Red Feather decision floated till Aug. 1 |

Red Feather decision floated till Aug. 1

While Red Feather Ridge developers continued hawking the benefits of annexation to the Glenwood Springs City Council Thursday, detractors pointed out its possible pitfalls.

Both sides will have to wait for a decision, as the matter was continued until council’s Aug. 1 meeting.

Oklahoma-based MidFirst Bank seeks to annex the property into the city and win city approval to extend the city’s urban growth boundary, a line drawn around the city within which dense growth is supposed to be contained.

While some feel the extending the boundary is the next logical step in the city’s growth, others feel that annexing the development would open the door to allowing dense growth in an area now characterized by pastoral fields and old farmhouses.

The project, formerly known as Four Mile Ranch, consists of a 149-lot subdivision with open space and park land included.

Developers also have offered $400,000 to help fund a roundabout at Four Mile and Airport roads; $2,500 per house for transportation improvements; and 10 percent of the estimated cost of building a park, up to $100,000. The development also would include 23 affordable lots on which affordable housing could be built.

“We’re breaking new ground here,” remarked Glenwood Springs community development director Andrew McGregor. “I can’t remember since we made the urban growth boundary anyone requesting to extend it.”

If the city doesn’t annex the property, the developer already has Garfield County approval to develop 58 two-acre lots.

“The 58 lots would still have impacts, but that plan has no mitigation,” explained Jeff Vogel, a planner for DHM Design Corp.

The long-term cost to the city was another oft-stated concern for council members.

“There are some red flags,” Councilman Dan Richardson said. “Just like most residential (developments), this one is going to cost us in the long run.”

Developers countered that argument, saying the park and open space land is worth $10 million. Along with that, other concessions make the project a financial winner for the city, they said.

Councilman Larry Emery expressed concern about the project initiating a trend toward dense development along the lower stretch of Four Mile Road.

“My main issue is the location. If we annex it into the city and extend the urban growth boundary, it will open the door to denser development around the area,” Emery stated, adding he’s “not sure the benefits outweigh the negative impacts.”

Councilwoman Jean Martensen asserted that it’s a “beautiful development, I just feel it’s in the wrong place.”

Councilman Rick Davis asked the developers for an adjusted economic forecast so he and the other council members could get a clearer concept of how much the city might spend on services to the subdivision.

Some residents who live near the development conveyed apprehension about the possibility of so many homes being built in a rural area.

“This isn’t a community, it’s a suburban bedroom development,” nearby resident Jim Hawkins said, pointing to the lack of a church or school in the subdivision.

Steve Smith, who lives near the north end of Four Mile Road, said he finds himself “curiously attracted to this proposal.”

“I worry that maybe it looks so good because it’s looked so bad for so long,” he jabbed.

Richardson agreed with Davis that a solid financial estimate should be available before council extends the city limits.

“We’re talking about an expenditure when we have no idea what it’s going to cost us because of some `plums,'” he said. The “plums” he spoke of are the extras offered by the developer to entice the city into accepting the request.

Councilman Dave Merritt, who voted for the project when it was in front of the Planning and Zoning Commission in June, spoke in support of extending the growth boundary and allowing development up Four Mile Road.

“I think what we have here is a good proposal. It’s a good balance of housing and open space,” he said.

Mayor Don Vanderhoof also expressed support for the plan.

“If we are so rigid that we can’t expand our city, things are going to happen that we can do nothing about,” he said.

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