County leaders look to jumpstart talks with Denver over airport city

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By Crystal Nelson

BRIGHTON -- A group of Adams County officials and municipal leaders met Jan. 17, hoping to start meaningful talks with Denver over the planned Airport City development.
    Adams County, along with the cities of Aurora, Brighton, Commerce City and Thornton, agreed to the formation of a six-member subcommittee — the Airport Consultation Committee — as provided for in the 1988 intergovernmental agreement. One member from Adams County, Aurora and Commerce City each will represent the Airport Coordinating Committee in discussions with Denver.

    Adams County and several of its municipalities have taken issue with Denver over the lack of representation in planning of the Airport City project. Under the original agreement, the City and County of Denver, Adams County and its cities agreed to work “cooperatively and collaboratively” on development plans around the Denver International Airport.
    The lack of involvement in the planning process has caused Adams County and several of its municipalities to reconvene the Airport Coordinating Committee after five years of inactivity.
    Adams County Commissioner and Airport Coordinating Committee Chair Erik Hansen said they agreed Denver would annex land from Adams County and that Denver agreed they would see economic benefit and that needs to be discussed with the City and County of Denver.
    Hansen said he believes the formation of the subcommittee shows the willingness of the Airport Coordinating Committee to work with Denver.
    “We want to do everything we can to ensure the entire region can benefit,” Hansen said in a county news release. “The IGA is an enforceable agreement that represents a partnership, and we need to make sure all the partners gain a significant benefit, not just one jurisdiction at the expense of others.”
    A formal invitation will be sent to Mayor Michael Hancock on or before the next meeting at 1 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Adams County Government Center. 
    A common interest agreement was given to Adams County, Aurora, Brighton, Commerce City and Thornton for approval during the meeting.
    County Attorney Jen Wascak said the document would set forth expectations for the confidentiality of the information the Airport Coordinating Committee is sharing and put a process in place for the expectation that they would be working together to protect any documents that are sought by third parties.