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Coloradans just south of Denver metro area says planned community threatens character of community

Sterling Rach residents fear future apartment development
Sterling Rach residents fear future apartment development 02:36

Signs reading "retail, multi-family, mixed-use" point to a development coming to Sterling Ranch.

Neighbors say when they bought their homes, they were told it would be a bustling town center.

"The idea of having space that would be walkable that would have perhaps a grocery store or restaurant or other kinds of retail that I could just walk to would be amazing," said Sterling Ranch homeowner Silvia Arpke, who lives right next to the land to be developed.

RELATED: Some Colorado residents were promised mountain views. Now they say they're victims of false advertising

However, Arpke was shocked to hear Sterling Ranch is now proposing seven four- to five-story apartment buildings with 412 total units on that land.

"It's a massive change from what was originally going to go there," said Arpke.

While the plan still includes retail development, neighbors say it threatens the character of their community.

"This is the great outdoors. This is a rural society out here. I'm not sure that building massive apartments is the idea that people bought in when they purchased homes out here," said homeowner Fred Ciochetto.


Ciochetto is worried about traffic, parking and safety. He says the Waterton Road intersection is already dangerous, and there's currently no light.  He says a nearby single-lane roundabout and residential streets will be congested.

"Over here the kids like to play and it wouldn't be a stretch to imagine someone chasing a ball into a street that's rated for two thousand cars a day," said Ciochetto.

Another concern is schools.

"Where are the kids going to go? That is a major concern for me. I have a one-year-old a 10-year-old and a 17-year-old," said Arpke.

Sterling Ranch is already a school desert and a school of its own is years -- and a voter-passed bond -- away.

"Schools are at capacity or above, and so the idea that were going to drop 450 apartments here, that's going to increase the number of students who need an education in this area dramatically," said Arpke.

RELATED: Charters may be only option to fill school deserts, says one Colorado superintendent

UCHealth Sterling Ranch Medical Center has also indicated a need for affordable workforce housing.

"We've been told repeatedly 'we hear you,' but there is no change," said Arpke.

Arpke has gathered nearly 600 signatures in a petition against the apartments.

"This plan is not going to fit our community well," said Arpke.

The Douglas County Planning Commission will review the proposal on Monday. Neighbors say they'll be there to voice their concerns during public comment.

Brock Smethills, president of Sterling Ranch Development Company, provided a statement:  

Sterling Ranch Development Company supports a broad array of housing choices within Sterling Ranch – choices that are desperately needed in Douglas County.

Change is always hard, particularly as Sterling Ranch continues to grow (Sterling Ranch was the best-selling master planned community in Colorado in 2023 and 42nd in the Country as reported by John Burns). Sterling Ranch Development Company has been open and transparent that apartments would be constructed on this site since before a single home adjacent to the site was every constructed or purchased. This is evidenced by several 8' x 4' blue signs that were installed in 2021 to make people aware of "Multifamily/ Mixed Use" and "Retail Multifamily Mixed Use" on the site.

Sterling Ranch Development Company also required homebuilders to notify potential homebuyers that apartments would be located on this site. Disclosures were recorded on title for each future buyer of a home adjacent to Lot 231. The disclosures read: "A future phase of Ascent Village is contemplated within this area which may contain multi-family apartment buildings as well as commercial and retail uses, healthcare facilities, and other amenities."

 Also, on every Lot in Sterling Ranch there are view disclosures that are recorded on title and in Builder contract. The View Disclosures read: "A Buyer should beware those existing views, if any, of the immediate or surrounding area, and (mountain views) may be subject to change or elimination as a result of future development of non-residential and residential uses" and that "Builders are not authorized to represent a premium price on a "view" premium".  The current entitlement application includes retail and apartments on the site and is in conformance with the disclosures and the Sterling Ranch Planned Development.

Finally, we feel that this email from Dr. Batra who operates a UCH clinic in Sterling Ranch adequately describes the need for both market rate and attainable rental housing within this area:

Dear Friends:

I have been a part of growing our UCHealth Sterling Ranch medical center since 2018. Medical care within the neighborhood was part of the strategic plan.

There have been many exciting additions to the community plan, including: wellness center, vision care, family dentistry, bank, coffee shop, brewery, etc.

I am writing this email so that we can first recognize the problem and then find a solution so we can retain our staff and providers.  

We have cycled through many staff members from reception, managerial, medical assistants, nurses, technicians, and providers in primary care, urgent care and physical therapy.

Upon exit interviews, we discovered that most of our providers/staff are leaving because they cannot afford to live in the area they work.

Our staff typically commutes to work 60-90 minutes daily.

Please help us retain our staff and continue to provide excellent health care in Sterling Ranch.

We need your help in implementing affordable workforce housing as soon as possible.

Thank you for your assistance,


Kalindi A. Batra, M.D.

Family Medicine and Occupational Health

UCHealth Primary Care-Sterling Ranch Medical Center

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