Developer settles with Aurora residents who sued to stop apartments

Aurora residents who sued the city to stop an apartment complex near their gated golf course community have closed the case after reaching a deal with its developer.

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 residents who signed a petition, testified before the Aurora Planning and Zoning Commission and, when those tactics failed, filed a lawsuit to stop the project.

Sixteen residents sued Mayor Mike Coffman, the Aurora City Council, the planning commission and Garrett Cos. in Arapahoe County District Court on April 5. They asked a judge to overturn a unanimous vote by the city’s planning commission approving the project.

The complaint alleged 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.”

On Aug. 2, Judge Ben Leutwyler approved a confidential settlement that ends the case.

“The settlement was purely monetary between the developer and the neighbors,” said Ryan Luby, a City of Aurora spokesman who doesn’t know how much cash changed hands. “The settlement does not impact the zoning approved by the Aurora City Council.”

“No comment,” said Harry Brust, the lead plaintiff in the case. “Information is confidential.”

Eric Garrett, CEO of the Garrett Cos., said by phone Wednesday that he couldn’t discuss the terms of the settlement, which he called “mutually beneficial” to all sides. He explained that such arrangements are “not uncommon” for his company during housing projects.

“We are going to be working hand-in-hand to continue to beautify not only the neighborhood but also our project,” Garrett said of his company and nearby residents. “I think it will minimize the impact that the neighbors felt they were going to have with the project originally.”

Construction is expected to begin in the next month or two, after a few final building permits are acquired, and last 20 months, according to Garrett. He said that the litigation did not delay work on the project but he wanted an agreement in place before building.

Brust and other residents were represented by attorney Brett Payton with the Greeley law firm Coan Payton and Payne. He did not respond to requests to discuss the settlement.

The Garrett Companies were represented by Chip Schoneberger and Andrew Demers with the law firm Foster Graham Milstein & Calisher in Denver. Aurora’s lawyers were Julia Bannon and Brian Rulla with the City Attorney’s Office.

This story was reported by our partner BusinessDen.

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