Oasis Apts OK’d with parking, height variances
Though “not a perfect project,” in the words of Glenwood Springs City Councilor Kathryn Trauger, the Oasis Creek Apartments represents a step in the direction of what has to happen to generate more housing options in Glenwood, she and a majority of the council agreed Thursday night.
Council voted 4-2 to approve the 116-unit apartment project on the 3.7-acre former Terra Vista Motel site fronting Highway 6 & 24 in West Glenwood.
With the approval came agreements to grant several zoning and design variances. Among them was one to allow building heights more than 25 feet above the 35-foot limit in the C/1 Limited Commercial zone district.
The other big variance allows the developer a one-third reduction in the amount of parking that the city’s code would normally require, from 256 on-site passenger car parking spaces to 188. About one-third of those spaces would be situated beneath the two apartment buildings.
“This is not a perfect project, and there are some things I do not like about it,” Trauger said in voting to approve the development permit and related variances.
“If we’re designing buildings in order to meet a parking requirement, then we need to rethink our priorities,” said Trauger, who has suggested the city consider doing away with minimum parking standards for development projects altogether.
“I don’t think this project should set the standard for what we are looking for in multi-family housing,” she added. “But this is a balancing act. We need housing and we need it sooner rather than later.”
Councilman Leo McKinney said he could go along with the extra building height, especially given the sloped nature of the development site that he agreed should diminish the visual impact.
“But I can’t get over this one,” McKinney said of the parking reduction.
“All anyone has to do is go out to Cardiff Glen and look at the mess that’s out there,” he said of the parking problems at the south Glenwood subdivision. “Some of these things weren’t very well-thought-out, and we have an opportunity to learn from that.”
Councilor Stephen Bershenyi said he couldn’t go along with the height or parking variances, either one.
“I am conflicted about this, because I do know that we need more housing,” Bershenyi said. “But at what price?
“As we look at more and more of these variances the effect becomes cumulative, and the unintended consequences outweigh the benefits,” he said.
Council members Steve Davis, Matt Steckler and Todd Leahy sided with Trauger in voting to approve the project. Mayor Mike Gamba had to dismiss himself from considering the proposal since he is working for developer Richmark Holdings in his capacity as a professional engineer.
The Oasis Creek project is the second large rental project approved by the city in the past year. The other, the Lofts at Red Mountain, has not broken ground, holding out for a reduction in development impact fees that its developer says are needed to make the project financially feasible.
Council on Thursday did agree to adjust water and sewer impact fees for multi-family housing projects, though developers have said it still may not be enough. Fire department impact fees are also under review by the city.
Richmark representative Tyler Richardson said his project would also benefit from any fee reductions the city approves. But it, too, hinges on a favorable financial feasibility study before construction can begin, he said Thursday night.
If it pencils out, foundation work could begin later this year and apartments could be ready for renters by later summer or fall of 2017, he said.
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