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Rooney Valley rezoning passes

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By Deborah Swearingen

Hotels, motels, gas stations, car washes and more could soon inhabit the southeast corner of C-470 and West Alameda Parkway now that the Jeffco commissioners unanimously approved rezoning to allow additional commercial uses.

According to Jeffco planner Heather Gutherless, updating the zoning from medium-scale retail to planned development doesn’t change much. Among other things, it adds gas and service stations, hotels and motels, car washes and entertainment facilities as permitted uses instead of special uses, a move that provides potential tenants a sense of assurance.

“For each individual user, they would have to go through a special use process. So this really does add certainty for developers and for the citizens of what can and can’t happen on this site,” said Ethan Watel of Baseline Engineering, who spoke on behalf of the applicant.

When evaluating the application for rezoning, Gutherless said planning staff looks at a number of different factors, including the project’s compatibility. Overall, she said, staff determined that the project wouldn’t have a significant impact on the area.

“The location of this property at the interchange of C-470 really makes it well-suited for a … more intense, commercial-type use, really takes advantage of that infrastructure that was put in place by CDOT, the county and the property owners in this area,” she said.

The land, approximately 30 acres, is owned by Three Dinos LLC and is the latest in a long history of development proposals in the Rooney Valley — many of which have been strongly opposed by residents in Morrison, Lakewood and elsewhere. The applicant’s first attempt at rezoning in 2016 received dozens of letters in opposition.

However, the case file indicates the county received just two letters of opposition to the project since 2016. One person attended the Sept. 26 Planning Commission hearing to speak against rezoning, and no members of the public came to the Oct. 16 commissioners’ meeting.

Originally, two separate applications for rezoning in the Rooney Valley — one at the northwest corner of C-470 and Alameda and this particular case at the southeast corner — were tracking and being discussed at the same time. But, ultimately, the northwest application took precedence, and the project team with the southeast corner decided to hold back.

Since 2016, the applicant worked to mitigate some of the public’s concerns, including removing motorcycle-related uses from the plan.

“This really was a direct result of listening to the community’s concerns on this specific issue at this specific site. Since that, no major changes have been made to the ODP (overall development plan),” Watel said.

Though there was some discussion among the commissioners about lighting standards and more, the request for rezoning passed with ease. A timeline for development was not outlined at the hearing.