February 2, 2012
The Springs Ranch Community Association did everything right. And lost.
It organized a core group to draft convincing arguments to oppose a concept plan to build a Kum & Go convenience store and gas station, fast food restaurants and shops on 5.6 acres of vacant land they believed was to become a YMCA.
Letters were written and neighbors showed up en masse at a public hearing. They made emotional appeals citing fears of traffic, crime, loitering, fumes and more that threatened the surrounding neighborhood.
But despite their best efforts — and some ugly confrontations — they were unable to derail the project.
What went wrong and what can they do now?
City planner Steve Tuck said the neighbors raised valid concerns at Wednesday night’s angry meeting at Sand Creek High School. And, Tuck said, those concerns will be addressed as the project proceeds.
“But I didn’t hear anything that would cause me not to approve the project,” he said. “We listened. And we’ll address architectural issues and lighting and landscaping and traffic in the development plan.”
In fact, he invited the neighborhood to participate in the process as it moves, most likely, from a general concept plan to a detailed development plan.
“We’d love to have a small committee of neighbors sit down and work with us on the details,” Tuck said.
But that’s not what the 125 or so Springs Ranch residents wanted to hear.
Many felt deceived because they were told a YMCA would be built on the parcel near the corner of Peterson Road and North Carefree Circle, just across Pony Tracks Drive from Sand Creek High.
They are upset the YMCA wants to sell the land and use the proceeds to help finance a new facility on a larger parcel elsewhere.
Neighbor Rich Long walked out of the meeting after about 90 minutes, disappointed and resigned to the idea of the convenience store and gas station.
“Both the YMCA and the Kum & Go representatives were very indifferent to the views expressed,” Long said, explaining his early departure. “It became clear that no one involved cared what the residents had to say.”
Long said he understands that the property has been zoned commercial since the first master plan was filed in 1984.
And he said he realizes Tuck, the YMCA and Kum & Go aren’t doing anything wrong.
“I’m not feeling betrayed,” he said. “It’s their land and it’s zoned commercial.
“I just hate to see all the extra traffic it will generate. But I don’t know there’s a whole lot that can be done.”
Scott McKeever, president of SRCA, one of 18 homeowners associations in Springs Ranch, vowed to appeal to the Planning Commission and City Council, if needed, to stop the project.
And he promised his group would work with Tuck if it moves forward.
Sometimes working to refine a project and make it more palatable is the best a neighborhood can do.