Council OKs West Glenwood house, driveway in hillside zone
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – In a 5-1 vote, the Glenwood Springs City Council denied an appeal by Oasis Creek homeowners seeking to stop a proposal to build a home and driveway on a steeply sloping lot.Property owner Scott Balcomb won approval from the city planning and zoning commission (P&Z) on Aug. 23 to build a 2,748-square-foot house on a 0.6-acre lot in the Oasis Creek subdivision in West Glenwood. The P&Z approval included five variances for setbacks, building height and the length and height of a cascading embankment of three 6-foot-high retaining walls needed to build on a steeply sloping part of the lot next to Traver Trail.Oasis Creek homeowners Terry Keane and Hal Sundin appealed the decision to City Council on Aug. 29. After more than an hour of discussion on Thursday, council was not persuaded to overturn the P&Z decision.Neighboring property owners argued that the proposal contradicts the intent of the city’s decade-old Hillside Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ), which is aimed at preventing or limiting development on steep slopes.”The variances approved by the P&Z go against what the HPOZ envisioned,” said homeowner Karl Oelke. “The P&Z seems intent on making the lot buildable, regardless of the hillside zoning.””This plan covers the entire hillside with retaining walls and the proposed new house,” said Keane, whose four-year-old home directly faces Balcomb’s lot. “These terraces would be five feet from my property line. It will destroy our views and harm our property values. And the variances violate the purpose and intent of the HPOZ.”Sundin questioned the plan to build a driveway atop 18 feet of fill, and said the existing native trees and shrubs are “what is holding that hill together.”Rob Classen, architect for the project, said he worked on three designs for the site, and the one proposed had the least amount of disturbance and was more out of the view than the other two options.”What they’ve put in front of us is as good as you can get, unless someone wants to buy it as open space,” said Councilman Todd Leahy. He said the lot comes with an entitlement to build, and it wasn’t the city’s intent to wipe out such entitlements when it imposed the Hillside Preservation Overlay Zone.”It’s an overlay that has flexibility for a reason,” said Leahy.”This problem was created when the subdivision was platted,” said Councilman Mike Gamba. If the lot lines had been drawn a bit differently, this lot could have had a level access point off Traver Trail to the gently sloping part of the lot. As it is, the lot’s entire frontage along Traver Trail is a slope that falls off from 20 to 40 feet, he said.After Mayor Matt Steckler made a motion to deny the appeal and uphold the P&Z approvals, Councilman David Sturges argued on behalf of the Oasis Creek neighbors.”We have not addressed the issues of the neighborhood viewshed or stability of the hill,” Sturges said. He cast the one vote against denying the neighbors’ appeal.Councilman Stephen Bershenyi was absent.
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