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  Volume No. 12 Issue No. 10 October 2015  

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Alli Griffin
  Understanding preliminary plat hearings
  By Alli Griffin

   El Paso County Development Services ensures land is developed according to codes and laws applicable to the state of Colorado and El Paso County. Raimere Fitzpatrick, project planner with El Paso County Development Services, outlined the process a developer must go through to build a subdivision in Falcon.
   Fitzpatrick said the first step for the developer is a preliminary hearing, where subdivision plans are presented to a committee. He said the plans must encompass all zoning requirements, environmental issues and possible impacts on the land, such as drainage. Other issues of consideration include the social and logistical impacts of the planned development: schools and traffic, erosion, landscaping, etc.). Since Falcon is still under development, the preliminary hearings are frequent.
   As an example of a plan, the preliminary plat documents dated July 17 for Meridian Ranch Investments included issues from wildlife concerns to fire codes, Fitzpatrick said. Meridian Ranch had committed in the plans to pay $247,852 in drainage costs and had already conducted a traffic impact study.
   During the preliminary hearing, the public has an opportunity to voice concerns or ask questions about the upcoming development. Fitzpatrick said it is important for residents to attend the hearing if they have issues, because it is the only time the public can weigh in on the project. After the preliminary hearing, there is no avenue for public discussion.
   Fitzpatrick said residents owning adjoining properties to the proposed plans are notified about 10 days before a preliminary hearing is scheduled. He stressed the importance of neighbors working together to voice their issues. “They have one chance to speak, so you need to be clear and concise,” Fitzpatrick said. “Bring any copies that you might need. Another issue is that the planning commission does not want to hear duplicate complaints. A good idea is for residents to collaborate on similar concerns. Choose one speaker – select a member to represent all of you.” After residents have had their say, the applicant can either answer the questions or offer a rebuttal. Fitzpatrick said the public does not have another chance to counter any rebuttals from the applicant. “In many cases after that rebuttal, members of the audience want to re-address the planning commission, but they do not have an opportunity,” he said.
   Concerns vary, Fitzpatrick said. “People have concerns about traffic, drainage, what it will do to my view, concerns about not enough parks … unfortunately; you don’t have a right to a view. If you wanted to maintain the view, you should have bought that property,” he said. “It’s a balancing act of balancing property rights and negative impacts on adjoining property.”


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