City Council discusses paving gravel roads in Greenwood Village

At its meeting on November 7, the Greenwood Village City Council discussed its longstanding policy about gravel roads in the western part of the city. 

GV Director of Parks, Trails and Recreation Suzanne Moore pointed out to the council that the city’s Comprehensive Plan names that area as the “Rural Homestead Planning Area” and describes it as “characterized as having primarily gravel roads and a limited number of paved streets.” 

Moore also pointed to the current City Council Resolution that governs policy in the area, passed in 2012, which states that GV “shall consider a request to pave a gravel road located within a rural residential area…only when…100% of the landowners directly adjacent to the road to be paved must have signed a petition in support of paving the road and have agreed to dedicate any right-of-way deemed necessary for an equestrian path.”

GV District One City Council Members Paul Wiesner and Dave Bullock have received inquiries about amending the city’s policy so that only 68% of adjacent landowners would need to agree that a gravel road should be paved.

Moore brought the question to GV’s Parks, Trails and Recreation Commission (PTR), which voted against the policy change 4-3. All the members of PTR from the GV districts (one and two) west of I-25 who were present at the meeting voted against the policy change. All the yes votes came from PTR members who live east of I-25, furthest from the impacted area of the city. Reasons given by PTR members who were against the change included, “Paving the roads would change the essential character of rural Greenwood Village,” and, “People who buy property in this neighborhood are aware of the existing conditions.” 

Wiesner noted that he attended the PTR meeting where the matter was discussed. Bullock said that he has lived in the rural area (at the end of a gravel road, but his cul-de-sac is paved) for 29 years and that there were once, “a lot of horses,” but, “Over time, things have changed. I cannot remember a horse on our road in three or four years, not a single one” He continued, “Over time, people have moved to the area who…like the pastoral feel. They like the large lots…but they don’t have horses…so…(they’d) like to get those roads paved.” 

Bullock continued, “We are not proposing that roads be paved, (but) nowhere in American democracy that we know of requires a 100% vote.”

When Mayor Lantz asked Bullock what he thought his neighbors might say if asked, Bullock said, “My guess, and I could be wrong, is that probably 80% of the people in the rural area want the roads paved, just because it’s a real mess in the wintertime.”

Council Member Judith Hilton responded to the discussion with, “Those of you who remember our Save Our Village campaign (in 2017)—then, after we were elected, we did a wholesale revision of the Comprehensive Plan, and a number of people who are here were a part of that process.” She continued, “Before we look at the viability of what’s being suggested, we should look to see whether it would require or be a good idea to amend the Comprehensive Plan.” Bullock agreed that any proposed change in this policy should be accompanied by a change to the city’s Comp Plan.

Wiesner reminded his fellow city council members that, “When I was on Planning and Zoning (in 2018), the council took it (the Comp Plan) and rewrote it themselves.” That was notable because the GV Municipal Code states that, “The Planning and Zoning Commission shall prepare and recommend…amendments to the Comprehensive Plan.” Other council members agreed that city council rewrote the Comp Plan, but noted that the focus of the rewrite was not in areas that were primarily residential. 

The discussion ended with a decision that Bullock and Wiesner should organize a meeting of interested residents to gain direct feedback about the proposed policy change. There were varying opinions as to whether the inquiry should be limited to only residents who live on unpaved roads or whether other GV residents’ opinions should also be sought.