Lakewood says no to Schnell farm development

Zoning change would have turned historic property into dozens of homes

Posted 9/3/19

The Schnell farm has resided at 3113 S. Wadsworth Blvd. in Lakewood since 1888 and has held a place on the National Register of Historic Places since 1997. The farm used to be 20 acres, but once …

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Lakewood says no to Schnell farm development

Zoning change would have turned historic property into dozens of homes

Posted

The Schnell farm has resided at 3113 S. Wadsworth Blvd. in Lakewood since 1888 and has held a place on the National Register of Historic Places since 1997. The farm used to be 20 acres, but once Wadsworth was widened, the property shrunk to 18.26 acres. Still, it was big enough to keep a barn, a farmhouse and other buildings that History Colorado says is the last remaining example of an early farm complex in the Bear Creek Valley area of Jefferson County.

Ahead of an Aug. 26 Lakewood City Council meeting, the property was potentially becoming 77 single-family houses, developed by Homebuilder Richmond American Homes.

But late into the meeting, Lakewood City Council unanimously voted 11-0 against rezoning about 11 acres of the property for the Homebuilder Richmond American Homes’ project. If it had passed, the Schnell farm buildings would’ve likely been demolished to build the homes.

“In general, I have concerns about the fact that you’re able to take down historic sites,” said Lakewood City Councilmember Dana Gutwein. “There’s no protections. I continue to learn more about this, but this really raises that issue.”

Lakewood spokesperson Stacey Oulton described the farm’s place on the National Register of Historic Places as an honorary designation that didn’t come with protection of the property. The area is currently zoned as one-acre residential use, and Richmond American Homes was proposing for it to be changed to mix-used neighborhood urban use — something that would’ve paved the way for dozens of new homes.

“I really struggle with the historic part of this, so that is a challenge where I am coming from,” Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul said before the council’s vote.

Not all were happy with the vote, including Jim Weichslebaum, a real estate agent who represents the Schnell family. He questioned council about what has happened to personal property rights.

“I’ve been before many city councils and different county wards, and I can tell you that I’ve never seen a situation where there is high growth designated by a municipality surrounded by higher density and get a project turned down. This is a first in my career, but I’ve only been doing this for 40 years,” said Weichslebaum.

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