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New day for Mel Ray?

Donna DanielsStaff Writer

For the residents and businesspeople who live and work on Mel Ray Road in West Glenwood, traffic congestion and lack of parking and sidewalks are a continuing problem.But the issue reappeared on the Garfield County commissioners’ radar screen in April when local developer Duane Stewart applied to construct a six-plex apartment building there.Mel Ray residents bent the commissioners’ ears at a public hearing, complaining about parking, sidewalks, trash and unruly neighbors. The commissioners denied Stewart’s project and vowed to take another look at Mel Ray to solve some of the problems.Rezoning may be part of the solution.On Monday, the commissioners directed the planning staff to come up with recommendations to rezone at least a part of Mel Ray between Donegan Road and Highway 6 from commercial limited to residential limited suburban density.They will also consider turning Mel Ray from a two-way street to a one-way.While most of the block is already developed, the new zoning would prohibit any more commercial uses or multifamily housing.The Garfield County Planning and Zoning Commission suggested keeping the present zoning, but changing Mel Ray from a two-way to a one-way street. That would allow sufficient space to install sidewalks, curbs and gutters and allow on-street parking.”The planning commission felt rezoning probably was not the right tack,” Bean said.It recommended the one-way street extend from the West Glenwood fire station to Donegan Road, Bean said. The direction of the one-way is also up for debate.Residents of subdivisions off Mel Ray north of Donegan would have to access Highway 6 either by going around the west side of the Glenwood Springs Mall onto Storm King Drive or down Soccer Field Road, past Glenwood Springs Middle School, Bean said.Re-zoning would require public hearings, Bean said. But making the road one way would only require the county road and bridge department to simply erect signs.Bean also suggested the commissioners consider revising the commercial limited zone regulations. But they rejected that idea, saying changes made with Mel Ray Road in mind would not necessarily be good for other commercially zoned areas of the county.”To me it’s skirting the issue on Mel Ray. I’m not comfortable with rewriting the commercial limited text to meet the needs of Mel Ray. It might be fine in other areas,” said Commissioner Larry McCown.McCown also had another option in mind.”We could also condemn (property) to make any width we need. But the cost would be prohibitive,” he said.Glenwood Springs attorney John Schenk, who represents Stewart, urged the commissioners not to restrict zoning in the Mel Ray area. Stewart followed all the zoning regulations and was turned down, he said.”Don’t make him out as the bad guy,” Schenk said.Stewart’s proposal would have meant affordable housing for the area. A change in zoning, and a prohibition of multifamily housing, “is no way to get affordable housing,” Schenk said.Schenk said Stewart still intends to develop his property and is considering a motel.The commissioners also debated how to define the geographic area along Mel Ray to be considered for rezoning. All the lots on the west side of Mel Ray Road, between Donegan and Highway 6, are in the county. A handful of lots on the east side, nearest Highway 6 & 24, are in the city.After looking over a county map, the commissioners agreed the best area for consideration for new zoning would be where single-family housing begins on Mel Ray, about halfway between Donegan and Highway 6, and continuing uphill to end at Donegan Road.


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