P&Z discusses Meadows; public largely absent
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – There were plenty of questions asked Tuesday and Wednesday about the proposed commercial development at Glenwood Meadows by Planning and Zoning Commission members.But relatively few members of the public were on hand at the two public hearings held to get input on the shopping center that is slated to include a Target and a Lowe’s. Final recommendations on the major development permit, special review use permits and variances are expected to come from the planning commission at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 23.The proposal will then go to City Council for final review and approval.Just four area residents commented on the retail development planned for the open field between the Community Center and the Municipal Operations Center at Tuesday’s meeting.Another handful commented Wednesday. Bob Zanella, who was on City Council when Glenwood Meadows was first submitted, said he likes what has evolved. “I am in favor of this particular program,” he said. Doug Eggleston, owner of Electrical Outfitters on Devereux Road, said he’s most concerned about the site’s drainage and how it could affect his business. “I would like you to take special caution on the drainage of that parcel,” he said. Artist Mary Noone said she wants to see city leaders keep small businesses in mind when making approvals for large retail centers. And John Lindsey, president of Big John’s building and home center, said he still would like to see a grocery store instead of Lowe’s, as was originally planned when the commercial center was dreamed up. He said a grocery store would alleviate traffic on Grand Avenue and allow shoppers on the west side of town to shop closer to home. “I thought this was going to be a community inside itself,” he said. Next on Tuesday, Meadows consultant Leslie Bethel of Snowmass Village made a brief presentation, followed by 21⁄2 hours of questions and comments from the planning board.Talk focused on how construction of a debris flow basin could affect the overall schedule of the development. The issue was raised at the first special planning commission meeting for Meadows commercial development permits on Aug. 27.Kirk Beardsley, vice president of the firm Miller-Weingarten, which hopes to develop the retail portion of Glenwood Meadows, said it’s difficult to guess how a debris flow basin could affect the schedule. It’s not yet clear whether such a basin will be built as part of a city-owned golf course or by Glenwood Meadows owner, Aspen-based Dunrene Group, Beardsley said.”We have asked Dunrene to begin to perfect the design for the (debris flow basin),” Beardsley said. He said while a preliminary design will be made, it would be a waste of time if the basin is instead built by the city as part of the golf course.”We don’t know how we’re supposed to deal with that,” said Miller-Weingarten president Skip Miller.On Wednesday, public comment again focused on the lack of a grocery store at the development, as well as the argument between having one or two stories on Market Street. “I think not having a supermarket in what we’re calling a community is absurd,” said Ed Rosenberg of Glenwood Springs. Planning and Zoning Commission chairman Larry Hon, however, said the city has no say in what type of stores are opened at Meadows or anywhere else in town. “We have zero say on who goes in as tenants,” he said.
Screening of machinery located on store rooftops – such as air conditioners and heaters – was another hot topic. Beardsley and Miller said the machinery will be screened in a way that hides it, breaks up the vastness of the rooftops and matches other architectural features of the buildings. Planning commissioner Dean Arneson voiced his concern over issues raised in a report by Colorado Geological Survey senior engineering geologist Jonathan L. White. (See related story, page 1.)The report points out potential geologic hazards at the Glenwood Meadows site, including sinkholes, collapsible soils and potential for foundation sinkage. “Is the current drainage system even close to being able to deal with that?” Arneson asked. Although Beardsley hadn’t yet seen the Sept. 5 report, he told the commission, “We are conscious that we have to pay special attention to that.”
The topic of whether to build two-story structures along Market Street also was raised. Like the Aug. 27 meeting, Miller again told the commission that it’s been tried in some of the company’s other developments and just didn’t work. “I think you really are asking, once again, for us to explain why we won’t have two stories,” Miller said. He said he and his consultants feel the second story apartments or other uses wouldn’t lease well and that there isn’t enough parking to support it. Miller also said upstairs tenants would not want so much activity below them and, unlike buildings with several floors, the costs of building a two-story building are prohibitive. “I’m not picking on the language that was written,” Miller said of the 2001 annexation agreement condition that calls for two-story buildings on Market Street. “I do believe we know better than you what makes that center work. I hope that doesn’t offend you,” Miller told the planning commission.
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