Residents to launch ballot measure concerning Golden Overlook

Property’s commercial rezone request pends council decision

Posted 7/2/19

A newly-formed residents group wants to give Golden voters an opportunity to weigh in on what should become of a privately owned, undeveloped property known as the Golden Overlook. “We are proud of …

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Residents to launch ballot measure concerning Golden Overlook

Property’s commercial rezone request pends council decision

Posted

A newly-formed residents group wants to give Golden voters an opportunity to weigh in on what should become of a privately owned, undeveloped property known as the Golden Overlook.

“We are proud of our neighborhood, and we want to protect it and our families,” said Nancy Thomas, chair of Open Space Golden, the new group. “After nearly 20 years of our neighborhood having to fight one commercial development scheme after another, we think it is time for the voters of Golden to decide on a vision for this land that is better for our city.”

The 27-acre Golden Overlook is located approximately between the residential neighborhoods of Golden Heights and Golden Hills, and the C-470 and I-70  junction.

The property is zoned as Planned Unit Developments (PUD) residential. The currently proposed request would keep the PUD zoning, but allow commercial uses too.

For the past decade, the property owner has struggled to find a prospective residential developer.

City documents state that it has remained undeveloped as residential largely because developers are opposed to the property’s many additional development costs. These costs include the need to construct expensive sound barriers to mitigate traffic noise from the nearby I-70 and C-470 interchange, and the need to improve the site’s only access road, West Fourth Avenue.

In his presentation to Golden City Council on June 27, the property owner, Golden resident Jim Blumenthal, said he has brought in a number of large Colorado developers “to take a stab at it.”

“Sound walls, access, offsite infrastructure, has killed the deal every time,” Blumenthal said. “I bring to you tonight a plan, after eight or 10 years, that is something I think is absolutely the best, and maybe one of the only, that will work on this property.”

Property’s future

After spending two-and-a-half hours contemplating the topic, Golden City Council on June 27 decided to table its vote concerning the rezone request until July 25. This follows Golden’s Planning Commission’s May 1 vote to recommend that city council deny the request. Planning commission’s main reason for the recommendation to deny was that the request does not meet certain criteria set forth in the municipal code. Specifically, the commission does not believe that the development would be “in harmony and compatible with the character of the surrounding areas and neighborhood in terms of use” and that it would not “result in positive benefits for the surrounding area or (be) an improvement in the quality of the project not possible under existing zoning.”

Open Space Golden plans to go forward with its ballot initiative, regardless of what happens with the current rezone request, Thomas said.

“Developers have tried to put this land to commercial use for nearly 20 years, and the market has essentially walked away from all of those proposals,” Thomas said. “That should tell us all something about what this land is really good for — and it isn’t good for residential or commercial use.”

Blumenthal purchased the property in 2000 with the intention to expand his trailer/RV retail business there, and requested an amendment to the then-zoning to additionally allow dealerships and outdoor storage as allowed commercial uses.

However, this request was later withdrawn because of strong neighborhood opposition. In 2002, a citizen petition drive tried to rezone the property as open space. But this request was eventually withdrawn by the petition committee because of a compromise that the property be rezoned as residential.

“The expectation of the community was that about 40 homes might go on the land, which could result in a relatively manageable amount of new traffic on Fourth Avenue,” said Jim Sims who has lived in his home in the adjacent neighborhood for 20 years. “The community felt that this was a reasonable compromise for all involved.”

By 2005, a city-initiated rezone occurred and the property was rezoned from commercial to single family residential.

This, however, was done without Blumenthal’s consent, he told Golden City Council on June 27. He added that he found out about the city’s plan to rezone the property to residential only three days prior to the neighborhood meeting for it.

“I didn’t buy it to build residentially on it. I certainly didn’t think that was the best use for this property (but) Golden at one point did,” Blumenthal said to city council. “I’ve tried to do my best with a rezone to residential that has no marketability. This, for me, is virtually a 10-year, how do I make something work, based on what the city of Golden has given me.”

In 2008, the final plat plan for 92 homes was approved and this further upset the neighborhood residents, Sims said, because it was not what they had agreed to when they “voluntarily withdrew their ballot initiative in 2002.”

“That’s why the neighborhood is firmly committed to launching a new ballot initiative to rezone the land to more appropriate uses,” Sims said, “and to allowing that process to run its course to completion.”

Ballot initiative

There are five specific uses that the group’s ballot initiative would propose: open space, parkland, hiking/biking trails, community gardening and solar gardens, Sims said.

“The latter use would be a commercial use,” he added, “but it is one that would result in very little traffic and safety impacts to Golden Heights/Golden Hills.”

In 2002, neighbors gathered enough signatures for the ballot petition, Thomas said. She added that she believes they will be successful again this time because of the greater community’s overall support for the uses the ballot measure would propose.

“A ballot initiative may be a paper exercise,” Thomas said, “but it is one that gives voters the final say in these matters. That’s the way this process should work, and we intend to give voters that say.”

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