Teacher housing plan moves to council
A plan to convert a dozen units in a previously approved south Glenwood Springs residential development to teacher housing has cleared its first city review hurdle.
Glenwood’s Planning and Zoning Commission last week gave a unanimous recommendation for approval to developer Peter Waller’s plan to sell three of the five multifamily buildings in the Cardiff Mesa section of his larger Silver Sage development to the Roaring Fork School District.
The transfer would satisfy Waller’s affordable housing obligation to the city, and become part of the school district’s new teacher housing program that made up a $15 million portion of last year’s $122 million bond issue.
“This is a potential public-private partnership that will be good for the schools, and help get a project done that was otherwise very difficult from a cost perspective,” Waller said after the decision.
The proposal was slightly modified from the revised plan initially submitted to city planners. Instead of asking for six additional units, Waller is seeking to add just four more than was originally approved three years ago.
The proposal goes before City Council on Sept. 15 for a final decision.
Silver Sage was first approved in February of 2013 for a total of 55 residences southwest of the intersection of Four Mile and Airport roads, including 38 duplex units on the upper Silver Sage Preserve and 17 multifamily units on the 42-acre lower bench called Cardiff Mesa.
P&Z, at its Aug. 23 meeting, was OK increasing the number of units on the lower bench to 21 and adding some one-bedroom units to the mix, where the previous plan called only for two- and three-bedroom units.
The review panel did, however, want at least some of the original improvements outlined for Airport Road to be paid for by the developer, including curb, gutter, sidewalks, landscaping and repaving of a 750-foot stretch fronting the new development.
Waller had asked for relief from that requirement as a way to keep development costs down.
P&Z agreed to a compromise that would involve a 3-inch asphalt overlay on the road, and 60 percent of the trees that were originally required.
The panel also requested that the school district provide a deed restriction for the units it acquires that spells out the long-term affordability of the rental units. Garfield County included a similar requirement earlier this year when it OK’d a plan for the Ironbridge development south of Glenwood Springs to count six teacher housing units toward its affordable housing requirement.
A handful of residents from the Cardiff Glen neighborhood located across Airport Road from Waller’s development site have expressed concern about additional traffic and parking problems from the new homes.
Howard Jay, a former principal at Sopris Elementary School who now lives at Cardiff Glen, said at the P&Z meeting that he supports the school district’s endeavor to create teacher housing. But he worried that eliminating the Waller’s obligation to provide a percentage of “community housing” that would otherwise be made available for sale to qualified buyers fails to acknowledge the broader need.
“The taxpayers said they are willing to let the school district buy housing,” Jay said of voter approval for the bond issue last fall. “But that is just one segment of the community that needs housing.
“I am leery of selling to the school district to satisfy the developer’s housing requirement,” he said, adding “there are other vital workers that need housing.”
School district voters last fall approved a $122 million bond issue to pay for two major school projects in Glenwood Springs and variety of other facility improvements across the district. It also included $15 million earmarked to purchase or build affordable teacher rental housing in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt.
The district is already pursuing 17 units in the next phase of construction at the Willits project in Basalt, and recently won support from the county for the six units at Ironbridge.
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Roaring Fork Schools volunteers who have already completed a comparable background check through an approved entity would be good to go.