When a developer wants to develop a piece of property they must first assemble their team of consultants, primarily consisting of an architect, civil engineer and landscape architect. Then a preliminary meeting with the city’s planning staff evaluates if what the developer is proposing is allowed by the current zoning or if the zoning would have to change and if that change would be in line with the city’s planning documents.
The developer’s team then submits the required documents and plans to the city for staff review. There may be numerous rounds of re-submittals back to the city to comply with code and staff comments until staff supports the project.
Some projects can be approved by staff, and others such as zone changes, minor and major subdivisions, and specific development plans advance to the Planning Commission (P.C.). It is rare that a case would come before the P.C. that staff would recommend denial. A staff report packet is then made available to the planning commissioners for review prior to the public hearing. This same information can be found at Wheat Ridge Speaks (www.wheatridgespeaks.org). I would encourage citizens to review the staff report and to leave comments that the planning commissioners will then review prior to the public hearing.
The public hearing for the project is a quasi-judicial process and there is a format that the P.C. chair will explain so as to have an open, inclusive, civil process. There is an opportunity for citizens to speak on the case during the meeting, which the P.C. chair will explain. After listening to the citizens’ testimony, staff report and applicants report, Planning Commissioners are able to ask questions of staff and the applicants to see if the project complies with city codes and if the project is acceptable as submitted or if the project needs additional conditions or changes. Once the P.C. has discussed the merits of the case and made a motion, a vote is taken. In some cases P.C. is the final decision maker, and in others the P.C. recommendation is forwarded for city council’s consideration.
The city council process is similar to the P.C.’s as far as the review by city council and through a public hearing. If there is a quasi-judicial public hearing, council members and planning commissioners are unable to communicate to the public prior to the hearing and would suggest citizens leave comments at https://wheatridgespeaks.org/ or show up in person or both.
I encourage everyone to become engaged with your community and be involved early in the process by checking in at Wheat Ridge Speaks to have your voices heard.
Contact Wheat Ridge District II City Council Member Scott Ohm at SOhm@ci.wheatridge.co.us or 720-722-1173.