GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - Mayor Matt Steckler, for one, says he's not inclined to waive the city's affordable housing requirement for development of the proposed Silver Sage Preserve project in south Glenwood.
"We waived our affordable housing rules based on current market conditions," Steckler pointed out during a Glenwood Springs City Council public hearing Thursday to consider the 55-unit Silver Sage project.
But market conditions could change, and the affordable housing rules could become necessary again, Steckler said.
Developer Peter Waller is proposing 38 duplex units and 17 multi-family units on the 42-acre Silver Sage site near the intersection of Airport Road and Four Mile Road in south Glenwood.
Among the concessions Waller is seeking from the city is a permanent waiver from the affordable housing rules. A decision on the development proposal was postponed until council's Jan. 17 meeting.
Currently, council has placed a temporary moratorium on the city's requirement that 15 percent of units in new residential developments be deed-restricted, including price controls and income restrictions for buyers. The moratorium remains in effect until Sept. 5 of this year.
"I suspect we'll probably consider extending it again, at least until we see a dramatic tightening of the housing market," Steckler said.
But, "To waive them over an extended vested period for this project is not something I'm inclined to do," he said of Waller's request.
Steckler also said a request for the city to grant a 10-year vesting period for construction to start on the project, rather than the usual three years, seems a "clumsy" way to address the likelihood that market conditions will not allow the project to proceed right away.
Councilman Dave Sturges agreed, but said he wanted to hear more arguments from Waller's development team before he decides on the request.
"There is a bigger issue of policy ... and how we deal with equal application of the [vesting period] to other people," Sturges said.
Other council members reserved comment on the affordable housing and vesting period waiver requests, which are considered to be the main sticking points related to the Silver Sage proposal.
In any case, council wasn't ready to make a decision following presentations from staff and the applicant, and more than an hour's worth of public comments at Thursday's meeting.
Neighboring residents expressed concerns about traffic, parking, density, visual impacts and impacts on wildlife from the proposed development.
Under the proposal, a customized Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning would replace the existing Hillside Preservation zone district on property. The site includes a steep slope between the upper and lower "terraces" where the houses would be built.
The plan includes 38 duplex units, to be clustered on the upper terrace at the western end of the property, and accessed from Four Mile Road. (A story in the Jan. 3 Post Independent incorrectly stated that this access would be from Airport Road).
Another 17 condominium-style units would be situated in five separate buildings on the lower terrace along Airport Road, in an area being called Cardiff Mesa.
The steep hillside in between would be preserved as open space, except for a pedestrian and bike trail climbing from the Cardiff Mesa neighborhood up to the Silver Sage neighborhood on top. The trail is to be dedicated to the city.
The developer has also said he will donate the remaining historic coal coking ovens, which sit on part of the property along Airport Road, to the Frontier Historical Society. That would be in addition to the ovens that are already owned by the historical society.
Hillside Preservation rules allow for only single-family homes on lots no smaller than one acre. So, the increased density is a concern for homeowners in the adjacent Four Mile Ranch subdivision.
The Four Mile Ranch Homeowners Association members voted in November to formally oppose the Silver Sage project, HOA president Jessica Lorah said at the meeting.
"That area was meant to be a transition up Four Mile," said another area resident, Joe Tinker. "We average two acres [per homesite]. The density of Silver Sage would be visually incompatible with the homes that are already there."
Traffic at the driveway entrance into Silver Sage from Four Mile Road is also a concern. Some residents asked that a turn lane be provided, same as Four Mile Ranch was required to construct.
However, Waller's land-use planner, Ron Liston, said traffic estimates related to the new project don't warrant a turn lane.
City planning staff has recommended against the 10-year vesting period, as well as the waiver of the affordable housing rules.
Also at the Thursday meeting, council heard new conceptual plans for an assisted living and memory care center for senior citizens at the former Roaring Fork Lodge/Sunlight Racquet Club site at 27th Street and Midland Avenue.
The latest conceptual plan envisions a 56,000-square-foot senior assisted living facility and 20,000-square-foot memory care center. Developer Terry Howard of First Phoenix Group operates similar facilities in Wisconsin and Minnesota under the name Stoney River Assisted Living.
In addition, current property owner Terry Claassen would retain a portion of the site along 27th Street, where he is proposing to build a 12,000-square-foot medical center.
"We want it to look like a campus design," said Claassen, who is working with Valley View Hospital to determine medical needs that would compliment the senior living facility to include in the adjacent medical center.
A formal application for the project is expected to be submitted later this year.