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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Westminster approves upland project on centuries-old agricultural land after intense deliberations

In marathon proceedings that occupied three long nights of public input and deliberation, Westminster City Council voted on Tuesday morning to approve a mixed-use development with 2,350 homes for the farm framed by mountain views, which Many city residents fought fiercely to preserve. ,

The vote reduced after 1 o’clock in the morning was 5-2. Councilors Obi Ezedi and Bruce Baker voted against the project.

The Uplands proposal has been one of the most controversial issues facing elected leaders in Westminster in years and represents a baptism by fire for a newly elected city council that had only taken the oath of office six weeks earlier.

“I can’t vote on feelings,” said Mayor Nancy McNeely, who visited W.V. three times over the weekend to immerse herself in the site. Reported driving to the property at the northwest corner of 84th Avenue and Federal Boulevard. “It’s a private person who owns this land – it’s not open space.”

Ezedi said he did not think the Upland project would help bring grocery stores or other facilities to a part of Westminster, which is struggling financially compared to other parts of the city.

“I think if I vote yes then I am ignoring public comment,” he said.

Hearings in front of the city council lasted three evenings this week, with proceedings before midnight each time. On Wednesday, only three hours of voicemail regarding the project were run for the council. This was followed by several hours of in-person and phone-in testimony.

On Monday night, the council spent hours laying down concessions and conditions from the developer, Orade Capital & Development, which included a commitment to affordable housing and the preservation of visual corridors on the site.

Uplands will bring up to five parcels of 2,350 housing units covering 233 acres in South Westminster, along with thousands of square feet of retail and commercial space. Orade said Upland would provide a “missing middle” in housing — more compact, enclosed units that are more attainable to the working-class buyer.

The developer also claimed that the project would provide access to public parkland and open space – a total of 47 acres that will be dedicated to Westminster as part of the deal – which has been closed off as private property for decades. The land is currently owned by the Pillar of Fire Church.

Much of the public comment has been against the project, with opponents claiming that the project is too dense and too tall for a neighborhood that is largely made up of old single family homes. While some neighbors said there was not enough water for the project, most focused on the loss of 150 acres of farmland – with a largely unobstructed view of the setting sun – thousands of motorists pass by every day.

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The plan of the Uplands calls for five-story buildings along Federal Boulevard, blocking a wide view out to the foothills. The further west the property goes, the smaller the buildings will be. The entire project may take 15 years or more to complete.

Ellen Adair, from the group Save the Farm, said she and her husband would leave town if Uplands got the green light.

“We have no interest in being forced to watch the heart-wrenching and soul-crushing sight of this beautiful farm being destroyed,” she told the council last week.

Westminster native Paloma Merida, who attends the University of Colorado at Boulder, said the city should not write off one of the last large undivided parcels of land in the metro area, which saw continued development and continued carving of prairie and farmland. Has been. For new subdivisions and strip malls.

“Westminster has been my home and safe place for the rest of my life, and now the development of the Uplands has put it at risk,” Merida said last week. “Destroying one of the largest and last open spaces will bleak the future of the City of Westminster.”

Save the Farm points to an online petition that has collected more than 10,000 signatures condemning the Uplands project. They have staged several protests over the proposal, including one in front of City Hall as recently as last week.

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