One of the most important topics for citizens at this time was discussed during the city council meeting-the budget. Every government, whether it is federal, state or local is trying to decide what projects are worth the cost and that will benefit the community the most while trying to not drown in debt in the process. Unfortunately it is not as simple as just removing some projects to curb the debt. Many projects are actually required on every level of government. The federal government has medicare and social security, two entitlement programs which the government must fund, even if it sinks the government into further debt. The Greenwood Village City Council also had to deal with similar situations during the meeting on August 20th. The council had every funding program on The Capital Improvement Project listed with the numbers 1-4. Programs with a 1 were a requirement that the council had to fund no matter what whether it was for a legal requirement, contract obligation, or other reason. A 2 was what the city needed to do, a 3 was what the city wanted to do, and a 4 was to be removed from the Capital Improvement Project. Some projects that may not seem like a big deal were considered to be a 1 due to a legal requirement. These projects included High Line Canal Trail Crossing Signage Improvements, Pavement and Concrete Rehabilitation Programs, and the I-25/Arapahoe Road Interchange Reconstruction Design. These projects were just some that most of the council labeled as category 1. Many more were labeled as 2 and 3, with very few being labeled as 4. This made it difficult for the council to decide what to keep and what to eliminate. While the council did cut off a good amount of debt during the meeting, there was still debt remaining at the end, which will have to be cleared up at a future date. The difficulty that the city council encountered is a stark reminder of urgency and direness of the financial problems in the United States. As one of the richer cities in not only in Colorado, but the in country it shows that even cities that are better off than most still have trouble dealing with debt in this financial crisis. This council meeting shows how hard it is to reduce debt when the government must pay for so many required programs and it shows how much reform is needed in the United States’ budget
A city-initiated request to amend The Master Development Plan was To the council during the meeting. This amendment proposed to rezone Westlands Park, from TC (Town Center) to O-2 (Open Space). Some real Property was also zoned from TC to R-1.5 (Residential-1.5), while some R-1.5 Planned Unit Development was zoned to O-2. There was some concern that the open space would be ruined by becoming a playground or a sports field. The applicant stated the the open space would continue to be open space with no construction. The council ended up voting for all of the ordinances included in the amendment.
The Hotel and Restaurant, Tilted Kilt, requested a liquor license for its DTC location. The council approved this decision with the condition that the applicant could not be the registered manager for two Liquor License establishments at the same time as law requires. The mayor also made it clear that the Greenwood Village Government would punish the applicant severely if it violated its liquor license by serving alcohol illegally, such as to a minor, like the Senor del Sol restaurant did earlier in the year, which the council has dealt with this year in previous meetings.
There were two major issues during the city council meeting on the 16th and those issues were park regulations and the Capital Improvement Program (CIP). The staff recommended that natural open areas be defined as O-1 and parks be defined as O-2 (O-1 standing for natural open space areas and O-2 standing for active and passive parks). Both parks and natural space areas had closing times to prevent congregation after dusk. However, there was no closing time for trails. The city allowed trails to stay open after dusk to facilitate other means of transportation other than automobiles. This trail policy caused confusion as many trail networks passed through parks and natural space open areas. The council allowed citizens to travel through the parks and open space after hours as long as they did not linger and stayed on the trail. The police department also recognized the difficulty of enforcing these regulations and decided to only send officers to a park or patch of open space if there was an issued complaint. The issue of trails being open after dusk made the situation even more complex when the council looked at a section of the High Line Canal Trail. This trail was only open during dawn to dusk; this concerned some councilmembers as it was not consistent with the rest of the city’s trail times. These councilmembers wanted to negotiate with the company that owned this section to eliminate the closing time, but other councilmembers brought up problems with this idea. They argued that there was a very small chance that the company would agree with the city council and the company was large and powerful. Even more than this fact is that having this section of the High Line Canal Trail open will not be consistent with the rest of the trail that is outside of Greenwood Village’s jurisdiction, which would still have a closing time. The council decided to not negotiate with the company as there would be inconsistency whether there was a closing time or not.
The CIP for 2013-2018 was also overviewed by the city council with the improvement of one of the city’s maintenance facility, which had cramped working quarters, not enough storage, site circulation for vehicles and other flaws which hindered its efficiency. Many other issues were discussed for funding such as traffic, lighting, road, and park improvements.
Through the discussion of the CIP and park regulations, the city council continued to emphasize its concern of efficiency and consistency.
The applicant, Hamilton-Titan Partners, requested for their plan to increase the parking space of Park Place to be reviewed by the city council. The site in question is 2.9 acres and is located in the northern quadrant of the DTC Boulevard/ Yosemite Street intersection (The site is known as Parcel A and the applicant’s request only applies to this site and not Parcel B). The applicant reasoned that this plan would allow the business complex to flourish as the plan would create a more attractive place for pedestrians and business would increase as a result.
In order to help clear space for the plan, many trees had to be cut down, with the applicant having no plan of mitigating the loss. While the city council was concerned of this, they did not request any mitigation plan as only a row of trees on the property were to be cut down, still leaving plenty of landscaping untouched. The applicant also emphasized pedestrian access and safety as being a top priority and planned to install extra lighting to help achieve this. The applicant promised that all lighting would be turned off at 10 PM daily in order to reduce disturbance for the surrounding area. While the increased traffic from the plan and its effects on the community concerned the city council, there was still a unanimous vote for the increased parking plan.
I agree with the unanimous decision as the allowance of extra parking will benefit the community more than it will hurt the community. While there was a net loss of landscaping with no mitigation for the loss, the economic advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Extra business will be brought to Greenwood Village along with the applicant’s estimate of 120 jobs. From these economic advantages I also agree with the council’s unanimous decision.
The argument of whether the DTC apartments should be built continued on June 18, with many residents from the surrounding apartments and neighborhoods showing up to the council meeting. The site is located at 5455 S. Valentia Way and the plans of construction at the site sparked discontent with the city council and with the neighboring population during previous city council meetings. One problem that concerned the neighboring apartment complex is that the DTC Apartments would obstruct the view of their residents. Another concern was that the neighboring complex’s view would also be hurt as residents would be able to see the newly constructed DTC apartments, which concerned the apartment residents and the Planning and Zoning commision. The Council was also concerned with the length of Building E and with the amount of green space on the apartment complex. Along with all the concerns about the appearance of the apartments, there were also worries about the amount of parking space and how the DTC apartments would not hinder the ability of the residents from the other apartments to reach places such as the Orchard Light Rail Station.
The applicants for the DTC apartment complex, made many changes to accomodate the demands of the city council. They made Building E shorter, along with cutting a story off the building so the neighbor’s views would not be obstructed. The applicants also planted a row of trees to hide the view of their apartment from the neighboring apartment. The amount of green space was increased generously, far exceeding the demands of the zoning laws. Parking space was also increased along with a path that was made through the DTC apartment complex, allowing neighboring residents to travel throught the DTC apartment complex to reach their destinations without having to walk around the entire complex.
The city council voted unanimously for the applicants, allowing the DTC apartments to be constructed. While some residents were still worried about the high density of residents in the apartment complex, most were satisfied by the applicant’s adjustments. I agree with the council’s decision as the applicant went far beyond the demands of the Planning and Zoning commission, and the local community will benefit from the construction of the DTC Apartments.