Aurora residents sue to stop Echelon at Eagle Bend development

Sixteen residents in Aurora have sued the city’s mayor and city council in an attempt to stop the construction of an apartment complex near their gated golf course community.

The lawsuit, filed April 5 in Arapahoe County District Court, asks a judge there to overturn a unanimous vote by the city’s planning commission that approved the project.

The Garrett Cos., an Indiana-based builder of apartment complexes, intends to turn a vacant 15-acre lot at East Aurora Parkway and South Quemoy Way in southeast Aurora into Echelon at Eagle Bend. The complex would have 260 units inside a dozen buildings.

Just south of the proposed Echelon at Eagle Bend is the Heritage Eagle Bend subdivision, home to unhappy residents who have signed a petition, testified before the Aurora Planning and Zoning Commission and, when those tactics failed, sued the commission.

“I am requesting, on behalf of 800-plus residents who have signed petitions, that the Echelon development not be allowed to move forward as designed,” said Harry Brust, the lead plaintiff in the case, during a March 8 hearing before the planning commission.

“Shoving 12 buildings — five the size of hotels — parking garages and parking lots on 14 acres while maintaining 45-percent usable open space is impossible,” he said.

Robert Holtschlag, another neighbor who joined last week’s lawsuit, testified March 8 that Heritage Eagle Bend is an age-restricted and gated community with “low-profile, single-family” homes that are much different than Echelon’s proposed “urban-scale” buildings.

“This seems to be an attempt to establish a new normal for residential construction in Aurora,” Holtschlag told the commission. “That is, the placement of residential structures typically found in an urban setting immediately adjacent to a single-family home.”

Despite those objections and others, commissioners voted 7-0 that day to approve the proposal without debate. Four weeks later, the residents filed their lawsuit.

The complaint alleges that Echelon’s buildings will be 54 feet tall, or four feet higher than zoning allows; will not meet open space requirements; will include a 16-foot-high retaining wall that exceeds a 14-foot limit; and won’t fit with the area’s “prairie style aesthetic.”

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