Glenwood Springs set to revamp its development code
Cell facility regulation discussion tonight
One issue that came up as Glenwood Springs City Council gave its initial nod to a revamped development code, regulating wireless communication facilities in residential neighborhoods, will get a hearing at a special 6 p.m. Tuesday council meeting.
“In the most recent version of the proposed development code we are attempting to thread a needle between what is required by both state and federal law, as well as what is allowed in terms of regulation at the local level,” states a memo from City Attorney Karl Hanlon setting the scene for the special session.
Under state and federal law, local jurisdictions are to provide for cellular communications facilities, such as cell towers and mini towers that are often placed on existing utility poles, within the city’s various zone districts, Hanlon explained previously.
Some Glenwood residents have asked that cell facilities not be allowed to proliferate in residential neighborhoods, or to at least restrict where they can be placed and how they appear.
After blowing the dust off Glenwood Springs’ Land Use Development Code in an attempt to update the outdated ordinance, City Council will, in all likelihood, repeal the old code and replace it with a new one in the coming days.
Councilors unanimously lit up the voting board in favor of the comprehensive overhaul July 19. However, because the updated code required an ordinance, there will be a second reading and an additional confirmation vote from council this Thursday evening before it officially gets the green light.
“There were sections of the code that were redundant or that were in conflict, so this is kind of cleaning everything up so that all of the regulations, hopefully, make more sense,” explained Jennifer Ooton, assistant city manager and director of community and economic development for Glenwood Springs.
The city has been working on the code redraft since 2015 when the city contracted out Clarion Associates, a national land-use consulting firm, with an office in Denver. The consulting work initially cost the city $157,495, until another $10,000 was tacked on last year to cover additional meeting expenses.
“The land-use code governs the way that properties have buildings on them and the uses that can go into those buildings,” Ooton said. “It sets up zone districts and land uses and then the development standards that are associated with them.”
According to Ooton, the new development code establishes definitions for all of the uses identified in the city’s zoning table, including changes to dimensional standards as well as development process requirements. The redrafted code also hopes to help alleviate parking problems through incentives.
“The code allows for payment of a fee in lieu of providing on-site parking and also allows for alternatives such as bicycle parking or businesses offering reimbursed transit passes to reduce the number of required parking stalls on a development site,” Ooton stated.
Along with contracting out Clarion Associates, a special project advisory group was appointed by council and consisted of nine members including a land-use attorney, planner, builder, engineer, developer, two architects (landscape/designer) and two members of the general public.
According to the intent statement from the development code, every area was assessed, from offering affordable workforce housing to protecting property from natural hazards, as well as the regulation of development, keeping in mind its impacts on the surrounding areas and the city as a whole.
“We are hoping that it is easier for folks who want to develop their property, to use and to understand,” Ooton said. “It still has development standards that are looking for properties, especially in commercial areas, to be compatible with the surrounding properties, but it’s intended for folks to be able to develop their properties.”
Any further, substantial discussion seems doubtful as council appears ready to give the new document — three years in the making but many more years of discussion later for some council members — the final go-ahead on Thursday.
“Here we are … seven years and three and a half months later,” Mayor Gamba said in describing the project in relation to his time on council at the July 19 City Council meeting.
“I think this is a good step, a step in the right direction, and I recognize that we are going to find flaws in this as we move forward over the next couple years, 10 years, 20 years,” he said. “But I think it’s a lot better than what we had.”