Neighbors sue to stop BVSD modular home factory
Feb. 6—Two neighbors are suing to stop a modular home factory from being built on a Boulder Valley School District property as part of a Boulder annexation agreement.
The Boulder City Council in December unanimously agreed to annex about 48 acres at 6500 Arapahoe Road, which will allow the school district to construct a modular home factory on the property for students to build homes for Habitat for Humanity.
The lawsuit, filed by neighboring residents David Hsu and Harald Cassidy on Jan. 11 in Boulder County District Court, names the Boulder City Council, city of Boulder and the Boulder Valley School District as defendants.
The lawsuit claims the modular factory is a manufacturing use that isn't allowed under the "public" zoning for the property. The Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan requires that zoning, according to the lawsuit, "because manufacturing uses are incompatible with the character of the surrounding neighborhoods."
"At its core, the Boulder City Council decisions at issue are simply an attempt to improperly circumvent this," according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also cited previous construction on the property, and the "significant" noise and traffic disruptions the two neighbors say it created, as an example of the future impacts of the modular home factory.
The 31,375-square-foot modular factory will serve as a teaching location for the construction students at the Technical Education Center. The first homes will be used in the redevelopment of the Ponderosa Mobile Home Park. The building, on the southeast corner of the site, will be designed with a steel frame and will be 36 feet tall at its peak.
The annexed property — divided for the annexation into a 19.097-acre parcel to the west and a 28.882-acre parcel to the east — includes the school district's administration building, a central kitchen, the Boulder Technical Education Center and Arapahoe Ridge High School, and the Sombrero Marsh Environmental Education Center.
The lawsuit notes the two residents aren't contesting the annexation itself. Jordan Porter, the Denver lawyer representing Hsu and Cassidy, didn't respond to a request for comment by the Daily Camera's deadline.
Boulder spokeswoman Sarah Huntley said the city is evaluating the lawsuit.
"As is our practice with litigation, we will share our perspective in upcoming court filings," she said in a written statement.
Boulder Valley spokesman Randy Barber said the school district "has worked diligently throughout the process to answer questions and respond to concerns."
"We hope that we have the opportunity to proceed with the project soon for the benefit of our community and students," he said in a written statement.
In response to neighbor concerns about noise and traffic impacts, the city and school district agreed to limit the factory's operating hours to no more than five days a week — 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Construction of the factory will take place from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, according to city officials.
The city also planned to work with an acoustical engineer to measure potential noise impacts of factory operations on the surrounding neighborhood and open space before finalizing a design for the factory, city officials said.
The city's intergovernmental agreement with the school district includes language that the city will strive to eliminate all factory-related traffic along 63rd Street and ensure that factory deliveries on 63rd Street will not exceed 10 per month.
To the extent reasonable, the city also will implement noise reduction recommendations from the acoustical engineer, and it will work with the Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks Department to have ongoing enhanced monitoring of potential impacts of wildlife and water quality at Sombrero Marsh open space, which is adjacent to the campus.
Lastly, the city will check in on operations at the factory in one year and will include neighborhood outreach, according to the agreement.