Commissioners modify rezoning plan for Dinosaur Ridge

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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. -- Jefferson County commissioners voted Tuesday night to allow a rezoning plan for Dinosaur Ridge, which has been the subject of a recent battle between residents and developers.

"The board approved a modified version of the rezoning with addition of only some of the proposed uses -- including hotels, motels, gas stations and car washes, and excluding car dealership uses," the county said in a statement.

A development group wanted to build car dealerships, a hotel and a gas station next door to Dinosaur Ridge.

A public hearing on the matter lasted more than eight hours. It resulted in approval of development as long as it doesn't include car dealerships.

More than 100 people signed up to speak in front of the county commissioners. Less than a handful of those supported the rezoning and proposed development of the area.

“Dinosaur Ridge in itself is a world-class dinosaur monument,” Jennifer Neff said.

She lives near Dinosaur Ridge and came to the public hearing to address commissioners.

“This is in many rankings, the No. 1 dinosaur track site in the world,” said Linnea Hauser, vice president of Dinosaur Ridge Neighbors.

Like the disappearance of the dinosaurs that once roamed the ridge, many are fearing the extinction of the natural area celebrating and surrounding the prehistoric fossils and footprints they left behind.

“Someone joked like, you’re putting an industry based in fossil fuels on fossils. I mean it's a joke, but it's sad. I mean it's funny if it wasn’t sad that it could actually happen,” Neff said.

For nearly a year, developer Three Dinos has been working with Jefferson County on a plan for the land near C-470 and Alameda Parkway.

Three Dinos asked for the area to be rezoned so four car dealerships, a hotel and a gas station can be built on three sides of Dinosaur Ridge.

“What we’ve done and what we’ve spent a good eight months with the county is coming up with standards and restrictions for lighting, signage, noise, hours of operation that go further than the existing zoning,” said Sean Maley, a partner with CLR Associates, the group doing community outreach for Three Dinos.

“We will respect the open space, we will respect the visitors center and you know we want to enhance the activity in this area and bring new positive exposure to Dinosaur Ridge."

“There are environmental impacts, noise and light impacts, water impact, traffic impacts, but the most important impact is the dinosaurs,” Hauser said.

Tuesday night's action will be considered for adoption at the commissioners' meeting on Jan. 31.