'New Urbanism' - Close to bus stop, far from happy

By Jeffrey Leib
Denver Post Staff Writer

May 11, 2004

It is either a classic case of NIMFY syndrome - "not in my front yard" - or the legitimate concerns of home buyers who feel betrayed.

A number of families purchasing new homes on East 29th Avenue in the redeveloped Stapleton community are angered by plans to put an RTD bus route along the parkway.

East 29th buyers Nathan and Ruth WoodliffStanley recently were horrified to find a huge concrete bus-stop pad in front of their new house, only 7 1/2 feet from their porch stoop.

"It completely destroys our privacy," Nathan Woodliff-Stanley said. "If this bus stop is not removed from this block, we will not close on the house."

The couple had planned to close on the purchase next month. Their home is about a mile east of Quebec Street.

The squabble over the bus route is an ironic twist on the planning ethic called "new urbanism" at Stapleton.

It is a throwback to pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods in America's older cities, where homes and front porches sit close to the sidewalk and street, and pedestrian, bicycle and mass-transit mobility is encouraged.

Within 15 years, Stapleton expects to have 30,000 residents.

On Friday, as workers sprayed pale yellow paint on the couple's house, Ruth Woodliff-Stanley said she is not trying to foist the bus stop onto a neighbor's lot.

"This is not a reasonable design for houses with front porches and virtually no setback," she said of the 10 1/2-foot by 32-foot concrete pad.

Officials with the Regional Transportation District and Forest City Stapleton, master developer of the old airport site, agree that the bus pad in front of the Woodliff-Stanleys' house was mistakenly poured too large.

Some of the concrete will be removed.

But there are no plans to move the bus stop, or meet the demand of some residents that the bus route be removed from the residential stretch of East 29th Avenue.

The Woodliff-Stanleys and others buying on the parkway say builders never informed them that the street, with only one traffic lane in each direction, was getting buses and stops with benches and trash cans only a few feet from their porches.

So far, at least four bus stops have been poured in the corridor, and more are planned.

Keith Frana moved into his duplex on East 29th in June and also wasn't happy when a stop was constructed near his front door.

Frana has a trash receptacle, anchored to the bus-stop pad, close to his front stairs. On Friday it was filled with bags of dog waste. He said his builder never told him about the bus route or stop. He plans to sell the house.

RTD made the decisions about which streets will get bus routes and stops, and all home builders at Stapleton were informed about the bus plan, Forest City spokesman Tom Gleason said.

Yet Parkwood Homes, builder of four houses in the 9000 block of East 29th Avenue, did not pass bus-route information on to prospective buyers, say families buying on the block.

"We love the neighborhood and love the house," said Terrell Johnson, whose family moved into its home next door to the Woodliff-Stanleys' about a month ago. "We were never informed by Parkwood of the bus route or stop."

Mark and Trisha Hanson are in the process of buying a brick Georgian-style home three doors east of Johnson's house.

When asked what he and his wife will do if the bus route stays on the parkway, Mark Hanson says, "Right now, we are leaning toward walking away."

Parkwood officials could not be reached for comment on residents' claims that they were never informed of the bus route.

But Peter Simons, division president of Beazer Homes, another builder of custom houses on East 29th, acknowledged that Forest City told his company about plans for the bus route, and that the information never got to buyers.

Some buyers on East 29th say the east-west bus route should be moved three blocks north to Martin Luther King Boulevard once it is extended through the Stapleton site.

MLK will be a four-lane arterial and better designed to support bus service, Mark Hanson said.

RTD's bus-service plan for Stapleton won't start "for at least three years, so we have plenty of time to work out any issues," RTD spokesman Scott Reed said.

RTD's board of directors has to approve all new routes "and the public is involved in that process," Reed said.

Staff writer Jeffrey Leib can be reached at 303-820-1645 or jleib@denverpost.com .



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