Two Park Hill Golf Course initiatives are on the poll in Denver this fall. Here’s what anybody would do

Why is this so confusing?

Kevin J. Beaty / Denverite

Developer Westside Investment Partners, which bought the former Park Hill Golf Course in 2019, approved a move for the November vote on Tuesday. It is a countermeasure to an initiative by an opposing group called Save Open Space Denver.

The two organizations have been at odds for years over the future of 150 acres of northeast Denver’s green space. SOS Denver would like the entire area to be converted into a park, while Westside would like to build a mixed-use facility that also promises some parking space.

SOS Denver cites the city’s lack of green spaces as the reason against the development and believes Westside will reverse its promises. Westside, meanwhile, argues that SOS Denver doesn’t listen to local residents’ need for things like grocery stores and affordable housing.

Both sides claim to safeguard the views and interests of local people, though everything from city polls to community feedback sessions is hotly contested.

The two voting initiatives change the easement laws that the land has been under since 1997, but the gist is a little complicated. We’ve broken it down for you.

Ballot initiative number one

Official name: Parks and conservation of open spaces

Who supports this? SOS Denver, the group that opposes the development of the country. They submitted 10,720 valid signatures and were allowed to vote on June 21.

What is it doing The bill changes the Denver Municipal Code so that the city no longer has the final say on easing maintenance easements. Instead, Denverites must vote through a citywide vote to end a maintenance easement. The same rule applies to all construction projects intended for green spaces like parks – but exceptions can be made for things like recreational facilities.

Here is the most relevant text from the invoice: “The construction of a commercial or residential building on a property designated as a city park or protected by an urban maintenance easement as well as any partial or complete cancellation, release, deletion or abandonment of a city-owned maintenance easement are without the consent of a majority of the registered voters who are in a regular or special Vote local elections. ”

Why it matters: Any Park Hill development would have to go through a citywide vote as part of this measure. However, Westside would prefer to iron out the maintenance easement with the city itself, which is why they worked hard on the following countermeasure.

Ballot initiative number two

Official name: City parkland and listed city property

Who supports this? Westside, the developer who bought the land in 2019. They submitted 9,661 valid signatures and were allowed to vote on July 27th.

What is it doing The language of this bill is identical to that of the first ballot; The only difference is which section of Colorado law is used to define “conservation easement” – instead of using the definition cited by the SOS Denver measure, it relies on another that Park Hill excludes for technical reasons .

Here is the most relevant text from the invoice: “An interest in real estate in the sense of the CRS…. for which the Division of Conservation has issued a Colorado State Income Tax Credit Certificate. ”(Basically just one way of saying,“ Conservation easements only apply if a specific certificate is issued for the country ”- except for Park Hill.)

Why it matters: If this law is passed, the city will have stricter conservation easement laws, but they don’t apply to Park Hill. It effectively neutralizes electoral measure number one and its citywide vote, even though the law will still be on the books.

These bills are both tailored to one piece of property, which means it’s somewhat unclear what impact the laws would have on other open space under conservation easements in Denver. Westside’s lawyer previously said the measures would not really change anything, as SOS Denver’s measure applies to exactly one property, Park Hill, while the countermeasure does not apply to any.

To summarize:

If initiative number one is adopted, the entire city can vote on Park Hill’s easement before construction begins. If initiative number two or both pass initiatives, the city will have a new law on citywide maintenance easements on the books. But Park Hill will not change.

We’ll come right back to first place: arguing about the development of a disused golf course.

Enjoy your voting, Denverites.

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