The Washington Village Petition

by Osman Parvez

They're everywhere. On street corners waving signs, canvassing neighborhoods door to door. Their goal? Collect enough signatures to force a referendum on the Washington Village development. If you're a reader of this blog or participate in a neighborhood email list (highly recommended), you've already heard some of the debate.

On Sunday, the developer was granted an audience via an opinion piece in the Daily Camera. I've already presented the views of the neighborhood association. Here's what Jim Leach thinks (an excerpt, trimmed):

These neighbors ask you to sign in order to "allow the people to be heard and ultimately allow the people's reasoned voices to prevail." What is it they criticize? "

The proposal is too dense." — The project density is within the limits of zoning [snip].

"Our voices were falling on deaf ears." — Their voices have been heard over a two-year-long exhaustive process [snip].

"The plan relies on numerous exceptions to established codes." — False. What we have proposed is within the means, the guidelines, and the spirit of the Land Use Code. [snip]

"There is a lack of community benefit." — We wholeheartedly disagree with their assessment. The neighbors focus on losing their park and open space and minimize what is offered [snip].

"This proposal is not respectful of the site or of the community that has enjoyed over a century of continuous public access and use." — And this is the crux of the criticism, the change from a public to a more private use. We have developed an excellent and appropriate project design under extremely difficult constraints, and have addressed our neighbors' concerns as reasonably as possible, while working within the parameters and processes set by the school district and city. [snip]
Should you sign the petition? That is clearly up to you. [snip]

Here's what I think. On one hand, I admire the neighbors for getting organized and mobilizing. They're passionate and driven to stop the project. But at the same time, they don't seem to have a reasonable alternative plan (yet). I agree with Jim on one thing. Signing the petition is up to you. However, given their efforts I believe they will get the required number of signatures to force a referendum on the issue.

I understand that the organizers can refute Jim's points, line by line. I look forward to their response.

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