After being turned away by Lakewood City Council for guaranteed allocations to build the 234-unit Novel at White Fence Farm apartment complex, developer Crescent Communities is firing back at …
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After being turned away by Lakewood City Council for guaranteed allocations to build the 234-unit Novel at White Fence Farm apartment complex, developer Crescent Communities is firing back at Lakewood.
As first reported by Business Den, Crescent Communities has filed a lawsuit in Jefferson County court against the city of Lakewood and the City Council, claiming they told the developer that Novel at White Fence Farm could continue to be built, despite the Lakewood Strategic Growth Initiative being adopted by voters last July.
Novel at White Fence Farm had been in Crescent Communities' plans since 2018 when it started planning to redevelop the former White Fence Farm restaurant property at 6263 W. Jewell Ave. According to the lawsuit, Crescent Communities submitted a building permit application to the city for the apartment complex on June 28 of last year, costing the developer $60,000.
In January, Lakewood City Council was carrying out the final process of implementing the growth initiative, which limits new home construction to 1% of Lakewood's current housing stock and requires a public hearing and vote on residential projects with 40 units or more. Other provisions of the initiative include a requirement for developers to receive limited allocations for a building permit.
As council was determining how many allocations will be available in the upcoming years, it considered holding allocations for four projects that had applied for building permits before the initiative was passed — including Novel at White Fence Farm.
But at a Jan. 27 Lakewood City Council meeting, council elected to exclude Novel at White Fence Farm from the four projects that were guaranteed allocations. Councilmember David Skilling said at the meeting that the project had issues and hadn't done everything that a previous July 2019 council resolution had envisioned. The resolution allowed for all development projects that had filed necessary documentation to continue without having to obtain an allocation until Dec. 31 of last year, including those who had not received a building permit.
The issue Skilling referenced at the meeting revolved around a residential group's appeal against the apartment complex, alleging that it violated an official development plan for the Wilson Property — an 80-piece of land at Jewell Boulevard that includes the White Fence Farm property. The residential appeal went before Lakewood's Board of Adjustment on Jan. 22 where the board split a vote over if Novel at White Fence Farm violated the Wilson Property official development plan, resulting in the appeal failing.
Crescent Communities, who owns the White Fence Farm property, is alleging Lakewood City Council violated the developer's constitutional rights of due process and equal protection from the July resolution.
The lawsuit reads that the Novel at White Fence Farm project is suspended until 2023, if not indefinitely, due to Lakewood City Council's decision to not give Crescent Communities allocations. Crescent Communities says the application process for 2021 allocations is open but there are not sufficient allocations available for the Novel at White Fence Farm project. The developer could apply for allocations in 2022, but the project would take up 94% of the allocations available that year, according to the lawsuit.
Lakewood declined to comment on this story as it is its practice to not comment on pending lawsuits against the city.
Wayne Forman, an attorney representing Crescent Communities, said the developer asked him to not comment on media inquiries regarding this lawsuit.
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