Year in Review: Ten stories we talked about in 2019

Staff Reports
Posted 1/1/20

Standley Lake Boating Ban If there was a question of whether Standley Lake was a drinking water source or a recreation facility, it was firmly settled by Westminster city staff when they banned …

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Year in Review: Ten stories we talked about in 2019

Posted

Standley Lake Boating Ban

If there was a question of whether Standley Lake was a drinking water source or a recreation facility, it was firmly settled by Westminster city staff when they banned trailered boating there going forward.

Staff said in March that they’d learned that a small portion of registered boaters had broken the lake’s strict quarantine rules, stoking fears of an outbreak of quagga or zebra mussels. The invasive species — never seen before in the Westminster waterway — have the potential clog pipes and threaten water quality. As the major drinking water source for Westminster, Northglenn, Thornton, officials said they took the threat very seriously.

After a contentious public in April, city staff decided to ban trailered boats — namely, large gasoline-powered watercraft as well as jet skis — on Standley Lake for the summer. Small hand-powered boats, like canoes, kayaks and paddleboards are still welcome since they can be easily cleaned and inspected.

It set off several months of meetings while boating enthusiasts met with city staff looking for a way to tag the boats and make sure that they clean.

That’s how things stood until Dec. 2 when the city declared the ban permanent, saying they couldn’t find a tagging solution that couldn’t be circumvented.

“We have to be able to tell, under field conditions, if a device had tampered with or not,” Westminster Public Works Director Max Kirschbaum said. “If it could be defeated without detection, that would be a fail.”

The Pillar of Fire/ Rose Hill/ Uplands development

No matter what the Westminster Planning Board decides early this year, it’s clear that the fate of the Pillar of Fire’s farmland, south of their iconic castle and between 88th and 84th avenues and Lowell and Federal boulevards, won’t be settled quickly.

The community began hearing rumors of a housing development on the lot early the spring of 2019, but it wasn’t until August that developers Oread Capital stepped forward.

Development group Oread Capital is advancing the Uplands plan to develop the farmland between 84th and 88th avenues and Federal and Lowell Boulevards, land owned by the Pillar of Fire Church, as well as parcels east of Federal and on both sides of Bradburn Drive west of Lowell.

Oread’s plan calls for converting the large open space surrounding the church into a massive mixed-use development, with housing options ranging from single-family homes to apartments and townhomes as well as parks and commercial areas.

The development would surround the church on three sides and would include the apple orchards immediately to the west of Lowell Boulevard and south of 84th.

The project would take several years to complete, ultimately having room for 2,350 dwelling units in the development in a mix of housing types.

Oil and Gas rules in Adams County

When the newly Democrat-led state legislature voted to give local governments the option of regulating where and how natural gas and oil drilling and pipelines get set in their jurisdictions, Adams County Commissioners were among the first to act.

Commissioners in March created a moratorium on new wells and hosted several meetings before adopting a 1,000-foot setback between oil and gas operations and residences, daycares and schools in September. That is twice Colorado’s current 500-foot setback but less than the 2,500 feet setback that voters rejected in Nov. 2018.

Under the new rules, companies hoping to put an operation closer than 1,000 feet to a residential area can apply for a waiver with the County Commission or can get permission from property owners that would be affected.

Northglenn Celebrates 50 years

City officials and residents marked half a century for the City of Northglenn all year in 2019, with special events, coins and metal keepsakes, a new mural and a visit from one the city’s most notable daughters.

Lt. General Laura Richardson, acting commander for the U.S. Army Forces Command, was the featured speaker in March at one of the anniversary events. The city also dedicated a new mural in the tunnel connecting the city’s civic center complex with the Wagon Road Park and Ride. City Councilors added a new segment to their meetings, recognizing residents stand out in the community each month.

Northglenn official began as a city on April 18, 1969.

Teen guilty of Campbell murder

The teenager who admitted to killing 10-year-old Kiaya Campbell in June 2017 was sentenced to jail for a minimum of 40 years, according to sentencing in Adams County District Court March 11.

Aidan Demmie Zellmer was given the maximum sentence in court by Judge Sharon Holbrook — a life sentence with a possibility of parole after 40 years.

Zellmer pleaded guilty Feb. 1 to one count of first-degree murder after deliberation in the death of Campbell, the ten-year-old daughter of Zellmer’s mother’s then-boyfriend, Jacoby Campbell.

The pair were last seen leaving the house they shared on 124th and Forest Drive at 7:30 p.m. June 7, 2018. Campbell’s body was found about a mile-and-a-half northeast almost a day later. According to the affidavit, she died of blunt force trauma to the head — at least five blows, which caused skull fractures — and bruises and abrasions on other parts of her body, including defensive wounds. She had been found partially clothed, with her underwear pulled down.

NW Parkway on hold

Plans for the Northwestern Parkway completing the 470 loop around Metro Denver was moving along, until a soil test north of Arvada turned up evidence of plutonium, stalling work on the Jefferson Parkway.

At this point, the project is on hold.

Soil testing along the route in August showed a spike in radiation, although later testing showed safe levels at the. The project’s managing group, the Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority, has vowed to keep the project frozen until 250 other soil samples can be tested.

Meanwhile, both Arvad and Broomfield officials have begun backing away from the project. Both cities are major partners in the Public Highway Authority.

Most recently, one of the three construction and management groups that had been in the running to build and run the parkway has pulled out, saying that the project's estimated revenue fell far short of its cost.

NG Breaks ground on Civic Center work

It took 16 years, but Northglenn has started work replacing it’s city hall and recreation center complex.

The city broke ground Oct. 28 on a new recreation center, theater complex and senior center southeast of the current Northglenn City Hall. Work on that project should wrap in 2021. Work replacing the current city hall would begin then and wrap in 2028 and the current recreation location would be opened for retail development.

The new recreation complex will feature a 320-seat theater, a swimming complex with lap and leisure pools, indoor basketball courts and an upgraded senior center.

Westminster Downtown developments begin to open

For years, the only retail echoes along the 88th Avenue west of Sheridan Boulevard were a legacy department store, a bowling alley and chain restaurant.

That changed in the summer with a movie theater and an apartment complex.

San Antonio-based cinema chain Alamo Drafthouse opened its newest venue in June Westminster Downtown featuring reclining seats, gourmet meals and adult beverages. It’s part of Westminster’s multi-year effort to replace the ten-acre Westminster Mall site since it was demolished in 2011.

Two weeks later, the city officials opened the Eaton Street apartments, with 118 affordable one, two- and three-bedroom apartments, six two-bedroom townhomes and 21,000 square feet of street-level retail space.

More is expected, with the Origin Hotel, a Tattered Cover bookstore, more apartments and retail space.

Testing on N-Line begins

A few horns and promise from an RTD official has Thornton residents counting down to the opening day for the latest commuter rail system, even though they are not sure exactly when it’ll start.

RTD began testing the line, connecting Denver’s Union Station with 124th Avenue in April, towing a test car along the line and later running trains - and blowing horns at five intersections along the way.

Then in August, RTD’s Assistant General Manager of Commuter Rail Allen Miller doubled down, guaranteeing the service would be ready for riders this year.

“I will tell you how serious I am about this guarantee: My boss is standing right here, and I offer up my resignation if we do not meet 2020,” Miller said.

The N-Line was announced in 2013 and was originally scheduled to begin service in 2018.

U.S. 36 cracks

Some subtle cracks in U.S. 36’s roadway discovered on July 12 turned into a full-blown collapse, closing the Denver-bound lanes of the Boulder-Denver Turnpike for three months.

To repair the road, crews sank more than 100 concrete caissons, or pillars, under the road and down to the bedrock as support for the road’s southeast-bound lanes just north of Church Ranch Boulevard. The soil under the road was replaced with geofoam blocks, a lightweight polystyrene material designed to reduce pressure on the soil under bridge and road supports.

The road finally reopened on Oct. 2, although work on the road’s bike path continued well into November.

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