Owner of Observatory property seeks rezoning

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Move would let billboard remain

By Deb Hurley Brobst

The owner of the land across from El Rancho where the Observatory restaurant once thrived is hoping to rezone the property to continue to allow a billboard along Interstate 70 and future commercial development.

Steve Richards, president of Mile High Outdoor, which owns the 7 acres north of the RTD Park-n-Ride along Evergreen Parkway, has submitted a pre-application for the rezoning and plans to submit a formal application in January.

If the formal application is approved by the county commissioners, the property would be rezoned from commercial-1 to a planned-unit development to upgrade an existing billboard along I-70 that advertised the now-defunct El Rancho restaurant. The proposed 14-by-48-foot size is standard for billboards along highways.

Richards said Mile High Outdoor, which owns 400 billboards along highways and roads in Colorado, has a Colorado Department of Transportation permit for the sign. He explained that the rezoning was needed under county regulations for the company to rebuild it.

Richards, a 1986 Evergreen High School graduate, said he hoped to find a company to develop the rest of the property. As part of the rezoning proposal, Mile High Outdoor would tear down the dilapidated Observatory building, because Richards believes the property then would be more attractive to potential developers.

The Observatory restaurant was an Evergreen landmark until it closed in the late 1980s.

Nearly a dozen people attended a community meeting about the proposal in mid-November. They had questions about the proposal but didn’t object, Jeffco planner Alan Tiefenbach said. He added that the staff’s initial plan was to recommend denying the rezoning request because of the sign, but it would wait to review the official application.

he billboard is situated in a spot where it could not be seen from Evergreen Parkway, Richards said. The proposal would be to convert it to a two-sided sign with an electronic changeable message. He promised that the message would not be animated, and that the light projected from the sign would not disturb neighbors.

“It will not be like (Las) Vegas,” he said. “We want to be respectful of our neighbors.”

Contact Deb Hurley Brobst at deb@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1041. Check www.CanyonCourier.com for updates.