New assisted-living center proposed for South Jeffco

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By Matt Gunn

A proposed assisted-living facility has grabbed the attention of several residents in the Kipling Villas neighborhood.

But that’s not because of the prospect of new development — neighbors acknowledge it’s bound to happen on the northeast corner of West Coal Mine Avenue and South Kipling Street. Any issue with the proposed Sunrise Senior Living facility comes with its size.

“Height was a concern,” said Nancy York, the Jefferson County planner assigned the case. “I think what they were proposing was higher than 35 feet, which is recommended.”

An initial community meeting was held Jan. 8 at Columbine Hills Church of the Nazarene. York said about 15 people showed up despite bad weather and a potential address gaffe.

John Durham, a principal with Norris Design, represented Sunrise at the meeting.

The proposed senior care center, which is in the initial stages of the rezoning process, would be three stories with a maximum height of 45 feet. The lot is graded, and sits above the level of the neighboring backyards.

“The one side of it is, it’s a big open field and people drive motorcycles through there and dust blows and irritates people back there,” said Mark Donohue, president of the Kipling Villas HOA. “Some development would be nice, but three stories might be excessive.”

Before Sunrise does anything, however, it will have to work with the county through the rezoning process. There is no indication that the proposed building height will change, even though the county would have to grant an exception.

The land itself is currently zoned Agricultural-1. It would change to Planned Development should the official development plan be approved.

Kevin Shirata, a California-based Sunrise developer, said the plan is still in the very early stages. A second community meeting is planned for 6 p.m. Jan. 29 at Columbine Hills Church of the Nazarene, 9700 Old Coal Mine Ave.

“We’re showing the community that we’re responding to some of their concerns,” Shirata said. “So it’s more a response out of respect to show the community.”

The senior living company’s representatives also plan to meet with the Kipling Villas homeowner association Feb. 5.

Sunrise’s proposed three-story building includes 80 units, with the top floor reserved for Alzheimer’s patients. It is a high-end assisted-living facility that would offer various living options to residents.

Residents asked for renderings of what the finished structure would look like. Denver-based Norris design has overseen planning for several Sunrise facilities in the state, including one in Cherry Creek and another in Pinehurst.

“You want to see the build-up; I’m not against development at all,” Donohue said. “It might be tough to swallow because we just have a feeling this is going to be a huge white elephant out on the corner.”

Other concerns from residents included lighting, drainage and the potential of lost privacy due to the higher windows of Sunrise. Another worry was about a private road being constructed along that land. That road, however, is being built by the current landowner, and will eventually be inherited by whoever buys the property.

Until the senior living center’s proposed rezoning is filed and approved, it remains a concept, Shirata said. The company is working to fit the county’s and community’s needs right now.

“I guess right now, the biggest concerns are, that land, there’s a lot of fill there,” Donohue said. “It’s going to be tall, and that’s probably the scariest thing for everybody right now.”

Contact Matt Gunn at matt@evergreenco.