New day lies ahead for Airport City plans

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Adams County and Denver officials say a closed meeting held last week has put the two previously conflicting sides back on track to resolve ongoing issues surrounding Denver’s proposed plans for an Airport City around Denver International Airport.

The first informational meeting of the resurrected Airport Consultation Committee — consisting of three members each from Adams and Denver counties — marked the first time the two sides met since last year when initial talks reached an impasse.

Adams County District 2 Commissioner Charles “Chaz” Tedesco; Commerce City Mayor Sean Ford; and Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan represented Adams County on the committee, while Denver International Airport Aviation Manager Kim Day; Denver Mayor Michael Hancock; and regional affairs director Paul Ryan represented Denver.

“We feel that it’s a new day, it’s a new way, and we look forward to moving forward with our economic development in the region,” Tedesco said at the conclusion of the two-hour meeting held on Jan. 13 at the Adams County Government Center in Brighton. “We feel that the discussions today will lead to more productive talks and more economic development in the future.”

Talks involving Adams County on preliminary Airport City plans dates began in July 2012, when Denver and DIA officials first introduced the proposal to create five business clusters within a 9,000-acre area, targeting the bioscience, renewable energy, aviation and aerospace, logistics, industrial agriculture and perishable foods industries.

These talks stalled several months later when Adams County and Denver officials attempted to address possible conflicts with a 1988 intergovernmental agreement (IGA) that allowed Adams County land to be annexed by Denver to build the current Denver International Airport.

“There were concerns, but I think that was because of a lack of communication and quality decisions and discussions working together regionally,” Ford said.

To resolve these issues, Ford said lawyers representing Denver and the Airport Consultation Committee are going to work through what the perceived violations may be and how officials should proceed.

“We cannot and will not do this alone or in a vacuum,” Hancock said. “The entire region works together, the entire region wins from this opportunity. We’re not competing against each other — we’re competing against the world. We have to keep our focus on that — it’s a global and economic opportunity that we will never see again in our lifetime, so we’re about taking advantage of it today and for future generations.”

The Airport Consultation Committee will hold its next meeting at 8 a.m. Friday, March 15, at Denver International Airport. The next Airport Coordinating Committee meeting will be held at 1 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Adams County Government Center. Both meetings will be open to the public.