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Four ways Glenwood Springs’ comprehensive plan will directly affect residents

Looking southwest towards the Glenwood Meadows Loft apartments and the proposed location for the mixed use building adjacent to the Iron Mountain Hot Springs
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

A draft of the 2023 Comprehensive Plan is ready for review, relying on community input throughout the working process. 

Public comment is being taken through Jan. 6 and can be provided via the city’s website at https://www.cogs.us/734/Vision-Glenwood.

Although feedback has been received from people who live here, down to people who visit in order to assure the most success from the plan, the city  has narrowed down the aspects that will affect the residents of Glenwood Springs the most. 



Here are four ways the updated comprehensive plan could affect residents of Glenwood Springs:

Housing 



Housing has continued to be the biggest concern in Glenwood Springs, both for people who have it and those who are shifting, moving and renting. 

Housing was listed first because it greatly affects the rest of the topics on the list. Future housing infrastructure actions will decide the direction of local employment, transportation, fire safety and parking, which is explained how it all combines together.

The city has been working to reconfigure housing infrastructure to increase housing density in a responsible and sustainable manner, which is mentioned throughout the plan. 

The city has listed planned actions like incentivizing developers to build condos or townhomes. One near-term plan includes working to support “condominiumization” to increase homeownership opportunities.

Some long-term planning aims to establish annual goals for housing development that promotes a mix of housing types, along with potential for more senior housing. 

The city also plans to support the local ad hoc housing coalition to create more affordable housing options. This includes providing diversity in housing through developing a local housing strategy with public engagement. The Community Development Department is currently working on a 2023 Housing Strategy Plan. 

Creating policies is listed in the near term in an attempt to preserve existing affordable housing for places like mobile homes, while changing accessory dwelling unit policy is a possible higher priority plan in the near term future, according to the plan. 

Inclusionary zoning, or codes that require developers to have a certain percentage of affordable housing, is also listed as a high-priority ongoing endeavor for community development.  

The Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission updated some inclusionary zoning to be changed from 10-20% of new development with 10 or more rental units to be deed restricted to 100% area median income, as recently reported on. 

This change would still need to go to city council, but is an example of an ongoing action and policy change in inclusionary zoning.

Transportation

A bicyclist crosses 27th Street at the intersection of 27th and Glen Avenue while a car waits to turn left during the busy rush hour traffic on late Tuesday afternoon in 2022
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Housing development can also affect transportation planning and overall congestion on the main roads through town. 

The city listed an action plan to add transit stations in all mixed-use neighborhoods by incorporating principles of smart growth, new urbanism and green building, along with concentrating growth in Glenwood Springs in locations that can be served by high-frequency transit.

The ongoing studies being done on transportation are currently working to reduce traffic congestion caused by regional growth. 

Under the section for developing an efficient and interconnected road network to reduce gridlock, delays and trips per day, the highest priority listed was to provide a resilient transportation network and adequate evacuation routes. This also includes adding a near-term plan to complete street network connections to include the I-70 A-line breaks and South Bridge transportation projects.

The city and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority are working to become a regional transportation leader to pursue more federal and state support to help expand public transit. 

To fund and implement corridor routes for south Colorado Highway 82, the railroad corridor and South Bridge, the plan aims to begin budgeting transportation and capital improvement work programs with RFTA and other organizations to leverage multimodal opportunities.

The city overall plans to add more public transportation-reaching areas it does not make it to now, and adding additional stops and routes. 

They also plan to improve and identify multi-modal connections points in town, with an assessment of existing infrastructure and improving bicycle and pedestrian networks, which include filling sidewalk gaps between neighborhoods.

In the name of safe transit for everyone on or near the roads, including pedestrians, bikers, people wheelchairs, the city plans to establish a Vision Zero or Local Road Safety Plan policy.

Creating a bike-share system and last mile system in Glenwood Springs was listed as a long-term plan. 

The city will Investigate opportunities and feasibility of train, tram or city street cars for residents and visitors. This could include buying electric vans that circulate the city on a regular route.

The city has also listed a high-priority need to develop a regional emergency management evacuation plan and integrate planning into growth management. Complete cost updates will be made available for major projects, including South Bridge.

Fire safety and climate hazards

Spoke hangs low in the cliffs near the Hanging Lake rest area due to the Grizzly Creek Fire in August 2020.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

The main reason growth and transportation in Glenwood Springs feel like such a big issue is because of the concern for wildfires. 

Developing an evacuation plan for the community, along with wildfire and natural hazard defense plans are high priority for the city. 

City staff plan to develop the plan by conducting a traffic evacuation analysis to identify remaining bottleneck locations and potential connections to address those bottlenecks, and perform a limited parcel analysis to identify particularly vulnerable neighborhoods in town and solutions, the plan states.

Another point is to improve emergency access communications. This has been ongoing with the local public information officer and also with the initiative to have more Spanish literature, which includes emergency information getting to communities that were previously left out. 

Establishing accountability measures and procedures to monitor climate and resiliency progress is listed in the long term, along with reconvening a permanent City Energy and Climate Commission.

On a smaller scale, the city plans to work with federal agencies and/or private landowners to thin wildfire vegetation on the surrounding hillsides.

The city also wants to consider amending the land use code to include evacuation planning for new development in vulnerable areas.

Infrastructure

Sustainability is the key for future infrastructure in Glenwood, with an initial focus of growth in areas of change.

The city has listed the place they plan to implement existing and to prepare future sub-area plans. Among them include South Midland Avenue, Roaring Fork Market, West Glenwood Mall and more.

Using key metrics associated with growth scenarios and timelines to ensure ongoing, sustained infrastructure needs are met, the plan states.

What’s left?

There are many more important topics in the draft Comprehensive Plan for 2023 which include environmental, natural resources, tourism, economic development, land use, community character, parks and recreation, public utilities, cultural resources and art. 

The list solely goes over the main point that will directly and noticeably impact every resident in Glenwood Springs. 


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