Judge rules against developer in lawsuit against Littleton City Council

Evergreen Devco sought to overturn council's rejection of development plans

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A developer that sought to overturn a decision by Littleton's city council to not pursue a rezoning plan for its mixed-use development lost its case after an Arapahoe County judge ruled in the council's favor. 

The controversy stems from a planned development at the southwest corner of Mineral Avenue and Santa Fe Drive proposed by developer Evergreen Devco.

The plan for the 33-acre site called for 270 multi-family residential units, a 170-bed senior housing facility, two restaurants, three “quick service” restaurants, three shops and a gas station.

But a majority of city council members, for a multitude of reasons that included a lack of affordable housing, encroachment on neighboring open space and murkiness around parking in one of the city's busiest intersections, voted against the rezoning proposal during a May 4, 2021 meeting. 

On May 31, Evergreen filed a lawsuit in district court sueing the city and its council, and wrote that "there was no competent evidence in the record supporting council's reasons for denial" of the rezoning application. 

The lawsuit points to several council members comments during the May 4 meeting that the developer argued were unfair reasons for the plan's denial, including the Mayor Pro Tem's remark that he does not want to see "just another strip mall development."

The lawsuit lists several ways the developer believes the plans would have adhered to the city's code and improved the quality of life and said council members acted "irrationally and arbitrarily" when they voted the proposal down. 

District Court Judge Frederick T. Martinez, in a March 7 ruling, wrote that "there is some evidence in the record to support the city council's determination that the proposed use of the property failed to meet at least one of the requisite criteria and was not consistent with the overall best interests of the city." 

Council members' reasons for coming out against the project were justified, according to Martinez's ruling, such as the lack of commitment to including some affordable or attainable housing in the development. 

Evergreen managing partner Tyler Carlson, according to the lawsuit, had told council he wished the plans were able to "have an affordable component to senior or otherwise, but we don't have those economics with this site in particular that allow us to do that."

This is "contrary to the language of ... the code that intends 'to meet the growing demands for housing of all types and designs for persons of any social or economic status,'" according to Martinez's ruling.

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