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Crews shutdown Highlands sidewalk, angering residents, business owners; Contact7 helps fix

Posted at 5:57 PM, Jan 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-08 09:39:03-05

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DENVER — Imagine walking outside your business to closed roads that impede your safety walking or driving around the neighborhood.

That's what one business owner in Denver's Highland neighborhood is dealing with. She called Contact7 because she is fed up with the situation, she said.

"This should be cleaned up every night at 5 o'clock. All their equipment should not be on my street," said Wanda James.

James said construction has buried her dispensary business, Simply Pure, more than once.

She claimed that last year, closed streets due to construction had cost her business $250,000.

"These permits are issued to construction workers without any input from the community,” James said.

This past weekend, with two projects in progress near 32nd Avenue at Tejon Street in the Highlands, construction crews closed part of the sidewalk in front of the LoHi Corner development, forcing her to walk into the street.

"My house is over here. My business is over here. My dog was almost hit and killed this weekend," she said.

It turns out, that should never have happened. After Contact7 called the Public Works Department, an inspector instructed work crews to reopen the sidewalk and fine the developer.

Nancy Kuhn, a spokesperson with Public Works, told Contact7 the issue was resolved. Crews began to clean up the sidewalk for reopening and implemented a safe walk-through bordered by cones and yellow tape that lead partially into the street.

"That was a non-compliant situation. They were told to correct that situation and to open up that walkway so people would have a place to walk around the block," said Kuhn.

A developer pays to close a public right of way, and the cost depends on the type of closure — sidewalk or residential street. The amount of roadway or sidewalks closed, and the time it will stay that will, also plays into the cost.

Kuhn said the city is aware of needed improvements to better accommodate and protect residents and business owners. The Public Works Department plans to release updated policies by the end of January. Changes will include reducing the amount of time a right of way can be closed and requiring more pedestrian covered walkways.

"We should have some rights as business owners to be able to live safely and not to have this be what’s happening in our lives for six months to three years at a time," said James.