Debate sparks over potential changes in “group living rules” in Denver

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New developments in an effort to change Denver’s “group living rules” have residents divided on who and how many people should be living in their neighborhood.

After two years of work, city planners are proposing changes to Denver Zoning Code’s regulations on residential uses. Officials are inviting the public to several open house meetings to discuss concerns, questions and suggestions on how to move forward.

“Our codes have not kept up with the times,” Senior City Planner Andrew Webb said, adding “We want to make it clear that people are allowed to choose how they live together.”

Current zoning codes say only two unrelated people should be living together in a single-family home.

City planners want to change codes to allow up to eight unrelated people to live together in homes with 1800 or more square feet.

“Some of the co-ops operating in Denver right now are able to offer rents at half of the current average rate of $1500 so that’s immediate affordable housing,” Adam Estroff with the group Y.I.M.B.Y, Yes in My Backyard said.

Nathan Lewis recently moved to Denver after living in co-op housing in several cities.

“It’s an opportunity to create a richer tapestry of community,” Lewis said.

Other residents expressed concerns about the proposed changes.

“I’m concerned about creating a slum area in the city of Denver,” John Ness said.

“I do not want that in my neighborhood the parking and the traffic will double we already have parking problems,” resident Dale Armento said.

The city said changes in zone codes does not change current fire safety codes in place.

“Other codes outside of the zoning codes will address people’s concerns like noise, trash and maintenance too,” Webb said.

Additionally, city planners are proposing to change the way group homes like halfway houses and shelters are zoned.

“We would regulate by the number of people in a facility not by who there are and what their status is,” Webb, adding “The state and the city have a very extensive set of requirements and restrictions that set on security, and building.”

The city is holding has two more public open houses before they publish amended zoning codes for a 30 day comment period.

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