Golden sets 120-day moratorium on multi-unit residential development

City considering ‘a real overhaul’ to codes

Posted 3/25/19

With the exception of some minor modifications, much of the zoning in Golden’s older neighborhoods is the same today as it was 59 years ago. Back then, said Steve Glueck, Golden’s director of …

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Golden sets 120-day moratorium on multi-unit residential development

City considering ‘a real overhaul’ to codes

Posted

With the exception of some minor modifications, much of the zoning in Golden’s older neighborhoods is the same today as it was 59 years ago.

Back then, said Steve Glueck, Golden’s director of community and economic development, in his staff presentation to Golden City Council on March 21, people were building structures with smaller units, lower ceiling heights and different architectural styles.

“Times have changed since the code was drafted,” Glueck said, “and it’s a good time to give it a real overhaul as opposed to a tweak around the edges.”

The Golden City Council vote to implement a four-month moratorium on large residential developments in Golden passed unanimously on March 21. Council member Saoirse Charis-Graves was absent.

The purpose of the moratorium is to allow Planning Commission and city staff time to review “potential amendments to the Golden Municipal Code that seek to address the bulk, mass, scale and design concerns” of potential new development, states city documents.

It was prompted by Golden residents voicing concerns about large development projects not matching with neighborhood character.

Moratorium’s effects

The temporary, 120-day moratorium will affect three types of land use cases. The first is the issuance of building permits for structures with two or more dwelling units located in R2 and R3 — both residential — zoning.

The second is applications for site plan approval of multihousehold-dwelling buildings.

Lastly, the temporary moratorium will affect Special Use Permit applications that request for more than 75 percent of a development being built in a commercial/manufacturing zone — C-1, C-2 and M-2 — be residential. This includes Community Mixed Use Zone Districts which currently allow multifamily residential uses be built among businesses and public spaces.

The moratorium does not pertain to residential remodels and additions, building single-family homes, commercial, industrial, or Colorado School of Mines construction.

Prior to the final vote, city council added one amendment to the moratorium’s language. It concerns site plans — if a site plan for a development located in the areas or zoning affected by the moratorium has previously been approved, the applicant cannot apply for a variance to that site plan while the moratorium is in place.

However, the moratorium includes a process for a property owner to request an exception based upon a specific hardship, states city documents.

During the public comment portion for the mortarium issue, nearly 20 people spoke in favor. One community member addressed city council with a hardship the moratorium would pose on him.

Another person, Michael Cyrus, wrote a letter to counci, outlining the hardship his family would face. He purchased a property in the 700 block of Cheyenne Street in November of 2018. Currently a resident of Castle Rock who commutes to work in Boulder, Cyrus bought the property with the intention to build a home with two side-by-side units — one for him and one for his two sons, who currently rent in Golden as they formed a local startup company and one is a PhD student at the Colorado School of Mines. Cyrus writes that he contacted the city to check on all requirements to build on the site prior to purchase, and followed “all of the required steps precisely.” He added that he hired an “architect specializing in historical and old west designs present in Golden” to “maintain the character and posterity of the neighborhood.”

Cyrus wrote that the development is now in the final stages of the process, and “informing us at this stage that our investments of money, time and resources are in jeopardy because the city may decide to change its rules midstream, is inequitable.”

Planning Commission will be tasked with making specific code change recommendations to city council during the moratorium. Council will vote on any changes. The city’s moratorium “may be removed in part or in total prior to the end of the 120 days, or may also be extended in part or in total if warranted.”

Following the public comment portion of the meeting, Golden Mayor Marjorie Sloan noted that she was impressed how often the word “we” was used.

“That shows that we’re all in this together and that you’re all willing to do the hard work,” Sloan said. And “because people are so focused on the code, it shows a belief in the rule of law, and that’s heartwarming as well.”

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