City conditionally agrees to provide sewer service to Four Mile project
Concluding they can’t stop growth but can help guide it, Glenwood Springs City Council members have conditionally agreed to provide sewer service to a proposed 189-home subdivision just south of town.Two council members, Joe O’Donnell and Kris Chadwick, voted Thursday against providing the agreement with developers of the Reserve at Elk Meadow. They said it would facilitate development beyond the urban growth boundary in the city’s master plan.But others on council said the development will occur even without the city providing sewer service, and they want to avoid the proliferation of small sewage treatment plants. Developers said they were prepared to build their own plant if the city wouldn’t provide service.The council majority also said providing sewer service would give the city some say in the project’s planning.”This is the only leverage we have in terms of being able to do something right as far as transportation is concerned,” said council member Larry Beckwith.Council hopes the developers will contribute to upgrades of heavily used intersections in south Glenwood.Council’s decision on the sewer service came on the same night it passed a moratorium on development in south Glenwood, so it could make some decisions regarding transportation improvements in south Glenwood and its sewer system. The city is trying to finalize a plan to raise sewer rates and build a new plant in West Glenwood.The moratorium includes areas outside the city that might seek utility access and annexation to the city. Beckwith acknowledged that council’s decision on the Reserve at Elk Meadow might seem confusing, coming at the same time the moratorium is being imposed.However, the sewer service commitment is contingent on the city making final decisions regarding its new plant. It also calls for the developer to make upgrades at the Four Mile Road/Midland Avenue and Midland/27th Street intersections if the city hasn’t decided on a transportation plan for south Glenwood by the end of the year.The Reserve at Elk Meadow would be built at the Bershenyi and Martino ranches, which total about 1,600 acres. Developers want to proceed with filing their proposal with Garfield County, and require a sewer service plan as part of their application.Larry Green, an attorney for the developers, told council members the letter of commitment they were considering Thursday wasn’t adequate for that review process to begin. For that reason, developers also plan to propose an onsite treatment plant as an alternative. But Green said their preference is to tap into the city sewer line that already serves other homes up Four-Mile Road.Ken Call, who lives up Four-Mile Road, objected to the city providing sewer service to a project that would result in so many more homes in the area and so much more traffic on the road. He noted that city voters in 2003 rejected the 149-home Red Feather Ridge proposal farther down the road.”It looks like you’re giving them a backdoor approach when your citizens tell you they don’t want that much development,” he said.Said O’Donnell, “I think all we’re going to do is encourage more sprawl.”But Beckwith said developers could just as well opt to build 200-250 homes on two-acre parcels on the property under county development rules, and the city would lose an opportunity to address transportation impacts.As part of receiving city sewer service, the project would have to enter into a preannexation agreement addressing the development’s impacts on the city.While a previous council adopted a master plan with an urban growth boundary, council member Dave Johnson noted that a previous council also agreed to put in a sewer line that’s available for the project to tap into.”That’s not the issue for me anymore,” said Johnson, who joined in the call for the city having some say in the property’s development.Mayor Bruce Christensen said he was a member of the groups that formulated both the city and county’s comprehensive plans. He said the county plan envisioned development like what is being proposed at the Reserve at Elk Meadow, “and this is the first time somebody has come forward with it.”Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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