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Denver adopts new review process for large development sites

A key step is ensuring there has been community input on the site prior to development

DENVER --- On the heels of the Comprehensive Plan 2040’s bold vision for responsible growth, Denver Community Planning and Development is implementing a new review process for large development sites. The new process is designed to ensure these sites — which tend to be developed in phases over time — are given clear direction at the earliest stage of project planning on how they are expected to meet priorities important to our neighborhoods, including, for example, providing coordinated infrastructure improvements, publicly accessible open space, parkland, and quality design.

During large development review or “LDR,” city planners will outline the regulatory steps expected of new developments in order to stay consistent with the recommendations of Blueprint Denver (the city’s recently updated land use and transportation plan) and other City Council–adopted neighborhood and small-area plans over the course of the development project. This work entails coordinating goals among multiple city agencies, and importantly, checking to ensure there is an adopted plan in place that outlines the community’s vision for the area before allowing development to occur.

“The future of our neighborhoods is best served when neighbors come together to envision that future for themselves. This change will allow us to capitalize on this strength and trigger a community-driven planning process ahead of new, large developments if sufficient plan guidance is not already in place, and ensure that our neighborhoods’ priorities are met and supported,” said Mayor Michael Hancock.

“Going forward, developments on sites of 5 acres or more will be required to set aside 10% of the acreage as open space, which must be contiguous and publicly accessible. This is just one example of how the new LDR process will help implement the goals of our Comprehensive Plan,” said Evelyn Baker, interim executive director of Community Planning and Development.

All projects in the LDR process will be required to hold a community information meeting, during which the developer will share information about their development concept, its relationship to adopted plans, and any next steps open to public comment. If plan guidance is lacking, city planners will also use this meeting to discuss the timing and type of any planning process where neighbors can be involved before development occurs.

LDR replaces the general development plans (GDPs) that Denver has historically required for large project sites with a new process that has a greater focus on how large developments will deliver tangible benefits to our neighborhoods.

LDR required amendments to the Denver Zoning Code, which were proposed by Community Planning and Development and adopted by City Council Monday night.

Community Planning and Development is also working on a separate Rules and Regulations document for administering LDR. A draft of the rules is available for review at denvergov.org/textamendments and will be considered at a public hearing of the Denver Planning Board at 3 p.m. on July 17 in the Parr-Widener Community Room (#389) of the City and County Building (1437 Bannock St., Denver).

More information: City Staff Report