Lipschuetz is now appealing O'Flaherty's decision to the Board of Adjustment. He declined to comment on the matter, citing the pending litigation — but his wife, who describes herself as "the neighborhood busybody and big mouth," has no such qualms.

"We think they had some high-level zoning advice," Chapin says. "They had until 4 p.m. on December 30 to pull that permit. At 3:30 in the afternoon, they got it in. It doesn't pass the smell test."

*****

Whatever zoning advice David Warren received prior to purchasing 740 Clarkson, he wishes it had been better. Thrilled at the time to acquire such a historic property at roughly half its initial asking price, the executive director of ODM now finds his ministry saddled with litigation and a $400,000 mortgage on a house that, at the moment, can't be used the way his group had hoped.

"Maybe I was naive, thinking this would work itself out," he says now. "I felt that once the neighbors got to know us and saw how we ran things, any concerns they had would be taken care of."

Warren has headed Open Door Ministries, an offshoot of the Open Door Fellowship Church, for the past fourteen years. The organization provides a variety of services to people who are disadvantaged or battling addiction, including youth programs, a preschool and housing for single moms and their kids. Last year ODM took over the LightHouse program from the Providence Network, another Christian nonprofit. LightHouse had been operating under a different name out of two homes in the 1100 block of Ogden Street without much fuss for years, but Providence was in the process of selling the properties, so Warren had to come up with a new home for the men.

Although his group's operation of the program is too recent to have much of a track record, Warren emphasizes that LightHouse has traditionally been a highly supervised — and voluntary — program. Residents pay $400 a month for room and board; agree to regular drug testing, curfews and other conditions; and stay up to two years. (The typical stay, others familiar with the program say, is about six months.)

"It's not a flophouse," Warren says. "We do background checks. We do take people who are currently on parole, but not if they're on parole for violent offenses."

"They're not all just off the street," adds John Sierra, who has been a resident manager of the program for nearly two decades. "We've had people from all walks of life — a pilot, a machinist, a guy who used to be doctor. People have their preconceived ideas about whatever they want to call us, but they don't really know us. These are just people trying to get on with their lives."

When Providence ran the show on Ogden, LightHouse had only a boardinghouse permit. But you could make the case that, under the zoning code, two large group homes offering intensive therapy and counseling to a special population of addicts constitutes a "large residential care use," a much more restrictive classification. Warren was certainly under that impression a year ago, when he applied for such a permit while looking into buying the Croke-Patterson mansion, a sprawling sandstone edifice that stretches along 11th Avenue between Logan and Pennsylvania streets.

Because of the number of group homes already in the area, "I knew we would need a variance," Warren says. He figured the neighborhood would welcome a productive group of tenants in the vacant building, which had become a magnet for vagrants and junkies. But overwhelming opposition at a public meeting convinced him to drop the idea: "It seemed like what we were trying to do was a better use for the property. A lot of people, though, just seemed really angry about the homeless issue in general. I guess that's just how some people feel."

After that debacle, Warren says, he was told by zoning staff that he didn't need a large residential care use permit after all. His e-mail correspondence with a staffer is ambiguous on that point, but Warren insists there was nothing duplicitous about his application for a boarding permit for 740 Clarkson, at a time when he wasn't even sure ODM was going to buy the property. He was acting with the owner's permission, he adds, and on the advice of officials who'd told him that the property was zoned for such a permit, which didn't require variances or public notice.

"We were going to use that house very similarly to the way it was used in the last forty years," Warren says. "There certainly weren't sixteen people living there for forty years, but at different times there were different numbers of tenants."

Morgan, the former owner, filed an affidavit in the subsequent court battle supporting Warren's position. "During the entire forty years we used the property, there were at least 15 and as many as 20 people living at the house at any given time," he informed the court. "These people contributed money in order to stay at the house and would live at the house on average around three years."

Morgan's assertion is disputed by Chapin, other longtime neighbors and at least one former tenant of 740 Clarkson, all of whom describe the place at various times as containing four apartments housing a total of fewer than ten people. In any event, the "historic use" argument didn't cut Warren much slack with Denver District Judge Norman Haglund, who in May granted the preliminary injunction sought by Lipschuetz. Haglund ruled that ODM had properly obtained the boardinghouse permit and could operate as such, but the zoning code requires a more extensive review and permit process in order to operate the LightHouse program. He prohibited the group from offering counseling, requiring curfews or drug testing on the property, or otherwise treating its boardinghouse residents as anything other than tenants.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
26 comments
AddisonDewitt
AddisonDewitt

I don't know what's worse: a building full of criminals or a building full of chanting women. At least if you kill the guys, no one will complain.

Urbanliving
Urbanliving

Does any resident of this part of Cap Hill not love the facility operated at the NW corner of 11th and Pearl? We try not to walk on that side of the corner at all costs, so as to avoid the tall Night Stalker looking guy from giving my fiancee the 1,000 yard stare. Serving a useful purpose or not, that place is so disgusting that it seems even the residents spend as much time as they can sitting outside on the stoop incessantly smoking and talking to themselves. The best part is if you are nearby early in the morning when the residents are outside for their first smoke of the day, you can hear them hacking phlegm balls at least a block away. Hooray for more treatment facilities wherever this Warren guy lives!

Zebo
Zebo

Liberals getting a dose of liberalism but don't like it in their backyard.

Urbanliving
Urbanliving

Pssst, Zebo, maybe if you use a couple more derivations of the word liberal in your post, it will form a complete thought.

jenniferAD
jenniferAD

I just paíd $20.87 for an íPad 2.64GB and my boyfriend loves his Panasoníc Lumíx GF 1 Cámera that we got for $38.79 there arriving tomorrow by UP S.I will never pay such expensive retail príces in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LCD T V to my boss for $657 which only cost me $62.81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from : BidsBit.com

Edmund
Edmund

"... the neighbors ought to mind their own business," says Jamie, a bearded, bandanna-wearing LightHouse member... Uh, Jamie... the neighborhood IS their business...

juliaal
juliaal

I just paíd $20.87 for an íPad 2.64GB and my boyfriend loves his Panasoníc Lumíx GF 1 Cámera that we got for $38.79 there arriving tomorrow by UP S.I will never pay such expensive retail príces in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LCD T V to my boss for $657 which only cost me $62.81 to buy.Here is the website we use to get it all from : http://BidsBit.com

julie4Lo
julie4Lo

I just paíd $20.87 for an íPad 2.64GB and my boyfriend loves his Panasoníc Lumíx GF 1 Cámera that we got for $38.79 there arriving tomorrow by UP S.I will never pay such expensive retail príces in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LCD T V to my boss for $657 which only cost me $62.81 to buy.Here is the website we use to get it all from : http://BidsBit.com

julie4Lo
julie4Lo

I just paíd $20.87 for an íPad 2.64GB and my boyfriend loves his Panasoníc Lumíx GF 1 Cámera that we got for $38.79 there arriving tomorrow by UP S.I will never pay such expensive retail príces in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LCD T V to my boss for $657 which only cost me $62.81 to buy.Here is the website we use to get it all from : http://BidsBit.com

calhounp
calhounp

we'd like to include some of these comments in our print edition -- ideally with the author's name and town. If that's okay, let me know at patricia.calhoun@westword.com. Or feel free to send me another version that you'd like to see published.

Ronb77
Ronb77

leticia olalia morales of 15501 pasadena ave #8 tustin ca 92780 submitted fake documents and paid 5000 dollars to obtain a US tourist visa. she also submitted fake employment records to obtain a work visa. she is now applying for citizenship. her contact at the embassy was man named sandman.

GregInDenver
GregInDenver

I have owned a condo a few blocks away for over 10 years. One of the hallmarks of an urban environment is that it is mixed use (my block is not as "ritzy" as 700 Clarkson). There are plenty of suburbs in the Denver area where uses are completely segregated, if that's what these owners want. It requires a lot of money to buy a house in this area, and apparently these homeowners think that their money entitles them to exclude people they don't like from the neighborhood. They may well succeed, and then we can look forward to more people with addictions and other issues wandering the streets of Capitol Hill rather than getting help. Good job, neighbors.

N.D.
N.D.

Like it or not, these so-called entitled neighbors strike me as the "little guys" in this story. If you want to talk money, entitlement, and power... then let's look at how Open Door Ministries has decided to exercise theirs: Open Door Ministries is a large, well known and politically connected charity in urban Denver and has chosen to spend $300k provided to them by generous donors on a project that they simply must have known was a risky venture. If they didn't, then shame on them.

Less than a year ago, they were told this program could not operated at the Croke-Patterson Mansion because of zoning density ordinances. These ordinances are wisely designed to maintain the delicate balance of mixed uses, especially in these residential urban areas, to ensure a quality of life for all. Open Door Ministries' desired use at 740 Clarkson is for the same LightHouse rehabilitation program and for the same group of recovering men, but they're claiming it now now mysteriously falls under a different, less restrictive use classification. Why...? Because they must think they have enough political clout and access to free/donated legal assistance to take the risk and battle it out with Zoning and the neighbors.

To me, this is an abuse of power and a demonstration of poor judgement regarding the use of funds generously provided by individuals and entities who trust Open Door Ministries to wisely utilize their finances. Good job ODM.

Joan
Joan

This isn't a situation of people using their money to exclude people they don't like, this is an abuse of an existing city ordinance.

" A city ordinance requires that such facilities be at least 2,000 feet from each other and that no more than two can exist within a 4,000-foot radius of any newcomer. There are already three such facilities less than 4,000 feet from 740 Clarkson."

Yes, the neighbors of 740 Clarkson are getting zapped. If I lived on the street I would rally my neighbors to fight this. Open Door Ministries has many properties to choose from - after all, it's a buyers market. Why did they have to choose one that breaks existing ordinances? Don't they know their bible versus ... "Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord." Their choice to ignore existing laws and the resulting turmoil are the kinds of thing that gives Christians a bad name.

S. G.
S. G.

I fully understand the frustration of the homeowners. I, too, live in a neighborhood that has an overabundance services and very low income housing: homeless shelters, homeless services, homeless transitional housing, single room occupancy (SRO) housing, very low income rentals. This area has way more of its share of no & low income housing and services. Neighborhoods need an economic balance. Right now we are too tilted to low income, yet, those projects keep coming. We are not NIMBY. We all live together. But what we need is more "for sale" workforce housing. We would like neighborhood services--like a restaurant or two but economic development requires that people have money to spend. Those homeowners on Clarkson are seeking some stability and they just keep getting another halfway house. It makes us weary. Enough is enough!

Kendra
Kendra

I live on a block away on Clarkson, and its a crying shame a family didn't buy this stately home. Capitol Hill's been a dumping ground for half-way houses for decades. Now the neighborhood's finally clawing back & should fight junk like this, that drags down values.

Chapinprop
Chapinprop

Thank you for you support and your real understanding of the issues here. We're not just a bunch of stuck-up yuppies. We just want the security and stability of owner occupant neighbors, not transients with substance abuse problems who stated at a neighborhood meeting that they would be homeless if it weren't for this facility. Why can't these programs go save some guys in Littleton?

CM
CM

The graceful solution would be for Open Door to admit they did not do their proper due diligence before purchasing the property so they did not know that it could not legally be used for the LightHouse program. They should move the program to an area where it is legal to operate it with all of the appropriate supervision of the residents. It seems that they purchased the property for a great price and should be able to sell it and make a profit. Wouldn't this be a win-win solution?

Mike S
Mike S

Westword is there any reason why you keep publishing these stories that just seem to ooze anti Christian this and anti Christian that? Seriously this is getting old. People can read between the lines. If this didn't have to do with a Christian provided service you would care less. Are you ever going to print anything we can actually talk about?

Considering you are on the front page of Yahoo's home page every day,your following is laughable. After two weeks you can barely muster a half a dozen tweets. Your comment section is also about the same level as a story on pulling weeds.

Maybe next week you can give us another nauseating article about how people going to church take up too many parking places. Or perhaps how all those people going to church are contributing to the Global warming problem. What ever it is I think I would rather read anything but these useless stories nobody cares about except for you and maybe three other people.

Mike
Mike

Well, we can talk about this property/addiction/zoning issue--without claiming some persecution complex. Christ would probably not be very impressed at the way you claim how hard you have it.

Get over yourself.

Vibekeb70
Vibekeb70

Dear Alan,

you article is well written. I am personally familiar with both the owners of 750 and 740 clarkson street. I belive in the depth of my heart that they have nothing but good intetntions for the neigbourhood and its further development. I belive the thought that any one family would be able to afford these great mansions in this economy is greatly erronious. So should we let these great historical properties fall into dissarry, or let them benefit a greater part of the community. My most saddening though is that the community spirit of clarkson street misses the gracefull spirit that previously inhabited both 740 1nd 750 Clarkson Street, not due to its new inhabitants but rather due to the un-hospitiable feelings of the neighbourhood. I live in capitol hill and love capitol hill, but do not love the lack of grace that currently inhabits the " neighbours" on clarkson street. Please do not ascibe ill intent to people who you have made no effort to get to know.

with the hope of the emergence of a more gracefull neighbourhood

Vibs

Chapinprop
Chapinprop

It is obvious who you are--the young woman who directs the ODM home for single moms. Your personal knowledge of the owners of 740 and 750 clarkson and your European spelling of "neighbors" are a giveaway. Is is not so difficult for a family to live in the houses on this block. we're already here. Every one of the houses on this block is owner occupied. We purchased our homes for a chosen urban life, on a RESIDENTIAL blockn not to have it invaded by commercial use and a halfway house which violates the established spacing ordinance. We're not a bunch of stuck-up yuppies, we want our street tobe a healthy, safe and secure place for our children and grandchildren. Would you buy a house next door to a treatment facility for recovering substance abusers? The damage done to our lives and futures is enormous--financially and functionally. Have you ever considered anyone's lives other than your own narrow view of life. Our "grace."has run out.

Jason
Jason

700k is well within the budget for a single family who enjoys all the great things that city living has to offer. Many of the homes on that block are single family owned and worth well more than that. But how can you expect a single family with young children to invest that much in a home in the area to then be stabbed in the back by the city. Which is just the case here, that facility would hurt the safety and make up of the area not to mention that single family who purchased in the neighborhood will lose up to 30% of their home value. There are plenty of other areas they can put their facility they don't need to further burden that area. Walk around the neighborhood there are beautiful historic homes that families have put a lot of time and money into preserving. The city needs to help support them not hurt them.

 
Loading...