Silver Sage could be first project under relaxed housing rules in Glenwood Springs |

Silver Sage could be first project under relaxed housing rules in Glenwood Springs

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – A two-year moratorium on the city’s affordable housing requirements still might not allow enough time for a south Glenwood project to take advantage of the relaxed rules.

Glenwood Springs City Council, on a 4-2 vote at its Aug. 18 meeting, formally approved a temporary suspension of the city’s so-called “inclusionary housing” requirements.

The measure is intended to provide an incentive for developers of residential projects to move forward and help stimulate the local construction and real estate markets, which are still lagging from the recession.

The moratorium will be reviewed after two years, and could be extended.

“We do appreciate what the council has done in lifting these requirements,” planning consultant Ron Liston of Land Design Partnership said at last week’s meeting, during a conceptual review for the 55-unit Silver Sage Preserve development proposal.

But, even with the incentive, construction on the Silver Sage project may not happen within two years, he said.

The city’s inclusionary housing ordinance requires that 15 percent of the houses in new residential developments be deed-restricted and sold at below market prices to qualified buyers.

“That is a key factor for developers, and adds to the cost of doing a project,” Liston said. “It delays when and dictates how a development can be done.”

City Council heard conceptual plans by developer Peter Waller to build 55 residences on 42 acres southwest of the intersection of Airport Road and Four Mile Road.

The area is in the city’s Hillside Preservation zone district, which only allows single-family houses on lots of one acre or more.

Waller is requesting zoning under a Planned Unit Development (PUD) that would allow for 38 duplex units clustered at the top of the hill. He would also build 17 apartments or condominiums along Airport Road across from Cardiff Glen, to be called Cardiff Mesa.

The hillside area in-between would be preserved as open space, except for a long road accessing the upper bench. Waller also proposes to dedicate the historic coke ovens located on the southeast side of the property to the city for preservation purposes.

The Cardiff Mesa units are likely to be the first units built, Liston said.

“That market is there,” he said.

But that’s also the logical location for any affordable housing units, if the requirement were to apply to the project after the two-year moratorium is up, Liston said.

The proposed patio-style duplex units on the upper bench will eventually be marketed to “empty nesters” and retirees. But that market may take longer to return.

Instead of the usual three-year period for vested zoning rights to stay in place, Silver Sage will propose for that period be extended to 10 years.

“Ten years is the minimum amount of time that we can reasonably get the financing to pull this project off,” Liston said.

Council members said they like the plan in general, although concerns were raised about the proposed 10-year vesting period.

“That seems like a long time,” Mayor Matt Steckler said. “I would be more inclined to support five or six years, if you need more time.”

Council member Stephen Bershenyi asked if developers had considered an access point up Four Mile Road, near the existing fire station, instead of the long driveway up from Airport Road.

Liston said that was studied, but there would be safety issues in sharing an access with emergency vehicles coming in and out of the fire station.

Conceptual review is the first step in the public process before a formal development application is submitted to the city. Once submitted, the proposal will be referred to the planning and zoning commission.

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