Residents in the Lowry neighborhood have filed a lawsuit against the city and the Denver Planning Board to challenge the process for rezoning part of a 70-acre piece of land in the neighborhood.
The lawsuit, filed Oct. 24, states that the rezoning of the Buckley Annex — south of First Avenue between Monaco Parkway and Quebec Street — was a "corrupt, consultant-dominated, unlawful process."
An attorney filed the suit after the Lowry Redevelopment Authority requested rezoning for an 18-acre parcel within the Boulevard One development that would allow for retail and residential development and permit five-story buildings.
Plans for the Boulevard One development at Lowry (Provided by the Lowry Redevelopment Authority )
The planning board at an Oct. 1 meeting recommended that City Council approve an amendment to limit the area that would allow five-story buildings, and require the developer to taper off the buildings' height near residential developments.
Attorney Greg Kerwin, who lives in the area, said the members of the planning board seemed unprepared to discuss the issue, had not looked at documents and were asked to apply things that were incorrect.
"We felt that was the kind of decision a court might well second-guess," Kerwin said. The lawsuit also named the city's Community Planning and Development manager Brad Buchanan as a defendant.
The agency and Councilwoman Mary Beth Susman both declined to comment on the matter.
Since the lawsuit was filed, the city has withdrawn its request for the amendment and the Lowry Redevelopment Authority has withdrawn its rezoning request.
Kerwin submitted a request to Denver District Court on Oct. 31 to schedule a conference to discuss the next stage and get a ruling on certain issues. The city has 15 days from the filing to respond to the request and the judge could schedule something within the next few weeks.
Kerwin has also invited the Lowry Redevelopment Authority to have a mediation session with neighborhood organizations to discuss the plan going forward. He made a similar request prior to the lawsuit, but the invitation was not accepted.
The Boulevard One development is one of the last major infill projects in Denver and is planned for a mix of single-family homes and row homes along with the 18-acre parcel that could become apartment buildings with supporting retail businesses and office and community buildings.
The Lowry Redevelopment Authority is an entity created by Denver and Aurora to redevelop the Lowry Air Force Base. Construction is already underway on part of the residential portion of the development.
Christine O'Connor, president of Lowry United Neighborhoods and one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said the commercial aspect of the development and influx of people attracted to the apartment units will affect parking in the neighborhood. She added that public transit in the area is not set up to deal with that many people.
"When a city approves new large-scale development and there is no transportation infrastructure in place to support it, the city isn't doing its job," she said.
O'Connor added that the community hasn't had enough opportunity concerning the rezoning applications involved in the development.
Hilarie Portell, director of public relations and marketing for the Lowry Redevelopment Authority, said that the organization has had more than 60 meetings with residents and made several concessions based on those. O'Connor said most of those meetings took place prior to 2008 and rezoning was never discussed.
"From our point of view, Boulevard One is a thoughtfully designed, sustainable mixed-use development, the kind that is highly desirable in the city," Portell said.
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