Aurora City Council falls short on support needed for comprehensive plan update

August 10, 2016 GMT

AURORA | Aurora City Council did not muster enough support this week to provide a key update to city plans that would allow them to look into a series of potential eastward expansions.

At the Monday, Aug. 8 regular council session, a vote to amend to the city’s comprehensive plan — that would have allowed for possible future annexations that could potentially add 128,000 residents and more than 50,000 new homes to the city at full buildout — fell short despite a simple majority of council members in favor of it.

The vote to update the plan was 6-3, falling short of the seven-vote super-majority needed to amend the comprehensive plan. By rule, Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan was not allowed to vote on the ordinance.

“It’s a problem for most of our residents to the east with the traffic on Gun Club and Sixth Avenue,” said Ward II Councilwoman Renie Peterson, who voted against the measure along with council members Angela Lawson and Francoise Bergan. “If we put in more housing out there, it’s going to cause more problems and contribute to the possibility of fatal accidents happening.”

Ward I Councilwoman Sally Mounier was absent from the vote.

Aurora is looking at the possibility of annexing 20,000 acres of property east of Monaghan and Hayesmount roads. Peterson’s ward is located the furthest east of any near Denver International Airport and would be closest to the new boundary area.

There are four separate areas that make up the East Aurora Annexation Study, which analyzed the costs of expanding the city by tens of thousands of acres and itself cost $531,000 to conduct. The most controversial area of the study is a potential 9,000-home development called “Prosper,” a 5,100-acre area located between Interstate 70 and Mississippi Avenue from Hayesmount to Imboden roads.

Some city council members have advocated to consider annexing developments such as Prosper with the belief that the city will feel the financial impacts of such a large community on its border, whether it is annexed into Aurora or not.

“We have somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 residents planned on our eastern border in Arapahoe County,” said At-Large Councilman Bob LeGare, who voted in support of the amendment. “We should allow Aurora to have some say in that growth.”

Bergan questioned the value of incorporating a development such as Prosper into Aurora boundaries, one that she said doesn’t want to be associated with Aurora.

Last year Jeff Vogel, a Prosper developer, said he was “not supportive of the City of Aurora planning modifications or development assumptions proposed for the Prosper property including the land use and transportation modifications.”

Conducted by Mark A. Nuszer Consultants, the study found Aurora would have a negative factor of about $15 million annually even under a best-case scenario at full build-out of the areas studied, with the cost of providing services far outstripping potential tax revenues from residential and commercial development.

With a large portion of the growth being residential, the city would not be making enough money from commercial property tax to fund necessary increases in city services for 128,000 more people. The best-case scenario for providing city services such as water and road infrastructure to the Prosper development alone would cost Aurora $143,000 per year, according to the study.