On August 22, the Erie Board of Trustees voted unanimously and approved the annexation agreement and a pre-development agreement and the service plan for North Westerly Metropolitan District No. 1-4 which now means growth in the town will be met by an expansion in infrastructure.
During a public hearing, the board welcomed commentary on both sides of the issue as about a dozen people voiced a myriad of concerns and positives about the project that promises to change a number of things people in the community of Westerly will see in the upcoming years.
“The next step is to purchase the land from the state and then move forward with development applications,” Jenna Lefever, Director of Public Relations for Southern Land Company, said a few days after the meeting. “It will likely take until 2026 to obtain the entitlements necessary to begin infrastructure construction.”
Heidi Majerik, vice president and general manager for Southern Land Company, said that the North Westerly property is 400 acres. Southern Land Company is under contract to purchase the land from the Colorado State Land Board.
The land is located in the general vicinity South of County Road 10, North of Erie Parkway, East of County Road 5 and West of County Road 7.
“We are going to build a mixed-use, master-planned community that is an extension of Westerly, which we are already building,” Majerik said. “We would have 1,500 for-sale homes, 400 apartments including 200 attainable units, and approximately 250,000 square feet of commercial development. We hope to have our first homes out of the ground by 2027.”
“We’ve invested heavily in the town. We already have a 400-acre master-plan underway immediately across the street, so this more than doubles the size of the existing community. To comprehensively plan all this land at once has so much public benefit. In addition, we have a home building business. Our home building business has multiple employees who call Erie home. This is a demonstration of our commitment to supporting our employees to be able to live where they work.”
Majerik added that the idea of creating more high-quality jobs in Erie.
She also noted that her company is ingrained in the community.
“We partner with local businesses for many of our needs, and we’ve been very fortunate because the community has really embraced us,” Majerik said. “We’ve been thoughtful in trying to understand the community and respond to their needs. Early on we committed to removing all the oil and gas wells from the property, and we do not negotiate future drill sites with oil and gas companies.”
The board of trustees meeting was colored by civil discourse and concerns brought up, ranging from concern for the planned North Westerly site having underground mines that need to be addressed – including potentially hazardous materials dotting the soil – to worry for the local wildlife, traffic increases and inflated student counts within the local school district and others.
Lefever addressed those concerns.
“The Town of Erie requires that a report on wildlife be completed as part of the development review,” Lefever said. “We will abide by the requirements and produce a report addressing all necessary topics.
“We understand there are concerns any time there is growth; however, we, as a civil society, have a moral obligation to provide housing opportunities as the population grows. At Southern Land Company, we are committed to stewarding the land responsibly and complementing the existing community as best we can. We focus on walkability, intentional landscape design abundant open spaces, and introducing unique shops, restaurants, and services, all of which are intended to add to the broader community, not take away from it.”
She also noted that increased traffic due to the new development will fall under the Town of Erie’s transportation master plan.
Lefever also noted that the St. Vrain Valley School District “does a great job planning for future school population projections, and we will provide funds and/or land to support their growing needs.”
As for the undermining issues that were addressed. Lefever said, “(Southern Lands Company) is required by the Town of Erie to submit an undermining report as part of development review. We will implement any recommended restrictions or mitigation strategies and measures.”
Rachel Folger, a real estate agent in Erie, told the board, “It’s not good land, it’s horrible land,” due to her worries about the hazards of the old mines.
Majerik said at the meeting her company would meet with the community to discuss any of these and other issues going forward.
Erie mayor Justin Brooks said the concerns must be heard, but that progress is also inevitable.
“We hear the residents’ concern about growth,” Brooks said. “We recognize that, seeing when I moved to Erie that those were sunflower fields in the springtime and it was very pretty to watch. As things have been developed on both sides of Erie Parkway, the growth is coming and landowners certainly have the first right of use for their property. In this case, the state land board has placed the land up for sale and it appears the applicant here would like to develop it into a community. I like to hear what has been briefed here in terms of how they want to make the community fit the landscape around them and make a sense of community for both the residents as well as the neighbors.
“I certainly strongly recommend that there’s a lot of work with the neighboring landowners around some of these engineering concerns that have been voiced. We recognize with the upgrade that we did just recently to County Road 7 and Erie Parkway, that these county roads are becoming increasingly traversed. We want to make sure that we’re being proactive in preventing any safety hazards. We want to make sure we’re getting quality traffic studies that are truly reflective of the traffic that are to bear.”
Brie Fowler, a real estate agent in Erie, who has lived in the area since 2004 says she loves Westerly and the vision for the community. Fowler currently lives in Erie Village.
“I’m under contract on a new home in Westerly,” Fowler said. “Every house is its own project, and the landscaping is created individually to match the character of the home. So it’s just really, really special because it’s going to be really unique. It’s got a resort-style pool, they’re going to have a grocery store, a ton of retail, and a bunch of commercial restaurants.
“It’s really just all about, bringing community together and a lifestyle where you can get to everything within five to 15 minutes. So that’s huge to me. We need the builder who is promising to bring in affordable housing and equality and community and economy for the town.”