By Leah Burkett
Littleton residents were shocked to see construction beginning on the Grove Site at 2100 W Littleton Blvd earlier this month. Despite an ongoing lawsuit to appeal the projects approval, the City of Littleton issued a building permit to Zocalo, who wasted no time beginning to build.
Frustrated citizens took to the streets for a good old-fashioned picket line in front of the Grove site. Undeterred by the cold and wet weather, protesters gathered for the morning and afternoon rush hours on both Monday May 16th and Tuesday the 17th. Tuesday afternoon’s protest ended with a march down to city council chambers for their May 17th meeting.
The City Council meeting was much longer than usual due to a public hearing on retail marijuana, but the troupers who stayed finally got the chance to talk to Council about the Grove around 11:30 pm. The time investment was well worth the effort as the City Council finally agreed to have a discussion about The Grove and it’s approval.
Councilman Doug Clark moved to withdraw the City’s approval of its development plan and related building permits. Jerry Valdes seconded the motion, but before a vote was called, Mayor Beckman asked about the legal implications. In response, the City attorney asked the council to table their vote on the motion to June 7th so that she could advise them on the risks of doing so prior to the vote. Council then voted unanimously to revisit the issue on June 7th.
Until Advocates for Littleton know for sure what the Council will or will not do, the lawsuit will continue.
A trial is currently scheduled for September 1; however, a Motion for Summary Judgment (MSJ) was recently filed by the plaintiff, meaning the Judge has been asked to make a decision without the unnecessary time and expense of a trial. All replies to the MSJ must be wrapped up by June 1, at which time the motion and related documents will be forwarded to the Judge for review. Attorneys at Foster Graham expect that a decision would be made on the MSJ no later than mid-July. By that time, the matter may be decided or it will be definite that a trial will occur on September 1.
The best possible outcome for citizens involved in the lawsuit would be for the City to either order a hearing at the Board of Adjustment or revoke their approval of the Grove. If the Council orders an appeal hearing or revokes approval of the Grove, the lawsuit could be dropped.
The City of Littleton is in quite a predicament. Based on their approval, the developer has already made significant investment toward building The Grove. Each day that Zocalo continues construction, the City’s potential liability increases. The majority of council must become convinced to get on the right side of the issue. There is little doubt that City would incur a huge liability to the developer, Zocalo. However, it is the right thing to do.
It’s clear to anyone who familarizes themselves with City Code and the Grove Site Plan that its approval was made improperly and in violation of multiple zoning ordinances. The Council should hold the City Management accountable.
By the way, the protest was covered by the media both days. Check out the reports by Fox news on Monday and CBS news on Tuesday: