Castle Rock has changed its requirements for buffer zones between dissimilar residential developments — such as a neighborhood of single-family homes proposed near an apartment complex. The town is …
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Castle Rock has changed its requirements for buffer zones between dissimilar residential developments — such as a neighborhood of single-family homes proposed near an apartment complex.
The town is now requiring a 50-foot buffer between dissimilar residential developments. Council gave the new rules final approval in a 6-1 vote on Jan. 8. Mayor Pro Tem Jason Bower dissented. No one gave public comment.
The new code applies to properties where single-family detached homes share a property line with either single-family attached or multifamily. It also applies where single-family attached homes are adjacent to multifamily units.
Properties that don't share a property line but are separated by less than 50 feet of open space are subject to the new rules as well. The code does not apply to approved planned developments that intentionally mix housing types, or properties separated by a railroad or road right-of-way.
“The buffer is intended to mitigate the visibility of adjacent dissimilar residential property,” a town staff memo to the town council says.
When an applicant proposes developing a different type of housing next to an existing community, the applicant is responsible for the 100% of the buffer. Buffers must preserve natural topography as much as possible, be visually attractive and include landscaping.
They must also lessen views of dissimilar communities' amenities or utilities like trash areas, utility boxes, parks, trails and gathering spaces. Council can waive one or more of the new code's requirements if they see a need, but must hold a public hearing to do so.
Director of Development Services Bill Detweiler said developers and the Homebuilders Association mostly brought questions to town staff about the proposed changes and not concerns.
Some councilmembers debated how great a need there was for the change in policy. Bower said he'd spoken with residents in recent weeks and learned people who favored the proposal felt 50 feet was too small a buffer, while people against it believed it infringed on property rights.
Bower said he didn't support the changes because he's unsure there's an existing “hardship” on residents without them and he wanted the code change researched further. He also suspected some people who support the change do so because they “'don't want that type of person living next to me,' and that is not a healthy hardship for me,” he said.
Councilmember Kevin Bracken said he didn't see that sentiment expressed from any residents who urged the code change and believed most were concerned with property values and views.
The new rules go into effect on Feb. 7 and apply to new developments or amended development plans.
“If we're going to make a law, we have to nail it,” Bower said, later adding, “I just feel like it needs more tweaking.”
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