Glenwood’s urban growth boundary may include former Four Mile Ranch
The urban growth boundary in Glenwood Springs is set to grow.
In a 5-2 vote Thursday night, the Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approving the extension of the city’s urban growth boundary, or UGB, to include Red Feather Ridge, formerly known as Four Mile Ranch.
An urban growth boundary is a line drawn within the city limits that delineates where dense growth is allowed and where it is not.
In that area, the UGB, created in 1994, currently draws a line at the intersection of Midland Avenue and Four Mile Road.
The changed boundary would encircle Red Feather Ridge. Commissioners discussed enlarging the boundary further to include adjacent areas, but decided if that is to be done, it should be done at another time.
As it now sits, the land is in Garfield County and is platted for 58 two-acre lots. A street and utility system already are built on the property. The developer who received those approvals from the county has since defaulted, leaving Oklahoma-based MidFirst Bank looking for the land to be annexed into Glenwood Springs so it can build a much denser project and recover its money.
According to the project’s planners, DHM Design Corporation, the development is a “planned residential community located on approximately 132 acres of land of which approximately 90 acres will be committed to open space, park and recreation uses.” There would be 149 single-family homes built on the remaining 42 acres.
If the development were left in the county, the development would not include open space and parkland because all the land would be used as two-acre house lots.
The commission’s decision could pave the way for several other properties on lower Four Mile Road, ripe for development, to be annexed into the city.
Those on the commission who favored the idea of moving the UGB cited as reasons the developer’s offering of open space and parkland, self-sufficient water resources, 23 affordable-housing units and a $400,000 lump sum payment to the city to be used as it sees fit, as well as a $2,500 assessment for each home to be used for traffic improvements. Later in the meeting, the commission created another condition in its pre-annexation agreement calling for another $100,000 to be used as seed money to secure a Great Outdoors Colorado, or GOCO, grant.
“I think it is quite clear in this case that this is a financial winner for the city,” city planner Mike Pelletier told the commission.
Those opposed said moving the city’s UGB gives the city a dull edge, promotes dense growth in an area that formerly was rural ranchland, foists costs onto the city taxpayers and creates a precedent for other ranch-to-residential areas to follow.
“This is probably the toughest decision we’ve had to make,” Commissioner Larry Hon said.
One issue faced by the commission is that the land was to be developed no matter what decision it made. The recommendation made by the commission would allow the land to be built upon more densely.
Some opposition to a denser project was expressed by residents of Four Mile Road.
“One of the things that bothers me is that they’re so proud of their No. 1 water rights,” Four-Mile resident Jim Hawkins said. “So what was once meant to grow hay will be used for the subdivision.”
Hawkins was talking about the developers’ assurances to the city that raw water would be available even if there was next to no water in Four Mile Creek because the land comes with the most senior water rights on the creek.
“Just from a neighborly standpoint, it doesn’t make anyone feel good about the development,” he said. “I don’t understand why Glenwood Springs is going to bail this bank out.”
Hawkins said while dirt is being watered at the subdivision, he and others have been left with nothing.
“I just wonder what the real benefit to the city is. If you want that finger to become the extension of Glenwood Springs, I guess that’s where to go. The real fact is that they’re asking you to go outside the urban growth boundary and take on all the headaches,” Hawkins said.
Other nearby residents complained that 149 homes would choke Four Mile Road.
“As it is, I think 58 is good, but I think 149 is extensive,” said Sharon Andersen.
Alex De La Garza used recent news headlines to illustrate his point.
“I see the city boundary almost like a fire line – I think we have to contain it,” he said. “If you approve this subdivision, you’re going to have a domino effect that goes up Four Mile.”
In addition to the expansion of the urban growth boundary, the commission also recommended approval of annexing and rezoning the property to R/1/6 zoning, as well as approving it as a major subdivision.
The plan still has to pass muster with City Council before it could become official.
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