Glenwood Springs delays annex vote again, approves funding for airport radio system replacement
With one Glenwood Springs City Council member, Paula Stepp, absent, the council voted Thursday to postpone a decision on whether to annex and zone a nearly 16-acre West Glenwood lot for a residential development.
The move was followed by more than a dozen attendees exiting the council chambers while loudly complaining about the second postponement in as many months.
Mayor Pro Tem Charlie Willman withdrew his motion to deny the 480 Donegan Project annexation permit and rezoning of the property, which was put forward Sept. 7 and continued to Thursday’s meeting. Council member Ingrid Wussow withdrew her second of Willman’s motion.
“I think it’s important that all seven of us are here to vote on this very important project to our city,” Willman said. “This is — perhaps — the single biggest project approval vote I will make while on this council, and I’d like to make sure we’re all here for it.”
The 480 Donegan Project first appeared before the council in July, presented by the Ohio-based development company R2 Partners, with plans for a housing development on a plot north of the Glenwood Springs Mall.
Initially proposed as more than 400 apartment units, R2 Partners responded to community concerns, Planning and Zoning commission feedback and council requests with changes to the original plan.
Though several iterations have been presented, the most recent proposal includes nearly 300 apartments, 40 for-sale townhomes, an acre to be donated to the city for the purpose of building a new fire station and additional green space within the site plan.
City Council has reviewed the proposal at four meetings since July, but has not yet made a decision about whether to annex the property.
At Thursday night’s meeting, council members voted 5-1, with Council Member Tony Hershey voting against, to postpone the 480 Donegan decision until Oct. 21.
During the meeting, the council also voted to approve funding to be immediately released for the Glenwood Springs Municipal Airport to purchase a new universal communications (UNICOM) system.
“Our original plan was to purchase a new UNICOM in 2022,” said Brian Smith, the Glenwood Springs Parks and Recreation director. “However, our UNICOM has since died.”
The municipal airport is not federally regulated because of its small size, so a UNICOM is not needed to guide airplanes to the runway. But, Smith said the system is used to inform pilots about inclement weather on the ground and hazards on the runway.
Currently, airport staff are using a two-way radio to relay those messages, but with winter hazards on the horizon, Smith said the solution was temporary at best.
“We are unsure what the future of the airport is — even if it was land dedicated for that purpose,” Wussow said. “But, I think regardless of what happens to the airport in the future, we need to stay the course now and keep making it as safe as possible.”
Hershey made a motion to approve the UNICOM funding, and Wussow seconded. Council voted 4-2, with Willman and Mayor Jonathan Godes voting against, to approve $100,000 from the airport fund be used to find an immediate UNICOM replacement.
Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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