Elections

Development concerns helped define city council race

Change a source of unease for Lakewood residents

Posted 11/14/17

It will come as a surprise to no one who has been listening to the complaints of residents at city council and public events that development was a major factor in the Nov. 7 city council election.

“When I was out, the neighbors told me what …

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Elections

Development concerns helped define city council race

Change a source of unease for Lakewood residents

Posted

It will come as a surprise to no one who has been listening to the complaints of residents at city council and public events that development was a major factor in the Nov. 7 city council election.

“When I was out, the neighbors told me what they thought about things,” said Jacob LaBure, who claimed victory over Charles Davis in the race for Ward 2. “Everywhere I went, it was development and public safety. And public safety is related to growth, and the changes it’s bringing to the city.”

All the 2017 Lakewood City Council winning candidates had similar stories, and they say it was their views and plans for smart development in the city that helped them win when it came time to vote.

“Our standpoint on development in the Green Mountain area resonated with the people in our ward,” said David Skilling, who edged out William Furman and LaDawn Sperling for the Ward 4 seat. “People in our ward are fed up with how things are going on this side of town, and they want more say in what’s happening in their ward.”

Michael Bieda, who defeated Michael Gifford in the race for Ward 3, made the Green Gables development a part of his campaign, and agreed that residents want their voices to be heard.

“People want to know they’re having an impact on their government,” he said. “People feel like they’re being ignored.”

The election capped off months of passionate discussion about development in Lakewood, led by two hotly debated measures.

Many residents were expecting to vote on the Lakewood Neighborhood Partnerships’ initiative to put a 1 percent annual limit on residential growth and return decisions on large multifamily projects to city council after City Clerk Margy Greer deemed the initiative had received sufficient signatures in the proper way.

However, Steve Dorman, vice chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party, challenged the decision in early October in Jefferson County District Court. As Greer explains, Lakewood’s Municipal Code does not allow for council to take action on an initiative petition while it is under protest or appeal, leaving it uncertain when the council will be able to discuss putting the initiative before voters.

The other measure came from Ward 1 councilwoman, Ramey Johnson. Her idea was to place a moratorium on high density housing, and would have directed staff to immediately suspend action on applications for building permits to construct multifamily housing projects of more than 10 dwelling units. The moratorium would not have affected housing projects already in the works.

The moratorium was declined during a study session on July 17, but Johnson, who went on to beat challenger Kyra DeGruy on Election Day, still heard from many residents who were more than ready for some kind of action to be taken.

“A lot of people were surprised that the 1 percent initiative wasn’t on the ballot, and there’s a lot of frustration out there,” Johnson said. “People are saying this isn’t the Lakewood they were first attracted to, and they want to see what’s happening addressed.”

Ward 5 councilwoman Karen Harrison was the second incumbent in the election, and also held on to her seat. She said constituents talked about a desire for something to happen in development, and encouraged people to get involved.

“We had dismal turn out to some of our open houses on changes to the zoning ordinance,” she said. “People should go to our planning commission meetings, where they can hear some of these important topics discussed, and provide their feedback.”

Lakewood already started looking at changing some sections of the zoning ordinance, and Mayor Adam Paul said he’s looking forward to working with the new faces to keep Lakewood moving in the right direction.

“Hopefully some of the new folks will have new ideas we can look at,” he said. “A new perspective is always good, and I’m looking forward to getting to work with everyone.”

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