Government & Politics  October 18, 2023

Brighton resident files lawsuit to stop Amprius battery factory

BRIGHTON — A neighbor of the proposed Amprius battery factory in Brighton has filed a lawsuit to stop the rezoning of the property, which she claims was done illegally.

Angela Pirrone filed the lawsuit Tuesday. She seeks an order staying the construction of the manufacturing facility, an order to invalidate the rezoning that occurred in September, reinstatement of the original commercial zoning on the property and award of attorney fees.

The property in question is the former Kmart Distribution Center, now called the Mile High Logistics Center, at 18875 Bromley Lane in Brighton. It is a 1.3-million-square-foot facility that had been zoned commercial under the city’s comprehensive plan. The building is owned by Starboard Platform Brighton JV LLC, which is an arm of Newport Beach, California-based Starboard Realty Partners LLC.

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Starboard through design company Norris Design Inc. approached the City Council with a request to rezone in order to accommodate Amprius Technologies Inc. (NYSE: AMPX), a manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries. Amprius would like to establish a manufacturing facility in Colorado and needs 775,000 square feet of space. It would create 332 jobs paying an average wage of $69,458.

The Colorado Economic Development Commission attempted to lure the company to the state because of the potentially large electric vehicle market among other uses for lithium-ion batteries. Adams County and the city of Brighton also joined in with incentive packages. 

The company was attracted to Brighton because of the existing, empty facility, which would reduce costs and startup time.

As outlined in the lawsuit, Pirrone claimed that the site is identified in the comprehensive plan as “employment – commercial” with one parcel designated as “parks and open space.” She said the comprehensive plan does not provide evidence of any consideration that the site would be rezoned industrial, because it sits adjacent to single and multi-family housing on multiple sides.

She claimed that the comprehensive plan anticipated that the property would be used for consumer-facing businesses such as retailers, restaurants and entertainment, not manufacturing.

Industrial uses, she said, may not be permitted in commercial zones, she said, and are incompatible with residential zones.

She said the proposed use to manufacture batteries places the neighborhood at risk because of the potential for fire, the use of hazardous materials, and the potential for hazardous material and waste leaks.

The planning commission voted against the rezoning.

The council, Pirrone said, offered no evidence that the original zoning was a mistake, that a change of conditions had occurred, or that rezoning would further the public’s health, safety and welfare.

The council’s first vote on the rezoning failed to reach “an affirmative majority of the entire council,” which is required by the city charter. The second and final vote on Sept. 19 was 5-2 with Brighton’s council having nine members. She called the vote “unlawful ‘spot zoning.’”

It “was unsupported by the record before it and is, therefore, arbitrary and capricious,” the lawsuit said.

Pirrone also asked the court to order the city to produce all records and communications about the project, including communications regarding the economic incentive package discussed and offered at the Feb. 28 meeting of the council.

Judge Roberto Ramirez ordered the city to produce those records in an order filed the same day as the lawsuit. 

Brighton City Manager Michael Martinez did not respond by publication deadline to a request for a statement about the lawsuit. Amprius, through its public-relations firm, said that it would not be commenting on the lawsuit at this time.

The case filed Oct. 17, 2023, in Adams County District Court is Angela Pirrone v. the city of Brighton, the City Council of the city of Brighton, Starboard Platform Brighton JV LLC, Norris Design Inc., and Amprius Technologies Inc., case number 2023cv31466.

BRIGHTON — A neighbor of the proposed Amprius battery factory in Brighton has filed a lawsuit to stop the rezoning of the property, which she claims was done illegally.

Angela Pirrone filed the lawsuit Tuesday. She seeks an order staying the construction of the manufacturing facility, an order to invalidate the rezoning that occurred in September, reinstatement of the original commercial zoning on the property and award of attorney fees.

The property in question is the former Kmart Distribution Center, now called the Mile High Logistics Center, at 18875 Bromley Lane in Brighton. It is a 1.3-million-square-foot facility that had been…

Ken Amundson
Ken Amundson is managing editor of BizWest. He has lived in Loveland and reported on issues in the region since 1987. Prior to Colorado, he reported and edited for news organizations in Minnesota and Iowa. He's a parent of two and grandparent of four, all of whom make their homes on the Front Range. A news junkie at heart, he also enjoys competitive sports, especially the Rapids.
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