Castle Pines sued by landowner for stopping city’s first McDonald’s

McDs Rendering via lawsuit

A rendering of the proposed McDonald’s in Castle Pines. (Court records)

“No clown in our town!” residents chanted as they hoisted homemade protest signs that read, “No McDonald’s double drive-thru fast food dispensary on Castle Pines Parkway.”

It was May 28 in the bedroom community of Castle Pines, where the City Council was weighing whether to allow construction of the town’s first McDonald’s. About 100 people attended and two dozen testified. Most in the crowd and on the council were opposed.

“Garbage fast food that attracts low-income, high-yield traffic from a very busy highway isn’t what I want,” a woman testified. Another warned, “Your average McDonald’s transient customer — which means half are below average — isn’t the element we should be promoting.”

Councilman Chris Eubanks said, “I am not convinced that crime would not go up, based on the fact that, as an example, the 7-Eleven on Castle Pines Parkway is one of the busiest places for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. … I submit we will see something similar.”

Several other council members raised concerns about traffic and safety on the parkway. In the end, only Mayor Tracy Engerman and Councilman Geoff Blue voted in favor.

“I am very pro-business and pro-property rights and I believe that we may not be denying this here if this was a Chick-Fil-A,” said Blue, garnering groans from the crowd. “I think a lot of this has to do with it being a McDonald’s, not a Chick-Fil-A. They met the criteria.”

When the golden arches were voted down, 5-2, just after midnight, the crowd cheered. But now the council must deal with the legal fallout from its crowd-pleasing decision.

On June 25, the Castle Pines City Council was sued by Ventana Capital, the Englewood firm that owns the land at Castle Pines Parkway, and Lagae Road, where the McDonald’s would go. Ventana said the council invented “nebulous bases” for denying its site-improvement plan, such as traffic and a lack of outdoor eating, to disguise its actual, arbitrary reasoning.

“The city council denied the site improvement plan because a majority of its members and/or vocal town residents did not want a fast food restaurant, specifically a McDonald’s, at that location,” according to Ventana’s lawsuit, filed in Douglas County District Court.

As Ventana sees it, that is no reason to deny a McDonald’s. The area is zoned for business use, has been since the 1950s, but “national and local fast-casual and sit-down restaurants are uninterested in the site,” making fast food, such as McDonald’s, the best option.

“If a plan for the property can be denied simply because the use would increase traffic, however infinitesimally, then no development could ever occur on the property,” Ventana said.

It wants Judge Andrew Baum to overturn the council’s decision and approve the site plan. Ventana said it is still under contract to sell the property for use as a McDonald’s.

Castle Pines spokesman Camden Bender declined to comment on the pending litigation.

Ventana is represented by three attorneys from the Denver office of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. They are Carolynne White, David Meschke and J. Maxwell Porteus.

McDs Rendering via lawsuit

A rendering of the proposed McDonald’s in Castle Pines. (Court records)

“No clown in our town!” residents chanted as they hoisted homemade protest signs that read, “No McDonald’s double drive-thru fast food dispensary on Castle Pines Parkway.”

It was May 28 in the bedroom community of Castle Pines, where the City Council was weighing whether to allow construction of the town’s first McDonald’s. About 100 people attended and two dozen testified. Most in the crowd and on the council were opposed.

“Garbage fast food that attracts low-income, high-yield traffic from a very busy highway isn’t what I want,” a woman testified. Another warned, “Your average McDonald’s transient customer — which means half are below average — isn’t the element we should be promoting.”

Councilman Chris Eubanks said, “I am not convinced that crime would not go up, based on the fact that, as an example, the 7-Eleven on Castle Pines Parkway is one of the busiest places for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. … I submit we will see something similar.”

Several other council members raised concerns about traffic and safety on the parkway. In the end, only Mayor Tracy Engerman and Councilman Geoff Blue voted in favor.

“I am very pro-business and pro-property rights and I believe that we may not be denying this here if this was a Chick-Fil-A,” said Blue, garnering groans from the crowd. “I think a lot of this has to do with it being a McDonald’s, not a Chick-Fil-A. They met the criteria.”

When the golden arches were voted down, 5-2, just after midnight, the crowd cheered. But now the council must deal with the legal fallout from its crowd-pleasing decision.

On June 25, the Castle Pines City Council was sued by Ventana Capital, the Englewood firm that owns the land at Castle Pines Parkway, and Lagae Road, where the McDonald’s would go. Ventana said the council invented “nebulous bases” for denying its site-improvement plan, such as traffic and a lack of outdoor eating, to disguise its actual, arbitrary reasoning.

“The city council denied the site improvement plan because a majority of its members and/or vocal town residents did not want a fast food restaurant, specifically a McDonald’s, at that location,” according to Ventana’s lawsuit, filed in Douglas County District Court.

As Ventana sees it, that is no reason to deny a McDonald’s. The area is zoned for business use, has been since the 1950s, but “national and local fast-casual and sit-down restaurants are uninterested in the site,” making fast food, such as McDonald’s, the best option.

“If a plan for the property can be denied simply because the use would increase traffic, however infinitesimally, then no development could ever occur on the property,” Ventana said.

It wants Judge Andrew Baum to overturn the council’s decision and approve the site plan. Ventana said it is still under contract to sell the property for use as a McDonald’s.

Castle Pines spokesman Camden Bender declined to comment on the pending litigation.

Ventana is represented by three attorneys from the Denver office of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. They are Carolynne White, David Meschke and J. Maxwell Porteus.

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