Commissioners vote for high urban density at Cattle Creek

Phillip YatesGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Dozens of area residents filled the Garfield County Board of Commissioners meeting room Wednesday night to sound off on a proposed zoning change to the former Bair Chase property, which could see hundreds of homes built between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale.County Planning Commission members eventually voted in favor of rezoning the property to the highest urban density allowed in the county. Planning commissioners voted three to two in favor of the rezoning.Garfield County commissioners unanimously agreed to return to the rezoning process earlier this month based on a request by Related WestPac, the owners of the 282-acre property, which is now referred to as Cattle Creek Crossing. The company made the request after some area residents contended county commissioners rezoned the property in April without providing proper public notice.The company is considering a proposal to build nearly 1,000 homes on the property. The former Bair Chase property consists of 282 acres located near the Cattle Creek turnoff between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale. Fred Jarman, Garfield County planning director, said county commissioners are expected to consider the matter again on Jan. 21. Jarman said county staff recommended the property should be rezoned to be consistent with its existing high density designation from the county’s comprehensive plan. County planning staff said the development would directly address the “county’s housing shortage and affordability issues where density can equate to lower price for free market units.” Rocky Shepard, project manager for Related WestPac, said that now that the zoning issue is settled, the company plans to submit a sketch plan, or a rough draft, of the development to the county soon. A formal, planned unit development (PUD) plan for the property is expected to be submitted to the county in the fall of 2008.A preliminary plan for the Cattle Creek Crossing calls for 979 housing units – including 197 town homes, 299 multi-family units and 315 single family homes, Shepard said. At least 10 percent of the housing will be affordable housing, Shepard said.Before planning commissioners made their vote, there was a sharp debate about affordable housing in the community. Tom Ziemann, director of Catholic Charities in Glenwood Springs and who is a member of Congregations and Schools Empowered, spoke in favor of rezoning the 282-acre property to a high density residential area. Many like him said the county is facing a severe housing crisis in the community.”There is no way to get to attainable and affordable housing unless you have high (residential) density,” Ziemann said. But Dean Moffatt said the county needed a more measured approach to affordable housing in the area. Many others echoed Moffatt’s comments against rezoning the property to a high residential area. “We don’t need this kind of overreaction to attainable and affordable housing,” Moffatt said. “It can be achieved without a high density (designation). I like to suggest to you and ask you to not dive in to this tonight, but to study it thoroughly.”

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