BY FREDA MIKLIN
We met Beth and Neal King, six-year residents of the Landmark Towers in Greenwood Village District Two, at a meet-and-greet event on October 16 for GV District Two city council candidates Mike Lopez and Michail Sidorov. The Kings told The Villager they were there to support Lopez and Sidorov because, “We feel very excluded from the city, from the community. This city council is very exclusionary. They are focused on one particular part of Greenwood Village, one demographic, and it’s been extremely frustrating to us.”
Neal explained, “I like the environment, or we wouldn’t have been here in the first place. We are Littleton natives and we’ve lived in Greenwood Village for years,” continuing, “We are a suburb of a major metropolitan area, but it’s not represented that way.” Beth added, “We want to see responsible development. We are watching what’s going on around us. Here, we are treated like second-class citizens.”
Neal continued, “We don’t want to see this area changed entirely. We saw how Highlands Ranch listened to their residents and did responsible development. Nothing has happened here. We can’t even get a sidewalk from here at the Landmark to the Orchard Light Rail station that is right nearby because our current representatives treat us like we are not part of ‘The Village.’ We believe Mike Lopez and Michail Sidorov will listen to ideas about responsible development.”
Mike Lopez is a Colorado native and partner at Plante Moran in IT strategic planning. Michail Sidorov hails from the Ukraine and is a graduate of Lehigh University, a former investment banker, and current Regional Director for Datasite.
Lopez listed “transparency and inclusion of the community” as reasons he and Sidorov are running for city council, explaining, “This council doesn’t let the citizens speak at their study sessions. They don’t have committees or task forces that include the community. District Two residents in Greenwood Hills, as well as The Landmark, have told us they feel like their voices haven’t been heard.”
He cited the refusal of the current city council to include the Landmark Towers in the city’s trash pick-up services that are extended to other condo and townhome developments as well as single-family homes, as an example of the council’s failure to consider input from residents.
He also pointed to standing GV committees on revenue, infrastructure, and the comprehensive plan as being comprised solely of council members and city staff, with no residents invited to participate.
Lopez also noted that citywide citizen surveys that used to be sent out every two years have not been sent to residents “for several years.” We checked and found out that the last GV citizen survey was sent early in 2018, more than five years ago.
Lopez said, “We want to bring the surveys back so we can get input from people and respond to their needs and requests from the city,” adding that GV has not focused on sustainability, failing to adopt a composting initiative, promote electric vehicles, or add trees to retail and office areas, nor have they focused on alternative transportation management, including commuter buses, bikes, and scooters, as have others in the tech center area.
Lopez explained, “So many of us live and work in this area. We want to make it easier not to hop in the car every time we need to go somewhere, creating more congestion between Belleview and Orchard and the other thoroughfares in the city. Right now, the city has one car in its entire fleet that is electric. Everything else runs on gas. We want to make the city greener. There are many federal grants available to help with that, but no one has looked into them.”
District Two resident Nancy Oberman asked what was going on with the (empty) Marilyn Hickey building on Orchard Road, which she said is bringing a criminal element to the Greenwood Hills area. Kristin Milano, a Landmark HOA board member and head of the HOA’s security committee, responded that the committee had met with GV police about that building and, “They said people break in there. They told us they clear it out once a week…The officer mentioned they found two men in there recently who had warrants out for them for murder.”
Ian Bird, Landmark HOA president, raised the issue of the land use bill that was proposed but lost in the 2023 legislative session. He said it would have “taken local zoning away from localities and given it to the state.” Pointing to the ten-acre property directly south of the Landmark Towers, Bird shared, “It (the bill) lost this time but it will come back again. As long as that land is vacant, if it does pass, we are going to lose control as a local community over what is developed there. That’s another reason this election is so important, to make sure that it has reasonable development as soon as possible so the state does not take it out of our hands and it is developed the way they want to, without our control.”
Sidorov told the 50-person crowd that had come to listen that he decided to run for city council, “because of the lack of any positive improvement around our district. The land behind us, the buildings behind us, are either empty, in bankruptcy, or in disrepair. The empty Marilyn Hickey church serves as a base for transient folks. It creates crime issues in our community that have to be addressed.” He also agreed with the point previously made by Ian Bird about the land use bill that failed last legislative session, noting, “If it comes back and gets signed into law, we have a significant risk that something will be built next to us that we may not like…I would like to incentivize development and redevelopment in GV District Two. I would work with developers, have a conversation so we could find a middle ground and see something built that we could all use and be proud of. Previous proposals were rejected because of fear of traffic. I would try to work with developers to create walkable spaces with mixed use; restaurants on the first floor, offices and some residential above so that folks could live and work in the same area. That would decrease traffic, as long as it’s done with (reasonable height and density).”
Peter and Brenda Lush, residents of the Greenwood Hills neighborhood, who were there to voice their support for Lopez and Sidorov, said that it has been really important to them and their neighbors for years, “to get a coordinated plan for the development of Orchard Station to make it a gathering place,” but they had been told that, “We did a survey. People don’t want a gathering place.” Said Peter, “Maybe the people who have lived here 40 and 50 years don’t want change and that’s why they don’t like Landmark, but we’ve been here in Greenwood Hills 12 years, and we have a lot of neighbors who, like us, would like to see some planned, strategic development that would benefit the community.”
Tom Lee, executive managing director at Newmark Global Commercial Real Estate Services and appointed Congressional District Six representative for Great Outdoors Colorado, was there to add his voice of support for Lopez and Sidorov. He said that the campaign to defeat planned, strategic development in Orchard Station six years ago was led by current GV District Two Councilmembers Kerber and Ingebretsen, and, “The development that would have happened if that had passed would have been incredibly positive and it would not have brought ‘the wrong element’ to GV, which the Save Our Village campaign tried to portray,” adding, “Transit stops can be a very important element of a community.”
He too noted, “There is a homeless community at the (Marilyn Hickey) church that is a problem that the city council is not taking care of properly,” closing his remarks with, “This is an incredibly important election. The people who want to get re-elected (Kerber and Ingebretsen) totally (cheated) us.”
Kara Plender, a Landmark resident who got no response from anyone when she testified before the GV City Council on October 17, 2022 and asked that they revisit a decision made on January 3, 2022 to not consider adding Landmark to the citywide trash program, said, “As you know, Greenwood Village does not pick up our trash…We are part of District Two and we need to be represented also.”
Plender also shared that, according to the former Landmark HOA president, John Herbers, Landmark is the only HOA in all of Greenwood Village that contributes more to the city budget than the cost of the services it receives.
KieAnn Brownell, another resident, echoed a similar theme, saying, “I’m so excited that Mike Lopez and Misha Sidorov have stepped up and shown their willingness to represent all of District Two, not just the Landmark. It’s not OK that The Landmark is overlooked and ignored by the Greenwood Village City Council.”
Ballots for GV City Council were mailed to voters beginning October 16 and are due back by November 7.