Sunday, November 18, 2018

Greenwood Village - Comprehensive Plan

When I moved to theVillage sixteen years ago with my wife and young son, I felt welcome and immediately became a part of the community. As a teacher at Cherry Creek High School, I was fortunate to live in the community where I work. Granted I traded a 2200 sq ft house in Illinois for a 1400 sq ft townhouse, but it was home, and affordable for a teacher. Now with the proposed comprehensive plan revisions, I fear the welcome mat has been removed. Restricting any new housing development to single-family homes on quarter acre lots effectively eliminates any new residents who can’t afford $800K+ homes. Teachers in Cherry Creek start at $40K/year and top out at $80K after 30 years and a master degree. I don’t know of any police officers, firefighters, or city maintenance workers making more than that. And, I’m not complaining about the pay in public service – I’m very happy with my living. While I’ll never afford a house in Sundance or The Preserve or One Cherry Lane, I’ve made a home here. Unfortunately, the Council’s plans intend to ensure that no more people like me are welcome to the Village, and I find that sad. When the housing market passed me by, that’s economics. But when government zones to exclude the middle class, well, that’s just embarrassing. And it’s not the Village I used to know. In fact, the Council’s plans seem to be focused on preserving a subdivision, not a town or community or village. Similar intentions in the plan about transportation baffle me. The traffic in Greenwood Village stems not from residents, especially those who might prefer living near and using the light rail. It’s the 60K non-residents who work in GV Mon-Fri, 9-5 who clog our streets. But they don’t keep our shops and restaurants in business, and they don’t attend Fall Fest and GV Day. Their kids don’t attend our schools or play on our teams. They don’t make a Village – they don’t make this a home. So, why would the Council seek only to bring in more transient workers and zero new residents and homemakers? I’ve heard that Cherry Creek students think my AP English Lang class is really hard – they’re sometimes afraid to take it. Soon they get over their fear and even love the class. I hope the Council can learn from them that there’s no need to Save Our Village from the likes of people me. When I was growing up in Illinois, my immediate neighborhood had doctors and lawyers and business owners and teachers and plumbers and more. It was a true community. Yet that has faded over the years, as communities become increasingly closed off and isolated. 20 years ago, Robert Putnam warned us in his book Bowling Alone that a collection of houses does not a community make. It’s certainly not a Village. Let’s not dismiss him and close ourselves off.

The previous text is from my public comments at the November 13 meeting of the Greenwood Village, CO Planning & Zoning commission. The P & Z commission voted unanimously to approve the amendments to the Greenwood Village Comprehensive Plan and to send the amended plan on to the Council. 

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