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A meeting that was intended to foster conversation between area residents and a developer looking to build multiple duplexes on an Englewood residential lot ended almost as soon as it started, with several residents agitated and the vast majority opposed to the proposal. The meeting will be rescheduled with notice to nearby residents.
About 15 minutes into the meeting at the Englewood Recreation Center Jan. 18, the developer and an Englewood city planner tried to assure the crowd that a decision on the property at 1327 W. Tufts Ave., where a single-family home now stands, will not happen in upcoming weeks — and tried to mollify concerns that residents' voices wouldn't be heard.
“Don't split us up,” attendees cried out in a tense room of more than 100, where many stood along the room's walls. The space's capacity is 53, Englewood city officials said, which meant some would have to leave, or the meeting would need to be rescheduled.
Brook Bell, the city planner, and Hans Kuhlmann, with Halifax Development LLC, attempted to explain the process of a planned-unit development proposal — which rezones, or changes what is able to be built on, an area of land — but residents in the crowd interjected with concerns.
“I assure you, most people here are opposed,” said Kathleen Bailey, a resident who speaks frequently at Englewood City Council meetings. Many neighbors feel that the duplexes would be out of character with the rest of the single-family, detached homes nearby. Nearly the whole room reflected opposition to the plan in an impromptu show of hands after a person in the crowd asked for opinions.
Former City Councilmember Rick Gillit walked out of the room in agitation at one point. Current Councilmembers Rita Russell, Linda Olson, Amy Martinez and Dave Cuesta also attended.
The rescheduled meeting will likely occur two weeks or more after the first date because area residents must be notified at least 10 days in advance, not counting the mailing date, Bell said.
Kuhlmann is proposing to develop five duplexes on the lot, a sprawling triangle of land where a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home built in 1955 currently stands. It's a 1,498 square-foot home, according to listings on the internet. The lot is 1.19 acres, according to city officials. The duplexes would be for sale, and each unit would have a two-car garage, with a street on the property for driveway access, according to plans submitted to the city.
The site is bordered by a row of homes to the east and the City Ditch, a human-made waterway that runs through Englewood, Littleton and Denver, to the west. An industrial area of the city sits across the waterway to the west.
The process of whether the city approves or denies the application will likely take four to six months, according to a city document.
First, the neighborhood meeting allows the developer to hear input and questions from neighbors and introduces the neighborhood to the development concept. The second step is for the formal planned-unit development (PUD) application to be submitted to the city.
Next, the city's Planning and Zoning Commission, an appointed group of citizens, hears input from residents in a public hearing. The commission then has the choice to recommend that city council approve the plan, deny it or approve it with conditions — suggestions of what should be changed.
Finally, citizens can comment in another public hearing before city council. Council then has two rounds of voting — or two “readings” — to decide whether to approve, approve with conditions or deny the plan.
For both public hearings, the city publishes a notice and posts at the property the hearing date.
“This is an interesting application in that it is generating substantial opposition from the neighborhood in which it has been proposed,” said Eric Keck, Englewood city manager. Residents in the area “are concerned that the proposed duplex (homes) are not in harmony with the single-family detached homes to the east.”
Areas like 1327 W. Tufts Ave. that sit in a transitional area between industrial and residential land have seen pressure to be redeveloped before in the same part of the city and have met similar resistance about what residents say are incompatible housing types, Keck said. A 2017 proposal involving an apartment building along West Quincy Avenue and South Navajo Street — just a few blocks north — was abandoned by the developer, Keck said.
“There is no doubt that we have seen a lot of interest in duplex development within the city, but this has mainly occurred in the R-2 zone and not the R-1-A zone such as this one,” Keck said. R-2 zones are areas of low-to-medium density residential areas where single- and multi-dwelling units can be built. The R-1-A zones, found in the southwest and far northeast parts of the city, are areas of single-unit residential homes with large lots.
Rebecca Betancourt, a resident who lives nearby around Tufts Avenue and South Jason Street, said as long as the proposal is well planned, it would benefit the neighborhood.
“We need more good housing for people,” said Betancourt, who came to the meeting. “This isn't a high-density apartment.”
As long as the neighborhood streets aren't congested and is kept clear and safe, Betancourt said she'd be satisfied.
“We've lived in the neighborhood since 2003,” Betancourt said. “We love it there, but it's also understandable that growth is inevitable.”
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