Blake Gate to open early, Bell Rippy receives approval
Editor’s note, July 24, 2020: The vote for opening the gate on Blake Avenue was initially reported incorrectly on July 23. Councilor Paula Stepp, along with Councilor Charlie Willman and Mayor Pro Tem Shelley Kaup voted against the motion. All other councilors voted in favor.
Pending community discussion and city staff review, the gate blocking Blake Avenue through-traffic will open before 2021 as the newly approved Bell Rippy project is slated to get underway.
During the Glenwood City Council’s special meeting Thursday, councilors approved a revised Bell Rippy site plan, rezoned the project area and decoupled the Blake Gate from the project, allowing it to be opened earlier than previously suggested by the Bell Rippy developer.
“I think the Blake Gate issue is an important issue for not just the nearby residents, but for the whole community,” Councilor Steve Davis said.
While many residents voiced support for the new site plan during a City Council meeting July 16, several still opposed the potential impacts on traffic in the surrounding neighborhood; specifically, an influx of traffic created by the removal of a gate on Blake Avenue, which currently prevents Colorado Highway 82 traffic from accessing the surrounding neighborhood.
Before opening the Blake Gate, Glenwood Springs Senior Planner Trent Hyatt said the city would need to invest in improvements to Blake Avenue.
“I don’t want to decouple the Blake Gate,” Councilor Charlie Willman said. “I think if we do that we would be putting money into improvements that construction traffic might destroy.”
Davis made the motion to decouple the gate from the project and schedule the opening before the end of the year, following community discussions with surrounding neighborhoods and a full review of traffic impacts by the city’s engineers.
Mayor Jonathan Godes seconded the motion, citing safety concerns for current traffic conditions in the area as reason for his support.
The motion to open Blake Gate before the end of the year passed 4-3, with Willman, Councilor Paula Stepp and Mayor Pro Tem Shelley Kaup voting against.
Following public opposition to the original Bell Rippy site plan approved in 2018, the project’s developers, Triumph Development West, LLC, submitted a revised site plan, drastically altering the project’s traffic impact and reducing the original plans’ building footprint.
Submitted during a Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on May 26, public attendees rallied behind the developer’s Traffic Mitigation Option C: a redesign repurposing a portion of Palmer Avenue between 26th Street and Blake Avenue as a bicycle and pedestrian path.
The redesign proposal includes five three-story buildings and one duplex with 38 one-bedroom units and 62 two-bedroom units on a nearly 6-acre parcel adjacent to Palmer Avenue between 26th Street and Blake Avenue.
To make the new Bell Rippy layout work, Triumph requested a parking variance, reducing the city’s multi-family home requirements by 20 percent. Under current standards, the 100 unit complex would be required to provide residents 1.5 parking spaces per unit with an additional space for every five units, totaling 170 spaces.
With the variance, the developer would only be required to provide 136 spaces. Triumph, however, included 151 parking spaces in their redesign.
Prior to approval of the site plan, the City Council unanimously passed a motion to rezone the Bell Rippy parcel from Residential High-Density to Residential Transitional.
Kaup made a motion to approve the revised site plan with the conditions set forth by staff and adding a condition to allow for city parking enforcement options if the development’s parking overflows into the public right of way as well as a condition permitting the city access to a nearby parcel for cleanup of hazardous waste.
Councilor Tony Hershey seconded the motion, which passed 6-1, with Councilor Paula Stepp, whose husband, Frank Martin, frequently voiced concern about the development’s impacts on traffic in nearby neighborhoods where they both live, voting against.
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