Important Ruling for Colorado’s Development Community -
On February 19, a Colorado state court judge rejected a lawsuit challenging a Douglas County rezoning decision that will now allow for the continued permitting and construction of Sterling Ranch, a planned 3,400-acre, mixed use development in Douglas County south of Chatfield State Park. This ruling is critical for Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck client Sterling Ranch, and more generally for Colorado’s landowners and for local governments, because the ruling confirms that a 2013 statute, Senate Bill 13-258, provides local governments with sole discretion to determine when during the permitting process a developer must demonstrate the existence of an adequate water supply for a proposed development.
Sterling Ranch originally received land use approval from the Douglas County Board of County Commissioners in 2011 to rezone the Sterling Ranch property to accommodate the proposed development. However, shortly after the Board’s 2011 decision, several neighbors appealed to the district court, arguing that the Board did not receive proof of an adequate water supply for the development as required by the relevant statute, C.R.S. § 29-20-301. In late 2012, the district court sided with the plaintiffs and interpreted the statute as requiring Sterling Ranch to have provided proof of an adequate water supply before the Board rezoned the property.
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