P&Z reverses July 19 decision and moves Comp Plan to City Council

Tonight Planning and Zoning voted by a vote of 6-2 to recommend to city council to approve the amendment to the GV Comprehensive Plan that would create the Orchard Station Subarea. The same P&Z Commissioners unanimously voted down 8-0 nearly an identical amendment on July 19, 2016. You can read the minimal changes to the wording by clicking here

Libby Barnacle and Brian Strandes were the two dissenting votes in tonight’s vote. 

Brian Anderson, Glenn Malloy, Steve Goldman, Jon Ekoniak, Henny Lasley and Steve Burns voted in favor of the comprehensive plan amendment. 

Representatives from Alberta Development walked out of the council chambers joyful. If passed, the amendment alters the vision for the area and paves a path for Alberta to create a third high density Transit Oriented Development between Belleview and Arapahoe Road that is proposed to be 2.8 million square feet. 

According to the July 19 staff report, City Council directed city staff to begin work on the comprehensive plan language in 2015 after Alberta and Century Communities both expressed interest in redevelopment opportunities within the Greenwood Plaza/Orchard Station area. 

Public opposition to the comprehensive plan amendment, rezoning and the forthcoming high density mixed use development (that will include up to 1,000 residential units) in the Orchard Station area has been widespread.

The hundreds of letters (355 against to 68 in favor that I have read), attendance at P&Z public hearings (129 against and 39 in favor on September 20 sign-up sheets) and near unanimous public testimony at the July 19 hearing show at least a 5-to-1 ratio of citizens opposing the Orchard Station concept. 

Despite the overwhelming public opposition, Chairman Brian Anderson dismissed all of it by saying they have only heard from 3% of the GV population. 

During deliberations on September 20, Mr. Anderson acknowledged the need to make changes to the amendment, but when he heard he would have to reopen public comment he said never mind. 

This “3% comment” comes after months of  repeated requests by citizens to hold town halls. Mr. Anderson also had the option last night to make a motion to delay last night’s vote until after the city holds town halls on Orchard Station in January 2017. He failed to do so. 

Mr. Anderson’s comment dismisses the time, effort and opinions of residents who became highly engaged in this process over the last several months. He also assumes that silence by 97% of the population is equivalent to their support. 

Stay tuned for updates as we await the city’s scheduling of Orchard Station town halls expected for January 2017.