Denver Suburb Rejects TOD at Light Rail Station in Special Election

Tuesday's mail-in vote by residents of Greenwood Village to overwhelmingly reject a city-council approved plan to allow mixed-use development at a light rail station is a major setback for smart growth proponents.

2 minute read

June 9, 2017, 7:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

Orchard Station RTD Light Rail

Arina P Habich / Shutterstock

Residents of Greenwood Village, pop. 15,000, in Arapahoe County outside Denvery rejected by over 75 percent a general plan amendment approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council to allow mixed-used development at Orchard Station.

"A 'no' vote — no to the idea of amending the city’s comprehensive [or general] plan to encourage taller buildings and multifamily housing at the site — would have Greenwood Village bucking the trend of the last decade of embracing transit oriented developments," reports John Aguilar for The Denver Post on Monday, June 5.

Trail to the ballot box

"At issue is the draft Orchard Station Subarea [pdf] plan, an amendment to the city's comprehensive plan that would enable $1.4 billion in development on 44 acres near the Orchard Station on the RTD's E and F [and R] light rail lines," states a post in February by Planetizen editor James Brasuell on the controversial development.

"An updated version of the Orchard Station Subarea Plan was approved by the Council on a 5-3 vote on March 20, moments before council members unanimously decided to let voters make the final decision this summer on whether to adopt the plan," reported Joe Rubino in April for The Denver Post. Earlier, Mayor Ron Rakowsky had "vowed to veto the controversial land-use measure if the City Council adopted it."

On June 6, Rubino reports on the results. Did fear of urbanization motivate voters?

“It’s a clear mandate. There is no doubt about that,” Jerry Presley, a former City Councilman and one of the leaders of the opposition campaign, said Tuesday night. “I think we won this election for several reasons... It’s because we love our city and we don’t want it to be urbanized.”

Councilwoman Freda Miklin voted for the plan in March and defended it as a means to help alleviate the city’s traffic woes by making better use of light rail.

The developer, Greenwood Village-based Alberta Development Partners, took the defeat in stride. "Founding principal Don Provost applauded the level of civic engagement on both sides of the Orchard Station debate and made it clear his firm will continue to look at opportunities in the area."

Hat tip to Stephen Miller, Streetsblog USA.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017 in The Denver Post

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