Earthjustice’s civil rights complaint says the working-class neighborhood has coped for 50 years with the freeway’s original construction. Now it would bear the brunt of new negative effects on residents’ health, quality of life and economic well-being, since dozens would have to relocate. The complaint says the disproportionate impact would violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because CDOT likely will receive federal funding for the project.
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This case is premised around the alleged construction of an “industrial-level stormwater management project in designated parkland,” specifically Denver’s City Park Golf Course (“CPGC”). Compl. ¶1. Macfarlane argues that such management project (the “Project”) is “designed specifically to protect a highly-controversial federal highway project and other new construction.”
Macfarlane asserts that the Project: 1) violates Denver’s zoning code; 2) violates Denver’s Department of Parks and Recreation (“DPR”) charge of the Denver City Charter; 3) without popular vote, would violate usage restrictions; and 4) is contrary to caselaw interpreting similar dispositions of parkland.
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The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) says the expansion will rejoin communities, strengthen Denver’s economic backbone and bring the highway into the 21st century.
But groups in opposition to the project, of which there are several, refute these claims. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s administration, Denver’s City Council, the Colorado Department of Transportation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have all come under fire from such groups.
What are their worries? And why are they suing? Let The Colorado Independent walk you through the various intersecting issues involved in this contentious debate.
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First, show us you understand the problems.
Get rid of the inappropriate name, “Platte to Park Hill” and do not ever, ever, ever use that name in our neighborhoods again. Call it, as I will, the “Golf Course to I-70” project. This project will capture all of the Montclair Creek flows in a ditch at 39th Avenue northwest of Park Hill. It will then connect that ditch to pipes under the railroad, and force those flows through an artificial channel into an artificial “confluence” at Globeville Landing Park, approximately one mile upstream of its historic and natural confluence with the South Platte River.
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The Interstate 70 expansion project is linked to the city’s plan because the interstate would be built below grade would benefit from drainage improvements.
At a public hearing early Tuesday, residents said the project would do little to improve drainage south of I-70, while fees will be collected from residents who live throughout Denver.
Some accused the council of having already made up its mind on the project before the public hearing and final vote.
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The suit alleges that the planned project—which will be funded by a large stormwater fee hike being considered by Denver City Council tonight—is designed to protect and shift the burden of paying for stormwater protection for I-70 and other public and private development from the builders onto Denver’s ratepayers. Mr. MacFarlane also alleges that the project’s use of designated parkland is not for park purposes and therefore contravenes the Denver City Charter, the Denver Zoning Code, and common law governing the municipal use of parkland.
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By Kimberly Morse
City Council is preparing to vote on an ordinance that will amend Denver’s Revised Municipal Code regarding charges for sanitary sewage and stormwater drainage. If this amendment is approved all Denver wastewater rate payers will be on the hook for rate increases that will double year over year for the foreseeable future. The rate increase would take effect July 1.
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