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Smethills selected as industry leader

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Harold Smethills, the visionary behind the new water-efficient, sustainable Sterling Ranch community in northwest Douglas County, was selected Industry Leader for Residential Real Estate in Denver Business Journal's Power Book 2011 awards.

The Journal noted that Smethills, who has been building successful companies his entire career, is on a mission to build metro Denver's largest housing development in years with 12,050 homes.

"We're basically creating a whole new city and all the services that go with it," Smethills, managing director of the community that will be home to 31,000 residents in 20 years, told the Journal.

Smethills and the principals of family-owned Sterling Ranch-Diane Smethills and Jack Hoagland-spent nearly a decade meeting with neighbors, local business groups and public officials before winning approval of the $4.3 billion project from the Douglas County Commissioners in May.

Making the Sterling Ranch community Colorado's most water-efficient is key for Smethills, a former Adolph Coors senior executive who shaped his water conservation and sustainability thinking under beer patriarch William Coors.

The county commissioners in a unanimous vote approved integrating water conservation into land planning and thereby reducing the county's historic water requirements by almost half. The Sterling Ranch approach to conservation and land planning is revolutionary.

Smethills said Sterling Ranch never could have made it without the people who contributed to the vision for water efficiency, sustainability and innovative solutions to regional problems.

Smethills credited the state legislature for changing Colorado water law to permit rainwater harvesting, the Colorado Water Conservation Board for naming Sterling Ranch the state's first rainwater harvesting pilot project, the Denver Botanic Gardens for helping Sterling Ranch demonstrate that water demand can be dramatically reduced, the Douglas County staff for developing water conservation plans with Sterling Ranch, and the many neighbors who testified at public hearings in support of the new community.

"At the end of the day," Smethills said, "it took the courage and leadership of the Douglas County Commissioners who stood up for water conservation by unanimously approving Sterling Ranch's zoning and water appeal."

Sterling Ranch, located between Chatfield and Roxborough state parks, expects to begin construction late next year on the new community, which will promote Colorado's outdoor lifestyle by preserving 37% of the land for open space and creating 30 miles of hiking, biking and horseback-riding trails.

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