Excerpts from a letter from Councilmembers George Lantz and Steve Moran, sent as private citizens, on why they are opposed to the Orchard Station Plan.
On March 20th, City Council took the two votes we outlined in our last newsletter. The results were:
- The first item on the agenda was an ordinance requiring each City Council member to publicly vote their position on changing the existing Comprehensive Plan by adding a sub-area. The result was a 5 to 3 vote in favor of modifying the existing Comprehensive Plan. We both voted against the proposal for the reasons we have previously outlined. Dave Bullock from District 1 joined us in our opposition while the remaining 5 members of the Council voted in favor.
- The second item on the agenda was a resolution to send the Comprehensive Plan Amendment to a public referendum, allowing the people of Greenwood Village to have a mail-in vote on whether to modify the existing City Comprehensive Plan–to add a subarea with increased density, building height, and encourage rental and owner occupied multifamily homes. The Council unanimously passed this resolution and now the City will conduct a mail-in ballot referendum with a June 6th election date.
We are pleased this issue is going to a public referendum. This referendum will give citizens the opportunity to express their opinions on this issue. This is an issue, which will dramatically change the City for the next 30 plus years. While we believe we have represented the desires of our constituents properly by opposing the proposed changes to the Comprehensive Plan, your vote will provide the ultimate form of clarity to the Council.
Under normal circumstances, Council Members are not allowed to comment or participate in discussions in advance of an applicant’s hearing or testimony. The rules of the referendum are different–Council Members are free to offer their personal opinions on the issue at hand, and also participate in discussions with our constituents. As citizens voting in this referendum, we are voting NO. We would welcome the opportunity to speak with you, your friends, and neighbors to explain our rationale. As we’ve outlined below, we feel this proposed amendment lacks the proper protection for the City and could result in excessive development, and degrade the quality of life in the Village. Please join us, and vote NO.
- Traffic: The proposed traffic mitigation that accompanies this amendment would only apply to Orchard Road. It would not improve the ability to enter or exit I-25. As a result, a widening of Orchard Road simply creates a larger parking lot. Furthermore, traffic congestion on Quebec and DTC/Yosemite would not be addressed by this amendment, leaving it up to the generosity of the developer. Traffic congestion at Belleview is also a concern, especially with the development surrounding the Belleview Station.
- Building Height: This amendment would nullify existing height restrictions for buildings in the Orchard Station Sub-Area. The current height limit is set at the top of the three Triad buildings (the buildings inside the circular road by the Landmark). The amendment would increase this current height restriction from 5 stories to 13 stories or the top of the Landmark towers. The entire I-25 corridor may become a wall of tall buildings similar to the structures near Fiddlers Green and the Arapahoe RTD Station.
- Multi-family Housing: The amendment encourages multi-family housing development, and allows for new apartment development. The Village is currently 54% single unit housing, and 46% multi-family. We are concerned that additional multi-family housing will change the character of the Village. At a minimum, this would necessitate a shift in budget resources for police and public works toward multi-family housing and away from our single unit neighborhoods that are the fabric of our Village. You should be aware the Village’s finance director has shown that adding residents will likely be a net expense to the Village. When Greenwood Village’s limited building area is used for housing, the area produces less than optimal revenue, which could result in reduced services or increased taxes.
- Existing Development: Two new buildings (Charter Communications on the west side of I-25 and the Granite Building on the east side of I-25) at the Village Center are almost complete. The Granite building (near the RTD parking structure) is a 10-story building with a floor area of 280,000 sq. ft. The Westin Hotel will be located next to the Granite building on the RTD parking lot, and is scheduled to break ground at the end of April. That project will involve an approximately 18-month construction process. There continues to be discussion about a 2nd Granite Building located next to the 1st Granite Building. As of this update, the City has not yet received a proposal for that building. The City will need to assess the traffic and congestion associated with these projects, and those on the north side of Belleview (controlled by the City of Denver) before it can project the impact of the Orchard Station Sub-Area.
- Future Development: The Village must think beyond this decision. The available land in the Orchard Station Sub-Area is over 44 acres. The initial Alberta Development proposal only included developing approximately 25 acres with 3.3 million square feet of buildings and over 1,100 multi-family units. What many don’t realize is there are an additional 19 acres available for development within the Orchard Station Sub-Area. What if the next developer wanted the same scale as Alberta on the remaining 19 acres? What precedent does it set, and where does it end? Do you want development like the Belleview station? And all the apartments north of Belleview?
We would like to thank you for devoting your time and attention to the Orchard Station Sub-Area. We anticipate there will be a lot of discussion and money spent to influence the vote. As always, we are available for questions and would welcome the opportunity to visit with all neighborhoods to discuss this matter in greater detail. Please remember, a vote to change the comprehensive plan is a vote in favor of increased density, higher buildings and a higher number of multi-family rental units. If you share our concerns, we simply ask you to speak with your friends and family members in other districts, and encourage them to vote NO on the June 6 ballot.
Paid for by Save our Village Issue Committee, Dave Kerber Treasurer