Aerial photo of former Sears/KMart warehouse on Bromley Lane in Brighton.
Brighton City Council gave Amprius Tech the approval for a zoning change allowing them to use a former warehouse on Bromley Lane for a manufacturing facility. Credit: File photo

City Council clears way for Amprius Tech with zoning change

Councilors gave their final approval to plans to reuse the former Sears warehouse on Bromley Lane as a battery manufacturer.

Councilors approved rezoning the former Sears distribution center by a 5-2 vote on final reading at their Sept. 19 meeting after two hours of public testimony. The final vote followed closely with the final tally from the first reading on Sept. 5, with Councilor Ann Tadeo switching her vote from a no to a yes.

Councilors Matt Johnston and Mary Ellen Pollack remained opposed. Pollack said she has not changed her mind.

“There is so much craziness going on with green new deals and whatnot, but what do we really know?” Pollack said. “We know there is a lot of politics and we know there is a lot of money involved. But I have not changed my mind. I am going to continue to support the residents of that area and the city of Brighton.”

Amprius Tech announced in March its intention to occupy the empty former distribution center on Bromley  Lane, setting up their new lithium-ion battery manufacturing facility in the 775,000-square-foot building. Their first phase would create 332 net new jobs in Brighton with an average annual wage of $68,516.

The batteries would be meant to power a variety of uses, including electrically powered aircraft.

The site is the former location of a Sears/KMart distribution center that contains 1.3 million square feet of space and parking but has been vacant for the past 18 months.

The previous zoning specifically limits the building’s uses to warehouses and distribution centers. Amprius hopes to get the zoning changed to allow industrial, commercial and public uses.

Brighton staff, from planners to utilities to the fire marshall, have reviewed the project, discussed it with paid consultants and have found the project to be sufficiently safe.

The facility would be located at 18875 Bromley Lane, just 600 feet south of Brighton’s Mt. Princeton St. and homes in the surrounding Brighton Crossings neighborhood and due north of Brighton’s water treatment plant. Brighton’s Planning Board advised the City Council to turn down the company’s proposal on Sept. 5, citing the project’s proximity to neighbors.

Neighbors of the proposed project accounted for the bulk of the public comments, saying they fear pollution from the plant and potential dangers if the lithium-ion batteries catch fire.

Neighbor Gilda Ramirez said her concern is for the schools and families that live north of the building. She said a problem at the plant could affect 1,832 students.

“That’s versus, 350 jobs this could create,” Ramirez said. “I’m sorry, but I not only feel for our children but also for those of us who own homes here that are already being affected. Does that mean anything to anyone?”

Jeremy Zamora said he thought it was a bad idea.

“Just for the simple fact that it’s a neighborhood you are talking about,” Zamora said. “It’s directly in a neighborhood. It’s not like it’s out in some field somewhere. It’s next to schools, people’s houses, communities and  if this goes through, it’s going to force me to move. I don’t want to live next to Rocky Flats.”

But Councilor Peter Padilla said he spoke with a doctor of chemistry who lives in his ward and within about 1,000 feet of the facility. She told him that the facility would be safer than what exists there currently. He noted that Brighton’s fire department staff has also signed off and he said he’s inclined to trust staff and experts.

With the council’s approval, the  company still needs permits from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Company officials said they plan to submit their applications to the state this fall. The company hopes to be operating by the beginning of 2025.

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