AURORA | Denver city officials are moving forward with plans to turn the area surrounding Denver International Airport into an “Aerotropolis” despite ongoing private negotiations over unresolved issues with neighboring jurisdictions in Adams County.
Next week Denver City Council members will vote on a $623,000 contract to hire the Colorado Department of Transportation to create a comprehensive land use and transportation plan around DIA.
Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan said even if that contract is approved, it does not negate a 1988 intergovernmental agreement between Denver and Adams County that says only airport-related development can occur on Denver’s DIA property. According to the agreement, all future off-airport commercial development falls under the purview of Adams County and its municipalities, which include Aurora.
“They can plan all they want to plan but they should not be planning for us, and they certainly can’t build anything in the restricted areas without our approval,” Hogan said. “There could be more that happens, but to get there, you have to amend the (1988) governing document.”
On Monday, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock told The Denver Post there was significant progress with the negotiations and that he expects to give a public update by mid-January.
That enthusiasm was echoed by Commerce City Mayor Sean Ford who said in a statement his city is optimistic about the negotiations reaching a fair conclusion, as well as the Adams County Board of County Commissioners who said in a statement they believe substantial headway has been made towards an agreement.
After seeing the story, Hogan said in a statement “the discussions have a long way to go before there is any reason for a celebration … Despite calls for a new aerotropolis, the area around DIA is already a well-planned and developing part of the metro region.”
He pointed to development that has occured in Aurora, Adams County and Commerce City since the opening of DIA.
“Housing developments like Reunion, High Point and Singletree have matured. Many more projects, such as the Gaylord Hotel, are expected in the near future,” he said.
For the past two years, discussions have happened behind closed doors with neither side able to come to an agreement.
Hancock’s Airport City plan calls for the development of businesses in industries including aerospace, logistics, renewable energy, agrotech and aviation. Critics say classifying aerospace, renewable energy and agrotech businesses as airport-related is a stretch.