Severance residents turn out to town board meeting in unprecedented numbers against Severance Business Park | MyWindsorNow.com

Severance residents turn out to town board meeting in unprecedented numbers against Severance Business Park

Allison Dyer Bluemel
abluemel@mywindsornow.com

Town of Severance staff and board members saw an abnormal sight Monday during the board's scheduled meeting: nearly 200 residents jostling for space in the town hall to give their comments and concerns about the proposed Severance Business Park.

The 555-acre park — formerly known as the Severance Energy Park and located northeast of town — is owned by Martin Lind and awaits a third-review from staff before the board votes on Lind's request for annexation, rezoning, comprehensive plan amendment and concept plan approval.

The change in name was caused by response from non-industrial businesses looking at moving into the park if it is completed, park spokesman Brian Cain said.

"We were caught a little bit off guard because it wasn't on the agenda," Town Planner Jim Birdsall said. "The number of people was surprising to us and we were a little unprepared which was unfortunate."

While many of the 199 people registered on the town's sign up list spoke during the open public portion of the meeting before regular business, dozens remained seated or stood where space was available in a sign of solidarity with their fellow residents.

"There were intense emotions all around and the place was packed," Severance resident Madelyn Lenard said. "The meeting went on for three hours. It was exhausting and depressing."

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Staff members and members of local law enforcement stood outside the town board chambers to help maintain order among those that could not fit in the main room.

"The people congregating in the foyer area were not unruly, although they were angry and disappointed because there was no public address system and we could not hear what was going on inside," Lenard said.

Sherriff's officers escorted the crowd out of the building at 7 p.m., citing that the crowd was too large and that the fire marshal in the hearing room said they were over capacity.

"My main reaction is that I was disappointed that we didn't have a venue that was appropriate," Birdsall said.

After the crowd exited the building, board members and staff addressed them and explained that the agenda did not include the approval of the park that evening, as Lind had pulled the application to correct a legal definition error.

The only item on the agenda related to the park was the motion to approve its metropolitan district, which many felt was premature as the public had not been able to comment on the park itself.

The approval of the metro district — which will include approximately 530 residents when built out — passed unanimously.

"We are pleased with the Board's decision to approve a resolution that allows the creation of a Metro District for the Severance Business Park, which is a step toward enabling our development to provide the much-needed, foundational tax base for Severance to responsibly manage future growth by providing city services and amenities," said Martin Lind, President of Water Valley Land Company.

While the district passed, Birdsall noted that if the property is not annexed into town the metro district agreement essentially evaporates.

Officers began letting residents back into the tall hall in a more regulated flow so that they could comment in turn, Lenard said.

"Most people made their request that the Energy Park not be passed, and the mayor kept advising us that there would be no vote on the Energy Park that evening," she said. "The board was very attentive and polite to each speaker."

The point of contention for many residents was the proposed placement of a gas processing plant on the heavy industrial zoned area of the park.

One resident, however, brought up the concern that even if the town did not approve the park, Weld County commissioners would likely move forward with it, as they had with the controversial Martin Marietta plant, she said.

"I think everyone involved behaved themselves as well as could be expected, but the bottom line is that this town is getting something that no one wants," Lenard said. "It is a sad commentary on our democratic process in action."

To accommodate future meetings, which staff believes will continue to see strong turn out from the public; the town will hold future meetings with park-related agenda items at a larger location.

"We as staff would really look forward to working with the public and feel like we didn't get off on the right foot," Birdsall said.

Future meetings:

– The park developers will hold a public open house at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Severance Middle School, 1801 Avery Plaza.

– Severance Planning Commission will host a public hearing of the park application at 6 p.m. Oct. 14 at Severance Middle School, 1801 Avery Plaza.

– Severance Town Board will host a public hearing and meeting about the park application at 6 p.m. Nov. 16 at Severance Middle School, 1801 Avery Plaza.

For more information on the park:

– Town of Severance website: “>http://www.townofseverance.org

– Severance Business Park website: http://www.severancebusinesspark.com

– Severance community organization website: http://www.noseverancegasplant.com

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