Sensible development requires a sensible review process. When I remodeled my home, I had to check with my neighbors, the city and the historic-preservation folks. My 315-square-foot addition was subjected to a formal process that ensured I didn’t “negatively impact the character of my neighborhood.”
Comparatively, the proposed complex on Second Avenue is 242,810 square feet with two corporate hotels, 185 hotel rooms, restaurant, pool and fitness space, mechanical building and merchant space. You would think that a project of this scale would require a rigorous and comprehensive review process, but that simply isn’t the case.
To better understand the scale of this project, please picture the County Courthouse. Instead of a landscaped area with two stories, imagine five to six stories extending the entire length and width of the block.
Instead of closing at 5 p.m. on weekdays and on weekends, the courthouse will now house hundreds of visitors 24/7. Instead of a windowless wall to the alley, the courthouse will now have guest rooms looking out over Durango. Please imagine that the courthouse will have three large patios that overlook the backyards of residents and are available for gatherings or just hanging out every day until 10 p.m. Imagine the noise, lights, congestion, parking, garbage and smells.
Now try to imagine living with that every day.
Recent history shows us that the city will support developers in this scenario. The planning board has voted 4 to 1 to allow for a height variance, and the planning department is considering new street directions and stop lights.
Here’s the kicker, except for the variance, there is no requirement to inform any resident. They can just do it. There are several more blocks of East Second Avenue which have yet to be “maximized.”
If you feel that you might be affected by maximization, you should know there is no process that takes you into account. You should also know that if the current proposal is approved, then there will already be an ominous precedent set for Durango.