NIMBYism or not?

Greg Masse
Post Independent Staff

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Red Feather Ridge developer Guy Harrell says a group opposed to the Red Feather Ridge project formed because of a “Not In My Backyard,” or NIMBY stance.

But Michael Larime, spokesman for Community Voices for Responsible Growth, said the group is aimed at protecting the quality of life in Glenwood Springs, not at NIMBYism. Also, he said the group wants to make the city’s Comprehensive Plan into law, rather than using it as a guide.

Red Feather Ridge is a proposed 149-lot subdivision planned for a 132 acres on the east side of Four Mile Road, just outside the city limits of Glenwood Springs.

The plan includes open space, park land and land for a new city cemetery. City Council approved annexation and zoning for the project in a 4-3 vote Jan. 8.

More than 1,000 people who oppose the project signed a petition circulated by CVRG asking City Council to refer the project’s fate to voters. Council agreed to refer the question to voters, and the special election is set for June 24.

After the election was set, a group of Red Feather Ridge supporters, headed up by Carole Brown of Glenwood Springs, formed Neighbors for Responsible Planning, or NRP. Brown serves as the group’s treasurer.

Red Feather Ridge developer Guy Harrell described NRP as a group of concerned citizens who believe in the project.

But many of the members don’t want to publicly announce their membership in NRP or their position on Red Feather Ridge because of what he calls “verbal abuse” by members of CVRG, Harrell said.

“Anybody that has come out publicly in favor of the project has been verbally abused,” he said. “I have been verbally accosted . They’re very, very mean spirited.”

Harrell didn’t cite specific incidents.

Harrell said the true purpose of Community Voices for Responsible Growth is a “Not in My Backyard,” or NIMBY, attitude.

“It’s called not in my backyard! There’s no other way around it,” Harrell said. “It’s amazing to me that the spokesman for the group has only lived here for two or three years, and has a million-dollar house on three acres of land.”

Larime insists NIMBYism is not his group’s motivation. Rather, the group wants to preserve the quality of life in Glenwood Springs and force city leaders to stick to the Comprehensive Plan.

Larime said his house is not worth a million dollars, and although he’s vacationed in Glenwood Springs for 20 years, he’s only lived here for one year. He said the campaign is not about him, it’s about the 1,000 or so people who have signed the CVRG petition opposing Red Feather Ridge.

Harrell also asked why, if CVRG is against Red Feather Ridge, Larime and CVRG don’t oppose the 82 houses being built close by at the Springridge II subdivision.

Larime said Springridge II is a well-designed planned urban development, there was enormous citizen input during the planning stages and open space will be set aside for the Aspen Valley Land Trust.

“The developer has been very attentive. Basically, it’s been a great process of give and take,” Larime said.

Harrell pointed out that Red Feather Ridge has been through 13 public meetings. He feels the real reason CVRG is not fighting the Springridge II development is because, rather than being a development of lower-priced houses, the development will be a group of luxury homes that will help keep property values high in that part of the Four Mile Road area.

“If they’re going to develop 82 lots in his neighborhood, why don’t they go down to the county and protest that fact to the county? It’s like Barbara Streisand criticizing people driving SUVs,” Harrell said.

Harrell suggests that the 57 homes already approved by Garfield County on the Red Feather Ridge land is sprawl and Red Feather Ridge is a solution and alternative to sprawl.

Larime disagreed with Harrell’s argument that without Red Feather Ridge, there will be 57 “trophy homes” built on the site.

“We don’t subscribe to this trophy home argument,” Larime said.

He said such homes aren’t likely to be built on the land because there’s no river frontage, no golf course, the lots are relatively small and the building envelopes are relatively close to the roadway.

“There are only a few lots with a good view of Sopris,” he said.

Instead, Larime said, 57 “pleasant homes” will be built at the site that would be purchased by professionals such as doctors, dentists, lawyers and accountants. He also said 57 spread-out homes would be better than a “seascape of rooftops,” which is how he foresees Red Feather Ridge.

“Aesthetically, it would be more pleasing with the open plan,” Larime said. “In reality, we don’t think either plan is the best of its type, but if we had to pick, we’d go with the low-density plan.”

Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511

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