project. The proposed apartments would be “work-force” or affordable housing, with income guidelines for those who rent there.
A two-person household at the proposed Dominium development would need to earn at least $40,290 annually but not more than $53,760 to qualify for residency.
“The planning commission approved the site-plan amendment, and that concludes the application process,” said John Fussa, community development director for the Town of Parker. “It's now a private matter between the other parties.”
There is a 28-day appeal period, according to Fussa. During that time “an appeal may be taken by any party interested in the application. They can file suit to appeal the decision. Then it's a matter for the state district court.”
According to Mehl, they could being construction as early as spring of 2018.
"We have met all zoning codes the town has required of us," Mehl said. "This has always been an approved existing plan, we only filed an amendment to the existing plan."
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