Glenwood Springs City Council postpones West Glenwood annexation decision
Discussion, negotiations with developer slated to continue at Sept. 7 special meeting
After more than three hours of public comment and discussion, Glenwood Springs City Council voted Thursday to again postpone a decision on the potential annexation and rezoning of nearly 16 acres in West Glenwood.
Proposed by R2 Partners, the mixed-use residential development could include more than 250 apartments, dozens of town homes and several live-in work units on a section of land north of the Glenwood Springs Mall.
During the council’s regular meeting Thursday, residents flooded city hall, filling council chambers and the municipal court room. Residents opposed to the development wore teal bandannas around their arms, atop their heads and around their necks.
Glenwood Springs resident Tracy Trulove questioned the city’s analysis of the development’s traffic impact on West Glenwood as well as the potential evacuation hazards a new development could create in the area should a natural disaster occur.
“It feels like a great amount of due diligence needs to be done here before any decision is made on future development,” Trulove said.
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While a majority of public comments offered Thursday were opposed to the project, as well as nearly all public comments voiced July 29 and those sent by mail or email as of Thursday, some residents voiced their support of the development.
Scott Elmore, a 26-year-old Glenwood Springs resident whose family has lived in the area since the 1950s, told councilors he supported the development.
“I grew up here, and I love living here,” Elmore said. “I have a bachelor’s degree, no student debt, and I work in IT. And I live in my parent’s basement, because it’s the only financially responsible option.”
Like many of his friends and classmates growing up, Elmore wants to remain in Glenwood, but he told City Council that is unlikely if more housing options don’t open up in the near future.
“I was told I did everything right,” he said. “And yet, I may be the last generation of my family to call Glenwood home.”
Representing R2 Partners, Haley Carmer addressed some of the public opposition voiced by residents Thursday.
“We are the solution to an existing problem,” Carmer said, regarding Glenwood’s housing deficit. “The hole we’re filling is for current housing needs, not growth.”
Among resident concerns were questions about the proposed development’s density, which could house between 400-800 people, but Carmer said density is key to providing the area with affordable living spaces.
To questions raised about traffic in the area and throughout Glenwood Springs, she said building houses could allow people who work in the area to live in the area, reducing traffic on nearby roadways.
“If there is one thing that is clear from the comments, there are infrastructure issues in West Glenwood,” Carmer said. “But instead of blaming this project, we want to be part of the solution.”
Barry Rosenberg, the co-founder of R2 Partners, emphasized his company’s concession of donating an acre to the city for construction of a new fire station, which could help alleviate some residents’ safety concerns. Up to 20% of the fire station’s construction costs could be paid for by the developer through various fees and funding devices as well, he said.
If the city does not go through with the annexation, the developers could go to the county for approval. If the project is turned down at the county level, Chad Lee, an attorney representing the Diemoz family who own the land, said the Diemozes have vested special-use permits issued by the county in 1981, which allow the Diemozes to build up to 15 commercial buildings and a parking lot with more than 700 parking spaces on the property.
Following several rounds of questions from councilors to city staff and the developers, Councilor Charlie Willman made a motion to continue the agenda item, and Mayor Jonathan Godes seconded, which passed unanimously with all councilors in attendance.
After thanking the public and R2 Partners for their patience on the matter, councilors said they need time to consider new information provided Thursday before offering their own comments and reaching a decision.
Although the development is slated to meet the city’s residential occupancy requirement, which states new developments must set aside 20% of their housing units for workers with jobs in Glenwood Springs, Godes asked the developer to consider setting aside as much as 60% of the housing for residential occupancy as well as classifying all the proposed town homes as affordable housing, which would use an area median income formula to cap the town home prices.
Councilor Shelley Kaup asked the developers to consider removing plans for a 10,000-square-foot clubhouse and pool, and replacing the installation with publicly accessible open spaces to serve the whole community.
The council is next scheduled to address the annexation and rezoning during a special meeting at 6 p.m. Sept. 7.
In other council business, councilors voted to host a special session at 6 p.m. Tuesday to discuss a potential attractions tax and increased lodging tax for Glenwood Springs.
Council also postponed a major site architectural plan review of a four-story, 36-unit apartment building, which includes a lower-level parking garage, in Glenwood Meadows. The agenda item is scheduled to appear on the council’s agenda for Sept. 2.
Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at email@example.com.
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