The Town of Parker has filed a civil lawsuit against Douglas County in an effort to stop the building of a recycling/trash-transfer facility on the town's northern border. At the center of the …
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While the bulk of Centennial Airport is in unincorporated Arapahoe County, the southern end of the airport is in Douglas County.
Because of that, “Douglas County was required to refer the proposed (trash-transfer) facility to our planning and development office for review,” said Deborah Grigsby Smith, public information officer for the Arapahoe County Public Airport Authority, which governs the airport.
Airport Executive Director Robert Olislagers said the airport has no standing with respect to the county’s use-by-right position.
“However, any use of land that creates a hazard to flight operations, such as a bird attractant, is a major concern to us,” he said. “Douglas County may own the land, but the airspace above it is a very different story.”
In a letter to Douglas County’s department of community development, dated Dec. 19, an airport noise and environmental specialist noted that site plans call for an indoor recycling/transfer facility.
“However, if the site becomes a bird attractant it could pose a hazard to aircraft arriving and departing the Airport environment,” the letter signed by Dylan Heberlein states.
The letter also states the proposed development falls within a restricted development area.
“The RDA is intended to prevent incompatible development in the close proximity of the Airport, it will see numerous overflights and the associated effects at all hours of the day.”
— Staff report
In the lawsuit, the town seeks the following:
“Injunctive relief to enjoin the County's processing of and potential approval of a recycle/trash transfer facility which is a general industrial use. The Town also seeks to require the County to specifically perform the mutually binding and enforceable comprehensive development plan and related intergovernmental agreement by prohibiting general industrial uses within the Town's urban growth area.”
The Town of Parker has filed a civil lawsuit against Douglas County in an effort to stop the building of a recycling/trash-transfer facility on the town's northern border.
At the center of the lawsuit is a proposed plan by Mountain Waste and Recycling to build a recycling/trash-transfer facility on county land bordering Parker property. The facility would be located west of Chambers Road, north of Grasslands Drive and just southeast of Dove Valley Regional Park. The area has been zoned for this type of development since 1998.
Parker residents across Chambers Road from the proposed facility have opposed the plan, citing fears that their property values will decline and traffic will increase, as well as concerns over noise, bad smells, and rodents and birds.
Parker town officials are on the side of their residents.
“This is just the wrong place for this type of facility,” Mayor Mike Waid said in a news release issued by the town on Dec. 21. “The town therefore felt it had no choice but to take this action.”
Douglas County officials received a copy of the lawsuit but said they had not had time to review it.
“We are in receipt of the lawsuit challenging the processing of an application for a trash transfer facility. We will respond within all legal deadlines,” Lance Ingalls, Douglas County attorney, said the afternoon of Dec. 21.
Previous: Neither side backing down on proposed trash center
According to Waid, Douglas County is in violation of an intergovernmental agreement between the county and Parker that was established in 2002, which includes a Comprehensive Development Plan, agreed upon by both parties, regarding future development. A town urban service area and community separation buffer areas were established as common ground. The agreement mandates compliance with applicable town regulations and master plans in future development.
Parker officials claim the town master plan and the county master plan do not allow general industrial uses at the location proposed for the facility, and allowing the project to go forward would have negative effects on the residents of Parker.
“The approval of this application by Douglas County will have significant negative impacts on existing neighborhoods, professional, medical and corporate offices, regional parks, open space and airport..." the town's news release states.
“Beyond the noise and smell problems, the Town believes there is a significant safety issue. Trash facilities like the one proposed can attract hundreds of birds, and birds are a major problem for airports such as Centennial Airport. The federal Aviation Administration currently recommends that the location of municipal solid waste landfills and trash-transfer facilities should not be within five statute miles of an airport."
The release further states “Such an action is necessary to stop the processing of this application, in order to protect the very schools, neighborhoods and businesses that were supposed to be protected by the Intergovernmental Agreement and the Comprehensive Development Plan.”
Scott Eden, CEO of Mountain Waste and Recycling, has said building the facility would be a great opportunity to bring recycling to the residents of Parker, and reduce the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill.
“I have been a serial recycler since 1988. It's expensive to recycle, and if you dedicate yourself to being someone who wants to divert stuff from the landfills, you have to build facilities that can help solve the problem. We'll be able to offer recycling to a whole new area of Parker,” Eden recently told the Parker Chronicle.
Eden had not seen the lawsuit as of the afternoon of Dec. 21, but commented on the news release issued by the town.
“We have not had a chance to review the lawsuit, so we can't comment on it," he said via email. "However, we have seen the press release from Parker, and we can emphatically say that Parker has all of its facts wrong regarding the characteristics of the recycling and transfer station. In the press release, Parker complains about the possibilities of noise, odor and pests — totally ignoring that this will be an enclosed facility with all operations occurring indoors. None of those complaints are valid.
“Specifically, the press release focuses on birds and the proximity to Centennial Airport. Even if birds were an issue in connection with an indoor facility (it's not!), we note that Denver International Airport has three OPEN landfills well within the 'five-mile buffer zone' that the FAA recommended in a 2010 study; and that airport is operating in total safety."
The news release said this is the first time Parker has filed a civil action against Douglas County since the town's incorporation, which occurred in 1981.
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