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Can’t see the forest through the trees – or the houses

Plans for Sanctuary of the Pines include an elementary school, a park, ball fields, open space and trails. No matter, some Black Forest residents have raised questions about water and conservation easements.The development, which was originally named Pineries Ranch, is at the northeast corner of Vollmer and Shoup roads. Custom built homes are planned for 2.5-acre lots to 4-acre lots, with 5 acres available, too. Lots could be combined as well.Developers Infinity Land Corp. and Morley-Howard Investments are awaiting rezoning approvals. The timing of the construction depends on plat approval, said Todd Evans, Infinity Land Corp. vice president of land acquisition and development.Meanwhile, Evans said theyíve taken steps to work with Black Forest residents to ease their worries about water and easement issues.ìWe have had public meetings; we have met with individuals, with HOAs, small and large groups and have even sent letters to neighbors,î he said. ìWe took the feedback we got back from the neighborhood.îSanctuary in the Pines will use a central water system, built to alleviate any effect on the Dawson aquifer, which is part of the Denver basin, Evans said. Instead, water will be supplied to the community by drilling into the deeper Arapahoe aquifer, also a part of the Denver basin.Evans said plans include one well and a large tank. Two additional tanks could eventually be built to provide a loop system that runs through the community. Fire hydrants and fire mitigation measures will be added throughout the community to address fire issues, he added.According to county regulations, a new subdivision must have a 300-year water supply, said Julia Murphy, hydrogeologist and principle of Ground Water Investigations. Under the ruling, the subdivision will use 1,773 acre-feet of water per year, she said.Murphy talked to the developers about the water issues.The central water system is a positive step, she said, but the septic system used by homeowners may cause problems with water quality because it is near the Upper Black Squirrel Creek basin. ìCreeks in the area feed into the UBSC basin, which could cause nitrate issues,î Murphy said.Evans said the developers own water rights on the entire property, and the septic system meets county requirements.Terry Stokka, Black Forest Land Use Management vice chairman, also said the central water system is a positive step because it takes pressure off the Dawson wells. He said he is concerned about the population density planned for the community.Murphy said they divided the total amount of land by five acres to calculate the population density and the number of homes.But Stokka said the population density should be calculated by using the 1,338 acres designated for homes, not the total acreage of the area. ìWe own the entire property and meet the one lot for every five acres,î Evans said.Of the total 2,378 acres within the subdivision, a 1,040 easement will be donated to the county for open space, with public access, including a non-motorized trail and a 22-acre park in the internal areas of the project.Stokka said Palmer Land Trust still controls the easement although the trust no longer owns it. ìThat is exactly why you would set up an easement, so there are no developmental rights to take it out of the equation,î he said.Evans said the easement, relocated from its original area, will surround the property. ìBiologists came in and made recommendations as to where the conservation easement would encompass,î he said. ìThey made the final decision.î A decision that he said was made to preserve the pristine growth, meadows and trees.Evans said the easement creates a buffer around the property, isolating the development. ìThe buffers werenít as big before we had the community meetings,î Evans said. ìA lot of input for the plan came from folks within the Black Forest community. We looked at creating a neighborhood that allows people to enjoy the nature of the forest.î Horses will be allowed on the trail system, and perimeter lots have been approved for equestrian use.The Black Forest Preservation Plan calls for ìcommunal open space, hazard mitigation and development economies,î Murphy said.ìThe land commission is trying not to be obstructionists with the preservation plan,î Stokka said. ìThere are a lot of gray areas. We want to sustain the rural environment we enjoy so much.î

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