In the last days before Election Day, campaign material for a Castle Rock town council candidate reignited conflict about the commission that approves downtown development.
During the Nov. 1 council meeting, a public commenter and business owner shared a campaign flier from Dean Legatski, who is running against incumbent Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Bracken for District 3. The flier criticizes the town’s Design Review Board.
Castle Rock’s Design Review Board is a “town-created review board that has the sole authority to approve site development plans in the Downtown Overlay District,” per comments from Town Manager David Corliss at the meeting. The board is made up of seven members appointed by town council.
Legatski’s campaign flier raised concerns about parking, traffic, infrastructure and character of downtown developments, linking them to the Design Review Board. The flier also claims the Design Review Board can commit taxpayer money to developers.
“I think a lot of people are confused by the name because it says review, but it’s really committing,” he told Colorado Community Media. “Not everything about (the Design Review Board) is bad, but there’s no recourse.”
Bracken disagreed with Legatski’s view, noting the Design Review Board meetings include a public hearing and that town council is responsible for any financial agreements or partnerships with downtown developments.
“Any town council member or resident can go to those meetings and have a seat at the table, so not having a voice in (the Design Review Board discussions) is not true,” he said.
The Design Review Board does not have any authority over financial agreements or public financing, Castle Rock’s Director of Development Services Tara Vargish confirmed to Colorado Community Media.
“Town council is the only (body) that can approve a financing agreement with a developer, whether they are downtown or outside of downtown,” Vargish said.
Vargish said the Design Review Board works with town staff to make sure downtown projects meet town code for infrastructure and zoning requirements. Staff also ensures the developments meet all town requirements, including landscaping, design and drainage, for the Design Review Board to discuss and make decisions, Vargish said.
“The town-appointed board reviews site development plans for downtown, and that’s the look and feel of the building, and staff does the work to make sure it meets all of the codes,” Vargish said. “We wouldn’t typically let (a development) go to a public hearing until it had met all of the town’s requirements.”
She added that the board can approve certain variances, but hasn’t made decisions on any parking variances.
Council members have been divided about the Design Review Board being the only town body to approve downtown development, with members Tim Dietz, Laura Cavey and Caryn Johnson unsuccessfully attempting to reduce the board’s authority over downtown development last year. Multiple votes and attempts to either dismantle or take away the board's power failed in 4-3 votes.
Bracken said he’s “100% comfortable” with the current role and duties of the Design Review Board.
“Our downtown is wildly successful,” he said. “Our process is in place and it’s working extremely well.”
Should he be voted onto council, Legatski said he would attempt to make responsibility for downtown development the purview of town council.
“If the citizens don’t like (the Design Review Board decisions), they don’t pick the Design Review Board, so it’s not a transparent process,” he said.
Election Day is Nov. 8.