The late opposition to the proposed zoning modifications has caught homeowners who worked on the plan off guard. "This has a large amount of neighborhood support," says Tom Tayon, president of the Cory-Merrill Neighborhood Association, which runs from Tennessee Avenue south to I-25 and from Colorado Boulevard west to University. "I wasn't aware of any problems until this week. I was, frankly, surprised."
Adds Williams, DeGroot's aide: "The neighborhood people didn't think it was going to be an issue. They didn't think it would be necessary to go out lobbying for this."
It's unclear why Mizel is putting so much effort into influencing the overlay district for a two-acre plot. Michael Sheldon did not return several phone calls. Mizel, through his secretary, referred calls to another of his attorneys, Steve Farber, who could not be reached for comment.
According to DeGroot and Hendrixson, the city planner, Sheldon has said his concern is that Mizel's Colorado Boulevard property is narrower than most. As a result, he contends that when he redevelops the land a ten-foot setback would take too large a chunk out of it and, presumably, lower its value. (Neighborhood rumors have Mizel building a McDonald's restaurant on the site. But in a letter to the city, Sheldon wrote that a fast-food stop was only one consideration.)
Mizel "feels that with a strip commercial development such as his, being as close to the street as possible is an advantage," says Hendrixson. "And we feel that ten feet is not burdensome."
The eleventh-hour campaign against the zoning overlay district seems to be working, at least in delaying the project. DeGroot has postponed a late-December public hearing until sometime early next year. She adds that she doesn't know when the plan will make it to city council for a final vote.