By Jamie Leary
AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Aurora City Council voted 9 to 1 Monday night to delay plans to expand an Aurora church. They are hoping the church can strike a compromise with its surrounding neighbors.
The Ethiopian Evangelical Church of Denver is growing fast. Parking often spills into the streets.
Its Lead Pastor, Endeshaw Kelkele, or Pastor Ende as many know him, says many neighbors agree with the plan but some living small group of homes just 20 feet from the proposed lot have a different view.
“This is our backyard and this is an invasion of our privacy. There’s going to be noise light pollution, car pollution, foot traffic, trash,” said Mary Alice Reda.
Reda stood in her backyard and pointed to a 60-foot-tall stealth tower or cellphone tower. The tower was the first noticeable concern but there was no obligation to notify residents.
“According to the city they didn’t have to notify us, it wasn’t the duty of the city or the church to notify us,” said Reda.
While she wishes she could’ve had input on the tower, Reda’s focus has shifted to the new parking lot.
“They do need to expand, we do not deny that, but I think they could do it in a way that doesn’t intrude so extensively on these neighbors in the back here,” Reda said. “It’s assaulting, to be honest with you, it just feels like there needed to be more communication.”
The church says the cellphone tower has to do with the city and the service provider. To Pastor Ende, the expansion is priority for the church.
Pastor Ende has seen his congregation grow from a handful of people in the 1990s to more than 1,000 today.
“At the end of the day the project is going to benefit our neighbors,” he said. “We want to let everybody know that we’re not pressured by the city to build more parking.”
While many neighbors maintain they were not properly notified of the plans, the city of Aurora says the church followed the process exactly.
The current plan, which was formerly approved by the Aurora planning commission in March, calls to remove trees exposing even more for Reda and her neighbors, ultimately, they will plant more to create a buffer.
Reda says she doesn’t believe it will be enough and believes she is owed the chance to have her concerns taken seriously.
“This is our neighborhood. It’s not just their neighborhood it’s the community and this is a shared responsibility.”
The Aurora City Council deferred Reda’s plan for two weeks hoping the two sides can find a compromise in that time.
Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.