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Denver City Councilwoman Susan Shepherd, reiterated in an email to constituents that she is “keeping all options open,” regarding RedPeak Properties’ plan for five-story apartment buildings in the heart of West Highland, including the possibility of rezoning the three parcels, although she also noted that “there is no quick fix” option.
The West Highland Neighborhood Association is hosting a meeting on the zoning law in regard to the RedPeak project at its regularly scheduled meeting on Dec. 6 at the Highland Event Center at West 29th Avenue and Julian Street. The WHNA has not taken an official position on the RedPeak plan at this time.
The WHNA meeting follows a four-hour plus meeting on Nov. 16, in which some vocal opponents of the three apartment buildings were disappointed that Shepherd did not immediately back a plan for down-zoning the parcels on Lowell Boulevard, Meade Street and West Moncrieff Place, just north of West 32nd Avenue Highland.
Gail Montoya, one constituent, alluded to the possibility of recalling Shepherd on the Facebook page, No High Rises in the Highland, created by a grassroots group fighting the current RedPeak plan.
“Has everyone received the information from Susan Shepherd and also from WHNA (West Highland Neighborhood Association.) It looks like we are being told to join a group to have input as to what they are going to do. This was not what I was looking for. I was expecting there would be discussions on stopping this. We also saw the information on going to a meeting or class to educate us on the zoning process. This is an attact on our intellegence. We need to know how to repeal or replace the current zoning. Richard called to find out how to start a recall process for Susan Shepherd as it seems she is not going to fight for her elector.”
A Shepherd spokeswoman said an email to constituents from the District 1 councilwoman is to “clarify misinformation.” The spokeswoman said that Shepherd has received some emails from people who incorrectly believe she won’t consider the possibility of rezoning the parcels in question and that she is not being responsive to the grassroots group opposing the project, No High Rises in West Highland.
Following is one email from Shepherd.
Thank you for your recent email. I want to make it clear that the commitment I made at the November 16 meeting was to keep all options on the table, including re-zoning legislation. That is still my position. The zoning learning session we’ve organized the evening of December 6th at 7 pm is to be a venue for the whole community as well as the No High Rises Group to learn about the history of the zoning on these particular parcels AND for the community to learn all the options on how to potentially affect the outcome of this development, including overlay districts, conservation districts, waivers & conditions as well as re-zoning. Make no mistake, that is the purpose of the meeting on Tuesday, December 6th.
Further, there are critical issues to discuss that evening. It is absolutely important for the community to understand that if I move forward with re-zoning legislation, I will not be able to vote on that legislation. There is no quick fix here – I cannot overturn a zoning decision by myself, it requires a minimum of 7 votes as well as a lengthy multi-step process. These are very important points to delve into further during the zoning learning session and just the kind of information, for example, that is vital for the community to understand regarding the work ahead. These and many other important issues need to be discussed at the meeting on Tuesday, December 6th at 7 pm at the Highland Event Center at 2945 Julian St. Please forward this to all interested residents so that we may ensure maximum participation. Thank you.
Councilwoman Susan Shepherd
In an earlier email, Shepherd described the first meeting with RedPeak, in which architect Brad Buchanan fielded questions – often yelled from audience members – regarding the proposed apartment community, which a number of residents believe it too dense, will generate too much traffic, and is out-of-character for a primarily single-family part of the neighborhood. They also said that the Main Street zoning is inappropriate for the streets, as they are not main streets. Some people, however, say the West Highland, would benefit from the renters of the luxury apartment communities, as a diversity of housing is needed to balance the neighborhood, where not everyone can afford to buy.
Following is Shepherd’s email:
Wednesday I hosted a meeting between the community and Red Peak development. For over four hours we heard about the concerns over this project and are ready to move on to some next steps,Shepherd wrote in the email. These include two parallel opportunities:
- A design-focused stakeholder group that will have a neutral facilitator. The stakeholder group’s purpose is to advise on ways to improve any project for these sites and to mitigate concerns on massing, height, traffic, parking and more. The purpose of this group is to make constructive suggestions about the project, individuals interested in rezoning or a totally different direction can participate but this will not be the focus of this forum, which is for constructive feedback and suggestions on design or impacts.
- A zoning learning session including at least one meeting to present detailed information about the history of the zoning of these properties and to answer questions about the zoning process, with follow-up meetings scheduled as decided by the group.
Even if these two groups aren’t appropriate for you at this time, we will continue to update the community, including emails and other public meetings to report back on the work of the small groups. We will also continue to take feedback from anyone who would like to weigh in.
The design stakeholder group will be convened by Councilwoman Shepherd and will be comprised of ten members. Two members from each stakeholder segment will be picked by a selection committee that will meet once for this purpose, made up of one representative from each group — West Highland Neighborhood Associations (WHNA), the Highland merchant community, No High Rises, Red Peak and Councilwoman Shepherd. If you would be interested in serving on the design track stakeholder group, West Highland Neighborhood Association is going to be gathering emails from interested parties until Tuesday, November 22 at 5 p.m. What we’d like for you to provide:
- Contact information
- Any special skill set or expertise you think would be valuable to this stakeholder group
- Short paragraph about why you are interested in serving on this group
SEND YOUR EMAIL TO:
This stakeholder group will require a significant time commitment, including weekly meetings for the first month or so. We will expect you to be the lead in taking the stakeholder meeting information back to your various groups.
Date Design Stakeholder Group Zoning
5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22 Deadline for submittal of interest to be on the stakeholder group Wednesday Nov. 23, evening (details to come later) Submittal sent to selection committee from: WHNA, NO High Rises, Highland merchants, Red Peak, Councilwoman Shepherd Wednesday, Nov. 30, evening /TBD 7 p.m., Dec. 6, Highland Event Center, 2946 Julian St. WHNA will host a presentation and discussion by CPD, City Attorney's office and Councilwoman Shepherd about the history of zoning on the development parcels and the zoning process.
Wednesday, Dec. 7, evening,/TBD First stekholder meeting will be held. Design stakeholder group will work toward the selection of the third-party facilitator, Stakeholders will establish ground rules and next meeting agenda.
Contact John Rebchook at JRCHOOK@gmail.com