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Construction of Denver micro-community on hold following neighborhood group appeal

Santa Fe Blvd. micro-community
Posted at 7:39 PM, Jan 30, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-31 09:32:43-05

DENVER — The construction of a micro-community in Denver’s Overland neighborhood is on hold after the City of Denver's Board of Adjustment for Zoning granted a neighborhood group's appeal.

“I think in the city’s rush to put these micro-communities into neighborhoods, a lot of shortcuts were taken,” said Craig Arfsten with Citizens for a Safe and Clean Denver.

Arfsten said he filed the appeal after he spent hundreds of hours analyzing the city’s documentation and community forum process.

“Rather than the zoning administrator not paying attention to what the concerns are, she should actually acknowledge and say why she agrees or disagrees with those concerns,” Arfsten said. “Put it on public record.”

Citizens for a Safe and Clean Denver argued that Zoning Administrator Tina Axelrad did not do things by the book and missed crucial administrative steps in the process as laid out by the city.

“This is the great first step because what this exposed is that the residents were not heard at the community information meeting,” Arfsten said. “And by winning this appeal, I think the next step should be where we have another opportunity to have a meeting and actually hear and document the concerns of the neighborhood.”

Arfsten claims Axelrad did not hold community meetings and allow enough time for community feedback on the project — a point of contention with much of Denver Mayor Mike Johnston's House1000 initiative. The Board of Adjustment sided with the appeal Tuesday, halting construction for now.

“Voices were not heard,” said Jack Unruh, who lives within a block of the micro-community. “Voices that shouldn’t have been heard were. This is kind of an under-the-radar neighborhood, underserved. And it’s had its share of crime, its share of difficulties."

Citizens for a Safe and Clean Denver alleges Axelrad mocked residents at a recent community forum by sending Cole Chandler, the mayor’s senior advisor for homelessness resolution, a message that read, "Extra spicy."

“That extra spicy comment really was disrespectful to the community,” Arfsten said. “These are serious issues. Don’t just wave them off as a checklist or a check box.”

There’s no timeline for the appeals process.

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