Council poised to extend moratorium on Aurora-Licton Springs commercial development

This morning, the Council voted out of committee an ordinance that would extend for another six months the temporary moratorium on several forms of commercial development in the Aurora-Licton Springs Urban Village.

Two weeks ago, during a required public hearing on the ordinance, the Council heard strong feedback on both sides of the issue, enough that they delayed voting the measure out of committee.

The intent of the moratorium is to prevent additional “heavy commercial” or light industrial businesses in the neighborhood in advance of an expected rezone of the urban village favoring residential and mixed-use zoning. That rezone, however, is tied up in the larger MHA city-wide zoning process, which has ground to a halt pending an appeal of the final Environmental Impact Statement for the effort.

Those in opposition to the moratorium point out that city officials, while quick to point out the places where they don’t want big-box stores, warehouses, used-car lots, and other heavy commercial activity, have not been clear about where they want to encourage such businesses to land that would make them accessible to customers — and as such they claim they are being chased out of the city. Council members Johnson, Herbold and O’Brien acknowledged the truth in that statement, blaming the pause in the MHA process for the lack of conversations on that topic. While all three of them support extending the moratorium, Herbold however pushed her colleagues not to wait until the MHA process restarts (December at the earliest) to begin to discuss the issue with stakeholders. Johnson and O’Brien agreed at least in part, suggesting that OPCD prioritize the Aurora-Licton Springs Urban Village in its queue of “community planning” sessions.

Notably absent from the deliberations on the moratorium extension is Council member Juarez, who represents District 5 and was the primary proponent for the original moratorium.

In the end, the three Council members voted the moratorium out of committee, setting it up for final approval on September 24.