Council votes on first reading of CodeNext for a second time

Amendments needed due to inconsistencies with City Charter

Elisabeth Slay
Posted 9/21/23

For the second time, the Englewood City Council approved the first reading of CodeNext in a 4-3 vote on Sept. 18.  

The agenda item, which was originally approved on Sept. 11, was …

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Council votes on first reading of CodeNext for a second time

Amendments needed due to inconsistencies with City Charter


For the second time, the Englewood City Council approved the first reading of CodeNext in a 4-3 vote on Sept. 18.  

The agenda item, which was originally approved on Sept. 11, was reexamined to adjust six amendments the council made to the ordinance that conflicted with the city’s charter. 

The council made adjustments to the following six sections: 

  • 16-2-11 to eliminate the provision regarding appeal of a Board of Adjustment and Appeals’ decision to city council for administrative adjustments.
  • 16-4-4.B.2.a to read: “800 square feet, if in a detached building or attached to the principal building.”
  • 16-4-4.B.2.b to read: “Equal to the building footprint if internal to the principal building.” (This amendment was already undone and redone once during amendment creation at the Sept. 11 meeting.)
  • 16-4-4 B.3 to read: “Detached houses in the R2B and MUR3 districts may have multiple accessory dwelling units as indicated in Table 5.2 provided.”
  • 16-4-4.B.3.a to read: “Only one unit may be in a detached building”; and
  • 16-4-4.B.3.b to read: “There shall be at least 2,000 square feet of lot area for each unit, including the principal dwelling unit.”

City Attorney Tamara Niles said the reason for city staff bringing this back on the agenda was to seek clarification on these amendments made on Sept. 11 regarding the Board of Adjustments and Appeals and Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs.

At Large Councilmember Jim Woodward made a motion for an amendment to require one parking spot for ADUs, as well as an owner occupancy requirement but without a sunset. 

Councilmember Rita Russell seconded the motion, which failed in a 4-3 vote. 

Now that the first reading of CodeNext is completed, the second reading will stay on track for the special meeting on Sept. 25, which is eight days before the Oct. 3 recall election, which targets three of the council members who have support CodeNext.

Matt Crabtree, who is running for the District 1 seat in the Nov. 7 General Election, said in public comment that the council should look into anymore inconsistencies within CodeNext and take it back to the Englewood Planning & Zoning Commission as stated in Section 58 of the Charter which explains the role of the commission. 

Crabtree said the charter states that the “recommendations of the commission shall not be binding on council, however no general city plan or zoning ordinance or any modification, amendment or revision thereof shall be considered by the council unless the same has first been submitted to the commission for its examination or recommendation.”

“There were substantial changes in the last literally eleventh hour of the meeting (Sept. 11),” he said. “I would imagine by way of the city charter there is a requirement to take this back to the Planning and Zoning Commission.” 

Russell questioned whether anyone else had gone through the 220-page CodeNext document to ensure the ordinance complies with the city’s charter. 

Niles said various people read through the ordinance to ensure it was in compliance with the charter but this type of ordinance is always evolving. 

“The city consultant wrote the entire Title 16, then the deputy city attorney and even our summer intern last year that worked in land use started reviewing each section at that time,” Niles said. “Then the deputy city attorney gave it a final review early this summer and I did so as well.”

Russell then brought up the potential for other items not complying with the charter within CodeNext but “until (the city) comes across it we may not realize it,” she said as these sort of discrepancies do sometimes happen in other codes. 

“It does happen. That’s never our goal but…my theory on land use codes and other codes (is) that these are living documents,” Niles said. “And we have intended just to set it and just forget and then 30 years later we have to do a complete overhaul. It’s my philosophy that when we see something that’s not workable or that we should consider a change, we bring it to the city council at that time.” 

Niles said over the last two years city staff has brought issues in codes to council that haven’t been changed since 1985. Additionally, she said staff has discussed that CodeNext is an “evolving document and as the city’s needs change and evolve then (they’ll) consider changes as necessary.” 

Russell, Woodward and Ward all voted no on CodeNext for a second time. 

“I am very disappointed in the fact that this council pushed through an agenda they had, appointing people that they wanted to get the votes and ignoring the reason for the recall and for moving forward with this,” Russell said. “This is an incredibly sad day for the city.”

These amendments are taking place just weeks from the Oct. 3 recall election that is targeting three of the four council members who voted in favor of the CodeNext plan. Those members include District 1 Councilmember and Mayor Othoniel Sierra, District 2 Councilmember Chelsea Nunnenkamp and District 3 Councilmember Joe Anderson. 

The CodeNext first reading was originally on the agenda for Sept. 5, but the meeting was canceled after the city’s two-year-old, $295,000 audio-video system malfunctioned, leaving the audio dead for citizens trying to follow the meeting on livestream.

Due to the technical issues, the first reading was then rescheduled  to a special meeting on Sept. 11, where the version of CodeNext that had been approved in July by P&Z was subjected to several attempts at amendments by members of city council. 

The discussion and votes ran past midnight at the Sept. 11 meeting and into the wee hours of Sept. 12, but at the end of that meeting, it appeared the first reading of CodeNext was wrapped up and narrowly approved.

The Oct. 3 recall election was initially and largely driven by controversy over the CodeNext proposals for greater housing density, which originally included a now-shelved idea to allow multifamily dwellings in single-family zoning. 

The fourth “yes” vote on Sept. 11 was cast by Interim At-Large Councilmemer PJ Kolnik, who was appointed in a split vote to replace CodeNext supporter Cheryl Wink following her resignation from council in July. 

City of Englewood; Englewood CIty Council; CodeNext; Oct. 3; Recall


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