Glenwood Springs planning board OKs bus station and chicken coops |

Glenwood Springs planning board OKs bus station and chicken coops

Nelson Harvey
Post Independent Contributor
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – The Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission put its stamp of approval Tuesday on two items sure to change the face of the town’s byways and backyards alike.

The commission approved, with minimal changes, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s (RFTA) design for a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) station near the intersection of 27th Street and South Glen Avenue, which would serve as the downvalley hub for a valley-wide BRT system that the transit agency plans to build. The decision clears the way for RFTA to seek building permits for the station.

The commission also approved a draft ordinance that would legalize keeping up to six backyard chickens within the city limits, provided they are kept in well fortified coops. The ordinance will go to City Council for final approval June 21.

The chickens go marching on

Responding to the growing popularity of backyard chickens among local food advocates throughout the valley, the planning commission recommended approval of a pro-chicken change in the city’s municipal code. The amendment was drafted by Community Planning Director Andrew McGregor with the help of several local poultry enthusiasts.

“The impetus behind this was citizens in the community who want to raise chickens,” McGregor said, citing the efforts of a loose coalition of fowl-loving residents who call themselves the Glenwood Springs Poultry Club. In March, after lobbying City Council and researching other ordinances, members of the club began working with planning commission staff to draft a chicken ordinance.

“We don’t have chickens, but we have chickens in waiting,” said Gay Moore, a Glenwood Springs resident and club member.

Moore said she was excited about the direction of city government on the issue but would wait for final ordinance approval before constructing her coop.

Responding to concerns from City Council members and state wildlife officials about the potential for chickens to attract predators such as coyotes and bears, the ordinance lists strict construction standards for chicken coops and chicken runs, mandating that all coops be enclosed with buried chicken wire and surrounded by electric fence. The rule lists a maximum coop size of 120 square feet, and requires that coops be located in rear yards at least 20 feet from residential dwellings.

The ordinance would ban roosters, in a bid to spare residents their full-throated, early morning serenades. Noise, instead, would be limited to the soft clucking of female birds.

As McGregor noted in a report to the Planning Commission, enforcement of those rules would likely be handled on a “complaints only” basis, so there would be no proactive city “chicken patrol.” And although chickens would be legal within city limits, homeowners associations could override city rules.

If council approves the proposed ordinance, Glenwood Springs would join Basalt, Carbondale and Rifle in adopting rules to govern backyard chickens.

“We are dedicated to making this work, and helping out new chicken owners,” said Moore. “Eating confined farm animals is detrimental for us, and with my chickens, I know exactly what they’ll be eating, and how they’ll be treated.”

RFTA’s proposed Bus Rapid Transit station will be located on the site of a former Honda dealership in South Glenwood Springs. It would cover 1,260 square feet and include a separate restroom and 50-space parking area. The station would feature elevated platforms to speed the boarding process, as well as a pedestrian shelter and electronic signs displaying bus arrival times.

“Considering it’s a bus stop and a parking area, its pretty elaborately conceived,” said McGregor. He said commission members didn’t offer any major design critiques, and only rejected one zoning variance that RFTA had requested.

RFTA had asked for reduction in required sidewalk width from eight feet to six feet on three sides of the property. The commission granted the variance on Blake Avenue and 27th Street, while denying it along the station’s border with Highway 82, to ensure pedestrian safety there.

Some commission members took issue with the station’s overall location more than its design, McGregor said. They cited concerns that the facility should be located in West Glenwood or downtown to prevent users there them from having to drive through town to access the bus.

But in many cases, according to RFTA CEO Dan Blankenship, that commute won’t be necessary because RFTA will store its buses in West Glenwood to begin with.

“In the morning, those buses will make every local bus stop from there to the BRT station,” he said. “Anyone currently riding our system will be able to do so just as they do now, and people have lots of options to get to the station without driving.”

With the commission’s approval in place, RFTA BRT Project Manager Angela Kinkaid said the agency would submit building permit documents within a week, and aim to start construction by the end of July. The construction process is expected to take four to six months. The BRT system is currently slated to begin operation in September 2013.

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