Recently, Lakewood City Council and Morrison Town’s Board approved a new plan for Rooney Valley which will pave the way for development along C-470.
During a meeting on February 7th, the Morrison Board unanimously approved the plans with little public input while the vote cast in Lakewood ended in a 6-5 majority rule after much public opinion and council discussion.
The Denver Post published an article discussing the concerns of residents and future plans for this new development:
“Lakewood councilors heard from residents with a laundry list of concerns about environmental impacts and view sheds, and some who are against any development. Amendments were made addressing these concerns, but that was not enough for Councilman Charley Able.
‘Different doesn’t necessarily mean better,’ he said. ‘Because this is not as bad as the previous plan is not a reason to vote for it.’
Plan Rooney Valley, as the updated document is now formally named, dictates the standards for potential commercial and residential development on one of the last large pieces of untouched land at C-470 and Morrison Road. Lakewood, Morrison and Jefferson County each own property in the valley and are in an intergovernmental agreement regarding its development.
The agreement was updated in 2015 and Lakewood and Morrison began updating the master plan soon after. The county, which writes its own area plans, was not an active voice in Plan Rooney Valley.
The plan is not just a guide for the two local governments when considering rezoning in the valley for development; it’s also a standard developers will need to follow if they expect their plans to be approved. One such developer, Douglas County-based Ventana Capital, has plans for a residential development on 350 acres at the corner of C-470 and Morrison Road and a representative in December said it was awaiting final approval of Plan Rooney Valley to move forward.
At that time, Ventana also had applications to annex to Lakewood and Morrison.
‘The sign that you drive in and see is Building an inclusive community,’ said Lakewood city councilwoman Dana Gutwein, who voted to approve the plan. ‘And I believe this plan is not a less-bad plan or whatever, I think it’s a good plan.’
For Morrison’s part, Mayor Sean Forey called it a replacement of ‘a very bad plan.’ Morrison has been focused on keeping development in its portion of the valley strictly commercial.
Town board member Brewster Caesar felt the updates to the plan stressed that sentiment.
‘If it’s going to be developed I would like to see Lakewood be the one to get the homes, I want the residences in Lakewood,’ Caesar said.
Updates to the plan include protections of views of the Dakota Hogback to the west and Pikes Peak to the south, expanding minimums for wildlife corridors, and limiting how many dwellings per acre are allowed.
Morrison town planner Carrie McCool told the town board at its Feb. 7 meeting that the most significant change from the former plan was the introduction of a neighborhood node concept.
‘It basically sets forth at key intersections and areas of the valley that are for more mixture uses that they’re located within walking distance from maybe lower-density residential and include ground floor commercial with maybe residential on top,’ she said.
A draft of Plan Rooney Valley dated Jan. 6, 2017, is at lakewood.org/RooneyValley.