DENVER (CBS4) – A long-term plan to revamp the East Colfax neighborhood in Denver is causing contention for local homeowners, and they’re addressing their concerns. It’s called the East Area Plan, and city leaders say it’s a community-led process to create a 20 year vision for the area.
The proposal features an 18 block stretch along Colfax Avenue, and would change the landscape of the neighborhood by installing a new high-frequency bus route and adding affordable housing. In the future as the plan evolves it could lead to zoning laws changes.
“We’ve been working with the community for two years now and we have had input from thousands of residents,” Denver Senior City Planner Elizabeth Weigle told CBS4’s Mekialaya White.
Lisa Weber Hewitt, who lives near Mayfair Park, says otherwise.
“I found out about this proposed plan about a month ago. I slowly started talking to my neighbors one on one and I realized that no one who lives on the fringe of this even knows about it,” said Weber Hewitt.
The plan also falls right in Caroline Carolan’s backyard in Park Hill; she echoed similar sentiments. She says she only found out about the plan recently from a grassroots campaign called Denver East Neighborhoods First.
“We’ve been in this house 10 years. It’s a predominantly family-feel neighborhood,” said Carolan. “Most people in Park Hill, in Mayfair do not know about the East Area Plan. There’s been no community outreach by flyering the directly impacted neighbors.”
The plan is still in its early stages and no development has begun yet.
“People get very focused on the immediate and it gives them the opportunity to come together on that vision. I think the goal of our process is to create predictability and have those conversations now about what we want Colfax to look like,” Weigle said.
Despite that, both homeowners agree the proposal isn’t a welcome one. For one, they’re worried that potential upzoning in the future would exacerbate an existing traffic problem. They say their already busy streets would become thoroughfares and they’d feel the pressure as single-story bungalow homeowners.
“This plan proposes upzoning from 3-5 stories to 5-8 stories. For me, I’m going to live on the edge of all of this. The increased density is going to bring a ton more traffic and congestion. Homeowners here want growth, but they want responsible growth,” said Weber Hewitt.
“It would be a shame to lose that community feel with additional overreaching density and development,” added Carolan.
Weigle says the plan doesn’t include zoning at this time. “But there are concerns about increasing some of the building heights along Colfax.”
City leaders also say they are hoping to hear from the public on the proposal before it goes toward city council at the end of the year.
“The goal is to demonstrate the community vision, have those community conversations about what our neighborhoods should look like and come to that together,” said Weigle.
The next community meeting is Aug. 6 from 5-8 pm at East Montclair Community Center, 6740 East Colfax.
To view the plan visit a special page on denvergov.org.