GV City Council punts Century’s Orchard Station project and why it Matters in the City Council Election

Monday night City Council had an opportunity to vote on Century Communities’ high-density Landmark Village residential development in Orchard Station. City council members could have provided clarity and transparency on their positions regarding Orchard Station. They could have begun the City’s healing process after the damaging division they created as a result of the June 6 Special Election. They could have honored the vision that is articulated in the Greenwood Village Comprehensive Plan. They could have said we heard the message sent by 76% of voters loud and clear. 

They didn’t.  

Instead they delayed the issue until December 4 and AFTER the upcoming City Council Election (ballots are being mailed this week). City council members argued that this delay would “de-politicize” their decision. Instead, I believe the decision does exactly the opposite by providing cover to TJ GORDON , FREDA MIKLIN and DARRYL JONES in their efforts to be reelected on November 7. 

Attendees at Monday’s hearing were told TJ Gordon recommended the delay until after the election. 

Twice during the meeting, Century offered to reduce the density in a last ditch effort to turn its $11 million Orchard Station investment into a $160 million development. Century’s application was predicated on the passage of the Orchard Station Subarea Amendment to the Comprehensive Plan. This was City Staff’s conclusion when it reviewed Century’s initial 104-unit Landmark Village application that was withdrawn at the beginning of 2016. 
The Subarea Amendment would have allowed residential and higher-density TOD development (tripling the height restrictions in the Amendment would have tripled the allowable density). 
TJ, Darryl and Freda REFUSED to agree to specific density restrictions requested as part of a compromise effort before the Orchard Station Amendment was sent to the voters in June. 

Century’s final offer Monday night included 161-units (reduced from 189). This would still be over twice the density of Caley Ponds and three-times the density of Marvella (both nearby Century projects). 

Some members of city council argued that residential would be preferred, because it would generate less traffic. That is a true statement. However, residential has its own costs – impact on schools and a significant increases in residences, may also be dilutive to the tax base, city services and potentially home values due to greater supply. 

These issues may not all materialize from a single development like Century’s, but allowing Century’s residential development to proceed creates an important precedent. Alberta Development still owns the Marilyn Hickey property and may continue to have options on additional redevelopment sites in the area. Alberta’s initial development application included almost 1,200 residential units, which would have increased the number of residences in the City by about 20%. If Century gets residential, how can the City deny residential to Alberta?

Allowing the Century residential development would basically tell developers that the City’s Comprehensive Plan doesn’t matter, since it strongly discourages additional residential, except for a limited amount by the Arapahoe Road light rail stop (the “Village Center”).

What will this type of exception to the Comp Plan invite when other areas in the City’s Corridor Area are eventually redeveloped (e.g. the area around Sheplers)?

The city attorney acknowledged last November that the main difference between the existing Comp Plan and the Orchard Station Subarea was that the existing Plan focuses new residential in the Village Center. 

Over and over, city council members supporting Orchard Station said (and continue to say on the campaign trail) that they only wanted to amend the Comp Plan in order to have the opportunity to consider alternative development opportunities beyond commercial office. They have acknowledged repeatedly that the current Comp Plan discourages additional residential. 

So why couldn’t they make a decision on Monday night?

As we know, the vote to amend the Comp Plan on June 6 failed 76% to 24%. However, other than a comment by Councilman Dave Bullock, I don’t believe the Comp Plan was discussed at Monday night’s meeting. 

Why can’t the high-density candidates like TJ, Darryl and Freda be consistent and abide by their previous statements? The attempt to amend the Comp Plan failed on June 6, so to be consistent they shouldn’t have had a very difficult time evaluating Century’s Landmark residential development application. 

Council members had all of the information they needed to make a decision and begin to restore trust on Monday night, but they failed to do so. A significant portion of this process will now start over on December 4, we just don’t know how much – what a waste of time for City Staff and residents. 

When you cast your ballots for a new City Council, please consider the damage caused by current Council’s actions on Orchard Station and Monday’s decision to continue to prevent transparency and protect the vision of Greenwood Village. 

Thank you – Randy

City Council punts Century’s Orchard Station application to December 4, after GV City Council Election

City council has kicked the Orchard Station can down the road to December 4. Waiting until after the new Greenwood Village City Council has been elected. 

Century came to tonight’s meeting trying to gain city council support, by offering to reduce the 189-unit high-density residential development by 10%. After some questions by city council Century further agreed to reduce the number of units by another 10-units to a total of 161-units. This is still 55% larger than its original 104-unit development. 

City council then closed the public hearing and met in Executive Session for over an hour to receive legal advice. 

When city council returned the decision was made to continue the application to December 4 when a new city council will be elected. It was stated that city council would have to reopen public comment, but since the city council will not have heard the new case, there is some speculation the process will need to start over. 

The concerns regarding compliance with the Comprehensive Plan (currently residential is highly discouraged around Orchard Station) were almost entirely ignored during the meeting. Dave Bullock raised the issue during his comments, but I don’t believe anyone else mentioned the issue. 

TJ Gordon recommended the delay until after the election. This means Mr. Gordon, Freda Miklin and Darryl Jones can all continue use their reelection campaigns without having to take a stance on another high density Orchard Station development. 

Despite Leslie Schluter’s blatant politically motivated motion, Century Communities’ case continued to October 16

City Council last night held a public hearing regarding Century Communities’ high-density residential Orchard Station development application. The Development is being called Landmark Village. 

In a purely political move, Leslie Schluter made a motion to continue Century’s application to November 6. Not coincidentally, November 6 is the night before the Greenwood Village City Council elections, at which point the large majority, if not most, of GV voters will have returned their mail-in ballots.  

Unfortunately for Ms. Schluter and other supporters of high-density Transit Oriented Development (TOD), the motion failed by a vote of 5-4. 

The Mayor broke the tie and voted no. Leslie Schluter, Freda Miklin, Darryl Jones and Tom Bishop all voted in favor of delaying the Landmark Village Vote until the eve of the city council election. These four city council members all voted IN FAVOR of the Orchard Station Subarea. 

Dave Bullock, George Lantz and Steve Moran voted against Ms. Schluter’s motion. TJ Gordon, who voted for Orchard Station, voted against the continuance to November 6. 

TJ Gordon (District 4), Freda Miklin (District 1) and Darryl Jones (District 2) are all running for reelection in contested elections and all SUPPORTED the Orchard Station Subarea. 

Seanna Mulligan also supported the Orchard Station Subarea and is running for Leslie Schluter’s seat in District 2. Seanna has spoken in support of high-density development and was a member of Alberta Development’s Yes for Greenwood Village issue committee that flooded GV homes with Orchard Station propaganda during the June special election. 

Judy Hilton (District 4), Dave Kerber (District 2), Anne Ingebretsen (District 2), Jerry Presley (District 1) and Dave Bullock (District 1) have all been endorsed by Save Our Village and were vocally OPPOSED to the high-density TOD development envisioned in the Orchard Station Subarea. 

Jeff Kahn is also running for City Council in District 4 and spoke against the high-density Century Communities’ development. 

Tom Dougherty is the final candidate in District 4, but to my knowledge, has not taken a public position on Orchard Station. 

Steve Moran and George Lantz, who both voted against the Orchard Station Subarea, are also running for reelection in District 3, but are unopposed. 

Ultimately, City Council continued the Century Communities hearing until Oct. 16. Darryl Jones asked to reopen the public hearing to give Century a chance to address the density and open space concerns. 

Century’s residential development application was contingent on the passage of the Orchard Station Subarea (which failed in the June 6 Special Election 76% to 24%). The Orchard Station Subarea would have encouraged high-density residential and mixed-use, whereas the current Comprehensive Plan strongly discourages additional residential, except for a limited amount of residential in the Village Center (next to the Arapahoe Road light rail stop). 

We will see what happens on October 16 and if City Council finally agrees to listen to the people.