Oasis Creek subdivision hillside variance requests raise concerns | PostIndependent.com

Oasis Creek subdivision hillside variance requests raise concerns

John StroudPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Plans by prominent Glenwood Springs attorney Scott Balcomb to build one of the last houses in the decades-old Oasis Creek subdivision in north Glenwood have raised concerns among some neighbors.The subdivision, located on Traver Trail, was approved in the early 1980s. However, it now comes under regulations included in the city’s 2000 Hillside Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ) ordinance.The zone district applies to any properties above 6,000 feet elevation, or with an average slope of 20 percent or more.”The requirements of the HPOZ seek to reduce hillside related hazards to property owners, such as wildfire or geologic hazards,” city planner A’Lissa Gerum explains in her staff report for a continued planning and zoning commission hearing on the request tonight.”They also seek to encourage development that fits with the surrounding hillsides and limits visual impacts to the community and surrounding homes,” she wrote in the report.Balcomb, working with architect Rob Classen of The Drawing Board in Glenwood Springs, is requesting a special use permit to build a 2,748-square-foot, three-level house on a 0.6-acre lot at Oasis Creek.In doing so, he requested several variances to the HPOZ ordinance related to setbacks, building height and the length and height of several retaining walls that will be required.At a July 26 meeting, the Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission approved four variances, including one allowing the front yard setback for the house to be shortened from 30 feet to 10 feet.Other variances related to the amount of site disturbance, building height, and length of retaining walls were also approved.However, P&Z denied a variance for the retaining wall to exceed the allowed six-foot height limit. Another variance request that would allow part of the retaining wall to exceed front yard setback height restrictions was also denied.Balcomb is now asking P&Z to reconsider the latter request, and to grant the special use permit for the new structure.Several neighbors have objected to the request, saying the variances would compromise the intent of the HPOZ ordinance.”This lot is an unbuildable site, and should be declared so,” said nearby resident Hal Sundin, suggesting that site grades exceed 50 percent in some areas. “Applications for building on sites with grades in this range have been consistently rejected by [the city].”Other residents expressed similar concerns at the July 26 meeting, and said the proposed new house would have negative impacts on the neighborhood.Balcomb, as reflected in the July 26 meeting minutes, said he and his wife are looking to downsize from their current home, also in Oasis Creek, as their children are now grown and moved away.He said Classen is the third architect he has worked with, and the current design results in the least amount of impact.Classen, also at the July 26 meeting, said that had the lot been developed in 1981 when Oasis Creek was first approved, it would have required no variances.Because it is now subject to HPOZ, he said he and the engineering team “have worked hard to limit the amount of driveway cuts and footprint of the house to keep it as unobtrusive to the neighbors as possible,” according to the minutes of that meeting.”I don’t believe this project will put an undue hardship or burden on the public at all,” Classen said. “It is a solution to a difficult access and lot.”Tonight’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. P&Z is charged with deciding on the special use permit and variance requests, though its decision can be appealed to City Council, Gerum said.jstroud@postindependent.com

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