Hearings set for 400-unit Glenwood Springs annexation, development
February 9, 2014
City of Glenwood Springs officials are prepared to consider a major annexation and development proposal that would include 413 houses to be built over the next 15 to 20 years, while leaving 86 percent of the annexed area as parks and open space.
In addition, if the project is approved, the property owners are offering to convey another 1,140 acres of forested land to the city for a potential recreation area, and to build the planned roundabout at Four Mile Road and Midland Avenue.
The proposed Glenwood Ridge Planned Unit Development involves 506 acres of the former Bershenyi and Martino ranches on either side of Four Mile Road just outside city limits.
The project application now before city planners was submitted by Elk Meadows Properties LLC, a Tampa, Fla.-based company that lists Bruce Seyburn as the managing partner. The Glenwood Springs law firm of Balcomb & Green is the local representative for the developers.
City Council last week approved a public hearing schedule that refers the plan to the Planning and Zoning Commission for a series of three meetings on March 18, April 8 and April 22. That would be followed by a City Council hearing beginning on May 15.
An earlier hearing schedule agreed to last November was delayed after city staff requested additional information so it could adequately review the project. City planners advised council at its Feb. 6 meeting that it is still awaiting that information.
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Glenwood Ridge is located just south and west of the last major annexation and residential development proposal to come before the city, known as Red Feather Ridge, in 2002.
That plan was approved by City Council, but was ultimately rejected by city voters who petitioned to put it on the ballot. The land eventually was approved for a large-lot residential subdivision by Garfield County, now known as Four Mile Ranch.
In order for the Glenwood Ridge property to be annexed, a little more than two acres of city-owned land to the south would also need to be annexed for it to be contiguous to the existing city limits, according to city planners.
Glenwood Ridge calls for a mix of 225 single-family houses, 98 townhouse units, 12 duplexes and 78 condominium units spread throughout three linked neighborhoods.
The largest, called Promontory, would include 218 units on the east side of Four Mile Road, on the Glenwood Springs side of the old Bershenyi farm house.
The other two neighborhoods, called South Meadow and Homestead, would include another 195 units between them, situated in the valley west of the road overlooking the Roaring Fork Valley.
"The concept plan restricts development to 68 acres (approximately 13 percent) of the overall 506 acres," according to an overview of the project included in the application. "As a result, over 86 percent of Glenwood Ridge will remain as park land, active open space, or passive open space."
That would include a 16.7-acre public park at the main entrance off Four Mile Road, featuring three baseball fields and parking, according to the development plan.
"The variety of housing options provided will serve to accomplish the city's goal of a lower-cost housing component without the necessity of deed restrictions," the proposal also states.
Currently, the city's affordable housing requirements are on temporary hold as a means of spurring economic development following the recent recession and downturn in the real estate market.
"The neighborhoods created within the Glenwood Ridge concept plan are efficient, pedestrian friendly, sensitive to the environment, responsive to the needs of the marketplace with an emphasis on affordability and design, and provide significant areas for recreation," developers state in the application.
"We believe, as crafted, Glenwood Ridge provides a mixture of housing styles and sizes, residential density, and open space preservation that is both necessary and appropriate, and will serve as an asset to the city of Glenwood Springs," the project's developers conclude.
Two rather large carrots are being dangled in the proposal in an effort to convince the city to approve the plans.
The first would be to convey to the city approximately 1,140 acres of land that was part of the "Upper Bershenyi Ranch," but is not included in the annexation request. The area could be used for recreation, or be left as undisturbed wild lands, the developers suggest.
"This means that, upon approval of Glenwood Ridge, more than 95 percent of the former Bershenyi and Martino ranches will be preserved as open, undeveloped land," according to the proposal.
Secondly, in order to address both existing and future traffic concerns on the route to Glenwood Ridge, the developers are offering to construct, or fund the construction of, a four-legged roundabout at the intersection of Four Mile Road and Midland Avenue.
A roundabout at that location is already envisioned as part of the city's South Bridge project, for which an environmental assessment has been completed but for which no construction funding has been identified.
The roundabout would also include a new, direct access to Sopris Elementary School, which the developers said is in an effort to reduce traffic congestion at Mt. Sopris Drive.
The Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council, in reviewing the annexation and development proposal, will have an opportunity to discuss the merits of the project, and to hear what citizens think about it.
"Discussions will focus on benefits and impacts of the proposed development on municipal and other public services, including traffic and transportation networks, police and fire, school district, infrastructure and capacity to serve the development, and open space and recreational facility dedications," according to a city staff memo outlining the review process.
The annexation and development proposal, which is on file at the Glenwood Springs Community Development office for public inspection, includes fiscal impact and engineering reports, both of which were paid for by the developers.