JeffCo Commission Presses Pause on Cotswold Development

Lawyer Randall Minor, of Maynard Cooper and Gale makes a point in an Aug. 10, 2017, meeting of the Jefferson County Commission.

Aug. 10, 2017 – Jay Morgan applauded as Commissioner David Carrington voiced his disapproval of an effort to get zoning in The Cotswolds subdivision amended to permit the construction of a pair of houses on land that was designated to be left undeveloped.

“He said they need to play by the rules,” said Morgan, who lives in the subdivision on Sicard Hollow Road near Liberty Park. “These developers … they were not playing by the rules. They started building the driveway and didn’t even have a building permit. That’s why we have rules and regulations.”

Carrington ultimately moved that the matter be carried over for no more than six months to allow, among other things, for all parties to be duly notified. Commissioner Joe Knight added an amendment that no further development take place on the site.

Cotsworld, Ltd., and Embassy Homes, LLC, wanted to get the zoning for the subdivision changed to permit developing one acre in each of two parcels that had been designated conservation areas when the commission approved the initial zoning in 2005.

Some homeowners paid $5,000 apiece for the assurance that the conservation areas would remain undeveloped.

Richard Carnwath is head of a committee of residents who initially were opposed to the effort to develop the property. He told the commission that committee members had come to an agreement with the developer and wanted the commission to approve that agreement.

“Everybody on our committee came to the initial hearing and we were unanimously against it,” he said. “Everyone who was unanimously against it has signed the agreement we came to with the builder. You can’t make people come to a meeting. There was ample opportunity to be there or voice their opinion on a Facebook page.”

Carrington noted that several mistakes were made, including clearing land and laying the footing for a home without first getting a building permit.

“The zoning wasn’t consistent with the covenants,” he said. “Second, a developer started developing land without a building permit. And, third, I don’t believe (there was) a representative sample of the neighborhood who purchased land thinking a wooded area was going to be next to them. There were not enough people engaged in the process.”

The committee represented 10 homeowners. The subdivision has 400 homes.

Carrington added that the county’s legal department had not reviewed the agreement presented during the at hearing. “I can’t be party to an agreement that we haven’t even reviewed,” he said.