BY DORIS B. TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER The Centennial City Council, at a meeting earlier this week, heard a...
BY DORIS B. TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER Centennial City Attorney Robert Widner made a presentation to the Cit...
BY DORIS TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER The Centennial city council Monday night selected Mike Sutherland, a cou...
BY DORIS B. TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER The City of Centennial has adopted a Value Statement, which is: In Ce...
BY DORIS B. TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER Centennial residents opposed certain proposed residential apartment d...
BY DORIS B. TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER The Centennial City Council is considering updates to the city’s fisc...
BY DORIS B. TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER Vaping was again a topic of discussion at a Centennial City Council m...
BY DORIS B. TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER Centennial has been recognized as not only the safest city in Colorad...
BY DORIS TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER A Centennial woman told the City Council Monday night that a drone in he...
BY DORIS TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER Vaping and e-cigarette use was the topic of an extensive discussion by t...
BY DORIS B. TRUHLAR
The development of the remaining vacant land along East Arapahoe Road – with the issue being car dealers or something else — was the topic of a heated Centennial City Council study session Monday night.
Staff presented a history of zoning along Arapahoe Road, going back to 2005, four years after Centennial was created. The subject was raised because the staff has been requested by council to present a new ordinance for zoning along Arapahoe Road.
The ordinance, which has not been written yet, will only apply to “operations predominantly selling newly manufactured vehicles … and which also contain an on-site service and parts facility specific to the manufacturer” of the new cars for sale. The law is to have “enhanced design requirements.”
The ordinance would not allow other uses, such as gasoline stations and drive-in or drive-thru restaurants. One such parcel that could be used for car sales is at the southwest corner of Arapahoe Road and South Blackhawk Street. There are only limited sites having five acres of land, which would be the minimum.
The next step will be for the topic to be considered by the Centennial Planning and Zoning Commission at a public hearing June 27.
Councilwoman Carrie Penaloza stated she was “extremely disappointed to see this on the agenda for a work session.” Noting that “thousands of people signed petitions” opposing development of Arapahoe with more car dealers. Penaloza said, “I think there’s a real transparency problem here.” In response, Councilwoman Kathy Turley inquired how the subject could be dealt with in a way meeting Penaloza’s approval.
Penaloza responded it should be discussed “in an open meeting” at which the public could comment, and the public could not comment at the study session. “There are no microphones” for comment and the public is not invited to speak. In fact, the meeting was held at the city’s auxiliary facility, about two miles from city hall, often referred to as “Eagle Street” by council and staff. Only seven of the nine council members were present for the meeting Monday night. Absent were Ken Lucas and Marlo Alston.
Councilwoman Tammy Maurer said that only 6 percent of the land along Arapahoe Road remains to be developed. She questioned whether car dealerships will provide the income to Centennial that other uses might provide. She also said that “the senior population,” ages 65 and over, is “growing fast.” There will be many seniors “who won’t benefit from this type of use,” she stated. She also said that there was a survey in which vehicle sales were at the bottom of a list of what citizens would prefer to have along Arapahoe.
Councilwoman Candace Moon said that it is “one thing for citizens to say what they would like to see … but property owners have rights to do what they want with their own property.” Unless “you are the owner” of the property, you do not have the ability to control what is built, Moon said. She went on to say that “tastes change,” and that while she enjoys driving “my old Cadillac,” she might decide she wants a sports car. Councilman Mike Sutherland cited the Arapahoe Road Retail Study, performed by an outside consultant in 2017. “We have to look at what that research tells us.”
Councilman Ron Weidmann said the revenue from an office building is less than from a car dealer. The city “wrestled” with this issue “long ago,” he said. “We wanted Arapahoe Road to be this retail mecca” but it has not turned out that way. “The people who own the property deserve to develop it,” he said. “Let the market take care of itself.”
Turley said she was thinking of “design standards. For me, it’s about what it’s going to look like.” She said she agreed with Penaloza about the lack of transparency.
City Manager Matt Sturgeon said that perhaps the council should have another “work session,” to enable the public to “know what the issues are.” He said the city staff was not “trying to do anything” underhanded.
Moon said she felt the council was being “transparent.” Penaloza responded by saying the “level of transparency” was not the same because there was no opportunity for public comment.
Mayor Stephanie Piko said that the study session was merely an opportunity “to have a more casual conversation around a table” at which “people would be more comfortable to ask questions.”
City Attorney Robert Widner said the discussion will affect a number of properties in Centennial.
The always-controversial topic of development along East Arapahoe Road once again is alive and well for the Centennial City Council, having been raised at a meeting May 7 by Councilwoman Candace Moon, on the western edge of the city.
During the period of time when each council member makes reports, Moon proposed that “conditional uses” be permitted on the major arterial, a state highway. The proposal was not put to a formal vote; rather, council members noted their agreement by a “thumbs-up” or “thumbs-down.”
The vote was 6-3, with council members Kathy Turley, and also Tamara Maurer and Carrie Penaloza, voting “thumbs-down,” the equivalent of a “no.” A split vote is extremely unusual for the Centennial council; there usually is complete agreement. Development along Arapahoe Road has long been a major bone of contention, with some opposing further development by car dealers and fast-food restaurants, and others appearing to favor or at least be reconciled to such development.
Moon, in an interview after the meeting, stated that she is not attempting to promote more car dealers, but that she favors Centennial taking advantage of economic development opportunities that become available. Centennial needs to be “flexible and nimble” in regard to development, because “business feeds business,” she stated. Centennial should be prepared to welcome the opening of more businesses. She called herself “totally neutral” on the types of businesses to be permitted along Arapahoe Road.
This is a topic that has been raised repeatedly in Centennial and is closely tied to the issue of whether there should be more motels. Some in the city believe there already are too many hotels, while others think that there is a need for hotels to support the visitors to the Denver Tech Center area.
In other business, the council:
In a study session, gave preliminary approval to spending $285,000 for landscaping at its 7272 S. Eagle Street facility.
Adopted a policy outlawing open carry of firearms in the city buildings. Concealed carry of firearms is not prohibited.
Heard reports from several council members who had attended a broadband conference for several days and reported that it was extremely educational. City Manager Matt Sturgeon stated Centennial is a leader in fiber/broadband, and “it will pay dividends as we go forward.” He stated the city “should be proud of what’s happened with fiber.”
Learned that an Electronics Recycling event April 21 resulted in the collection of 41,345 pounds (21 tons) of electronics, mostly older and outdated items.
BY DORIS B. TRUHLAR
The Centennial City Council kicked off its 2019 budget preparation process April 23 at a Strategic Planning Workshop at the city’s facilities at 7272 South Eagle Street.
The council heard from various staff members at the unusual fourth-Monday meeting – the council usually only meets the first three Mondays of the month. Those speaking at the session included Eric Eddy, director of strategic initiatives and manager of the innovation team; Doug Farmen, director of finance; Jeff Cadiz, revenue manager; and City Manager Matthew Sturgeon.
Cadiz went through the revenues for 2017, stating that his estimates of the revenues were within less than 1 percent, and noting that the intake in revenue was more than had been estimated. He also reported that the increase of the estimate was “due mainly to Christmas sales,” but that there also were greater revenues from car dealers than predicted. Fines and fees were down 10 percent, Cadiz stated.
Farmen said that there were some reasons for improvements in the reserves, including a lack of need for snow and ice removal, because of the dry winter.
The investment income was “much higher” than the city had anticipated, stated Cadiz.
Councilwoman Kathy Turley inquired, “are you anticipating Macy’s closing at Southglenn?” No clear response was provided by city staff. Cadiz said that the closing of the REI store and of Hobby Lobby had been anticipated. Additionally, he said that, while the city is “not sure we’re capturing everything that’s online,” the reported taxes from online sales are going up. Cadiz and Farmen noted that Centennial has “healthy reserves.”
The meeting featured a variety of illustrations presented by city staff, one likening the city’s business to altitudes of 50,000 feet, all the way down to nothing, which reflected the “day-to-day work” of the city staff. Eddy said 50,000 altitude was at the “purpose and vision level,” while strategic goals and Key Performance Areas were at 40,000 feet.
The city manager has to submit a proposed budget to the council by November of this year. It is anticipated that he will submit his proposed budget on Sept. 20. In the meantime, there will be various council workshops and meetings. Adopting a budget is a major job of the council.
Councilwoman Marlo Alston suggested that the city should have a procedure for referring Centennial residents to the appropriate agencies, particularly for such problems as drug addiction. “Where does the city stand on helping someone having an opiate crisis?” she asked. It is the job of the city to make sure that its residents know about the services that they need, Alston suggested. “We don’t have to provide the service” but residents should be able to get information from the city in an emergency, she stated. Sheri Chadwick, the city’s public relations manager, noted that there is a list of resources on the city’s website.
There was considerable discussion about some of the language in the city’s strategic initiatives documents. Councilwoman Carrie Penaloza suggested that the language in the city’s documents about being debt-free, so the language that states that “Centennial is dedicated to remaining debt free” was added. Penaloza also suggested that the language should state that the city will continue “responsible budget and spending practices.”
A variety of special projects were noted during the presentation, including a planned 10-year capital improvements projects update, and tracking of legislative measures in the Colorado General Assembly that may impact the city. Eddy said it is important to use language in the document that “is easily understood.” Sturgeon commented that roads, sidewalks, trails, bridges and “anything that moves people,” whether on foot or in vehicles, should be noted. Councilman Ron Weidmann, said roads are a high priority. Councilwoman Candace Moon noted that a great deal of information is moving through the fiber network that the city is building around the city.
Moon said that Centennial has “high technology,” and that there are still cities and towns that have no technology. People in Centennial will be able to say, “My traffic lights won’t go down because I live in Centennial,” she commented.
A great deal of effort and time was spent in word polishing the language in the city’s documents, with an emphasis on the idea that the city “can’t do it (help its residents) by itself,” and depends on a variety of other agencies to assist in providing needed services.
Many of the essential functions in Centennial are fulfilled by special districts. For example, fire services, the Tri-County Health Department and water quality. It is commonly believed that Colorado has more special districts than any other state in the United States. Centennial does not have its own police force, as it has a contract with the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Department, or its own fire department, with a variety of special fire districts in the city.
Among the topics that the council will deal with in the months to come as part of its 2019 budget process are council compensation and council travel, and also an analysis of fees and fines, as well as the process for appointing city boards and commissions. It appears likely that the city will consider raising fees and fines. The next event in the city budget process will be a May 14 business planning session, followed by the May 22 budget kick-off, and then by a variety of other events.
New York Times bestselling author and educator, Rosalind Wiseman will be the main speaker May 1 at 8:45 a.m. during the annual brunch and again at 7 p.m.
Wiseman is an educator, founder of Cultures of Dignity and author of Queen Bees and Wannabes, & Masterminds and will pull back the curtain on what’s really going on between boys and girls and why they’re reluctant to ask adults for help. She will address how to get a child to talk to you, how do you reach out to parents when you need to tell them something about their child, how can Instagram and Snapchat affect your child’s self-esteem and friendships and how can adults help young people navigate the pressure to keep up?
Dr. Harry Bull, Superintendent of Cherry Creek schools will also be speaking to the group.
Suggested donation is $5-$10. Books will be available for sale and book signing. For the morning event only, you can register for childcare at PINccsd.org by April 26.
The P.I.N. presentation at 8:45 a.m. will be held at Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church, 10150 E. Belleview Ave. in Greenwood Village and the 7 p.m. presentation will be at 14188 E. Briarwood Ave. in Centennial at the Student Achievement Services Center.
BY DORIS TRUHLAR
Three Arapahoe High seniors – Spencer Christensen, Rafael Levy-Diner and Allie Wennerstrom – were honored by the Centennial City Council with Youth Achievement Awards recognizing their “significant impact on the community through volunteer work” showing “exceptional leadership.”
The ceremony honoring the three took place at a council meeting. All three received $1,000 scholarships from SAFEbuilt, which partnered with the Centennial Youth Commission in providing the scholarships.
Christensen serves on the National Leadership Council, making a mission trip to build a senior citizen dining room and teach English to students in Guatemala. Additionally, he serves as an after-school tutor, mentors freshmen, and volunteers for Littleton Stride races to raise money for the Littleton Public Schools Foundation. He donated 500 hours at the Southglenn Library, helping children. Last year, he received the Congressional Gold Medal Award.
Levy-Diner serves food at the Denver Rescue Mission, and plays croquet with older adults who have dementia. He volunteered his time outside of the program for weekly visits to one man as his disease progressed. Levy-Diner is President of the Arapahoe High Key Club and the class representative to the Littleton School District Accountability Committee.
Wennerstrom is a peer intern, helping provide individual instruction to fellow students. She volunteers at Camp Barnabas, a program dedicated to students with special needs. She volunteered to assist on a mission trip to Mexico and serves as a coach for the Arapahoe High Unified Basketball team. She started the Arapahoe High Unified Track Team and recruited police officers, firefighters and businesses to support the group. She also is a volunteer for students with autism and speech impediments at the Joshua School.
The Centennial City Council approved a resolution April 16 to enter into a Collaborative Transportation Forum Agreement that will entail all the local governments in Arapahoe County.
The entities entering into the agreement, in addition to Centennial, are Arapahoe County, Aurora, Bennett, Bowmar, Cherry Hills Village, Columbine Valley, Deer Trail, Englewood, Foxfield, Glendale, Greenwood Village, Littleton and Sheridan.
The role of the city will be to make recommendations to the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) “to ensure adequate transportation infrastructure to meet the needs of Arapahoe County Residents …” Transportation improvements that will be eligible for funding may include such items as traffic signals, intelligent transportation systems and other projects.
The forum of local governments will be responsible to solicit, select and recommend projects to DRCOG, rather than submitting individual projects directly to DRCOG. Each of the entities will have both an appointee and an alternate appointee to the body. The forum will be required to meet at least monthly.
Peter Marcus, Chuck Smith, Jesse Choe and Tiffany Phillips talk about the business of marijuana in Colorado.
BY FREDA MIKLIN
Coloradans have a muddled relationship with marijuana. Voters approved the use of medical marijuana by prescription in November 2000. Twelve years later, 1.3 million residents of Colorado voted yes on Amendment 64, permitting the sale and use of recreational marijuana. Sometimes it seems like no one knows who any of the folks who voted yes were, or why they cast those ballots. Even so, it is a robust and growing business in our state.
On April 13, the South Metro Denver Chamber held a panel discussion on, “Marijuana and Its Impact on Colorado Business,” at its offices at the Streets of Southglenn. RTD board chair and South Metro executive V.P. of Economic Development, Doug Tisdale introduced the program. Panelists were Peter Marcus, former political journalist and current communications director for Terrapin Care Station, a multi-location seller of recreation and medical pot, Chuck Smith, president and CEO of Dixie Brands, Inc., a large manufacturer of marijuana edibles, who also heads up Colorado Leads, a “pro-business alliance created to help educate the general public about the economic and community benefits of a safe, regulated medical and recreational cannabis industry.”
Rounding out the panel were Jesse Choe, a mortgage broker who specializes in cannabis industry employees, and Tiffany Phillips, marketing director of Springfield Wellness Center, which offers a nutritionally-based treatment for addiction and other health problems.
Every state in the U.S. except Idaho, Kansas and South Dakota has legalized marijuana in one form or another. Smith told the audience that the industry has produced $1 billion in taxes for our state since 2014. He also said that the cannabis industry has created 39,000 direct and 100,000 indirect jobs in Colorado. On the subject of safety, he pointed out that marijuana users cause far fewer traffic fatalities than do drunk drivers. According to a recent article in U.S. News and World Report, “Evidence from Colorado shows that marijuana legalization does not lead to increased teen usage, does not lead to increased homelessness, and does not lead to societal breakdown.”
Marcus told the government and business leaders that the marijuana industry is a business like any other that offers well-paid jobs and health insurance to its employees. He said his company was partnering with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and CDOT to address impaired driving. The cannabis industry does not take a position on whether individual employers should or should not drug-test their workers, Marcus pointed out. He emphasized the role of marijuana in treating opiate addiction, seizure disorders and PTSD suffered by veterans.
Though sellers of marijuana products are all committed to keeping their wares out of the hands of minors, everyone on the panel and in the audience agreed that in addition to the inability to legitimately use the banking system, a huge problem is the prohibition against government-funded research by legitimate institutions to study the long-term effects of marijuana use on the human brain, particularly that of teenagers. A representative of Colorado State University stood up to say that both CU and CSU have been trying to conduct marijuana research, but due to current laws, CSU could lose up to $500 million in federal research funds by doing so.
Listening and learning were city council members Cathy Turley, Candace Moon and Mike Sutherland from Centennial, Peggy Cole from Littleton, Randy Weil from Cherry Hills Village, Wynne Shaw from Lone Tree, and Arapahoe County Commissioners Jeff Baker and Kathleen Conti.
Mayor Stephanie Piko
Centennial’s Mayor Stephanie Piko, delivering her first “State of Centennial” speech at last week’s well-attended Rotary Club State of Centennial luncheon at the Embassy Suites, concluded with this upbeat mantra: “The State of Centennial has never been better!”
The event, which has been annual since the formation of the Centennial in 2001, drew about 400 in the audience. The dining area was packed. It was hard to see how even one more Centennial resident or employee (most of the city staff attended) could have fit in the crowded room. It was announced during the event that it was a sellout, with people turned away.
She noted that employment in Centennial grew by 3 percent in 2016 and 2017, adding 2,000 new jobs. Among the accomplishments and achievements she noted were:
The Regional Crime Lab now under construction, a multi-county, multi-jurisdiction project brought about in large part by Walcher. She said the lab “is set to be complete this year and will provide cutting-edge technology to continue to keep Centennial and the south metro area one of the safest places” in Colorado and the nation.
The special districts in Centennial which include the Arapahoe Libraries, Arapahoe County Waste Water Authority, Parker Jordan Metropolitan District, Southeast Stormwater Authority and South Suburban Parks and Recreation District.
The Rotary Club, including its President John Barry and the Event Committee (Chair Katherine Henschen, John McCarty, Phil Chipouras, Samantha Roe, Samantha Johnston and Doug Hanna), helped plan the event.
United Launch Alliance, Allosource (world leader in skin grafts for burn survivors), SEAKR Engineering, Sierra Nevada Corporation, Arrow and United Launch Alliance are all Centennial-based companies.
The mayor also lauded the city for its foresight in the area of fiber, noting that in 2016 the council approved a $5.7 million Fiber Master Plan and established a commission to keep the construction of a fiber backbone going. She said Centennial’s fiber network “presents the opportunity for businesses to build private networks or for businesses such as TING to bring services to underserved areas within” the city. Piko added that fiber is “a wonderful long-term investment” and the city was smart to build its “own infrastructure.”
Centennial “prides itself” on being “business friendly,” she said. “I am proud of our Centennial community and how we work together and we look forward to working with all of you in keeping our community connected.”
Piko, who was chosen in a contested election in November 2017, was effuse in her praise of Centennial staff, including the City Council, of which she has been a member for the past six years, as well as other guests who attended.
2018 All Rights Reserved. Villager Publishing |