INC ZONING AND PLANNING COMMITTEE MINUTES – AUGUST 26, 2017

INC Chair J. J. Niemann convened the meeting of the Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation Zoning and Planning Committee. The following topics were discussed:

  1. Abe Barge, a Principal City Planner with the Denver Community Planning and Development Department, informed the committee about a proposed Zoning Code Text Amendment and Zoning Map Amendments for the 38th and Blake-RiverNorth Overlay Zone District. These will help to implement the year-old 38th and Blake (transit) Station Area Plan. There will be a public open house in late September for these items before they go to the Planning Board and City Council. The Council hearing will tentatively be in early January 2018. The main purposes are:
  • To allow taller buildings to support the transit station
  • To promote higher design quality for new buildings
  • To establish the Platte River as an amenity
  • To incentivize affordable housing
  • To capture the value of increased development potential to provide community benefits such as affordable housing and/or artist studios

He explained a complicated system to allow greater heights by paying substantially greater affordable housing linkage fees.

One committee member suggested that developers should be encouraged to provide reduced-price bus or transit tickets for low-income residents.

  1. Evan Dreyer, Deputy Chief of Staff in the Mayor’s Office, explained the development of the package of 7 separate ballot issues for November 7 regarding general obligation bonds. The last vote on general obligation (GO) bonds was in 2007. There were 5 stakeholder committees, with several neighborhood representatives, that refined and prioritized a list of almost $4 billion in capital projects needed by the city. The final bond list approved by the Mayor and City Council to present to the voters is $937 million, not including interest. The separate items are:
  • 2A – roads and bridges
  • 2B – improvements to venues for arts, history and nature
  • 2C – support for City hospitals and urgent care centers
  • 2D –build new police stations and update fire stations
  • 2E – renovate and modernize city libraries
  • 2F – improve parks and recreation centers
  • 2G – improve public buildings.

Much information and the entire list of projects can be found at www.ourdenver2017.com.

The Committee voted by a vote of 17 in favor, 4 opposed and 2 abstaining to recommend the following to the INC Delegation:

Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation should endorse all 7 of the General Obligation Bond ballot issues in the November 2017 election. The projects are distributed equitably by types of projects and neighborhoods of Denver and have had much public involvement.

  1. Drew Dutcher, president of the Elyria-Swansea Neighborhood Association, described to the committee a proposed “framework agreement” for the National Western Center, which is scheduled to go to City Council on September 18. The agreement would approve an “authority” to govern the National Western Center for 50 years. The Committee voted to send the following letter to the Mayor, City Council and director of the National Western Center:

 

The Zoning and Planning Committee of Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation met on August 26, 2017 and briefly discussed the proposed “framework agreement” that will govern the National Western Center for the next 50 years and which is expected to be filed with City Council on September 7, 2017. Please note that we had no access to the document to review, because the very lengthy agreement has not been made available to the public and was negotiated and written behind closed doors.

Our committee voted by a vote of 24 in favor, 1 opposed and 1 abstaining to encourage all of you to postpone the date for final consideration of this agreement for at least a month. This postponement would allow for more citizen awareness and discussion of the contents of this very significant agreement that will affect the city for such a long time and which will apparently remove the National Western Center from involvement by our elected City Council members. We also request that City Council agree to conduct a public hearing on the agreement. We believe that when approval of a complicated contract or other agreement is rushed so quickly, public confidence is reduced, as witness the continuing distrust of the Platte-to-Park Hill project or the recent health-care bills in Congress.

Please understand that our committee has not expressed any opinion on the merits of the agreement, but we are only expressing that the National Western Center, the nearby neighborhoods and the citizens of Denver will benefit by an approval process for the agreement that is not as rushed and is more open to the public.

  1. Heather Noyes, the president of the Berkeley-Regis Neighborhood Association, informed the committee about the progress of the “slot home” task force, representing neighborhoods. Many new buildings are being built in several zone districts and neighborhoods with the slot-home design, with North Tennyson Street being heavily impacted. One of the main proposals is to require that each residential unit oriented to the street must have an entrance on the street façade. There will be a public meeting to discuss the task force’s progress on September 7 at 5:30pm at 1780 Pennsylvania Street.

 

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