Laurie Dunklee with the North Denver Tribune writes:
Dist. 1 City Councilwoman Susan Shepherd, sharply criticized by neighborhood groups for her support of taller buildings to accommodate greater population density, says her priority is preparing Northwest Denver for sustainable population growth.
“An estimated one million more people will move to the Denver area by 2030,” Shepherd said. “This is a popular place for millennials to move, and empty nesters are moving back into the city so they don’t need to drive as far.
“If we fight the influx of people into the city, more single-family homes will be built on the outskirts and more agricultural land will be lost. Our water supply will be further endangered because all those lawns take tons of water. So multi-family housing is far more sustainable. We can’t keep building single-family homes or we endanger our future.”
Multi-family housing can mean taller buildings, which are hotly resisted by several neighborhood groups. Shepherd’s role in zoning issues has put her at the center of more than one storm. Neighborhood groups opposing high rises and denser population in the entrenched neighborhoods question her leadership and responsibility to her constituents. Hotly debated zoning/land use issues include possible 20-story buildings on the former St. Anthony’s site on W. 17th Ave.; and a five-story development at 32nd and Lowell.
Shepherd, elected in 2011 to a four-year term, says she is “forward-thinking.”
“I work hard on sustainability issues. Building height is important but so is sustaining this area for future population growth,” she said.
She emphasized that no major rezoning has happened in Northwest Denver since the citywide revision of the zoning code in 2010. “Everything being built now was Okayed before I came on,” Shepherd said. “The difference is the economy was in the tank then, but it exploded in the last two or three years.”
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