Midland Lofts plan back for council feedback
It’s not exactly all or nothing for developer Craig Helm and his preliminary plans to build a four-story, 71-unit apartment building along Midland Avenue, but he would like to hear from Glenwood Springs City Council tonight that he has at least a 50/50 chance of eventually getting the project approved.
Council declined last month to OK an amendment to a nearly four-decade-old annexation agreement for the 6-acre church-owned property in the 2200 block of Midland that Helm would like to buy and develop as the Midland Lofts. The project is vigorously opposed by neighbors.
The amended agreement would lift the original density and use restrictions that came with the annexation, and allow development under the city’s R/4 residential transitional zoning.
Helm has maintained that he wants some degree of assurance from council that, if the annexation amendment is approved, what’s now presented as a conceptual plan is something the council would ultimately approve.
In December, council members said they were unwilling to tie the annexation amendment directly to the development proposal, saying they would need a full application and a review of impacts and recommendations from city planning staff before making that kind of a decision.
Helm asked council to vote up or down on that request two weeks ago, but wanted to offer some more arguments in favor of his proposal. Council, which had already closed the public hearing on the matter, set the matter for tonight, including a follow-up presentation by Helm and a chance for more public comment.
“We would like City Council to vote up or down on the amended annexation agreement as it was originally submitted,” Helm wrote in a Jan. 11 letter to council. “We do not wish to modify the agreement because this is the least dense project with the most open space and the lowest impact on the neighborhood that we can feasibly build.”
Helm reiterated that he believes his plan fits the R/4 zone district, with the exception of seeking a height variance for the apartment building, and that it goes a long way to address one of Glenwood’s greatest needs when it comes to housing, that being dedicated rental housing.
“We understand that a yes vote tonight does not translate into a yes vote on the final development application, and we are OK with that,” Helm concluded in his letter. “We are, however, looking to get some meaningful feedback on this specific development.”
He goes on to pose the question: “Given that the project plans and all of the information we have presented, is there a reasonable chance, say 50 percent, that you would approve this development application if we move forward?
“If so, please vote yes on the annexation amendment, and if not, please vote no.”
The rather unusual request ties the annexation amendment for the property owned by the New Hope Church of New Castle with the conceptual review for Helm’s proposal. If the annexation agreement is amended, Helm would still have to take his proposal through the full major development permit review process with no guarantees as to how the project will be received by the Planning and Zoning Commission and ultimately City Council.
Meanwhile, neighboring residents have been outspoken against this and previous proposals put forth by Helm, arguing that it would add too much new traffic to the already stressed Midland Avenue corridor and that the site is not within “walkable distance” to transit and other services.
Last summer, City Council rejected a less-dense plan for 34 single- and multi-family units on the same site, partly because of the traffic concerns and partly because some council members wanted to see a higher-density, more affordable housing project.
City Council takes up the latest request when it meets at 6 p.m. tonight at Glenwood Springs City Hall.
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