Please note: This lawsuit was filed by the Sloan’s Lake Neighborhood Association which is unaffiliated with the Sloan’s Lake Citizens’ Group
Jon Murray with The Denver Post writes:
Neighbors upset with the Denver City Council’s approval of a rezoning request that allows a 12-story condo development to front Sloan’s Lake park have taken their objections to court.
At issue in this week’s lawsuit, which serves as an appeal of the council’s 12-0 decision last month, is whether council members considered the case appropriately. The plaintiffs, led by the Sloan’s Lake Neighborhood Association, say the council disregarded an earlier task force recommendation for where to place the tallest buildings in the seven-block redevelopment of the former St. Anthony’s Hospital site.
Such cases face a high standard for court intervention, and Denver city officials could not recall a city rezoning decision being overturned. Courts typically defer to the judgment of a city council’s members as long as evidence supports it.
But the plaintiffs’ attorney, David R. Medina, said he had “every confidence in the legal and underlying fairness issues in our case.”
At Sloan’s Lake, NAVA Real Estate Development plans to build 12- and eight-story condos at the southeast corner of West 17th Avenue and Stuart Street. But the old zoning allowed just five stories.
A 2006 community task force report’s “guiding principles” for the hospital site included placing taller buildings near the center and Colfax Avenue.
The association and other plaintiffs, who are wary of shadows the buildings will cast on the park, say the council should have been constrained by that stipulation. That is because a subsequent neighborhood plan incorporated the guiding principles from the task force report.
Last year, though, a general development plan for the St. Anthony’s site that was approved by the Denver Planning Board — but not the council — allowed taller buildings along 17th.
The lawsuit also alleges that Councilwoman Susan Shepherd, who represents the area, acted inappropriately during the rezoning case. It says she misrepresented the earlier community plans in her public comments by failing to mention the preference for tall buildings closer to Colfax.
The suit alleges that other council members deferred to Shepherd in their votes, denying opponents a fair hearing.
Shepherd predicted the council’s decision would be upheld.
“My comments totally support how the (new) zoning reflects the West Colfax Plan,” she said Thursday.
Assistant city attorney Lori Strand declined to comment on the lawsuit, as did Tom Ragonetti, a lawyer representing site owner EnviroFinance Group.
The other plaintiffs are Jane Parker-Ambrose, Gerard V. Frank and Warwick Downing.
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