Glenwood pauses Midland Avenue development requests
Glenwood Springs will not accept any new development applications for six months for areas along Midland Avenue from Eighth Street south, while the city works on a plan to address infrastructure needs in the south Glenwood area.
City Council on Thursday unanimously approved the temporary moratorium. It will not affect applications already in process, but council members agreed it serves to send a message that the city is ready to tackle the issue.
Though money is unlikely to materialize in that time to pay for such things as the South Bridge project, with a price tag in the range of $45 million, plus reconstruction of South Midland Avenue and the 27th Street bridge, council said the moratorium at least buys some time to put a plan in place.
“I don’t like the word ‘moratorium’ at all, but I also understand that the 27th Street roundabout is completely dysfunctional, as well as that bridge,” said Councilor Steve Davis, who lives on Midland near 13th Street and is council’s representative for that part of town.
“Our six-month moratorium probably isn’t going to have an impact on anyone, really, but it sends a message,” he said.
Three development proposals already on the table would not be affected by the moratorium, including a plan to add teacher housing units at the already-approved Silver Sage project across from Cardiff Glen, a proposed annexation amendment that would allow for the 71-unit Midland Lofts apartment project north of 27th Street, and the proposed Bell Rippy Apartments east of the 27th Street/Colorado 82 intersection.
Those proposals, coupled with Garfield County’s previous approvals for 291 additional residences outside city limits up the Four Mile Road corridor, prompted city staff to suggest the moratorium.
“When these parcels develop, the vehicular volume will rise by at least 3,000 additional cars per day through our south Glenwood network,” City Engineer Terri Partch said in a memo to council members.
Already, a traffic study done in March counted approximately 5,400 vehicles per day on the south leg of the 27th Street roundabout at Midland, she said. Long traffic backups on either side of the roundabout during the morning school and work rush are common.
The need for new streets and bridges to serve the area led the city two years ago to reject the massive Glenwood Ridge annexation and development project that was proposed for the former Bershenyi ranch up Four Mile. It also played into the city’s objection to the county’s approval of a FedEx Ground distribution center near the municipal airport, which ended up locating instead along Colorado 82.
South Glenwood infrastructure needs are likely to be a major topic of discussion when City Council meets jointly next month with the Garfield County commissioners. The South Bridge project, in particular, is envisioned as a joint city-county endeavor, though other outside funding will likely be necessary to pull it off.
Options that could be considered aside from existing local government funds include the establishment of a special improvements taxing district, development impact or special assessment fees for any new development that’s approved, or any number of state or federal grants that could be pursued.
City Attorney Karl Hanlon said the moratorium would not affect building permits, only new development. Projects requiring a special use permit, such as accessory dwelling units tied to an existing residence, would fall under the moratorium, however.
Moratoriums on development or business activity have been rare in Glenwood Springs, but over the years the city has taken such steps to address water system capacity in south Glenwood, to draft the Hillside Preservation zone district in the late 1990s, and more recently to prevent new marijuana-related businesses until rules and regulations could be amended.
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