Some Early History of Lone Tree & the Formation of the HOA

An explanation of our name “Lone Tree Homeowners Association” – it was selected in the early 1980’s when we were the only single family area in Lone Tree and that is how we are registered with the State of Colorado. Our Covenants refer to us as “Filing #1” (although the developer named all other filings we did not receive a name), so we asked residents for suggestions and became “The Charter”. From time to time you may see those names used interchangeably.

A new subdivision known as Lone Tree opened in northern Douglas County on Memorial Day weekend 1982. The first resident had moved in and the second and third arrived a few days later. By the fall of 1982 approximately nine residents lived in Lone Tree. During that time the Park Meadows Metropolitan District was formed. An election was held in early fall in which about nine people (several representing developers) cast ballots. The formation of the district passed by one vote, putting the district $8 million in debt (nearly one million per current resident).

  As more residents arrived they began asking questions about amenities that were repeatedly advertised but didn’t exist. Brochures touted scenic biking and jogging trails and acres and acres of wide-open spaces. The only visible trail started behind the Lone Tree Information Center (where the Lone Tree Civic Center is now located) and stopped just before reaching Sweetwater Road, near the intersection of Sweetwater Rd and Lodgepole Trail. That was the extent of the trail system. There were no parks and there were no plans to provide any within Lone Tree.

As spring arrived residents noticed campers in side yards and streets. The new neighborhood in Lone Tree was quickly taking on the character of other neighborhoods in Northern Douglas County that had no covenant enforcement. The developer was approached about enforcing the covenants, which had been filed with the county. The residents voiced strong complaints as they were finding that the quality neighborhood they thought they had purchased homes in was not living up to their expectations. Eventually the developer did provide some assistance, as well as later allowing the association to have an Architectural Control Representative (ACC).

Early Lone Tree residents became concerned about how they were going to be able to enforce their covenants since the developer had not established a mandatory association. In fact, no association had been established. Without funds they realized it was going to be next to impossible to enforce covenants in the event there was a need to require compliance. The concerns were not only about recreational vehicles parked in private yards, streets and drive, but also about exterior changes to properties, including paint colors, and the addition of storage sheds, etc. Everyone knew that within a few years the repainting process would begin and some procedures and controls must exist to properly monitor exterior changes. It had also come to their attention that there was no process in place to maintain the medians once the developer left Lone Tree since Douglas County did not accept such responsibilities. Concerted efforts began to try to find a way to resolve all these concerns.

Within a year or so residents began to talk of forming their own HOA and soon an association was formed and monthly meetings began to discuss the many issues that were being raised. We registered with Douglas County to be on the Referral List and as such, received all information and packets concerning new development within Lone Tree and areas adjacent to us. We reviewed this information and when we had concerns we made trips to Castle Rock to make our case before the Planning Commission and County Commissioners. By 1985 our association had prepared By-Laws and filed the proper paper work with the State of Colorado. An official election was held for officers.

Items of special concern when reviewing Referral Packets were whether or not the developer was providing other filings with the amenities they had been promised when they purchased their home in Lone Tree (i.e. trails, parks, proper setbacks, as well as a mandatory homeowners association). When they felt the developer had not met their expectations they voiced their opinions to the Douglas County Commissioners, traveling to Castle Rock and speaking at the public hearings, quickly becoming a well respected voice from Lone Tree. As a result of this involvement every other filing in Lone Tree (except The Charter and The Vista) was established with a mandatory association. The Vista was a part of our association until 2006 when they withdrew to form their own association.

A monthly newsletter was started. Homeowners took turns printing the newsletter and hand delivering it to all residents. They also organized a TGIF Party which was held monthly and area residents took turns hosting the event. This allowed new neighbors to become acquainted and informed in order to work together for our common goals. We also had an Over-the-Hill Ski Group, Bridge Group, Pinochle Group, Gourmet Group, Out to Lunch Bunch.

Recognizing that parks were an important part of a community the association pleaded with the developer to provide parks, trails and open space as promised. Finally, after a meeting with the developer, the association received a letter from the developer telling them that if they promised to never oppose him before the county again, he would build a park just before he left Lone Tree. Instead, representatives of the association appeared at the next Lone Tree public hearing in Castle Rock with the developer’s offer in hand, along with brochures from the Lone Tree Information Center, advertising acres and acres of wide open spaces and scenic biking and jogging trails winding throughout the development of Lone Tree. They made sure the Douglas County Commissioners understood that Lone Tree residents purchased their homes based on these advertised incentives that were not being realized.

Douglas County stopped all development in Lone Tree until the developer found a way to provide what had been promised to the residents of Lone Tree. Unfortunately, The Charter and The Vista were too far along in the development process and did not have trails included in their neighborhoods. Instead the developer constructed the trail along the golf course running along Lone Tree Parkway. This associated negotiated trails through the Cypress Green neighborhood from Sunningdale to Lincoln Ave and another trail running through Terra Ridge, which included a small pocket park. We asked that these be located within the neighborhood for ease of accessibility for all those residents. All of this eventually became a reality thanks to the assistance of South Suburban Parks & Recreation District. They were very supportive of our efforts, and without their cooperation, we would not have been able to accomplish the open space that we have today. South Suburban was also responsible for obtaining and funding the trail, which runs north from Sweetwater Park to County Line Road. This association also drew up plans that suggested a trail under the power lines to the west as well as between Lone Tree and Acres Green. After many years these too became a reality.

The land to the east of the golf course was originally zoned “office park.” The developer of that property (The Bill Walters Companies) came to the homeowners association and offered to build a three to four acre park in return for the homeowner associations’ support to rezone the land to “primarily residential.” In addition, the developer offered to build a 1500 square foot library but was unwilling to provide the land for either. The association finally found land that could be used for the library near the Cook Creek Pool. This facility was later called Oakes Mill Library. Land found for the park (now known as Sweetwater Park and previously referred to as the area ‘out by the little red barn’ which was occupied by one horse in the early days of Lone Tree) had been previously set aside for a school site but was no longer needed for that purpose. It was located not far from where the trail now forks as it enters Sweetwater Park. As time went on, the association realized a park of this size was insufficient to meet our needs and instead requested an eight-acre park. In addition, they requested a full basement be added to the library building plans. After a number of meetings, the developer agreed to the terms.
The developer agreed to pay the cost constructing the park that was to be completed in one year, and South Suburban Parks and Recreation would maintain the park once it was finished. The homeowners’ association requested that the County Commissioners require the developer to post a Letter of Credit to cover the cost of the park in the event the promise was not fulfilled. Our request was granted.  In addition, this association pointed out that there were no parks or trails planned in the proposed new residential area east of the lake that was to become “The Fairways.” The association insisted that land for a three to four acre park and a trail running through the entire area to Lincoln Avenue be set aside to serve the future residents. The association insisted the developer construct the trail FIRST, and South Suburban agreed they would maintain the trail but it must be constructed to their specifications. The developer finally agreed to the terms.

Many months later an executive board member thought he saw a trail in that area. A call to the president of the association resulted in members of the executive board checking into the matter and discovering that indeed the trail had been constructed in its entirety. A check with South Suburban Parks and Recreation revealed that they were as surprised as the association that the trail was already in place. No notice had been provided to them that any construction was in progress. Unfortunately, they had not been able to ensure that construction was according to their specifications but, as previously promised, accepted the maintenance of that trail system.

Three years later there was still no park, and the homeowners’ association continued its complaints to Douglas County Commissioners. Finally a public hearing was called to begin the process of calling the Letter of Credit. It was only at that time that the developer seriously began the process of building Sweetwater Park. Within the year the park was completed, four years later than anticipated, and it is now a well-used park by many Lone Tree and Acres Green residents. Certainly it was a time consuming process for the association but ultimately worth the effort. Many mistakenly believe that Sweetwater Park is in the City of Lone Tree. That property was given by the Acres Green developer to the school district for a possible school site. When it wasn’t needed we requested the school district to release it and allow it to be developed into a park.

After watching taxes skyrocket due to Park Meadows Metropolitan District board members reimbursing developers for their costs of major roadways, via raising taxes, in 1984 when the first seats became available on the Park Meadows Metropolitan District Board, this association made sure that two residents were ready to step into those seats. When additional seats became available, two more residents stepped up to serve. We maintained control of that board for many years.

A Letter of Credit had been posted, previously, by developers to cover the original debt of $8 million, but in the late1980’s, Lone Tree residents who served on that board refused to raise the mil levy high enough to cover the debt. That decision resulted in the Letter of Credit being called. Those same residents stopped the practice of reimbursing the developer unless there were sufficient funds available without raising taxes. These actions saved all residents in the district significant money over the years. Today, five Lone Tree residents sit on that board and determine how the tax monies Lone Tree residents pay are being spent in the district.

The Park Meadows Metropolitan District now maintains the medians and right-of-way along the major thoroughfares within the District. Another of our early concerns resolved. They have been a great partner with the City of Lone Tree and Douglas County to help ensure that we are able to maintain our streets and provide upgrades when needed.

This association encouraged Park Meadows Metropolitan District to consider purchasing the Information Center when the developer moved out. They believed it would be an amenity to the neighborhood, providing a much needed meeting space as well as serving the needs of Park Meadows Metropolitan District. PMMD did purchase the building. It was later sold to the City of Lone Tree and it served many HOA’s, scout troops, bridge groups, etc. over the years and provided space for council chambers for the Lone Tree City Council. During the summer of 2004, this building was demolished for the construction of a new Civic Center, which serves as City Council Chambers. Two meetings rooms in the lower level are available for other functions and are often booked by the community. Eventually offices for the City of Lone Tree will be located in RidgeGate in the City Center east of I-25, but this move is expected to be many years away.

When a home on Seven Arrows burned, and the fire department was hampered in fighting the fire due to the fire hydrant being plugged up with rocks, the association set up a meeting to discuss the matter with the fire district. The meeting was well attended by many concerned residents. As a result, every fire hydrant in the neighborhood was checked in the weeks that followed to ensure that they were all operational.

As Lone Tree grew, the association established yearly dues of $25.00. These dues were raised to $35.00/year in 2002. The HOA has sponsored the “Yard of the Month” program during the summer months for nearly 20 years. There have been a variety of committees as various needs arose such as a parks committee, trail committee, airport committee, social committee, fence committee, and Yard of the Month and Christmas decoration committees. This association began the July 4th Celebration with a parade and BBQ which continued for about 10 years until the City of Lone Tree assumed responsibility a number of years ago and made it an even bigger and better event.

This association also started the Concerts in the Park and invited everyone in Lone Tree to attend. The City of Lone Tree now sponsors this and does a tremendous job! The association is pleased the city thought it was a worthwhile endeavor and was willing to take over the responsibility. Currently the association sponsors a Hayride/Sleigh Ride with refreshments and a visit from Santa during the Christmas season for our members. There is an Easter Egg Hunt in the spring if the Colorado weather cooperates.

Members of the executive board and this association supported the incorporation of the City of Lone Tree. They believed that Lone Tree would be better represented with residents of Lone Tree making decisions about development in and around our neighborhood. Later some of these same residents worked on the annexation of the Rampart Range property to the south of Lincoln Avenue and east of I-25.

This article provides an overview of the many projects and activities this association has been involved in over the years. A major accomplishment the association can take credit for was persuading the city to construct brick fencing along the major arterials in the original Lone Tree. The gray fencing was becoming an embarrassment, and there was no way to ensure that all fencing would be maintained in a consistent manner. The Executive Board is pleased it was finally able to convince the city to construct the brick fencing for all neighborhoods. This beautiful fencing benefits all residents of Lone Tree.

This association purchased monument signs for The Vista and The Charter including the installation of landscaping around the monument signs in The Vista. Other associations quickly followed our lead and now nearly every neighborhood is identified.

Your executive board members regularly attend Planning Commission/City Council meetings. They closely monitor new development and the decisions of the Lone Tree City Council. Information, which is relevant to you, is provided in a newsletter that is sent to every member throughout the year and non-members occasionally.

The executive board consists of not less than five (5) members who serve two-year terms. The terms are staggered with an election each year. This process has worked well, as it ensures there are members with experience remaining on the board. It also makes it possible for the president to be someone who has been on the executive board for at least one year, although this is not mandatory. Candidates are elected to the executive board and those members of the executive board then decide positions. Members of the association are elected to the Architectural Control Committee, which consists of not less than three (3) members. All members of the association over 18 years of age are eligible to vote in these elections or to run for a position.

Thanks to the efforts of this association there are now trails within our area, as well as several parks. The Library is a reality due to our negotiations with the developer of the Fairways. Oakes Mill Library was later torn down to make room for a larger facility, now known as the Lone Tree Library.
You can see that this association has been active for many years and has made significant contributions to the community that we are today. We’ve always been active and have been the “voice” of Lone Tree heard at the County. Our voice is now mostly directed to the City of Lone Tree but we have never been afraid to speak up when we believe it is important. We’ve accomplished all of this and more, despite originally not having an identity or a mandatory association.
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