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City Council to reconsider controversial Westside duplex appeal

The hillside of 543 Robbin Place is evident looking up from the alley. The houses at the top are on Chestnut Street, from which no access to 543 is allowed.
Westside Pioneer photo
The Robbin Place matter will be reconsidered by City Council at its next formal meeting Tuesday, Nov. 22.
       The immediate issue is whether a duplex developer should be allowed a subdivision waiver for access from a neighborhood alley in a situation where no other way in currently exists.
       The location consists of 24,000 square feet on a steep hill with the address of 543 Robbin Place, about 200 feet north of Manitou Boulevard/Boulder Street.
       Planning Commission's August approval of a waiver, following the recommendation of Michael Turisk of City Planning, was appealed to City Council by the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN).
       Turisk's stated opinion is that the project is conceptually acceptable, based on city infill goals, although he has pledged that staff will closely scrutinize development plans when they come in.
       Council heard the appeal Oct. 25. Sarah Poe, a member of the OWN board who was also speaking for the neighborhood, said the hope of the appeal was “to talk about the entire development.” Issues in that regard include possible increased traffic on the alley, a landslide potential (as noted in a Colorado Geologic Survey study of the site) and whether three duplexes three stories high (just barely within the limits of the site's R-2 zone) fit the character of the older neighborhood around it.
       Another question raised by OWN is whether the city has a process loophole regarding subdivision waiver requests. An indication is city legal staff deciding that the review scope by City Planning Commission and City Council was limited to the alley/waiver question - thus, they could not scrutinize any other site-development concerns.
       At council Oct. 25, after the public hearing, a motion was made to deny the appeal. However, with one member missing (Bill Murray), only eight council members were present, and the denial motion failed in a 4-4 tie. But there was no follow-up motion as to whether the appeal should be approved, leaving some uncertainty as to where the matter stood.
       Council took it up again at its Nov. 8 meeting at the request of City Councilmembers Don Knight and Jill Gaebler. In the Oct. 25 vote, Knight had been against the appeal denial and Gaebler for. Their request Nov. 8 was to temporarily suspend the council rule requiring that only a person who had voted in the majority on an issue could ask for a revote. This suspension was necessary because a tie vote by definition has no majority.
       Murray was back Nov. 8 and voted for the rule suspension. Also in favor were Knight, Gaebler, Tom Strand (who had also voted with Knight Oct. 25) and Larry Bagley (who had been on the other side). Council then voted by the same 5-4 split to set the Robbin matter for reconsideration Nov. 22.
       Reasons for apparent changes of position were not stated.
       City Attorney Wynetta Massey told councilmembers their action does not mean the public hearing from Oct. 25 will be reopened. What it means is that the matter is “back at the table,” she said. “You can discuss the motion again and revote.”
       The Nov. 22 council meeting will start at 1 p.m. at City Hall, 107 N. Nevada Ave., or on TV (Channel 18 on Comcast). As always, there is no schedule for when specific items will be discussed.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 11/14/16; Land: Development Issues)

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