5 things to know about temporary hotel ban

After citizens raised crime concerns, city considering 'buffer'

Posted 8/30/18

A resolution in the months-long process to examine trends surrounding Centennial's hotels may come later this fall, and the city is considering a requirement that hotels be spaced a certain distance …

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5 things to know about temporary hotel ban

After citizens raised crime concerns, city considering 'buffer'

Posted

A resolution in the months-long process to examine trends surrounding Centennial's hotels may come later this fall, and the city is considering a requirement that hotels be spaced a certain distance away from residential neighborhoods.

After widespread concern from citizens that stemmed from a potential extended-stay lodging facility near East Dry Creek Road and South Yosemite Street, the Centennial City Council passed a temporary ban in March that halted the process of applications for new hotels, motels and other commercial lodging uses until Aug. 31.

That moratorium has been extended until Nov. 29, and the city has yet to finalize the next steps. Here is a look at what's known so far.

Still in the works

City staff is still drafting recommendations for any moves the city council may make, according to Allison Wittern, spokeswoman for the city.

The Planning and Zoning Commission, a board of residents appointed by city council to give input on development, will make a recommendation to council at the commission's Sept. 26 meeting.

What city has learned

A law-enforcement leader told the city that adding more commercial lodging would not likely increase workload for the sheriff's office any more than adding an apartment complex would.

Glenn Thompson, public safety bureau chief for the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office, said the idea that more lodging would raise crime is “not really the case, any more than building a bank creates bank robbers or building a residential neighborhood creates burglars.”

Thompson and Andrew Firestine, Centennial's assistant city manager, presented data at a summer city council meeting that showed calls for service to law enforcement for the city's hotels — calculated per room, per year — are similar to calls at two apartment complexes near the city's hotels.

Many of residents' concerns have focused on human trafficking, and Craig Tangeman, an investigator with the sheriff's office, told the council law enforcement isn't seeing many trafficking cases in the Centennial area.

Tangeman, a member of the FBI's Rocky Mountain Innocence Lost Task Force, which focuses on child sex trafficking, defined human trafficking as the act of enticing or forcing another into commercial sexual activity.

“I do believe that trafficking does occur in Arapahoe County and in the City of Centennial,” Tangeman said. “However, I do not believe that building any hotel (or) motel will increase (that) activity.”

Potential change

At the summer meeting, city staff suggested an amendment to the land-development code — which regulates design standards and what types of development can be built where — to require a buffer of at least 150 feet between single-family residential zones and commercial lodging property.

That's wider than Centennial's major streets, essentially barring hotels across the street from neighborhoods, Firestine said. A city staff report said a buffer would ensure an “appropriate transition” between hotels' non-residential design elements and residential areas.

“There will be a buffer between single-family residential and commercial lodging,” Wittern said. The distance the city ultimately settles on is to be determined, she added.

Origins of concern

Concern began boiling over when more than 150 residents packed a Feb. 22 community meeting near the Willow Creek neighborhood, which sits across Yosemite Street from a then-proposed Studio 6 extended-stay lodging site near Dry Creek Road.

The crowd from the neighborhood voiced fears that drug dealing and other crime could permeate their residential area if the proposed site moved forward.

Under the moratorium, any complete, formal applications for new lodging developments that were filed with the city on or before March 5, or which were already approved, were not halted.

The developer for the proposed Studio 6 had not submitted a formal application on or before that date.

Demand factors

How many new hotels residents could see in the future depends on a mixed bag of factors.

Growth in hotel construction in Centennial has followed regional and national economic trends, including office and population growth, according to a July staff report.

“The rate of growth within metro Denver is also expected to slow as population growth slows and tight labor markets limit employment growth,” the report said. “These factors will likely affect future hotel development within Centennial.”

Visibility from I-25 and from Arapahoe Road is a draw for hotels, but the bulk of vacant land in Centennial is outside those areas, according to the city.

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