Group pledges cooperation for DIA’s future

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A group of Adams County and Denver officials reaffirmed their commitment to sort out concerns surrounding Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s plans to develop an Airport City around Denver International Airport, but acknowledged that it may be several months, if not years, before plans are finalized.

The pledge — made by 35 Airport Coordinating Committee members during their Feb. 19 open meeting at the Adams County Government Center in Brighton — dovetailed a closed door Airport Consultation Committee session held less than a week earlier that marked the return of Denver officials to the negotiation table.

“We’re very grateful just to be back at the table,” said Denver Regional Affairs Director Paul Ryan. “This is the only way that we’re going to move forward and we remain committed to the 1988 intergovernmental agreement. We’re very excited about the opportunities moving forward and communication is going to be key part of that piece.”

Adams County Planning and Development Director Abel Montoya said future development, transportation and infrastructure plans approved by Adams County, Aurora and Commerce City anticipate rapid population growth and the development of targeted business clusters in areas outside of Denver’s Airport City plans.

These plans, which were first pitched to Adams County officials in July 2012, calls for the creation of five business clusters within a 9,000-acre area, targeting the bioscience, renewable energy, aviation and aerospace, logistics, industrial agriculture and perishable foods industries.

“When we normalize the Airport City plans with that of Adams County’s plans, we begin to see some of the competition that is building,” Montoya said. “We’ve already planned for commercial mixed uses to the west and north of the area as well as logistics to the east, biosciences with Fitzsimons, logistics and office space to the south and military and aerospace at Front Range Airport.”

The challenge, several Airport Consultation Committee members said, is finding some middle ground, where every city and county can share economic benefits from future development.

“I think we all agree on getting to one single point: appropriate development around and in the airport is a mutual benefit for all of us,” Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan said. “If it’s done right, then we all get the benefits … but my role is to say getting it done right means the devil is in the details. We have to pay attention to the details or it’s not going to get done right.”

Fellow Consultation Committee member Commerce City Mayor Sean Ford agreed.

“I think we have a lot of opportunities to work together as long as we understand where everyone is at,” Ford said. “I think it’s important that our planners, economic development experts and transportation engineers all play an active role from this point forward on what’s happening in and around that airport so that we can complement what Denver’s doing and Denver’s aware of what the rest of us are doing.”

The Airport Consultation Committee will hold its next meeting at 8 a.m. Friday, March 15, at Denver International Airport.

The Airport Consultation Committee will hold its next meeting at 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 19 at the Adams County Government Center. Both meetings are open to the public.