In a 6-5 vote, Lakewood’s city council approved the updated Rooney Valley master plan, which governs development of 990 acres that are jointly managed by Lakewood and the Town of Morrison.
The no votes were Ward 1’s Charley Able and Ramey Johnson, Ward 3’s Pete Roybal, and Ward 4’s Barb Franks and Dave Wiechman.
“This is a good plan that continues the tradition of keeping a Lakewood a great place for the next generation to move to,” said Ward 5’s Dana Gutwein. “The sign you drive by when you come to the city says ‘building an inclusive community.’ You can’t close the gates on Lakewood.”
The discussion was a continuation of the Jan. 23 meeting, which ran until nearly 2 a.m. During that meeting, council asked for clarification or more information on a variety of topics, including height restrictions on projects, wildlife protection, parkland creation and sustainability implementation. All of these items were included in the plan before Monday’s vote.
The approval vote came after two hours of hours of council questions and discussion, as well as several attempts to delay the decision, or halt the plan entirely, none of which passed.
“Staff has put a lot of hard work and effort into this. They’ve studied, worked, been on site, and done their very best to put together plan that is different,” Able said. “But different doesn’t mean better. Because this is not as bad as previous plans is not a reason to vote for it.”
Rooney Valley, a mostly undeveloped area along C-470 on the west side of Green Mountain, south of the West Alameda and north of the Morrison Road exits, falls primarily within the jurisdictions of Lakewood and Morrison.
The municipalities have managed the areas jointly since the 1990s, but the last update of the master plan was in 2002, and a lack of development in the area has spurred Morrison and Lakewood to re-examine it. The original master plan provided for a maximum build-out that theoretically would have allowed for 28 million square feet of building space between the two communities.
The purpose of the new plan is to articulate the vision of the two municipalities by providing a solid foundation for policy direction, land use decisions and public investment.
Lakewood and Morrison revised the Rooney Valley Intergovernmental Agreement in 2016 to simplify the area’s development.
“When you’re elected to this job, land uses are the most challenging decisions we face as a body, and you’re guaranteed to have many folks go away not happy. But if previous councils had said ‘no, no, no,’ most of the houses on Green Mountain wouldn’t have been built,” Mayor Adam Paul said. “This is going to be a very complicated development for whoever takes it on, but I thank the people before me who had the forethought to say this is going to be a growth area.”
Lakewood City Council was originally scheduled to vote on the updated plan in early December. The Town of Morrison is scheduled to vote on the master plan Feb. 7.