Elbert County neighbors fight 920-home development

Commissioners approved it earlier this month

ELIZABETH, Colo. -- Some people who live in Elbert County for peace and quiet are worried their way of life will disappear once a new, 920-home development is built there.

Elbert County commissioners approved the Independence Community earlier this month, but some neighbors are fighting it, saying they will take their case to court. 

"This high-density development doesn't belong here," said Jacqueline Tugwell, who moved to her five acres in Elbert County to get away from it all. "We're not Denver. People moved out here to be in the country life."

The Independence development will cover more than 1,000 acres, nearly half of which will be open space, but Tugwell said the dense housing subdivision doesn't match the character of the area.

"Farms, ranching, agricultural. You see wildlife you see cattle, There is no high density," said Tugwell, who is part of a group called Stop Overdevelopment Elbert County, which is planning to file a motion to stop the development.

"I'm feeling it's big money running over everybody," said Wayne Ordakowski, who lives near the development and is concerned about everything from the odor from the wastewater treatment plant to traffic "It doesn't go with the flow of what we do here. I'm on three acres. The Elbert County master plan calls for one home on three to ten acres."

The developer, Craft Companies, has responded to many concerns raised and made changes, including adding extra entrances to help with traffic.

"We've had hundreds of in-person meetings, and most people are supportive," said Tim Craft, the Principal with Craft Companies. "There is a small, vocal group that I'm not sure what their concerns are other than they want the property to remain undeveloped."

Craft said the development will provide much-needed "attainable housing" for the middle class in Elbert County, and it will be a "first of its kind conservation community" with a large open space and sustainable practices and design (including the highest level of water resource recycling seen in the state.)

The company plans to break ground in the near future and will start selling homes within a year.  The full 920-home build out will take seven to ten years, Craft said.

County commissioners would not comment for the story, citing pending litigation.

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