(Red) Feather in its cap or albatross around its neck? City weighs plan
For the second time in less than six months, the Glenwood Springs City Council will consider whether to annex the controversial Red Feather Ridge subdivision.
The newest application for annexation and subdivision, largely the same as one pulled in the face of a possible City Council denial in August, was approved by the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission on Oct. 29.
On Wednesday, City Council will hold a special meeting to again consider whether the development should be annexed.
The main change since the first application is the developer’s offer of land for a much-needed city cemetery. That land would take the place of a formerly proposed 17-acre passive recreation area.
Red Feather Ridge applicant Guy Harrell, of Oklahoma City-based MidFirst Bank, hopes the cemetery and other added incentives will convince the Glenwood Springs City Council to approve the 149-lot housing project.
“The reason we’re reapplying is because we were encouraged to reapply,” Harrell said in October.
“We made some changes that should satisfy a whole lot of people.”
One of the main issues, again, will be the question of whether to extend the city’s urban growth boundary. The UGB is a line drawn roughly around the city that divides dense growth from rural growth.
Council would then need to decide if the land should be annexed into the city.
While some on City Council have said the extension of the UGB is the next logical step in the city’s growth, others said annexing the proposed 149-lot development would open the door to dense growth in an area now characterized by pastoral fields and old farmhouses.
The project, formerly known as Four Mile Ranch, consists of a subdivision with open space and park land included. Developers offered $400,000 to help fund a roundabout at Four Mile and Airport roads; $2,500 per house for transportation improvements; and $100,000 toward the construction of a park. The development also would include 23 affordable lots.
If the annexation occurs, the city also could have control over the development – something it will not have if it is developed within the county – as well as the water rights that come with the property.
But concerns about traffic, long-term costs to the city and extending the UGB doomed the project in its last incarnation.
If City Council decides against annexing the property, or if the application is again withdrawn, MidFirst Bank could still use an already existing Garfield County approval to develop 58 two-acre lots.
But that would be the last resort, Harrell said.
“I personally believe you can sell smaller, cheaper lots faster and easier than the two-acre lots,” he said in October.
He believes this, he said, because that’s what the market in Glenwood Springs is demanding.
“The bank isn’t going to make any money, they’re just losing less,” he explained, with the 149-lot version.
If the subdivision is approved, Harrell said, he feels it would be good for the community because those with lower incomes would have a chance to buy a home in the city.
“We really thought it was good for everybody,” he said.
The long-term cost to the city was a common concern among council members.
Developers argued that the dedicated land alone is worth $10 million. Along with that, other concessions make the project a financial winner for the city, they maintain.
After the project was withdrawn on Aug. 1, Glenwood Springs Mayor Don Vanderhoof blasted those who were poised to vote against the project, warning that Glenwood Springs could be is on its way to becoming “a complete elitist town like Aspen.”
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Policy that dictates what for-profit activities should be officially sanctioned within Glenwood Springs parks is being reviewed by city staff and will likely come before the city council for final approval later this summer.