Homeowners' Association

pinery history

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More Pinery History
     (written by Ruth L. Miller)

Long Ago... Eons ago, during the Cambrian Era, an ocean covered much of Colorado, leaving fossils behind when the water receded. In the Jurassic Period, with its warm, humid climate, the ground was swampy, the flora tropical, and dinosaurs ruled the countryside. The Laramide orogeny took place; a tremendous upheaval of the land began, forming the Rocky Mountains. During the Tertiary Period, the mountains thrust up further, volcanic and other debris filled the high plains. Coal deposits, oil shale, and minerals settled deep beneath the ground's surface. Centuries passed; the palm, fig, and other trees from Jurassic times became petrified. At the Moore Ranch on Democrat Road is a beautiful specimen of a large petrified tree, which fell and was buried by time. Animals began to appear: woolly mammoths, dire wolves, camels, and huge antique bisons. About 12,000 years ago, man made his appearance.

Whether Sandia, Clovis, or Folsom man, time has erased most of his tracks. It is known these early men were in Colorado, hunting numerous animals. These forerunners disappeared about 2,000 years ago, leaving behind some points of their weapons.

The primitive men were followed by the Woodland-Plains Indians, who left an encampment opposite Ponderosa High School, and a dry cave near Franktown, complete with arrow and spear points, moccasins, and other belongings. Even today, the flakes from their manufactured weapons may be found in the Pinery and its surroundings. Made of petrified wood, they are brick-red in color, a sign they were hardened by fire. Shards of crude pottery left by these natives have also been found. The rolling hills around the Pinery allowed the Woodland-Plains families to look out upon the lower vistas to spot enemies or herds of animals. Their location seemed ideal to meet their needs, but they, too, disappeared. Their place was taken by the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute tribes. These “modern” inheritors of early man were witnesses to the arrival of the early settlers in this area of Colorado.

Early Settlers...
Early settlers in Pine Grove (Parker) cohabited reasonably well with the Indians. John and Elizabeth Tallman owned property northeast of Parker. The mountain-dwelling Utes frequently crossed their land heading toward hunting grounds. Elizabeth customarily left food for them, so she became a favorite with their chieftains. Jonathan Tallman, John's brother, wasn't so lucky in his dealings with Indians. Buried in Parker Cemetery, his headstone reads: "Killed by Indians, 1870.

The Parker family, consisting of four brothers and their families, gained prominence. James owned the 20 Mile House Stage Stop; George bought much of the property along Euclid Avenue (Main Street) east of Rte 83, donating some or selling it at reasonable prices to help the town's growth.

William Rowley owned 160 acres in what has become Stroh Ranch. Later, his family bought 960 acres east of Parker, now known as Rowley Downs. William Newlin at first inhabited the land around Newlin Gulch, but later bought the Tallman property and its cabin. He brought 30 head of short horned cattle to Parker to improve the cattle industry in the area. Newlin Gulch, Parker's experiment in gold mining, was named for him.

Closer to the future site of the Pinery were Hubert and Miriam Fonder. The Fonder School, now the offices of the Pinery Water and Waste Water District, is located west of South Pinery Parkway. The earliest school in the area, it is also the oldest extant in Douglas County.

Forested areas in the county were called pineries. During the 1860's, hillsides of the Pinery were denuded of all but the smallest trees to supply building materials for Denver, Auraria, and other developing towns. Nearby sawmills met the demand for finished lumber. The Fonders made shingles in addition to ranching.

An early plat of the area shows the names and land acquisitions of many property owners in the 1800's. Unfortunately, most shown are west of Rte. 83. The ones to the east are scant. Where North Pinery Parkway and Lakeview Drive now exist, the property had a homestead entry for William Newlin, Jr., son of the aforementioned Newlin family, dated 1884. Acreage just north of that was owned by the Union Pacific Railroad, dated 1892.

Developers Appear... In the pineries, lumber for cabins, buildings, railroad ties, and fuel was cut; the clearing of land for farms and ranches further depleted resources. Fires, floods, and insects also took their toll on the forests. In spite of this ravaging of the trees, General William Larimer, an early Denver developer, blithely declared during an 1858 Christmas celebration at Cherry Creek, “Our pineries are convenient, and will last for generations to come”. During the next 100 years, trees were growing back, reseeded by nature, but not in the density that had given the land its forests. Of the original trees, only some that were saplings in the 1800's survived.

Despite a 100-year flood in 1864 in the Cherry Creek valley, and a second one in 1965; despite a blizzard in 1858 that piled snow into 20-foot drifts, and the snow of 1913 that overwhelmed everyone with 50-foot drifts, the area around Parker, north of the town and south to Democrat Road, attracted people. The old Cherokee Trail still had traffic through the 1800's; the stage coach heading into Parker and the 20-Mile House stage stop used it. Freight wagons also caused congestion. The new road, built parallel and to the east of the Cherokee Trail, road number 13, had traffic jams similar to today's. Residents of that time complained about their traffic, with the slow wagons, livestock being driven to Denver, carriages, and riders on horseback delaying their exiting onto the road. (History does tend to repeat itself!) Farmers and ranchers along road 13 (later Parker Road) had to travel the road to Parker for supplies, but their trips would, of necessity, be infrequent because of chores on their properties that took up their time. The knowledge they acquired through the years about dry farming helped their crops flourish. Tending to them with livestock to care for as well, they had more than enough to do around their acreage.

As more people settled in and around Parker, it was inevitable that developers would come upon the scene, offering good prices per acre for the land. The property owners couldn't resist selling. During the latter half of the 20th century, properties changed hands, and today’s Pinery slowly came into existence.

Terracor and Senior Corp...
The first developer of the Pinery was Terracor, a Utah-based company. They planned on building a premier development in the area. The original vision of Terracor was to plot sites for small vacation cabins for people living in Denver. The plan called for open space, green belts, and excellent views of the mountains. This plan never came to fruition: the developer decided the 'homes should be permanent rather than summer "getaways.” The open areas were replotted for 5 - 10 acre sites and estate-sized homes. Included in the new plan were a park and a bird sanctuary. The development was begun in 1971, when the real estate market was poor. Some lots were sold and built on by independent builders, but the selling lagged. Terracor advertised their enterprise heavily to attract more buyers. In 1976-1977, hot air balloon races were held: take-off for the balloons was the elevated site where Mountain View Elementary School now stands. They also conceived of holding bicycle races throughout the Pinery. None of their advertising schemes worked well; in 1982, Terracor was forced to declare bankruptcy. At that time, the Pinery was separated from the undeveloped remainder of the property.

Senior Corp. took title to the undeveloped land, becoming the Master Developer. Its president, Jim Harper, joined William Lyons in the enterprise, paying $141 million to Terracor for the land. Within 18 months, Senior Corp. had recovered the buying price by selling most of the available lots in the Pinery. Property owners had, in the meantime, organized the Pinery Homeowners' Association, which made an agreement with Terracor and Senior Corp.: Senior Corp. was to assume all liabilities of Terracor so that the homeowners would be protected. The new Master Developer, would then either transfer certain properties to the PHA or form a Pinery Metropolitan District, which would maintain the quality of the development. With Senior Corp. in control, the lot sizes were reduced to 2 ½ acres. Further reduction took place later, but the developer did make the effort to retain a country atmosphere in the Pinery.

Filings... Developing the Pinery involved Senior Corp experiencing some opposition from residents. A rezoning plan by the developer for Filing 10, the area north of Lt. William Clark Road and adjacent to Misty Pines, was presented to the Douglas County commissioners in Nov. of 1986. Senior Corp wanted 57 houses to be built on 1/2 to 3/4 acre sites in this 37-acre parcel. The Pinery Homeowners' Association and a committee organized by Fred Rossiter appealed to the commissioners, asking that Filing 10 be declared "open space." PHA and the committee members appeared in person before the commissioners on Nov. 17th to oppose Senior Corp's application.

The ad hoc committee of homeowners was called the "Pinery Homeowners Outraged Over Excessive Expansion," or PHOOEE! PHOOEE!'s members had secured over 700 signatures, 240 letters, and numerous phone calls to protest the aims of the developer. A letter from then Governor Lamm was also submitted. Because of the well-planned protest, Senior Corp requested a postponement of a decision on the matter.

Shortly thereafter, PHA, PHOOEE!, and Senior Corp announced that they had reached a compromise: the 37 acres of land in Filing 10 would become open space. Located in the midst of the Pinery, it became known as The Preserve. Densely treed and heavily vegetated, it would become a refuge for all, including the wild animals.

Senior Corp, of course, made further filings in the Pinery. They planned to change another parcel adjacent to Thunderhill Road from open space to condominiums, a golf course, a riding path, or estate property. Not PHOOEE!, but another group of Pinery residents living on Thunderhill Road, raised their voices and presented a petition asking for a review of the plans for Filing 22. They wanted to minimize any negative effects of new homes already built, specifically regarding erosion, drainage, and slope control. More than three years later, the homeowners won their cause when the developer agreed Filing 22 would remain open space.

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