Council to rehear Grandview Station appeal

Hearing must include developer's perspective, councilmembers say

Casey Van Divier
cvandivier@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 1/29/20

With a Dec. 16 council decision to overturn the planning commission's approval of Grandview Station, it appeared a months-long Arvada debate had come to an end. But at its Jan. 27 meeting, council …

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Council to rehear Grandview Station appeal

Hearing must include developer's perspective, councilmembers say

Posted

With a Dec. 16 council decision to overturn the planning commission's approval of Grandview Station, it appeared a months-long Arvada debate had come to an end. But at its Jan. 27 meeting, council voted to rehear the matter they heard back in December.

Grandview Station is a proposed three-story condo and retail development, which developer Keane Palmer would build on his properties at 7315 and 7317 Grandview Ave. and 7318 W. 57th Ave. The project would demolish the 20th century houses currently located there, with Palmer having offered to move those houses if another property-owner would provide land for the relocation.

At the December hearing, the appellant, businessowner Lori Drienka, presented reasons to council about why the planning commission's approval of the project should be overturned; the city presented reasons the decision should be upheld. Palmer, the developer, did not speak at the hearing.

Because of this, “there was information that I wasn't privy to that I think would benefit the overall conversation,” councilmember Bob Fifer said.

Introduced in 2019, the Grandview Station proposal was met with opposition as some Arvadans signed petitions to stop the project. The petitions were started by Drienka, who owns the Eli Ashby Healing Arts Center at 7401 Grandview Ave., which is adjacent to the houses in question.

Drienka's change.org petition had accrued 1,683 signatures as of Jan. 28 and hundreds of others signed a paper petition at Drienka's store, Drienka previously told the Arvada Press.

Drienka and other opponents say the proposed development veers too far from Olde Town's design guidelines. The 33.5-foot building would detract from the historic aesthetic of the area and could potentially threaten Olde Town's status as a recognized historic district, Drienka said.

Supporters of the project feel it will revitalize Grandview Avenue and that the historic houses have deteriorated, posing aesthetic and safety concerns. Those in favor also believe the new businesses and retail units will be an economic benefit.

In August, the city's community and economic development director, Ryan Stachelski, issued a certificate of compliance stating Palmer's proposal met Olde Town design guidelines. The certificate allowed for some waivers approved by Arvada's Design Review Committee.

Included among the waivers was the decision to allow the historic houses to be replaced by a building that would have a larger impact on its surroundings.

Drienka appealed Stachelski's decision on Nov. 5 to the planning commission, which upheld the decision. On Dec. 16, however, Drienka appealed the planning commission's ruling to city council, which overturned the decision with a 3-3 vote.

Councilmembers Dot Miller, John Marriott and David Jones voted to uphold the commission's decision while Fifer, Mayor Marc Williams and councilmember Lauren Simpson voted to overturn it. Councilmember Nancy Ford recused herself from the vote because she had signed Drienka's petition.

On Jan. 27, council discussed whether it should hold a rehearing to allow Palmer an opportunity to present his case.

“Advice was given to the applicant (Palmer) in terms of how to proceed,” Williams said, suggesting that Palmer did not present that night at the city's suggestion. At the time, city staff thought this was the best approach because it would match the procedure of the planning commission hearing, he said.

“We had never had this kind of hearing before, in my 20 years on city council, of an appeal of a planning director's decision,” he said. “I think there was a learning curve.”

At the Jan. 27 meeting, a handful of residents and Palmer spoke in support of a rehearing and a handful of residents, including Drienka, spoke against it.

Resident Cindi Kreutzer suggested the first hearing “was hard to follow, so it's imperative we do it again.”

For resident Jennifer Enochs, to hold a rehearing would be to ignore that “the people of Arvada have spoken over and over again. We've had three hearings so far,” she said. “People don't want (Grandview Station) to happen.”

A motion to hold a rehearing passed 6-0, with Ford recusing herself for the same reason she did on Dec. 16.

City attorney Rachel Morris said the city will now reach out to Palmer and Drienka to organize a date for the rehearing.

“I will be supporting a rehearing, but that certainly is not any indication of how I intend to vote as to the full matter. I have some unanswered questions,” Williams said, and “I want to make sure that our process was truly fair to all parties.”

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