Five Park Hill residents are suing the city, Colorado Village Collaborative and Park Hill United Methodist Church to stop the church from hosting a safe outdoor camping site in its parking lot.
The lawsuit filed in Denver District Court this week additionally names Rev. Nathan Adams, the church’s pastor, as a defendant. The church announced last month it would host the site in collaboration with the Colorado Village Collaborative and with funding from the city.
Cole Chandler, executive director of the collaborative, said Friday the lawsuit won’t stop their goal of providing living quarters for 100 people a night by June. The collaborative announced on Wednesday it will open a second safe outdoor camping site, at Regis University.
“What this means for CVC is we are more committed than ever to this site,” Chandler said. “We are thrilled to bring it to life with the support of dozens of Park Hill neighbors who are ready to stand up for their values and build a world where people have homes and we can make good on our claims and our yard signs that Black Lives Matter.”
The lawsuit alleges that putting the site in the church’s parking lot will pose danger to minors and school-aged kid in the area (the church is near Park Hill Elementary School and other schools) and children on-site at the church. It suggests the new proposed site, unlike the existing site at the Denver Community Church in Cap Hill, does not have easy access to food, public transportation, health or job resources. It argues that moving the site into the church’s parking lot will prompt churchgoers to park on the nearby streets, taking parking spots away from local residents and people visiting them.
The lawsuit alleges members of the public were not able to provide adequate feedback on the proposal.
A statement from the City of Denver said it understands the “concerns, fears and questions raised by residents” regarding the project, and that the city will work to partner with the collaborative to address those concerns.
“We stand proudly with the CVC – it will take a whole-of-city approach to deliver safer, healthier and more dignified options to our unhoused neighbors than living out on the streets,” the statement read.
The five plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Jean-Baptiste Varnie, Justin Lovac, Kurt Monigle, Dave Rodman and Blair Taylor.
We’ve reached out over the phone and by email to the attorneys representing the plaintiffs for comment. Taylor, who unsuccessfully ran for the city council seat to represent Park Hill in 2019, declined to comment when reached by phone on Friday.