Big housing project with the usual concerns heads to Glenwood Springs City Council
A significant new housing development in south Glenwood Springs that would add 79 mostly two-bedroom rental apartments to the local housing mix is being hailed in some quarters as needed to address a growing workforce housing shortage.
But the plan is also being met with neighborhood opposition due to concerns about possible cut-through traffic on south Blake and Palmer avenues, and another looming debate whether to open the controversial “Blake gate” by Walmart.
City Council on Thursday evening takes up consideration of the plan being put forth by a group of owners going by Glenwood Multifamily LLC, and designed by RAL Architects of Edwards.
The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission last month recommended approval of a plan, which had gone through several revisions since it was first put forward last spring. Biggest among the changes was a reduction in the number of units from 105 in the initial proposal to 77 two-bedroom units and two one-bedroom apartments under the plan now before council.
The project calls for apartments to be spread across 10 separate buildings on the 6-acre hillside site, located just north of the Walmart store and east of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s 27th Street Station.
To help better direct traffic flow into and out of the area, developers were asked by P&Z to pay the cost to convert part of Blake Avenue, between 24th and 26th streets, to one-way southbound. A raised, landscaped median would be placed at the north intersection of 26th and Blake to block northbound traffic.
But similar concerns about pass-through traffic on Palmer Avenue, situated to the east, are being raised by residents of the neighboring Oakhurst Townhomes and residential areas to the north.
The development plan also currently calls for Palmer to be connected directly to the new apartments.
“This plan may help to preserve the Blake neighborhood but will assuredly result in downvalley commuter traffic diverting through this development and using Palmer as one more means to access Blake north of 23rd Street, as an alternative to Highway 82,” Palmer Avenue resident and former mayor Bruce Christensen wrote in a recent email to City Council members and city staff.
“This became apparent during the [August-November 2017] bridge closure and will, in all likelihood, become permanent if Palmer is allowed to become yet one more way to get around Grand Avenue traffic congestion,” he wrote.
Other nearby residents say the streets in the area can’t handle major development without major improvements, and that is hindered by the narrow city street right of way through those neighborhoods.
All of the streets that would provide access to this area are inadequate for this development,” wrote George Dana in a letter to the editor sent to the Post Independent (see page A13). “Neither of the roads have sidewalks and or areas to park additional vehicles, and become increasingly dangerous after snow storms.”
Dana also raised concerns about debris flow potential on the development site, and impacts to wildlife that frequent the area.
Included in the packet for City Council to weigh Thursday night is also a petition containing signatures of 93 area residents asking that, if the development is approved, to place a gate on Palmer blocking traffic flow between the new apartments and the established neighborhood. The gate could be opened only for emergency or maintenance needs, petitioners said.
P&Z deferred to council another key question, that being whether the new development should warrant opening a gate that now blocks access between 27th and 29th streets on Blake, at the north end of the Roaring Fork Marketplace (Walmart) commercial center.
City staff and outside traffic engineers have suggested opening the gate to help spread out traffic flow to and from the new development. The prospect of opening the gate has been a sore spot for area residents who would rather not see the gate opened, fearing it will encourage people to access the Marketplace via Blake.
The apartment project is one of several land-use proposals on council’s agenda for Thursday night. Also to be heard is a request for a special use permit to open a new retail marijuana business, called Green Solution, on property just east of Vicco’s Charcoalburger in West Glenwood.
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Starting Monday, Roaring Fork Schools will begin delivering meals to anyone 18 and under who needs one, regardless of whether they qualify under federal free and reduced lunch guidelines.