- A long-time West Highland resident is in favor of RedPeak’s plan.
- Dan Hoops believes it is a property rights issue and the parcels were zoned in accordance with law.
- The founder of No High Rises in West Highland was incredulous that he thinks his opinion is shared by many in the neighborhood.
In 2008, Dan Hoops was one of the people who unsuccessfully fought to stop the Denver City Council from downzoning much of Sloan’s Lake and a portion of West Highland.
Despite the council’s decision to downzone — an issue so divisive and emotional that it drew 200 concerned citizens and the council did not vote on it until 3 a.m. — Hoops believes as many or more people shared his perspective than backed the winning side.
“We became convinced that at least half of the neighbors agreed with our position, if not more —maybe 70 or 75 percent,” said Hoops.
Now, he said the same thing is happening regarding the opposition to Red Peak Properties’ proposal to develop three luxury apartment buildings in the heart of West Highland.
“I think there as many or more people who really are on the other side, but they tend not be as vocal about it,” as are those who are fighting RedPeaks, said Hoops, who lives four blocks from the proposed development north of West 32nd Avenue on Lowell Boulevard, West Moncrieff Place and Meade Street.
“I think some people think they (opponents to RedPeak) represent the entire neighborhood and they do not,” added Hoops, 61, who has lived in West Highland for the past 18 years.
Opponents of RedPeak are more vocal and better organized than those who are not opposed to it, according to Hoops.
“A lot of these people who are against the RedPeak development are really energized by these kind of battles,” Hoops said. “But just because you are the squeaky wheel, does not mean you are right.”
Hoops noted that he is not a Realtor, developer or real estate investor who could conceivably benefit from the two five-story and one four-story building proposed by RedPeak. Realtors in the area are divided on the issue.
“My perspective is that this is about property rights,” Hoops, an unemployed IT worker, said. “It is a matter of principle to me. Property rights are very important to America. It is a foundation of America that goes hand and hand with legislation.”
“The (zoning) legislation was passed and these guys (RedPeak) simply want to do what they are allowed to do,” Hoops said.
“Their whole business is predicated about being able to doing what the zoning allows. They probably would not pay the price they are paying for the land, if they are not able to do what they hoped they could do, or thought they could do.”
He also said RedPeak went beyond what was required by zoning or the city by reaching out to neighbors. Many attending meetings with RedPeak officials greeted them with scorn and derision.
Hoops also said that he is impressed with apartments RedPeak has developed in other parts of the city.
“I don’t think you could ask for a better developer,” he said.
A grassroots group, No High Rises in West Highland, was founded about 15 months ago to fight RedPeak’s plan. No High Rises in West Highland’s Facebook page has 606 likes.
The group apparently has raised tens of thousands of dollars to support a lawsuit that is trying to change the zoning that allows five-story buildings next to a former church on Lowell Boulevard, as well as on Meade Street and West Moncrieff Place, just north of West 32nd Avenue. RedPeak plans a four-story building on Moncrieff.
District Court Judge Robert L. McGahey Jr. has set the trial for late May. McGahey rejected the plaintiff’s request for a jury trial.
Laura Goode Jungkind, founder of No High Rises in West Highland, dismissed Hoop’s contentions.
“Really? Tell him to get 2,000 signatures and then he can make such absurd statements,” Goode Jungkind said.
Not all 2,000 people, however, are from West Highland.
“I disagree with his comments and I think the court will affirm this sentiment,” Goode Jungkind added.
The plaintiffs, who charge the current U-MS-5 zoning is illegal spot zoning, are seeking to have the current zoning remanded to the City Council and have it changed to a zoning it believes better reflects Blueprint Denver’s designation of the parcels in question as an “area of stability.” It has not asked for a specific zoning designation, however.
If the court declares the current zoning void, the property would revert back to its prior zoning of R-4, which “actually allowed more density on the property than the new zoning,” Kerry Bucky, an assistant city attorney, wrote in a court document last June.
The West Highland Neighborhood Association also has agreed to support the lawsuit, on the condition it does not incur any legal fees. The plaintiffs sued RedPeak, the property owners and the City of Denver, although RedPeak, which has the land under contract, but does not own the three parcels, has been removed from the lawsuit at their request.
Hoops said the WHNA does not represent his position.
At least one person has contended that registered neighborhood organizations such as the WHNA represent the entire neighborhood, even residents who do not belong to it.
“That is just a complete fallacy,” Hoops said. “I’m not a member and they don’t represent me. My neighbor is not a member and they don’t represent my neighbor. They represent their membership and nothing else.”
The plaintiffs also contend the current zoning will drive down property values.
Hoops said he thinks just the opposite will happen.
“A lot of these same people against RedPeak also seem to be bothered by houses getting scraped off and being replaced with homes with different architecture,” Hoops said. “What is interesting is that property values actually increase with the new development and the same thing will happen if RedPeak builds what it is allowed to under the zoning.”
For a snapshot of home sale activity in West Highland, please visit 8z Real Estate.
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