By Sandy Barnes
“This proposal is as one-sided as I’ve seen,” said Trustee Michael Patrick while speaking at a continued public hearing on the Ludlow Farms annexation at the Tuesday, Aug. 18 Town Board meeting.
While supporting annexation of the 304-acre property along County Road 17, Patrick and other trustees questioned terms presented by the developer in the proposed agreement, which they said primarily represented his interests. Included in the agreement is a request that the Town make efforts to bring the property into the Enterprise Zone and amend its intergovernmental agreement with the Little Thompson Water District to permit access to its water service. The developer also is asking for waivers and reductions of permit, water and sewer fees along with vested property rights for 30 years and sales tax credits.
“We’ve got to come to some agreement that is a partnership,” Trustee Dick Shepard said as he looked at a report comparing the developer’s requests with staff recommendations.
One of the key issues is that the proposal, which includes a wide range of industrial and commercial uses for the property, has no site-specific plans. The report co-authored by Town Planner Tim Katers and Town Attorney Bruce Fickel stated: “This proposed zoning matrix goes too far to the point that there is no, or very little, predictability. Although we may not be adverse to each of the uses themselves, there are no restrictions on how much of any uses may be made of the property.”
“This response really disturbs me,” developer’s representative Jim Birdsall said while commenting on the report that he and board members had just received. “We are so far from staff…This document will make it so it never happens.”
The intent of the agreement is to be able to move at the speed of business and market the property, Birdsall noted. Site specific plans will come to the board for review, he added.
In a staff report prepared for the board meeting, Katers included a comparison of previously approved agreements with the proposed one for Ludlow Farms. Both the Wilson Ranch and Heron Lakes agreements do include design standards with their overall development plans. Also, there are no waivers or reductions of permit review fees or for water and sewer tap fees and rates associated with those projects.
Mayor Tom Patterson said he was strongly in favor of an open ended agreement to facilitate development of Ludlow Farms. “To me, the intent of the developer is solid,” he said. “I am willing to change the system…If you don’t open it up, you shut the door.”
Katers is planning to continue working on the terms of the agreement with the developer before the Town Board reviews it again at a future meeting. The public hearing on zoning the property has been continued until Sept. 22 to allow time for negotiations.
“I think we need to negotiate what we’re comfortable with,” said Trustee Jeff Hindman.