By Jamie Leary
AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – An Aurora neighborhood is hoping to find some common ground with a local church after the church erected a 60-foot-tall beige cellphone tower.
“There needs to be some consideration for the residents that are directly impacted by its unsightly towering loom over the city and the landscape that we should be preserving,” Mary Alice Reda said.
Reda lives adjacent to the Ethiopian Evangelical Church in Aurora’s Cobblewood Subdivision. She said her neighborhood was never notified about the stealth tower; which was designed to look like a bell tower.
“It’s hiding all of the antennas by what is called a bell tower and if you look close enough you can probably see those three little bells hanging down,” said Reda, pointing to the tower.
Reda is also concerned about the church’s plans to remove 21 trees near her property line for a parking lot expansion. The church is building a new chapel and plans to add more than 100 new parking spaces.
The move will bring pavement just 5 feet from Reda’s backyard. It’s another plan by the church she wasn’t made aware of.
“Regardless if this stealth tower is up right now, people need to be heard and this is an injustice to the citizens of Aurora,” Reda said.
The church built the stealth tower and leases the space. The city of Aurora says the church was never obligated to inform residents when it was erected.
The city did it e-mailed to the Cobblewood Subdivision HOA notice of the church’s proposal to expand the parking lot but later discovered the listed e-mail address was bad. It said it’s up to the HOA to keep e-mail addresses updated.
The church says neighbors have had an opportunity to speak and say some agree with the changes. In an e-mail response, Yared Belete with the Ethiopian Church of Denver wrote:
“Members of the Neighborhood came to our facility and voiced their concerns and approval of the site plan. They were given an opportunity at the Planning Commission meeting on March 14 where our application was approved unanimously. We along with the city believe that the parking lot expansion and even the cell tower are in the best interest of all in and around the area. A five-foot buffer waiver was approved in the site plan to allow for the fire lane needed.”
Belete also noted that the congregation, once small, has completely outgrown its current parking lot.
“Ethiopian Evangelical Church of Denver is a first generation immigrant church meeting the needs of the Ethiopian Community and others for the Glory of God in Christ. Our church has grown from a small fellowship of 20 believers to a multiple service site with over 1000 in attendance. Our current parking lot does not meet the needs of our congregation and in the interest of being a better neighbor is looking to expand parking around the building. The majority of the neighbors support this move. While some trees are being removed for this project, more trees are being added to the total site. The church is also paying into the tree mitigation fund of the city of Aurora.”
While the city says the church is in compliance, Reda has hired an attorney and filed an appeal to limit the current development plan and find a new solution.
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.