Government & Politics  February 5, 2024

Fort Collins council to mull appeal of P&Z’s Polestar approval

FORT COLLINS — The Fort Collins City Council on Tuesday will hear a citizen-led appeal of the Planning and Zoning Commission’s November approval of a proposed 144-unit “new urbanism” development on 20 acres in the northwest part of the city.

Polestar Village, proposed by a nonprofit that moved to Fort Collins from Hawaii last year, would include townhomes, condominiums and apartments on a site east of South Overland Trail near West Elizabeth Street, including part of the former Happy Heart Farm. Polestar wants the complex to include a garden and small farm where residents can grow and harvest produce.

The nonprofit, Polestar Gardens, was founded in 2000 and, for 16 years, ran an organic farm, retreat and spiritual community on Hawaii’s “big island.” The compound was devastated by eruptions from the Kilauea volcano. It chose the Fort Collins site after a three-year search.

The Planning and Zoning Commission approved the nonprofit’s development plan on a 5-0 vote at 12:46 a.m. Nov. 17 after hearing concerns from nearby residents about traffic congestion and specifically about the lack of a street connection to West Elizabeth Street. The 20-acre tract was part of a larger parcel that had operated as Happy Heart Farm. When Polestar Gardens purchased the tract, Happy Heart’s owners retained parts of the land that kept Polestar Village from connecting to a major roadway. 

Under the site plan that was approved, Plum and Orchard streets would be extended through the project but wouldn’t connect with Overland or Elizabeth, meaning traffic to and from those arteries would be routed through neighborhood streets.

More than 60 neighboring residents filed the appeal Dec. 1 and supplemented it with additional information on Dec. 8. The neighbors contend that some of the information Planning and Zoning commissioners considered was “substantially false or grossly misleading,” and that Polestar representatives’ “persuasive language” included “non-confirmable statements. They also contend that two commission members had conflicts of interest and that the commission “failed to properly interpret and apply relevant provisions of the Land Use Code … regarding layout and design of streets and drives,” as well as permitted and prohibited uses in the Low Density Residential zone district.

Fort Collins’ City Council on Tuesday will hear a citizen-led appeal of the Planning and Zoning Commission’s November approval of a proposed 144-unit “new urbanism” development on 20 acres in the northwest part of the city.

Dallas Heltzell
With BizWest since 2012 and in Colorado since 1979, Dallas worked at the Longmont Times-Call, Colorado Springs Gazette, Denver Post and Public News Service. A Missouri native and Mizzou School of Journalism grad, Dallas started as a sports writer and outdoor columnist at the St. Charles (Mo.) Banner-News, then went to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch before fleeing the heat and humidity for the Rockies. He especially loves covering our mountain communities.
Sign up for BizWest Daily Alerts

Related Content