FedEx finds spot for distribution center

Kelli Rollin

Garfield County commissioners approved a request Monday for a FedEx warehouse and distribution center to be built south of Glenwood Springs near County Road 154 and the Orrison Distributing site.

Kiernan West LLC was responsible for finding a site for the center, now located in Carbondale, after the previously proposed location near the Glenwood Airport became controversial.

The airport location required street improvements within Glenwood Springs, and the city considered a deal between FedEx and the county for the company to pay $585,000 for city street improvements was inadequate. At one point, City Council members discussed suing the county.

After city’s disapproval last year, the county approved the plans for another location, requiring the company to pay a fee. But city leaders said that fee wouldn’t be enough to help cover the street improvement costs. FedEx decided to find a new location, seemingly to avoid more issues.

The new location is behind land owned by the Roaring Fork School District, which is considering building a school there.

“The school district has been very good to work with,” said Kevin Kiernan of Kiernan West.

Shannon Pelland, RFSD assistant superintendent said the property is divided into separate regions, and any future schools would be isolated from the FedEx site, whose building plan calls for the center to be fenced off.

“I’m honestly not even sure we’re going to see it” from a new school, Pelland said.

She said the school’s driveways are far from FedEx’s access points, so “there won’t be a conflict.” County commissioners made that a requirement Monday, including in 17 conditions FedEx must meet to get its permit that the driveways be separate.

David Pesnichak, a planning manager for Garfield County Community Development Department, explained 17 conditions with which the building project must comply, including controlling dust.

He said FedEx, located on a 4.39-acre lot, would bring 230 daily trips to the center.

Mark Gould of Gould Construction, located on the other side of Highway 82, was supportive of the project but expressed concern about lighting plans.

“This is an appropriate use for this piece of property,” Gould said. “I am 110 percent behind this project.”

He said, though, he was concerned that the building’s lights would ruin the night sky. Plans called for the lights to be pointed downward to eliminate any reflection, but Gould said that wasn’t enough.

“Westbank for 40 years has looked at a dark sky,” Gould said. “In the middle of the night, we can see the stars.”

During a five-minute break, Gould chatted with Kiernan and Glenwood attorney David McConaughy about a way to deal with the lights.

They agreed that the FedEx building would use full cut-off exterior lights. The lights are approved by the International Dark-Sky Association and would point light only to ground.

After agreeing on the minor changes, the three commissioners approved the request. Commissioner Mike Samson thanked Kiernan and others for their patience throughout the process of changing locations and getting it approved.

“Hopefully this’ll be a better location for the school district, too,” Samson said.

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