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Development moratorium loses Glenwood Springs City Council support

Glenwood Springs City Council shot down a development moratorium Nov. 18 after unanimously proposing the idea Nov. 4.

During their regular meeting Nov. 18, council members received mixed feedback from the public, regarding the city’s potential pause on accepting new building and land-use permits.

The moratorium was initially proposed by council member Ingrid Wussow, following the final vote of approval for the 480 Donegan project, which drew condemnation from many members of the public.



On Nov. 18, council was presented with multiple options for moving forward with an emergency moratorium ordinance, most of which prohibited new developments that included nine or more residential housing units.

Gould Construction owner Mark Gould said the moratorium was likely the biggest decision he’d seen a City Council consider since 1977.



“Your staff have worked really hard at creating an opportunity zone,” Gould said. “We’re attracting money at a level we’ve never seen before.”

Although the moratorium was proposed for six months, Gould said it would likely last a year to give time to city staff to implement a new comprehensive plan and update the city’s codes.

“You’re talking about stopping development of housing until spring 2024,” he said.

Local hotel mogul Tony Sherman, who recently purchased the Hotel Denver and Hotel Glenwood Springs, said the moratorium would disproportionately affect renters.

“It’s really good for current landlords and really bad to renters, because of the basics of supply and demand,” Sherman said. “That is going to make it harder to find more employees.”

Rather than attracting a transient workforce, many employers are looking for employees who will move to the area and put down roots, said Norm Bacheldor, a Hotel Colorado co-manager.

Several other developers, some local and others who called in from around the country, spoke against the moratorium as well.

On the flip side, some Glenwood Springs residents said the development pause was needed following a glut of recent, large development approvals.

“A lot of us who live here feel like attracting money may not be our main priority,” said Laurie Raymond, a local business owner and Glenwood Springs resident. “I have lost employee after employee because they can’t afford to live here.”

Raymond, who owns a pet care business, said she has not seen many options in new developments for pet owners, despite pet ownership trending nationwide.

The city loses employee diversity when the only available housing is cookie-cutter apartment complexes with restrictive move-in policies, she said.

Gary Vick, who owns a residence in Glenwood Springs, said he wasn’t convinced the moratorium was a bad idea based on the comments of people who profited from unchecked development.

“I don’t think you keep the valley beautiful by building box apartments on every square inch of available property,” Vick said.

For Glenwood Springs resident Joel Shute, the idea of moving to a mountain town overrun by apartment complexes was unappealing, so he supported the moratorium.

“We’re not Denver, and I don’t think any of us want to be Denver,” Shute said. “When you move to the mountains in Glenwood Springs, you don’t want to be limited to one car and no pets.”

Council member Paula Stepp said the moratorium could allow the city to develop an approach to sensible growth.

“I feel the intent of the moratorium was to say give us a break on the new applications and let us figure things out,” Stepp said.

Wussow continued her support for the moratorium, using the council’s tie vote and subsequent denial of the Glenwood Meadows development — reviewed earlier in the meeting — as an indicator the council would benefit from taking time to develop some guiding principles for new developments.

“When I see an application come through this evening that had no variances and played by all the rules, yet still got denied,” she said, “that gives me pause. We need better rules.”

Mayor Jonathan Godes said the council’s lack of direction was the reason he couldn’t support the moratorium.

“We don’t know where we’re at, so applying an arbitrary moratorium feels too surgical or too broad,” Godes said.

A moratorium might send potential developers the wrong message, council member Shelley Kaup said.

“I question the need for a moratorium when council has the right to deny developments, and we did that tonight,” she said.

“With this moratorium, you’re not just impacting development for six months, you’re impacting it for years to come.”

Council member Tony Hershey said he disagreed with the council’s denial, by tie vote, of the Glenwood Meadows development, but if they have that ability, a moratorium is redundant.

“I don’t know what the rules are anymore, and I don’t know what the council is doing,” Hershey said. “I don’t know what direction we are going.”

Mayor Pro Tem Charlie Willman said he didn’t feel a short-term moratorium would move the city closer to resolving both its need for housing and its development boom.

Stepp made a motion to approve the moratorium, but altered the options to exempt applications from developments with 24 residential units or less and all developments with 100% affordable housing units with rents at 80% area median income. Wussow seconded the motion.

The motion was defeated 4-2, with Godes, Hershey, Kaup and Willman voting nay.

Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at ifredregill@postindependent.com.


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