Citizens not represented with Redfeather decision
OK. I guess it’s time for a little sour grapes. I just can’t help myself.
Glenwood City Council, back in July, indicated that five out of seven members would not support annexation up Four Mile Road (Red Feather Ridge). They could not support changing the Urban Growth Boundaries just so a developer could triple the density of their project. Too many factors such as traffic, water supply and long-term costs to the city were all mentioned as unsolved problems.
Well, it is a new year, and by changing the label on some park land to read “cemetery,” hiring in a new “fiscal” analyst and giving assurances that 149 homes will not impact traffic on Four Mile Road and Midland Avenue, 5-2 is suddenly a 4-3 vote in favor of the annexation.
I really don’t even know where to start. .
One of the goals quoted in the city’s Comprehensive Plan was to set an Urban Growth Boundary and thereby encourage a variety of actions. One of those was to encourage rural development (10-acre homesites). A member of the city staff said at the annexation meeting that the city was disappointed that no positive interaction had occurred with the county on this point. Therefore, areas like Red Feather Ridge had two- to five-acre sites. Now, here is some real logic for you. Since the county isn’t helping develop “rural density,” the city has annexed the area and will allow triple the density!
Councilman Rick Davis asked the city staff to explain the process if the city wanted to change the Urban Growth Boundary independently of any developer pressures. The response was that the process would be very similar to the original process – public meetings and exhaustive deliberation by appointed committees.
Here’s some more interesting logic. The very first developer to wave lots of money at the city gets the Urban Growth Boundary changed by four members of City Council. Councilman Davis could not support moving the boundary in this manner. One can only wonder where the boundary will move next. Bershenyi’s, Dry Park, or does it really matter?
Lets talk about public input.
At the annexation meeting, 21 citizens urged the council to maintain the growth boundary and work within those boundaries to make Glenwood Springs a better community. The mayor pointed out, as part of his rationalization for ignoring those comments, that several of the citizens did not live in Glenwood Springs. The fact is, a good percentage of these individuals do live in the city. Five citizens spoke in favor of the project. The mayor did not point out that four out of those five did not live in the city (and I am not sure about the fifth)!!
According to one of the council members, the letters and e-mails received were also overwhelmingly against the annexation. When asked about a count on these correspondences, the city conveniently didn’t know the numbers.
It really should be noted that the citizens against this project represented an amazing cross-section of the community. Architects, lawyers, doctors, ranchers, tradesmen, ex-councilmen, business owners – none of which had any obvious financial incentives to see this annexation defeated. Quality of life, limitation of taxes and management of resources were topics of their comments. On the other hand the proponents were involved in real estate, construction and funeral homes!
Councilman Dan Richardson appeared to earnestly consider the project but found that there were only small changes from the last proposal. Considering the public input, he concluded he still could not support the annexation. Councilwoman Jean Martensen gave an impressive presentation concerning the amount of land belonging to the city for future growth, cemeteries and infill developments. When she finished no one in the room could have been unclear as to her decision and how she arrived at that decision.
Conversely, Councilmen Emery and Gillespie muttered something about “control” and “lines in the sand” and switched their votes, thereby allowing the annexation to be approved.
I am sorry to say, in my opinion, money, governmental control (city vs. county) and a complete disregard for the hard-fought comprehensive plan brought about a decision that truly does not reflect the desires of the citizens of Glenwood Springs.
It would seem that a major change in the Urban Growth Boundary and annexation of an area that will undoubtedly impact the taxes of all citizens of Glenwood Springs should be decided by a vote of those citizens.
I could go on for several more pages but you get the main idea. Citizens of Glenwood Springs, do you really feel your City Council represented your desires on this issue?
Whether yea or nay, why don’t you let us all know?
Thanks for listening, again.
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Visual Journalist Chelsea Self can be reached at 970-384-9108 or firstname.lastname@example.org