Senior center owner seeks second building on adjacent lot

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Gardens at Columbine wants to expand into Jeffco

By Vicky Gits

The owners of the Gardens at Columbine, an assisted-living center, have purchased an adjacent lot and want to demolish the existing home and build a senior care facility for about 22 residents.

The Gardens’ main building at the southwest corner of Platte Canyon Road and West Ken Caryl Avenue is in Arapahoe County, while the proposed building would be in Jefferson County.

At a Jefferson County Planning and Zoning community meeting at the assisted-living center on June 12, a preliminary architectural drawing showed a 15,000- to 17,000-square-foot, one-story building on the 1.14-acre parcel, with a parking lot for about 20 cars on the north side.

The building would have pitched roofs and brick walls, but Darrel Schimidt, owner of the Gardens at Columbine and the property, declined to elaborate further on the design or materials.

About five people from the community attended the meeting. A neighbor had no concerns about the proposal but voiced disappointment about how close the Gardens was built to her house.

Another voiced concerned about the large old pine trees on the property, hoping they could be saved during the construction.

A preliminary letter of application for rezoning says the half-dozen monumental Colorado spruce trees will be pruned and preserved within a 50-foot setback; however, that is not part of an approved plan at this point.

Construction of a new facility depends on getting the property rezoned from agricultural to planned development. It will have to be reviewed by the Planning Commission and approved by the county commissioners.

According to the South Plains Community Plan, the property is targeted for residential use. That means the applicant needs to justify and request an exception to the recommendation in the comprehensive plan, said Planning and Zoning case manager Jeanne Shaffer.

Planning staff will analyze the applicant's response and make a recommendation, which the Planning Commission will either approve or deny.

If the rezoning is approved, construction would start in the spring of 2013.


The center’s background

The family-owned assisted-living center opened in 2000. Darrel Schmidt, a land and housing developer, is a partner in Signature Properties. Schmidt was the developer behind the Meadows West housing community in South Jeffco. His wife and his two sons are also involved in the business.

The Gardens at Columbine is a two-story facility with a brick facade, pitched roofs and a southeast-facing spacious lawn with a rose garden, fountain and gazebo. The center has about 100 residents and employs 60 people.

Schmidt said the secondary facility would be intended for residents who need a higher level of care than is available at the existing facility.

"Once people are here, they don't want to leave, and we don't want them to leave," he said.


Resident input

Two of the attendees, Ralph and Pat Miller, are longtime residents who lived next to the Gardens property when it was a meadow with horses. There was also a farmhouse and silo on the property. A previous owner was a sugar beet farmer.

Pat Miller said she was disappointed that the senior residence was built only about 50 feet from her house. "Now we have 32 windows looking at us all the time," she said. "I'm sorry to be such a downer, but it was a big blow."

Miller said the developer had promised to put in more evergreens to hide the building.

Schmidt said she was welcome to visit the center and enjoy the gardens any time. But Miller did not seem to find that appealing. The couple said after the meeting they had no objections to the new facility.

Other neighbors at the meeting did not have negative reactions.

Ralph Miller wondered whether the giant 50-year-old blue spruce trees would be saved or cut down to make way for the new building. There is a brick ranch house on the property and about half a dozen 35-foot trees.

"We will work them into the plan," said Schmidt, who said he wants to keep the trees on the property.


Contact Vicky Gits at vicky@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22.