Denver Voters Will Weigh Open Space Development

Two competing initiatives seek to change city regulations for residential and commercial development on the city's parklands and open spaces.

June 22, 2021, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Denver Golf Course

Arina P Habich / Shutterstock

Two measures aiming for this November's ballot will ask Denver residents to vote for or against development on protected green space. "One measure would prohibit commercial and housing construction without voter approval on any parks and city-owned land protected by a conservation easement, including the 155-acre former Park Hill Golf Course, where development has been blocked since 1997," reports Bruce Finley in the Denver Post. "A counter-measure that also has cleared initial review, put forward by the Westside Investment Partners developers who own the Park Hill land, would change the definition of “conservation easement” to make an exception for this property — and could apply to other protected open space."

Currently, "[s]tate law governs conservation easements and lifting restrictions requires a state court order. A state judge first must determine conservation is impossible." Despite this, officials are exploring the potential for a mixed-use development at Park Hill. Despite growing voter support for ballot measures that demand open space in and around Denver, "green space hasn’t kept pace with population growth and development. About 8% of Denver is designated as parks, compared with 20% and greater in other large U.S. cities." Park Hill, financed by a $2 million easement voted on by taxpayers in 1997, is the city's largest open space and a much-needed parkland in northeast Denver, "an area that city maps identify as relatively deficient in park space and where heat islands amplify temperatures."

Wednesday, June 9, 2021 in Denver Post

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