Howard Ranch developer redT Homes postpones June 6 Arvada City Council meeting

Rezoning proposal set for August 15 city council meeting as developer regroups following backlash

By Rylee Dunn
Posted 5/31/22

A developer is reworking a proposal to bring over 60 homes to a 13-acre site at the southwest corner of West 64th Avenue and Indiana Street after neighbors objected to a number of aspects of the …

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Howard Ranch developer redT Homes postpones June 6 Arvada City Council meeting

Rezoning proposal set for August 15 city council meeting as developer regroups following backlash

Posted

A developer is reworking a proposal to bring over 60 homes to a 13-acre site at the southwest corner of West 64th Avenue and Indiana Street after neighbors objected to a number of aspects of the proposed development, including the number of homes and in and out access from the site.

A June 6 city council meeting slated to decide on the rezoning of the property from RA residential agricultural to R6 residential 6th district has been postponed to Aug. 15. The Arvada Planning Commission voted 6-1 to deny recommending the proposed development, dubbed Howard Ranch, to city council at a May 17 meeting.

Now, Denver-based developer redT Homes says it will rework its proposal and engage the neighboring community with the hopes of making the proposal more amiable for all involved parties.

“We very much believe in everybody winning,” redT Homes Owner Nathan Adams said. “And right now, there’s going to be some really obvious losers if we go to city council on June 6.”

The first potential “loser” Adams mentioned was city council, who he said would be “put in the unenviable position of refereeing between our development and the adjacent neighbors that are against the development” if the June 6 hearing were to continue as schedule.

redT Homes cancelled two meetings with local residents that were set to take place before the city council hearing, but Adams said the developer is hopeful to engage neighbors of the proposal and earn their support.

Carrie Wernecke, a resident of the Lakes of Westwoods Homeowners Association said that she and other Lakes residents have been meeting regularly with residents of neighboring HOA’s Wildflower Pond and Westwood Villas to discuss the proposal.

Wernecke said that the process thus far has been unfair to community members and called out a “broken system” in Arvada that she said fosters development with little transparency and cited last summer’s Amazon warehouse proposal as having set a negative precedent within the city.

“There’s no way for a resident to have my voice heard,” Wernecke said. “I don’t have the resources like they had to fight Amazon. And that precedent was set last year that you have to lawyer up and you have to have the time and the money and resources to fight it.”

Arvada Planning Commission Chair Michael Griffith clarified that when something is not approved by planning commission, applicants have a choice to start over or push forward and see if city council thinks differently than council about the project.

“(The applicant) takes a risk — if council denies them, there’s a long process they have to wait before going before council again,” Griffith said. “Planning commission is an advisory body for council. (Council) look(s) toward planning commission to make recommendations and advisements on cases, and they consider planning commission findings when making final rulings.”

Griffith added that he did not agree with redT Home’s handling of their engagement with the community, which included launching a website directing people to send form emails in support of Howard Ranch to city council.

“As a private citizen, I feel it’s not about approval or denial for this particular project,” Griffith said. “It’s about the way the applicant is approaching doing work in our city. That’s the problem. Launching a full-on PR campaign is something I have never seen before in our city. I believe it sets a bad precedent.

“It’s not sustainable and it’s not equitable for communities and developers to feel they need to lawyer up when we see contentious projects,” Griffith continued.

Wernecke said that she’s not against development but felt like the website was a jab at residents who objected to the proposal.

“We’re not NIMBYs (Not in My Backyard),” Wernecke said. “We’re not against development. The developer has a website out there that’s against us. That feels slimy, that feels underhanded. I guess we’re just, as a community, we feel very deflated and defeated.”

Adams said the ‘Support Howard Ranch’ website was “the logical thing to do” in order to ensure that supporters of the development could make their voice heard to council.

“It’s semi-unique to this site,” Adams said. “What we’ve done historically and what other people have done historically is they go on foot and they walk around, and they look for support… We have a lot of support from people on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, people who have emailed and text messaged us and the very logical thing for us to do was put together a page for them to explain what we were doing, why it’s important and how to support us.

“City council is going to listen to their voters,” Adams continued. “We want them to hear from more of their voters than just the neighbors that aren’t happy with what we proposed at planning commission. Because there are a lot of people that believe in this development”

The main issue planning commission found with the proposal was that the development only has one road for entry and exit — a feature which becomes an issue when emergency exits are needed.

Adams said redT Homes approached neighbors at the Lakes of Westwood about getting additional access there, but the HOA declined to allow the developer to use their private property. Adams added that redT Homes is in talks with an industrial neighbor to secure an emergency exit.

“We’re very limited,” Adams said. “There’s two places where we could get additional access. One is through the neighborhood, the Lakes at Westwood… And I’ll tell you, if I had my children in the car with me and the neighborhood was on fire, I would damn sure drive through that gate. But the neighbors at the Lakes of Westwood have said that’s their private property, we’re not allowed to use it.

“So, we’re working with one of our industrial neighbors and we’ve had some favorable conversations with them to grant us access in the event of an emergency to utilize that,” Adams continued. “And that wouldn’t spill into neighboring subdivisions, it would come out on a street.”

Adams also said that redT Homes’ modified proposal would include 64 homes, fewer than the 69 in the initial proposal.

Wernecke said that she would prefer that redT Homes talk to neighbors at their homes and see their tangible point of view, rather than scheduling a meet-and-greet at a brewery, which was scheduled and then cancelled in advance of the June 6 council meeting.

“We’d like them to talk to us,” Wernecke said. “I’d like them to come to my house and see what my viewpoint is from my side of the fence. I don’t want to meet you at a brewery. If you want to meet, come to my home and sit at my kitchen table. I’d be happy to meet with Nathan (Adams). I’d be happy to meet him face to face.

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