Brighton City Council approves rezoning for proposed battery plant

Plans for Colorado’s largest battery plant in Brighton nearly ran out of juice in the face of strong opposition from neighbors who fear chemical contamination from the planned lithium-ion manufacturing facility.

But in a 4-3 vote Tuesday night, the Brighton City Council passed an ordinance granting the proper zoning for the site on South Bromley Lane. The approval will allow Amprius Technologies Inc. to build out a 775,000-square-foot facility within a vacant industrial building to produce batteries for a world rapidly turning to non-fossil fuel energy sources.

The vote followed several hours of testimony and fraught public input. A steady stream of neighbors told the council that the site, at 18875 East Bromley Lane, was too close to hundreds of homes and that the risk of exposure to chemical releases or fires at the plant was too great.

Also in the audience Tuesday were a number of project supporters who touted the 300 or so jobs and the nearly $200 million investment the California-based company will bring to the Adams County city. The processes behind battery manufacturing have been proven safe, they said.

When Amprius announced Brighton as its choice for a new gigawatt-scale factory in March, the company received praise from Gov. Jared Polis and U.S. Rep. Yadira Caraveo. Just a few weeks earlier, the company had received approval for up to $5.5 million in state job growth incentive tax credits from the Colorado Economic Development Commission.

But several hundred homeowners and residents concerned about the potential impacts of a large industrial operation in their midst signed a petition opposing the rezoning that would allow Amprius to begin operations. It plans to occupy much of a 1.3 million-square-foot building that once served as a distribution facility for Sears and Kmart.

The opposition culminated in an Aug. 10 decision by the Brighton Planning Commission to recommend against the rezoning. A majority on the commission concluded it was not the right location for an operation using hazardous chemicals in its manufacturing process.

Amprius, founded in 2008, produces a silicon anode platform to use in battery cells. Silicon can store up to 10 times more lithium than graphite, which traditionally has been used. As a result, the batteries deliver up to 100% higher energy density than standard lithium-ion batteries, according to the company.

The company’s technology has been used in military drones, high-altitude pseudo-satellites and uncrewed aerial vehicles.

Amprius is expected to begin work retrofitting the building later this year, with battery production slated to start in 2025.

This story will be updated.

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