GOLDEN, Colo. -- A quiet patch of land sandwiched between the Golden Heights neighborhood, C-470, Interstate 70 and Green Mountain is in a tug-of-war of local interests. The desire to have a say in the future of the property is what brought more than 50 members of the community to Green Mountain High School’s auditorium on Thursday night.
“My question is: Why is the city pushing this through when the citizens clearly do not want it?” asked Nancy Thomas during a back-and-forth informational session.
The land was zoned for residential use, but the owner has been pushing for development for quite some time. The city of Golden’s planning commission voted 4-2 against rezoning the area, but City Council went against the recommendation and voted to change the zoning to residential or commercial. This opened the door for a plan to bring self storage units and personal warehouses to the property.
“We’ve been driven to this point because of the process that City Council recently went to,” said Debbie Morrison, who is leading an initiative against the change.
Morrison and others are collecting signatures to change the zoning to something neighbors believe is more suitable for the area, including solar renewable energy, open space, park land, recreation space and community gardening.
It’s a concept outgoing Golden Mayor Marjorie Sloan sounded off against on Facebook, saying the land isn’t desirable for open space or practical to buy. She openly encouraged residents not to sign the petition.
“I was infuriated. I find it quite unbecoming of government officials for trying to quash or prevent a democratic process,” Morrison said.
A spokesperson for Jefferson County Open Space noted that they are bound by certain rules and can only buy parcels of land at appraised value, which wouldn’t be as competitive of a bid compared to selling to a private developer.
The design team working with the property owner, Norris Design, says under the current plan, almost 70 percent of the land will remain open.
“Well we always want to be good neighbors. It’s really important to get feedback, and we do our best to implement what we can,” said Allison Wenlund with Norris Designs.
But the frustration is still stirring for people who call the community home, saying the traffic in and out of the commercial property will have a rippling impact on the area, since there is only one road in and out that isn’t currently designed to handle such traffic.
“They don’t care,” said Nancy Thomas. “Is the good of the one going to outweigh the good of the many? It would seem so.”
The citizens are hoping to get more than 2,000 signatures in the next five months. If they collect enough, the issues could go to Golden voters on the 2020 ballot.