BY DORIS T. TRUHLAR
Whether a Mercedes dealer can open a new business on East Arapahoe Road will be discussed during a public hearing Monday, Aug. 13. Before the Centennial City Council is an ordinance to change the Land Development Code to allow a conditional use for the proposed dealership. The issue could end up before voters on the Nov. 6 election.
The option to turn the decision over to the voters was raised by Mayor Stephanie Piko at the regular meeting when she stated that, a decision needs to be made Friday, Aug. 17, to place the issue on the ballot.
The council heard Aug. 6 from numerous residents at the regular meeting about the dealership. A majority of those who spoke at the meeting appeared to be opposed to the dealership.
If approved, the dealership would be located south of East Arapahoe Road at South Atchison Street. The parcel of land proposed to be used for the dealership would be at least five acres in size and the dealership apparently already has purchased the land. The dealership would be owned by Bobby Rahal, 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner and three-time Indycar champion, who serves as chairman of the Bobby Rahal Automotive Group.
Speaking against approval of the zoning change was Gerry Cummins, former chair of CenCON, which is short for “Centennial communities.” Cummins said that land would be better used to create a downtown Centennial.
After Cummins spoke, Piko asked for everyone in the room who supported the CenCON point of view to stand up. There were at least 15 people who stood in support of the position of Cummins and CenCON.
Annette Jewell told the council that the dealership should not be approved. She expressed a lack of sympathy for Bobby Rahal, noting that he “chose to buy” the parcel of land before the conditional use ordinance is approved. She said that the city’s comprehensive plan does not call for automobile dealers to be located on the land for which city planners have proposed a change in zoning.
Greg Carter, of South Helena Street, noted that he lives on Arapahoe Road and expressed a fear of car alarms going off at all times of day and night. Jill Meakins said that Centennial citizens are being “bullied” and misled. It doesn’t matter what Centennial citizens want, she stated. Furthermore, council members are making “backroom deals,” she said.
Speaking in favor of permitting the dealership to locate on the parcel of land, Tom Razonetti stated that the Mercedes dealership being proposed will be “first-rate quality.” The lights will not be on all night, he said. Furthermore, he stated that opposition to the dealership was being funded by a competing Mercedes dealership. The citizens deserve a full and open process, he stated.
John Brackney, a former Arapahoe County Commissioner, stated that every city wants to have a Mercedes dealership. He said the vote should be 9-0, unanimous, to permit the dealership.
“There is nothing inspiring about another car dealership on Arapahoe Road, stated Cindy Loehr. “Please, please listen to our voices.”
Peter Sgier stated that the city should “let consumers determine winners and losers,” and that competitors are funding the opposing the dealership.
Council members generally did not say whether they are for or against the dealership, however, it appeared that a majority of the council support the proposed business.
Councilman Ken Lucas asked how many of the petitions that were signed in 2016 in a similar situation were paid for by an entity called Black Diamond. He did not get an answer.
Centennial considering dangerous buildings ordinance
Also, on the agenda was consideration of adoption of an ordinance concerning dangerous buildings in the city.
The ordinance would address dangerous or deteriorating buildings. It appears that it would be largely complaint-based. A building would be investigated when a complaint was filed against the homeowner.
The city first began studying the issue of dangerous or deteriorating buildings about eight years ago. The ordinance, if passed by the city council, would regulate vacant, abandoned and dangerous buildings.
In other business, the council:
Approved an intergovernmental agreement between Centennial and the Arapahoe County Board of County Commissioners regarding the 2018 planning grant of the Arapahoe County Open Space Program funds.
Heard a report from Jenny Houlne, principal planner, regarding the sources of funds for use by the city in the parks and trails. This included a report on a maintenance plan for the City’s Center Park, which is located next to Centennial City Hall, on East Arapahoe Road.
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