With the legislature’s land use bill SB23-213 dead, Northglenn is set to have a vote on policies that will impact housing in the city.
It comes after Northglenn City Council tabled a discussion about future ordinances at the May 1 study session after the mayor and councilors asked to move it due to uncertainty around decisions not yet made at the Capital.
“I have a hard time looking at this in a bubble,” Mayor Meredith Leighty said in regard to the policies and SB23-213.
The discussion came from the housing study completed in October 2022. Recommendations that came out of that are meant to develop overlay districts and provide targeted incentives for homeowners to stay in the city. They would also expand multi-family options in single-family zones.
Staff wasn’t able to present all the solutions they wanted to the council but one possible fix is overlay districts, which will help create more housing diversity and expand land use options. For example, if a property is zoned for auto commercial and an overlay district of mixed-use zoning is put over it, then both development types are an option.
It also takes the project out of the rezoning process, which Senior Planner Sara Dusenberry said takes a lot of time and money.
Director of Planning and Development Brook Svoboda said the overlay districts wouldn't take away any public interaction or oversight but would nix a tedious step developers must go through to rezone an area.
It also gives the city the power to say where certain types of zoning should go, rather than requiring developers to try to rezone through the housing application process, he said.
Projects will still go before the planning commission and the public will be engaged with the project, he said.
Dusenberry also said that the overlay districts will emphasize pedestrian-oriented design principles and would be focused on amenities for to pedestrians, such as landscaping and fewer parking lots. Access to public transportation will also be a focus.
The ordinance would not automatically create overlay districts but will make the option available.
City Councilor Becky Brown asked with the districts if it would be possible to have an auto store next to a home, Dusenberry said yes, but that planning would look at the options of what goes where to see what fits best.
Brown said she is worried about “hodgepodge.” She isn’t in favor of more density.
“The sense I get from talking to people is they're more interested in having their suburban lifestyle, and this worries me,” she said. “I really hate it when cities go up.”
She wants a lot of resident interaction.
Dusenberry said that there will be sub-area planning to look at the feasibility of planned uses as well as public engagement with public hearings.
“It’s just creating the possibility of overlay districts, it doesn’t immediately make say Marketplace, as one,” she said.
“I hope that by opening up our doors a little wider, we don’t ruin what we already have here,” Brown said.
Brown has said things similar in the past regarding more housing density. At the Oct. 17 meeting, Brown said she can’t support allowing single-family homes to be turned into duplexes because residents aren’t in favor.
Goff then disagreed with her, saying she wouldn’t assume residents are against duplexes.
But Brown said that Northglenn is already doing good things on housing.
“I feel we’re being incredibly progressive in a world that isn’t moving as fast as us,” Brown said.
City Councilor Tim Long pointed to dense developments like Karl's Farm the city has already approved.
According to the housing needs assessment, Northglenn has the lowest median gross rent compared to Denver, Thornton and Westminster, and homes cost less compared to those cities.
However, about 68% of Northglenn’s housing stock is single-family homes, attached or detached. The percentage of those cost-burdened by housing in Northglenn is higher compared to Denver-Aurora-Lakewood MSA for households and renter-occupied households.
Diversifying housing stock has been championed as a way to lower housing costs.