6th & Douglas Rezone is an Affront to Historic Neighborhood
By Doug Van Slambrouck
When my wife and I retired to Loveland a few years ago from a large metropolitan area to be near family, the unique character and quiet of historic West End won us over. We checked the zoning map to ensure our forever home was in a low-density residential area, and we bought a place looking out at the mountains.
The location was ideal. Close enough to downtown to walk there, but far enough away to avoid the bustle and noise.
We finished our renovations and placed a bench out front for neighbors to sit and enjoy the view. Then, last October, city planners suddenly rolled out the 6th & Douglas Rezone, a city- initiated drive to upzone part of our neighborhood to R3e high-density zoning while also amending the Comprehensive Plan. The area that the city has in mind for high-density is about 100 yards from our doorstep. With no development plan for the area, the city indicated this would be a blueprint for similar zoning changes all over the city.
More than 550 of our neighbors have signed “no rezone” petitions. We reject the 6th & Douglas Rezone because high-density is utterly unsuitable for the West End’s established low-density residential zoning and historic character. High-density is not consistent with Loveland’s Comprehensive Plan that calls for protecting the older, historic neighborhoods like the West End. Moreover, approval of this rezone would infringe on the property rights of hundreds upon hundreds of residents, simply to favor just three commercial entities: an apartment fourplex; an assisted living facility; and an aging, former medical office that’s remained vacant for a decade. Those three properties will instantly increase in value under high-density zoning, with the opposite impact on surrounding low-density homes.
City officials say the rezoning is necessary to align uses and code. But the fourplex and assisted living are already grandfathered into the current zoning. As one city planner put it on a Jan. 26 Zoom: “They are fine to stay as is.” No rezoning necessary. The whole rezone push started with one owner, developer Barry Floyd. He recently approached the city in order to get his vacant medical office rezoned to high-density zoning.
When he bought the medical office many years ago, it had already lost its non-conforming use status and reverted to low-density residential uses only. As a seasoned real estate speculator, Floyd understands all about due-diligence and the risks of investing. He knows his own decision to leave the building empty for so long did not help matters. Yet, when he recently talked with a reporter about the fury the rezoning has kicked up, he lamented, “I’m just in a pickle.”
To observers, it appears he put himself in that pickle jar with his own choices, including allowing his property to remain vacant, undeveloped, and deteriorate for all of the years of his ownership. Even now, he could tap a host of options for his property under current zoning, including selling. Instead, he gripes to a reporter and persuades the city to use our tax dollars to pluck him out of his pickle — with a rezoning that will increase the value of his property, at the expense of hundreds of property owners around him.
That value hike will also benefit the two other properties that don’t even need the rezone, but got approached by the city to create an appearance that Floyd’s property is not the only one involved.
The city’s bail-out on Floyd’s behalf is difficult to understand. Doesn’t Floyd need to take personal responsibility for his investment decisions, just like the rest of us? Approval of the 6th & Douglas Rezone would reward irresponsibility by forcing an entire neighborhood to absorb the consequences of an investor’s bad choices. Teddy Roosevelt expressed his thoughts about personal responsibility this way. “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” City planners now say they can’t just drop this flawed idea because they made “a commitment” to “a lot of different property owners.” And by “a lot”, they mean, three. Many hundreds of Loveland residents wish they would make a commitment to them and drop this rezone effort now.
Doug Van Slambrouck is a retired energy executive who lives in Loveland