City documentation goof sends Victorian Heights back to drawing board

       Less than a week after gaining unanimous City Planning Commission approval, the Victorian Heights development proposal was knocked off track this week by the discovery of a city zoning-documentation error.
       Larry Larsen, the city planner assigned to the project, said he found that computer land-use files he'd relied on in his review effort failed to show a key condition that had been placed about 12 years ago on the R-2 zone for the roughly 3-acre property in the Wilhelmia-Willamette area north of Uintah Street.
       The condition requires that a development plan - more detailed regarding layout and design than the final plat presented to the commission Feb. 9 - must be OK'd before any subdivision can be built on the site.
       Larsen was spurred to investigate the zoning situation by Larry Hudson, who had led neighborhood opposition to the project at the commission meeting. Neighbors have questioned the project, in part because of the effect of a “huge wall” - as Hudson called it - that the row of six new duplexes would present along the north side of Wilhelmia Avenue.
       Hudson told the Westside Pioneer he was studying maps of the project after the Planning Commission meeting and realized that R-2 was not a longstanding zone on the site, as previously thought, and he asked Larsen to verify when the change occurred.
       Larsen was surprised to find the error - commenting that his department's computer files are normally quite reliable - but said he had no choice upon the discovery but to contact Victorian Heights developer Ted Cox and tell him that a development plan is now necessary and that he will have to go back to Planning Commission to get it approved.
       Although voting in favor, four Planning Commission members had asked Cox to consider some of the design enhancements suggested by Hudson. They could have required such changes if it had been a development plan submittal.
       Larsen met with Cox and Hudson Feb. 15, after which Larsen said Cox is considering what to do. He could draw up a new development plan from scratch, or he could create one using the lot lines in the commission's plat approval; however, in the latter case, Hudson said he would probably appeal the matter to City Council.
       Contacted later Feb. 15 by the Pioneer, Cox said he had no comment at this time.
       In comments to the commission, he said that he already has spent “a significant amount of money” in six years of planning the project. He has previously announced that he plans to donate the property, once it's subdivided, to Habitat for Humanity for affordable housing.
       Another focus of Hudson's at Planning Commission was the stability of the steep slope behind where the duplexes would be built. He questioned the worth of a developer-authorized geological study and the plan for supporting the slope behind the duplexes. But commission members backed Larsen, who said the developer's findings have been upheld by the Colorado Geological Survey.

Westside Pioneer article