Glenwood Springs-area development proposal pits housing needs vs. neighborhood concerns
Residents of Westbank and other neighborhoods close to Riverview School south of Glenwood Springs expressed concerns Monday about a proposed compact residential and commercial development known as Flying M Ranch.
During a public meeting before the Garfield County commissioners in Glenwood Springs, Eastbank LLC representatives answered questions about the proposed development, while commissioners heard from members of the public.
Steven Beattie, partner at the Glenwood law firm Beattie, Houpt and Jarvis, represented the Westbank Homeowners Association at the public hearing.
“Big multi-family units are going to be very intrusive for Westbank, and out of character with the neighborhood,” Beattie said.
The development needs a planned unit development in order to begin construction. Currently, the area is zoned rural, which has a 2-acre lot size minimum.
Commissioners continued the public meeting to May 6, and scheduled a site visit for May 1.
The proposed development includes 228 housing units on about 33 acres of land between Riverview School, the FedEx distribution facility and the Roaring Fork River.
Many of the proposed residences would be densely packed tiny homes, in what developer Robert Macgregor said is an effort to address affordable housing needs in the region.
The development would also include a hospice center and nursing home, and up to 35,000 square feet of business real estate.
The county received 61 comments from the public, all opposed to the development or aspects of the plan.
Among the concerns is the added traffic along County Road 154 and the intersection with Colorado Highway 82.
The first phase of development, which would include the hospice and some of the tiny homes, would add 91 trips during peak hours, a 12 percent increase, according to a traffic study done as part of the development application.
At full build out, there would be 139 trips each peak hour, an increase of 18 percent, but just under the amount of increase that would require a Colorado Department of Transportation access permit at the Highway 82 intersection.
Macgregor, with the landowner group Eastbank, LLC, was also a key player in the Glenwood Meadows development. He said his team had taken a lot of the neighborhood’s concerns into consideration, and would continue to work with them.
The small homes — which Macgregor likes to call “wee homes” — are a partial solution to the Roaring Fork Valley’s housing shortage, he said.
“We think they are an exciting solution to part of the housing crisis,” Macgregor said, adding they could be affordable to young adults and those in the workforce.
The homes are built to use low power, with built-in solar panels that he said exceed the county’s building standards.
Macgregor pointed out that the owners could have sought development of large, single-family custom homes. But the planned community may not have brought what he says would be nearly 4,500 feet of public riverfront trails.
The density and the 30-foot height limit for the single-family buildings were an issue to neighbors across the river at the Westbank neighborhood, which surrounds part of the Ironbridge Golf Course. Currently, multi-family units in the new development are capped at 35 feet.
“We’re limited to 25 [feet building height]. They should be limited to 25 [feet],” Beattie said.
Laura Kornasiewicz, board member for Home Care and Hospice of the Valley, said the proximity to Highway 82 and the primarily residential use for the remainder of the development make the Eastbank location ideal for an elder care facility.
“The other [locations] we looked at — the access, the size — was too small, or the price was too high,” Kornasiewicz said.
Hospice was looking for “a nice place where people could come and visit, and that our patients could have access to a multigenerational [community],” Kornasiewicz said.
Macgregor said he had hoped to begin construction on phase one of the project this year, and indicated that the financial backers of the development might reconsider if there were long delays. He said his partners are getting impatient with the delays.
Editor’s note: This post has been updated. The Flying M Ranch proposed development is on the east side of the Roaring Fork River, not the Colorado. The Garfield County Board of County Commissioners continued the public hearing to May 6, not May 13, after a site visit May 1.
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