Pact between airport, county aims for compatible land uses

Centennial - A 380-acre site once slated for 1,600 homes will instead become soccer fields, open space and airport-compatible businesses under a deal brokered by Centennial Airport and the Arapahoe County board of commissioners.

Airport officials had opposed the nearby Tanterra at Centennial residential development earlier this year, saying it would put more residents in harm's way.

Residential development could eventually force one of the nation's busiest general aviation airports, with a $1 billion economic impact, to relocate, they said.

"This deal is, in my view, a big step forward to guaranteeing the long-term viability of the airport," Robert Olislagers, Centennial Airport's executive director, said Monday.

The airport and the county together will buy almost 60 acres for recreation. The remaining acreage would have covenants that block development that would be unsuitable next to an airport.

The city wasn't involved in the plan, Mayor Randy Pye said.

While he likes parts of the plan, including limits on storage buildings, Pye was dismayed by what he called a "backdoor deal" with developers.

The city shelved developers' proposal to be annexed into Centennial in March so the airport, city and county could draw up a long-term "vision" for the area.

"It seems to me that if you say you're going to do something in good faith, you should do it," he said. "That didn't happen."

Arapahoe County Commissioner Jim Dyer said he never understood what the city wanted for the site, while the airport's future was too great to risk.

"We know for certain the history of single-family development around airports," he said. "It's the death knell."

The county hopes to join with the city to develop a sports park on the property, he said.

The price for the land will not be disclosed until it is presented for a vote to the airport board and county commission.

The airport bought 10 acres from the same developers three years ago for $1.6 million.



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