INC ZONING AND PLANNING COMMITTEE MINUTES – OCTOBER 28, 2017

INC ZONING AND PLANNING COMMITTEE MINUTES – OCTOBER 28, 2017

Charles Nadler, one of the 2 new co-chairs of the Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation Zoning and Planning Committee, convened the meeting. Ean Tafoya is the other new co-chair.

The following topics were discussed:

  1. Brad Buchanan, the Executive Director of the Denver Community Planning and Development Department talked about the Denveright process, which has been ongoing for 1 year. Denveright, which is described in detail at www.denveright.com, is an effort to update Denver’s land use and transportation plan (known as Blueprint Denver), parks and recreation plan (known as the Game Plan), transportation and mobility plan and to establish a new transit plan. The planning process on these interlinked issues has forced different city departments to work together and communicate better. The main purpose is to help Denver cope in an equitable way with the historically high amount of population growth in recent years and anticipated in the future.

Brad also talked about the Neighborhood Planning Initiative. Only 38% of Denver’s 78 neighborhoods have a neighborhood plan from 2000 or later and 30% have never had a neighborhood plan. The initiative is intended to prepare current neighborhood plans for all Denver neighborhoods within 10 years. The initiative, which is just beginning, is starting with areas in Far Northeast Denver and East Central Denver. He said that regional planning, city planning and neighborhood planning all need to work together. He said that approved plans allow CPD to reject many proposed projects that are not compatible with approved plans.

Brad also said that many citizens in the planning process have expressed a strong desire and demand for better urban design and architectural design, with which he strongly agrees, even though it may add time and cost to projects. He said that the recently approved plan for Arapahoe Square is a pilot project for improved design and that he hopes to persuade citizens and city officials to require design review in all of the Central Business District and any other neighborhoods that want it. Strategies may be to incentivize good design and to use pattern books.

  1. There was a discussion of the pros and cons of Initiative 300 on the November 7 ballot, which, if passed, would require green roofs to be placed on any new Denver building over 25,000 square feet after January 1, 2018. The text of the initiative can be found at www.denvergreenroof.org. Brandon Reitheimer, the prime organizer of the citizen-generated initiative said:
  • Many citizens are very concerned that new Denver buildings should be required to be more sustainable and that the city government is doing little to help.
  • The initiative would help reduce Denver’s particulate and ozone pollution and would reduce the high temperatures of Denver’s heat islands.
  • It would also help with Denver’s management of stormwater runoff, by allowing green roofs to absorb much rainfall.
  • Green roofs will last longer and will lower utility costs. Therefore long-term building costs will be reduced.
  • Exemptions will be allowed under appropriate circumstances.

A representative of the group opposed to Initiative 300, Citizens for a Responsible Denver, argued as follows:

  • Such a green-roof program should not be mandated. Owners and developers should make their own decisions based on the market.
  • If passed, the initiative will increase the cost of housing, which is already too high.
  • There was no collaborative effort to develop a program with all stakeholders involved.
  • A one-size-fits-all solution is not appropriate for such a complicated problem.
  1. Tom Fesing of the East Colfax Neighborhood Association spoke about the neighborhood problems caused by the deterioration of many old motels in his neighborhood. There are a total of 13 motels on East Colfax between Quebec and Yosemite, many of which have many crime problems related to weapons and illegal drugs. A city motel task force has been studying the problem for approximately 4 years. The Department of Excise and Licenses will conduct a show-cause hearing about whether to revoke the license of the 7-Star Motel at Verbena and Colfax at 9am on November 16 at the Webb Municipal Office Building on the second floor. Tom encouraged INC members to attend and show support for the neighborhood. He described this as the worst of all of the problem motels on East Colfax.
  2. Bridget Walsh and Tom Morris spoke about the issue of major land use decisions within parks being removed in the 2010 Zoning Code from the elected City Council and put in the hands of the Executive Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, appointed by the Mayor. After discussion, the Committee approved the following motion by a vote of 17 in favor, 1 opposed and 5 abstentions:

Whereas the City Charter of the City and County of Denver assigns responsibility for
land use to City Council; and,

Whereas Denver’s 2010 Zoning Code rewrite created a parks and open space
zoning category called OS-A and assigned all parkland to the OS-A category; and,

Whereas the 2010 Zoning Code assigned unilateral, blanket responsibility for all
use decisions for OS-A to the Executive Director of Parks and Recreation; and,

Whereas the Director of Parks and Recreation is a single individual, appointed by
the Mayor, the 2010 Zoning Code has removed parks land use responsibility from the
City Council, who are representatives of the neighborhoods’ citizens; and,

Whereas the Director of Parks has used this authority to make decisions about park
land use without consideration of the public’s input; and,

Whereas City Council has the authority to amend the Zoning Code; and,
Whereas Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation has opposed the assignment of OS-A
land use decisions to the Director of Parks and Recreation in the new Zoning Code in
a Resolution issued on September 12, 2009;

It is Resolved by Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation Zoning and Planning:

We request City Council to amend the Zoning Code such that OS-A land is
subject to community-inclusive zoning control processes similar to other zoning
classifications and under the authority of City Council and commit to take no action in
Council to bring forth a bill in this matter until a meaningful community engagement
process has been completed.

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