2013 April 18, 2013 Pub Meeting

Pub Meeting – April 18, 2013

Tom Kristopeit’s Pub meeting featured Glen Van Nimwagen (Community Development Director), Scott Ranville (Planning Board) and several citizens to discuss Complan and other development issues in Littleton.

I am not going to start at the beginning – not necessary in my opinion.  I will start with the discussion about the Complan – when changes are made how does that effect zoning changes?  Glen said zoning changes come from the land owner – is the zoning consistent with the Complan?  Complan does not trump existing zoning.

There was a short discussion on definitions within the Complan.  For instance, walkability.  Does that mean that there are goods and services within walking distance or does walkability mean safe conditions for walking?  Ben said generalities are needed in some of the wording,  but some are so general that they can be interpreted 10 different ways, i.e. changing circumstances.  How do we manage that?

Glen said the Complan is general because zoning is so specific – it helps the Planning Board and the council make decisions.  We have goals and strategies – a goal could be to support outdoor Littleton.  A strategy to do that is to capitalize on the South Platte River, the panoramic views,  and/or view the river most important.  By undating the Complan it will narrow the risk of changing conditions.

Lou said she did not see problems with the existing Complan and asked for any major changes between the old and the new.  Scott said there wasn’t much difference and Pam said that is the problem.  Lou asked for an example.  Glen cited walkability – it is a big issue now and wasn’t thirty years ago.  We have light rail now and didn’t then.  We have streets without sidewalks.

Teresa said she lived on a street without sidewalks and likes it that way.  She wanted to know when citizens could come back and comment in a serious way on the Complan.  A real open give and take type of conversation with the council.  Paul said it takes more than 3 minutes in front of council and the planning board to discuss the changes in the Complan.

Lou said the planning board denied Nevada Place II but the staff recommended it.  Why does staff make a recommendation?  Jack said the staff goes in loaded and makes a recommendation to the planning board and planning board makes a recommendation to the council.  Then staff makes a second recommendation to the council.  The applicant comes in and has the final word after citizens have 4 minutes – it is a loaded deal.  He would like for council to have both sides of the argument presented fairly and no staff recommendations.  It should be the applicant and those in opposition that address the planning board and the council.

Gloria wanted to know if the design of a project enters into the approval process – she cited two projects in her area that are very different – Healthsouth and Colorado Business Bank.  Glen said builders have most of the architectural control.

Paul said he agreed with Jack that the process is an unfair arrangement.  The developer and staff get unlimited time to speak and the citizens are limited to 3 to 4 minutes in the pit – the process needs to be a two-sided thing.

Peggy thought it would be appropriate for the council to get a list of what in the projects satisfies the Complan requirements and what aspects of the project that do not meet the requirements of the Complan and let the information speak for itself rather than have staff make recommendations.  Let council evaluate the weight of each.

Scott said he thought the staff comments on the Nevada Place II hearing did sway the planning board.

Teresa said decisions should be made at the top – it takes too much to undo it. And the citizens are at the top of the organization chart.

Leah pointed out the omission of the citizens that showed up to oppose the Nevada Place II project in he front page of the Littleton Report.

Marty thanked Scott for being at the meeting and told him that he really worked for the citizens and that Glen worked for Michael Penny.  The question is – where in the Complan does it say to change zoning to increase density?  Glen replied the goal in the Complan to increase housing diversity in the area of the light rail justified the rezone of Nevada Place II.

Leah said that density and diversity did have a lot of the same letters!

Nancy said she did not understand why we have a planning board if the staff is going to override their recommendation.  Glen said Nevada Place had an existing zoning in a certain form and the form did not change.  The issues were traffic and parking – streets are built to take a certain amount of traffic and there was no physical change required. by the rezone request. A diversity of housing is desired so the question was does it impact the community – no.

Nancy told Glen that the Nevada Place hearing was the first time she had seen Glen and she thought, based on his presentation, that he was the developer.  There’s an underlying issue of trust – one of not being heard or valued.

Linda thinks the Complan is not being followed making it useless.  It can be used to justify any point of view.

Scott said the counter argument to the public not being heard is that there were only 142 citizens that showed up at the meeting…..there’s a greater number of people that did not go to the meeting.  He believes the recommendation from staff is important because members of the planning board are not professionals.  The only requirement for them is to be a citizen.

Gary said the citizens are at the top of the food chain but you don’t get input from the citizens.  The Complan says we need a diversity of housing – high density and low density.  Scott said the developer made a good case for adding more one bedroom apartments – they were needed in Littleton.

Teresa said the sum of the parts does not equal the whole – to change the zoning on Nevada Place and say it is not different – it is – the number of trips will increase.  She also commented on how difficult it is to use the city’s website to find information on proposed projects – you really have to know where to look.

Glen said they advise developers to talk to neighbors but they are not required to do so.  Teresa said the professionals can’t see the forest for the trees.  Teresa asked about the process when a developer comes into the city with a project in mind do you ask, is it good for the city?  The citizens?  The universe?  Revenues?  Do you ask the school system?

Glen said the utilities have to be notified and the school district can weigh in.  We think about the whole gamut and we use the Complan as a checklist.

Dave asked how we should address the elephant in the room.  If you believe it’s going happen without an initiative – surprise.

Phil wants to engage the citizens more in the Complan process but in a fun way and as much input as they have he is disappointed with the energy level.

Linda said the “visioneering” totally disrespects everyone in the Complan development process.  Phil wants alternatives.

Betty said the 140 people that were against Nevada Place II were, according to Scott, discounted.  Most politicians believe if one citizen expresses a concern there are 5,000 others that feel the same.

Carol said the 142 were discounted but yet the city will survey citizens and act on input from a similar sized group.

Pam said the city needs a 50-year plan that gets updated every 10 years.  Glen said every 5 years. Pam believes it should include revenue projections, population projections, a traffic analysis.  You cannot use a process that is drink by drink.  Population growth needs to be managed rather than happening all at once.

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