A development along 235 acres southwest of Federal Boulevard and 88th might be inevitable, Shaw Heights neighbors said at a quickly organized Aug. 14 meeting, but they can steer what ends up on the lot.
Development group Oread Capital is advancing a plan to develop the farmland between 84th and 88th avenues and Federal and Lowell Boulevards, land owned by the Pillar of Fire Church, as well as parcels east of Federal and on both sides of Bradburn Drive west of Lowell.
The plan calls for converting the large open space surrounding the church into a massive mixed-use development, with housing options ranging from single-family homes to apartments and townhomes as well as parks and commercial areas.
Westminster Senior Planner Patrick Caldwell said the city has been aware of the proposal since December 2018 and completed a pre-application administrative review a year ago. The developers group has hosted several meetings with neighbors but a formal public hearing on the project itself is not expected until early next year.
But neighbors — some who’ve attended the developers meetings and others who just learned of the plans — say they need to get organized now so they can help determine the fate of the neighborhood.
“This meeting, and I guess the meetings we’ll have after this, is to get the community around this area together to organize and think about what we want to happen, how we want it to happen and to see if we can’t make our voices heard by the developer, the city and whoever needs to hear us,” neighbor Ken Biles said.
Rose Hill by another name
The project is being called three different names. It’s being proposed on Pillar of Fire land and would be built immediately north of church’s iconic castle structure, so some neighbors call it the Pillar of Fire project.
City of Westminster documents label it the Rose Hill project but the development group is calling it The Uplands project. The development group unveiled a website, uplandscolorado.com, on Aug. 19 to promote the project.
It would combine parcels on either side of Federal Boulevard, including the cropland between 88th and 84th immediately north of the church.
But the development would surround the church on three sides and would included the apple orchards immediately to the west of Lowell Boulevard and south of 84th.
About three acres of that land is in unincorporated Adams County while the rest is in Westminster, so the development group would need the city to annex those areas.
Next, the group would need the city to change the zoning designation in the Comprehensive plan and ultimately rezone the property to allow the development and adopt a development plan.
It would ultimately have to be approved by the City Council.
Westminster’s Caldwell said the Comprehensive plan changes would happen first, possibly this fall.
“Nothing is in writing at this point and we expect to get some writing and correspondence this week,” Caldwell said. “But what could happen is the developer could ask to have comprehensive plan hearing separately and early, some time in the fall. But we have long lead time. It would likely be later October and into November before it goes to the planning commission for a hearing.”
Open Space and alternatives
Neighbors say they can’t wait and planned to attend the City Council’s community meeting scheduled for Aug. 20 to discuss the proposed development. About 50 neighbors meet Aug. 14 at Westminster’s Irving Street Library to discuss the property.
“I have no problem with developing areas to bring more people in,” Biles said. “I do have a problem with high density, with doubling the population and bringing in all that traffic and everything else that would be involved.”
Some neighbors urged the city to take over, turning the land into permanent community farm.
“There is a lot of interest in food and urban agriculture and the future of food,” neighbor Holly Walter said. “We might be able to find a big non-profit that would want to use it as an urban educational farm.”
Neighbor Rich Stuart said the site would be left as open as possible, since it has views straight to the mountains.
“I’d like an open space, and we don’t have anything like that,” Stuart said. “Thornton has Carpenter Fields and it’s huge. A place like that with these great views would be great point of reference for the whole city.”
Whatever the neighbors propose, Biles said it’s going to require a good amount of work from residents.
“It’s one thing to say we don’t want this development to go forward,” Biles said. “We have to come up with a proposal of our own. We are going to have to come up with some idea of what it is we want that we can then take to the city and say, `We’d like to have this done.’ We have to get this figured out, not necessarily tonight, but over the next few weeks and months.”
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