Englewood City Council Meeting Erupts over Affordable Housing Error and Israel-Hamas War, Ends Early Over Safety Concerns

In its recent meeting, the Englewood City Council discussed the discovery of a typographical error in its affordable housing overlay zone ordinance, causing confusion for residents in specific areas. The meeting was also marked by frequent interuptions from residents over the council’s stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict, culminating in the meeting ending early for safety reasons.

The error, identified in a previous ordinance, implied that residents of certain areas were part of a zoning overlay that encourages the creation of new, lower-income housing units, triggering debates around the definition and implications of “affordable housing.” One resident argued that this oversight was not merely a typo, but a significant error with real consequences for residents in the impacted zones.

During the heated public comments, residents raised concerns about potential land seizures in minority communities, flooding risks due to increased development, and the need for regular updates on the city’s master plan. Others questioned the city’s intentions and how the overlay zone would impact long-standing residents.

Council member Charles Cobb took issue with misleading information circulating about the city’s intentions. He asserted, “let’s tell the people the truth we’re not going to build anything that the city of Englewood is not into building.” He was concerned about the spread of misinformation, like rumors of the city planning to build 4,000 apartments or demolishing the post office.

Cobb emphasized the city’s lack of involvement in the real estate business, clarifying that the planning board approves all development, not the council. Furthermore, he sought to provide clarity on the “overlay zone”, emphasizing that any potential builder would need to adhere to a process.

The council also discussed resident notifications’ technicalities and legalities. The mayor questioned the city’s attorney about residents’ right to adequate notice and potential liabilities for the city. The attorney clarified that land use requirements differed and adamant that they had sent proper notices as per statutory requirements. This statement sparked further discussions, revealing divisions within the council regarding housing and development policies.

Council members shared their support for Israel following recent terriost attacks. During one council member’s remarks, frequent interruptions led the member to assert his First Amendment rights. “It’s my first amendment right and I shouldn’t be deprived of that,” he stated, emphasizing the need for mutual respect and understanding.

Another issue discussed in the meeting was related to traffic and parking amendments specified in Ordinance 2328. The city council decided to table a discussion about street sweeping on Palisade Avenue until a future meeting for more clarity around the proposal. Other concerns raised included notifying residents about improvements on Humphrey Street and Tibs Court.

During the public comments portion of the meeting, the Englewood police chief recommended shutting down the meeting early due to unspecified external circumstances for the safety of those present. In the final moments of the meeting, a tense exchange occured between attendees and the council. Some attendees expressed frustration at being cut off and not being given an opportunity to speak, but the council emphasized the importance of safety and ended the meeting.

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