Access plan back before Glenwood Springs city council tonight |

Access plan back before Glenwood Springs city council tonight

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — A pending City Council decision whether to enter into an agreement with state transportation officials on the controversial Highway 82 Access Control Plan should be guided by another important city planning document, according to one local attorney.

That document is the city of Glenwood Springs Comprehensive Plan, which was revised and adopted two years ago and is more than merely advisory in nature, Anthony Durrett states in an April 26 letter to city council members.

“The Comprehensive Plan is more than just a guide that you can ignore if it is inconvenient,” Durrett says in the five-page letter urging council to table action on the Colorado Department of Transportation’s proposed access plan until its legal ramifications are fully evaluated.

“It is a comprehensive document that identifies from our community’s historical development and evolution our goals for future development and strategies to be utilized to realize these goals,” he said. “It expresses what we want for this community.”

And, when it comes to transportation, the comprehensive plan is clear that the city should continue assessment and planning for a realignment of Highway 82 away from Grand Avenue as part of a transportation master plan, Durrett said.

“We have not given you the discretion to ignore its statement of our goals and strategies,” Durrett said of the public’s involvement in creating the comprehensive plan.

Council is slated to again take up consideration of the Access Control Plan at tonight’s regular meeting, beginning at 7 p.m. at Glenwood Springs City Hall.

At its April 11 meeting, council came close to postponing a decision on the access plan for up to six months, in order to let the separate but related environmental assessment for replacing the Grand Avenue Bridge to conclude.

The new bridge, once built, could restrict traffic and pedestrian access onto and across Grand Avenue in the downtown area.

The bridge project and the long-range access plan should be part of a broader Environmental Impact Statement under the National Environmental Policy Act, Durrett argues in his letter to the council.

“CDOT’s separation of these two projects seems to be a deliberate move to avoid an EIS, which would involve the evaluation of the considerable and significant environmental impacts on Glenwood Springs,” he said.

The current environmental analysis for the bridge is also guided by NEPA. A potential outcome of that process could be a recommendation for a full-blown EIS, project officials have acknowledged.

Also on tonight’s city council agenda is a discussion and possible action to write a letter of support for Pitkin County’s recent appeal of a Bureau of Land Management decision on oil and gas leases in the Thompson Divide area southwest of Glenwood Springs. The BLM agreed to grant a so-called suspension of leases held by SG Interests, which will prevent the leases from expiring as originally scheduled this year.

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