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Denver Gears Up For Cohabitation Legal Battle

January 26, 1989

DENVER (AP) _ A hearing on a zoning change that would let unmarried couples live in neighborhoods they had previously been excluded from has stirred impassioned debate on both sides.

The Denver City Council has scheduled a public hearing and debate for Monday night on a proposed zoning law change that would allow two unrelated adults to live in single family residences, even in areas with the exclusive ″R-0″ zoning.

Although there are believed to be hundreds of violators, two people who are not related may not live legally in the restrictive R-0 zones, covering 8 percent of the city’s single-family homes.

Neighborhoods across the city have been papered with leaflets by residents who say the zoning change will destroy the quality of life by bringing in more people to formerly quiet neighborhoods and hurting property values.

Many real estate agents, on the other hand, say the zoning change would not hurt property values and might in some cases help them.

″It will improve the marketability of some homes,″ said Bob Egan, a broker with ReMax Cherry Creek, by making more people eligible to buy homes in single-family areas.

Carol Ihli, a broker with Coldwell Banker and chairwoman of the Denver Board of Realtors public affairs committee, said she didn’t think it would affect property values. The board opted against taking a stand on the zoning change.

The law is now under legal attack, and the city’s lawyers are not sure if it will survive judicial review.

Councilman Dave Doering has proposed the change, which he says is a compromise that will allow unmarried couples as well as others to share houses. He said many elderly residents who are widowed prefer to live with others for economic and social reasons.

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