BY FREDA MIKLIN
On October 4, KieAnn Brownell, a member of the homeowner’s association of the Landmark Towers, located east of Quebec Street and south of Belleview Avenue, appeared at the Greenwood Village City Council’s regular meeting to present a petition signed by over 150 “Greenwood Village taxpayers and voters” who live in the Landmark Towers, requesting that GV “assume waste and recycling collection for residents of The Landmark on par with the like services offered to other taxpaying residential homeowners in Greenwood Village.”
She said, “We’re asking you all tonight to right a wrong. Currently, the Landmark Towers are being unjustly denied the same trash and recycling benefits and privileges of other Greenwood Village taxpayers despite paying the same mill levy. We’ve been told that multifamily communities are excluded from trash and recycling pickup and services, but that’s not exactly true. For years, Greenwood Village has serviced Roundtree (Townhomes) and Hermitage (Condominiums) and all the while, wrongfully discriminated against Landmark Towers. More importantly, in the 2022 budget, which I believe is on the agenda for tonight, we’ve learned that beginning in 2022, Greenwood Village will also begin servicing the Georgetown Townhomes and Caley Ponds (Townhomes), multifamily communities. We ask you to stop the discriminatory practice and beginning in 2022, include The Landmark in your trash and recycling services.”
Brownell continued, “Since the (2021) budget has a projected $6.7 million surplus and Waste Connections (GV’s new trash and recycling contractor beginning 1-1-22) has proposed servicing The Landmark for around $63,000 for next year, it’s absolutely not a money issue. Other than just purely discriminating against The Landmark taxpayers, there is no reasonable justification for excluding us. On behalf of the taxpaying voters of The Landmark, I’m asking that our councilmembers, Dave Kerber and Anne Ingebretsen, include a motion to amend the (2022) budget to include trash and recycling like services for The Landmark Towers.”
Following Brownell, Landmark residents Mike and Miok Fowler explained that they feel very strongly about the importance of recycling. They have been taking their recycle items anywhere they would be accepted, including the Denver landfill, because there is nowhere in Arapahoe County that will accept them. The service was ended at Landmark a few years ago. Brownell told The Villager that recycling became cost-prohibitive for The Landmark when Waste Management began adding extra charges for items put into recycle bins that were not recyclable. She also shared that a staff member at GV had told her that GV residents make the same mistake often but the city does not get charged for it because of the size of its contract. Mr. Fowler closed his remarks with, “It seems so unfair that (our recycled items) can’t be picked up along with the other recyclables in Greenwood Village. I urge you to have a motion to include this in the budget…”
Mayor Lantz thanked the Landmark residents for coming in and bringing the petition, adding, “You should be aware that there was a policy that they (Councilmembers Kerber and Ingebretsen) probably shared with you that created the definition of multi-family residences as being of eight or more units, and they (multi-family residences) weren’t allowed to participate…We’ll ask staff to review (the policy)…and we’ll consider that.” Lantz continued, “A change of this definition could mean significantly more than what you’re talking about. If we change the definition there is at least the possibility that the total number of multifamily units would need to be included, too. There’s close to 3,000 multifamily units in the city of Greenwood Village; that would be a 75% increase in the number of particular residents that we would pick up. Just wanted to make sure you were aware of that.”
In response, Gail O’Toole, also a Landmark resident came to the podium and said, “I’ve been the leader of the homework on this effort…We are not an apartment building. We are not a commercial-owned facility that is renting apartments. We are taxpaying homeowners who pay a mill levy…equivalent to an individual who lives across the street in a home. I think that is a real clarification that has maybe gotten confused.”
Later, O’Toole explained to The Villager that she and others believe that the important distinction as to who should receive these services is not whether they own a single-family detached home or they own a single-family attached home, condominium, or townhome, all three of which are categorized as multi-family homes by the city. The distinction should be whether they pay the same 2.932 mill levy for property taxes to the City of Greenwood Village, which every homeowner does, regardless of whether their home is detached, attached, a condominium or a townhome. Apartment residents do not pay property taxes. The number Mayor Lantz cited included both homeowners and renters of apartments in the city.
GV has provided free trash and recycling services to single-family homes since 1996. They have also provided the same free service to homeowners in three specific developments currently categorized as multi-family for more than 15 years. Earlier this year, the city council decided it would extend its free trash and recycling service to homeowners at two more multi-family townhome developments beginning January 1, 2022. The five homeowner-owned multi-family developments currently or about to start receiving the free service each have from 25 to 142 individual homeowner units and include approximately 292 total units. The Landmark has 268 units. Based on our analysis of the remaining owned multi-family homes on the list we received from the city, there are approximately 337 units, in addition to The Landmark, that could qualify for trash and recycling services if GV changed its policy to providing the service to all homeowners.
In an interview with The Villager, Gail O’Toole told us that she and her husband Jim have owned their unit in the Landmark since 2008 and often wondered why some condos received free trash and recycling service while theirs doesn’t. She explained that the decision was made by Landmark homeowners to petition the city to include them in this service after she sent three emails to Ingebretsen and one to Kerber in March and April about this issue and did not receive any response.