BY FREDA MIKLIN
On August 31, the Cherry Hills Village City Council met in lieu of its scheduled September 7 meeting out of respect for those who observe the Jewish high holy day of Rosh Hashanah, which falls on September 7 this year. As usual, the first order of business was the audience participation portion of the meeting where CHV residents are permitted to address the city council on any issue that is not included on the scheduled agenda. In CHV, residents always seem to feel welcome to speak, since they take advantage of this opportunity at virtually every city council meeting.
Every speaker that evening came to talk about Quincy Farm (QF), for which the council has received two proposals that it will consider at a future date after conducting several information sessions this month and next.
Alex Brown, Linda Behr, Kevin Schwall, former CHV Mayor Laura Christman, and another resident who presented a petition with 302 signatures spoke in opposition to any transfer of title of QF. Dr. Eric Jamrich, Rebecca Benes, and Gordon Rockafellow, all of whom live very close or adjacent to QF, spoke in favor of considering the proposal from Natalie Anderson as submitted, including the potential transfer of title to the property. Karl Brummert, executive director of Denver Audubon, reported that his organization has been partnering with the Cherry Hills Land Preserve (CHLP) for over three years at QF and other locations. He noted that Denver Audubon was not approached by anyone other than CHLP regarding programming at QF. Brummert wanted to let the council know that he anticipated doing smaller programs at QF and saving larger ones for his organization’s permanent home at Chatfield State Park.
Later in the meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Katy Brown said that she has observed “a clear indicator that public sentiment is leaning strongly in one direction,” and that she also believed that CHV had no legal right to transfer title to the property under its current zoning. So as to avoid the possibility that Natalie Anderson’s proposal would have to be disqualified later because CHV could not legally transfer title to QF to her, Brown proposed that the council modify its RFP to exclude the possibility that title to the property be transferred and allow Anderson until September 14 to modify her proposal to one that did not include that feature.
The vote of the council was four to one with Brown and Councilmembers Al Blum, Mike Gallagher, and Randy Weir voting in favor of Brown’s proposal and Councilmember Afshin Safavi voting no (Councilmember Dan Sheldon was excused from the meeting due to the passing of his father). In explaining his opposition to the motion, Safavi said, “If we’re going to go ahead and change the RFP, then I want to look at all the factors that we put on there because we probably can improve the RFP…not just on the title/ownership but… maybe 20, 30, 40 other parameters we have in there. Why this and why not the other ones?” He also objected to “changing the rules in the middle of the game.”
Former councilmember Hoellen speaks to other issues
Earl Hoellen, also a former city council member, agreed that title to QF should remain with CHV.
Speaking to the overall health of city finances, he also pointed out that CHV has the ability to “transfer one mill (of its property tax) from the parks fund, which is ample, to the capital fund, simply by resolution, adding, “I urge (the city) council to do this one mill transfer right away or at least explain why you aren’t doing it right away.”
The former councilmember (he was replaced by Afshin Safavi in a very close race in November 2018) also questioned why CHV is “going to continue to look the other way” while “more and more residents are placing large rocks, boulders, trees, shrubbery within the rights-of-way right next to the road surface with the clear intention of making it impossible for the public to temporarily park their cars on the side of the road within the public right-of-way, essentially making these streets, on their own, no-parking streets. While I understand the homeowners’ desire to do this, it is in violation of our current municipal code and… the city’s not doing anything to enforce these violations.” Hoellen said it was in direct conflict with the section of the CHV municipal code that says that, “no private improvements are allowed within the city’s right-of-way…that will interfere with the public’s use of the right-of-way.” Later in the meeting, several other members of the council asked the city manager to look into Hoellen’s concerns about residents using landscaping to prevent public parking in front of their homes.