Glenwood wants more say in outlying development
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – An extension of Glenwood Springs’ so-called “urban growth boundary” by an extra mile or so south along Highway 82 is seen as a way for the city to control future development there, and at least have a say on what happens beyond that point.
City council, at its Thursday evening meeting, unanimously approved the Glenwood Springs 2011 Revised Comprehensive Plan.
The broader document is intended to serve as an advisory guide for development in and around Glenwood Springs for the next 20 to 30 years, by updating the goals contained in the former plan with new objectives and policies.
But one amendment to the document, agreed to on a separate 4-3 vote, was to extend the future growth boundary that’s included in the plan, from the Red Canyon area to the Westbank intersection on Highway 82.
The new boundary envisions potential future city annexations into that area, when and if it seems appropriate.
But it’s also seen as a “defensive tool” or “tactical maneuver” – a pair of terms used at the Thursday night meeting – to have a stronger voice the next time discussion of large-scale development at Cattle Creek comes along.
“If we don’t do this, we’ll have no say in what happens there,” said Mayor Bruce Christensen, who led the push to extend the urban growth boundary.
Christensen said he’s heard from Garfield County officials time and again that the city won’t have a say on potential development in that area, because it’s outside Glenwood Springs’ three-mile area of influence.
“We’re dealing with a government that has said it’s not interested in what we think when it comes to that development,” Christensen said.
The growth boundary extension effectively brings the Cattle Creek area within that three-mile sphere. A large piece of land between the highway and the Roaring Fork River there has been proposed for several different developments over the past 15 years, ranging from large-scale commercial to various types of housing.
The most recent plan for a golf course and several hundred houses was approved by county, but the developers ran into financial problems and it was never built.
City planners recommended against extending the growth boundary, citing a potential cost of about $10 million to extend utilities that far south. Several council members also were opposed.
“I don’t see the evidence that that is where this city should logically expand,” Councilman Dave Sturges said, referring to the potential annexation of that area south of Red Canyon. “We always have the opportunity to consider the benefits [if development occurs], and bring it into the city.”
As for the city’s ability to comment on outlying developments in the unincorporated parts of Garfield County, Sturges said city officials can always exercise their right to comment, even if it’s of an informal nature.
“I do not support moving the urban growth boundary,” he said.
Also opposing the move were council members Shelley Kaup and Russ Arensman.
“We’re talking about leap-frogging a significant conservation easement if we do this,” Arensman said of the Jackson ranch, where the Aspen Valley Land Trust holds a conservation easement.
Councilman Matt Steckler went along with the extension, but also questioned the motive.
“It just seems like a clumsy attempt to control things that are outside the urban growth boundary,” he said.
Extension of the growth boundary also gives the city more leverage when it comes to potential annexations.
City planning staff said the costs of possibly annexing those areas in the future need to be considered.
“The benefit of the city being able to control the type of development of these properties needs to be weighed against the potential cost of having to provide city services,” a staff report for the Thursday meeting stated.
Christensen countered that the cost of utility extensions are typically covered by the property owner that is proposing to annex into the city.
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