Once a remote cowboy town, Castle Rock is a growing community with a history of small-town charm. However, fear of losing the small town appeal has residents concerned about how the accelerated expansion will affect the current lifestyle, community, and personality of the town.
In an effort to keep town decisions in the hands of the people, corporate attorney and Castle Rock resident, Bill Placke, is seeking to lead residents a slow-growth movement. Placke believes that Castle Rock is approaching the town’s growth at a develop-at-any-cost method, and it’s leaving residents frustrated, feeling as though they don’t have a voice. The town’s approach is the root cause for the expedited growth.
Placke has launched a campaign to get a measure on the ballot that requires any land annexation greater than five acres to first get approved by voters. To hold a special election this spring, the campaign team must gather 4,103 valid signatures from registered voters.
Castle Rock is currently home to just under 60,000 residents and is on the fast track to reaching 100,000 in the coming years with continued growth. Placke feels as though this population number of 100,000 is the drive behind the majority interest of the town council. The town needs specifically, 2,500 acres of land – on the east side of I-25 in and around the up and coming promenade area, to reach 100,000 in population.
Placke is interested in targeting three proposed annexations in the 2,500 acres, which are currently being put through the town’s approval process. The proposed developments are set to SPREAD into Pine Canyon, Canyons South, and Pioneer Rach, bringing with them more than 4,000 new housing units, 900,000 square feet of retail space, and 208,000 square feet of light industrial space.
Should the campaign get the necessary valid signatures, it will mean more say for Castle Rock residents – but at what cost? Passing the ballot measure would likely lead builders and developers to build outside of Castle Rock, in nearby areas such as Castle Pines or unaffiliated Castle Rock through Douglas County council.
Taking annexation to a vote would cost the town money and time, in a process that is intended to benefit the town, not stifle it. The building boom and development that is taking over the open land in Castle Rock is almost necessary in order to maintain the current infrastructure, as well as that of the future. If open land in Castle Rock – such as the 2,500 acres on the east side of I-25 – is not annexed, it is left as unincorporated Douglas County. This means that residents will continue to use the town’s roads while the town has no control over improving the roads or expanding the infrastructure, because the county holds that power. By annexing in Castle Rock, the town then has more control over what is built, and how it’s built, while expanding the town’s tax base.
Placke is not against Castle Rock growth and development. He did not represent or take part in the citizen attempt to stop construction of the Promenade at Castle Rock retail project in 2015. In fact, Placke much supports the development of more commercial space in Castle Rock, so that more people can work where they live.
Castle Rock is a desirable town for many. While some feel overwhelmed by the growth and expansion, others feel as though Castle Rock cannot be kept a secret anymore. A town that isn’t growing is dying.