Spaceport area plans up for future discussions

Belen Ward
Posted 8/16/21

Adams County commissioners signed off on the bulk of the plan for a sub-district around the Colorado Air and Spaceport but said they need more time to consider its plans. The reason is the planned …

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Spaceport area plans up for future discussions


Adams County commissioners signed off on the bulk of the plan for a sub-district around the Colorado Air and Spaceport but said they need more time to consider its plans. The reason is the planned Aerotropolis project was not part of the analysis.

Adams County Community Economic Development Department case manager Nick Eagleson presented the plans for Colorado Air and Spaceport to the Adams County Commissioners for approval in a public hearing Aug. 3.

“I did not see a mention of the CDOT reference or study of the Aerotropolis area,” said Commissioner Steve O’Dorisio.

The planning processes

Eagleson team posted a proposal and selected a consultant, Steven Chester, with Kimley-Horn in the spring of 2020. They also put together an advisory group, steering committee and stakeholder groups.

“I want to mention running concurrently is the Colorado Air Spaceport Master Plan, and Dave Ruppel, the director of CASP, is heading and focusing on expanding aerospace and spaceport capabilities while the subarea plan looks at the overall area outside of the spaceport,” Eagleson said.


The intended vision is for the land use that surrounds CASP is development of infrastructure, roadways and public utilities. The sub-district plans are a guide for short- and long-term goals along with policies, standard and market potential, including jobs.

“We incorporated different plans and studies with multiple jurisdictions in the subarea, including the town of Bennett and the city of Aurora. We looked at the Aurora and Bennett’s comprehensive plans, including the Aurora transportation study and Adams County comprehensive plan as well,” said Eagleson.

Future planning process

Eagleson’s team developed focus group meetings to directly meet with residents, business owners and landowners.

“We also designated a website that was super handy and helpful to conduct online workshops and multiple surveys engaging with them to get public input,” he noted.

In feedback, the team developed six land use designations: industry hub, aerospace and innovation, light industrial, mixed-use industrial, green energy and sustainable agriculture, community hubs and neighborhood residential.

The team also received concerns from the public comments. The residents were worried about the future land use’s impact on property values and how would it impact business operations. Another question was if there would be added flexibility for residential development in the town of Bennett.

The county’s comments revolved around using the sub-district plan in the transportation master plans and working on updating the comprehensive plan with “Advancing Adams.” Another area of interest was the potential of new parks, open spaces and trails within the sub-district.

“As far as outreach, we worked with the steering committee throughout the entire process, we saw what challenges and opportunities would be within the subarea,” Eagleson said. “We are also in collaboration between multiple jurisdictions such as the city of Aurora water and planning staff and Aurora Economic Development, Adams County and Metro Economic Development.” Other agencies involved are the city of Denver, Arapahoe County and representatives from the spaceport.

“When you brought forward plans to the board of county commissioners before, you laid out some options, do you remember what those were, can you walk through what are the final outcomes?” asked O’Dorisio

“Those options were not of future land use but the current zoning within the subarea. We put out preferred alternatives and also a hybrid alternative of future land use recommendations on what it would look like, “ said Eagleson. “We asked for your feedback on what made the most sense. such as do we need a little bit more sustainable agriculture and green energy type of land uses? Or would you like to see those community hubs along certain corridors?”

“Of the three options, which was the most likely final option,” O’Dorisio asked.

“The preferred alternative,” Eagleson said.

Commissioner Eva Henry also asked Chester with Kimley-Horn why wasn’t Areotropolis considered inside of the plan.

“I’m shocked you don’t know the plan he tells Chester especially when you are developing this in the area of the aerotropolis,” said Commissioner Chaz Tedesco. “I’m concerned that we are going by Denver’s vision of an aerotropolis, because we did have some conflict about their vision as an aerotropolis and what our vision is as an aerotropolis.”

Tedesco recommended the team go back through the proposal and history.

“With a lot of the development that we are approving in that area, especially E-470, I’m a little shocked you didn’t incorporate Aerotropolis and yet Denver is putting its input when you are making those decisions and analysis,” said Tedesco.

“To clarify we did incorporate the Denver aerotropolis planning effort and some of the future visions in terms of land use and transportation into this plan.” Chester said. “I was just referencing the specific CDOT plan the commissioner brought up. I was familiar with that exact plan and the overall vision of aerotropolis planning with the city and the airport. It was incorporated and referenced during this planning effort.”

Raymond Gonzales, Adams County manager, injected and made a clarification,

“I think that they are asking for is all the plans surrounding the CASP and just a list of them. I do know the CDOT aerotropolis plan was developed several years ago Commissioner O’Dorisio is referring to,” said Gonzales. “It might be the same thing you are referencing you just don’t know the exact titles. We just need to provide a list of those subarea plans that you used to help guide when you establish the subarea plan.”

“We will provide a more detailed list,” Chester said

Commissioner Lynn Baca said, “I think the 1-70 Regional Economic Advancement Partnership (REAP) would appreciate being involved in this. I-70 REAP is a regional local economic partnership which includes the town of Bennett and some other businesses and I would like to include special districts, like ARTA Aerotropolis Regional Transportation Authority.”

Gonzales recommended a continuance to a future study session -- the commissioners agreed -- and schedule a future date for adoption.


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