Post Independent opinion: City deserves a say in development in Cattle Creek area
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
The Glenwood Springs City Council recently has taken steps to ensure that the city has a say in any future development in the Cattle Creek area.
While it is commendable that council is making its desire to be part of that planning process known, it is apparent that the steps taken will not have any binding affect.
Council voted 4-3 to extend the city’s urban growth boundary (UGB) to the County Road 154/109 intersection, just south of the Westbank turnoff on Highway 82.
A UGB reflects the city’s interest in future annexations within the boundary, in this case the so-called Eastbank area.
A secondary reason to extend the boundary was the belief that doing so would give the city a stronger voice the next time a large-scale development comes up at Cattle Creek, located several more miles to the south.
But does extending the urban growth boundary achieve that objective? Trying to answer that question is like not just opening a can of worms, but jumping right on in.
There are several planning documents at play in this discussion. There is already an agreement that Garfield County will refer any development applications within the UGB to Glenwood Springs. If the city had extended its UGB to include the Cattle Creek area, then the county would automatically refer development there to the city.
City Council’s reasoning for extending the UGB to Westbank was that currently the Cattle Creek area is outside of the city’s area of influence, as determined by Glenwood’s Three Mile Plan, and that extending the UGB would change that.
Three-mile plans are required by state statute to indicate generally how cities envision future development outside of their boundaries.
But the area of influence is a set three-mile distance from the city limits and is not affected by urban growth boundaries.
Further, Garfield County has an intergovernmental agreement with Glenwood Springs stating that any “major” developments within two miles of the city limits will be referred to the city for review. Two miles, not three. Garfield County has no obligation to honor the city’s three mile plan.
Therefore, extending the urban growth boundary does nothing to formally require the county to involve Glenwood Springs in any development of Cattle Creek.
Nevertheless, the city’s action has made the statement that any development in that area will have an effect on the city and that the city wants to be heard should a development application be filed.
It’s also true that City Council can pass a resolution clearly stating their interests, which the county would be discourteous to ignore.
Even without the city passing a resolution or taking into account two- or three-mile zones, Garfield County should be considerate enough to involve not just Glenwood Springs but Carbondale as well in any decision-making about development in the Cattle Creek area.
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