No vote reflects conflicting feelings about infill development in Glenwood
Glenwood Springs may have the appetite for infill housing development, but not the stomach for it, city leaders concede.City Council members admitted to ambivalence about the idea Thursday as they declined to approve a 10-unit, five-building housing development in the 2300 block of Bennett Avenue.”We want the (housing) density in town. … However sometimes when it comes to us, we’re not sure we like it particularly,” said council member Dave Merritt.Merritt joined four other council members in turning down a major development permit for the project, with only Kris Chadwick and Larry Beckwith voting to approve it. Project representative John Taufer then succeeded in getting council to postpone further action on the project to allow for revisions to be made.The project is considered an infill development, a reference to construction on vacant land within city limits. City officials generally support the concept as a means of providing badly needed housing without having to expand the town’s boundaries or rely on development in surrounding rural areas.However, such projects often encounter opposition from neighbors. In this case, residents of nearby single-family homes said the development would radically change the character of the neighborhood.They also say the city has no comprehensive plan for dealing with infill projects.”This infill development, you just don’t have any guidelines for these guys,” said one neighboring resident, Ken Wilson.Mayor Bruce Christensen agreed that the city needs better planning guidelines, such as transitional zoning between single-family homes and “massive multi-family” buildings.Council member Chris McGovern also used the adjective “massive” in describing the Bennett Avenue proposal, in which each of the two-unit buildings is proposed to be 6,000 square feet in size.”I would say that is nowhere near the character of the neighborhood,” she said.Council member Dave Johnson called such projects a struggle. He said the city asks developers to do infill projects, then ends up not being comfortable approving them.In this case, “I just think that it’s mostly predicated on putting a little too much in this very difficult space,” he said.Tim Thulson, a land use attorney, spoke in support of the project and the philosophy behind it of promoting housing density within town.”It’s an inevitable fact that if the city doesn’t take the densities it is going to promote sprawl in the county,” he said.Infill development is one way the city can preserve hillsides from development and protect its growth boundaries, he said.He said the impacts from the Bennett Avenue project “are urban impacts, which are expected in an urban area.”Mike Blair, a member of the city’s Housing Commission, added another voice to the chorus of conflicting feelings about the project among city leaders. He said infill development is needed to provide housing for workers in the city, and the Bennett Avenue project is needed at perhaps even a higher housing density. But protecting the character of neighborhoods also is important, he said. “It’s a good example of what we should do and perhaps what we should not be doing,” he said.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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Cleaning up isn’t cheap — that much is clear following estimates it would take $200,000 to clean up all of the roughly 80 homeless encampments in Glenwood Springs.