Littleton's plans for urban renewal hit a snag Oct. 28 when the Arapahoe County commissioners pushed back.
“We urge the City Council to review requests for blight designation more carefully,” wrote Commissioner Nancy Doty on behalf of the board in a letter to Littleton City Council.
The commissioners' concerns mirror those reflected by some in the community. They feel the plans are too vague, and they don't believe the areas in question are in fact blighted.
“Importantly, there is no evidence that these properties are a menace to the public health, safety, morals or welfare,” writes Doty. “Further, the Sante (sic) Fe Plan includes the entire list of factors (at least four of which are required to be present) for determining blight stating that all of the blight factors are present, the plan fails to describe in any detail where in the plan area the blight factors are located.”
Additionally, they object to the inclusion of the 111-acre agricultural property at Mineral Avenue and Santa Fe. State law requires the approval of all entities that collect property taxes to agree to allow agricultural land in an urban-renewal plan area. The Littleton Public Schools Board of Education agreed on Oct. 23, and South Suburban Parks and Recreation District followed suit on Oct. 29.
Jim Rees, executive director of Littleton Invests for Tomorrow, responded with the same argument he's been delivering publicly since LIFT amped up its urban-renewal activities earlier this year.
“The City and Lift, while disappointed with the county's interpretation of the state URA statute regarding the inclusion of agricultural use … will continue to try to resolve the concerns that were included in the letter sent by the county commissioners this week,” he said. “Their concerns with the County Impact Report can only really be addressed when there is an actual development project that can be analyzed to see if it will increase demand on county services. So it would be appropriate for LIFT and county reps to work closely to determine the amount of tax increment to be applied to any one project.”