2022 in Review: The looming elephant in Glenwood Springs, 480 Donegan
480 Donegan proved to be the most divisive debate of 2022 in Glenwood Springs
The nearly 16 acres in West Glenwood was a stretch of land that Glenwood Springs City Council voted to annex for a housing development in November 2021. The plan was to bring large-scale housing with deed restrictions for people within certain area median income.
Then, opponents successfully submitted a referendum in 2021 to repeal the annexation.
After the petition, City Council chose to leave the decision to the voters instead of repealing the annexation.
Council voted 4-3 in favor to annex the property Nov. 4, 2021. Then, 60% of nearly 2,400 Glenwood Springs residents voted to repeal the council’s decision on May 3, 2022.
“I’m disappointed it ever came to this,” Councilor Ingrid Wussow said after the May election. “In an ideal world, we would have found a balance between fire evacuation, a need for housing and traffic safety. We gave the community a decision, a hard decision, a black and white decision, and they responded.”
The main concerns were from residents who created a group originally known as the West Glenwood Pasture Group and later the Glenwood Springs Citizens for Sensible Development.
One concern included losing the property that has long been open pasture space to a large-scale housing development. Though representatives of the Diemoz family, who owns the land, announced plans to develop it with or without the annexation.
Other concerns included density, fast-paced growth without a proper fire evacuation plan, along with no proper study for how the large-scale growth could affect a necessary fire evacuation.
Both the city and the 480 Donegan developers, R2 Partners, hosted community meetings with stakeholders and residents in hopes of finding a good balance for the community.
The Planning and Zoning Commission denied recommending the annex, voting unanimously and advised council to recommend concessions.
Some of the recommended concessions included: reducing the proposed project density of more than 400 apartment units, not counting on-street parking toward municipal development parking requirements, a need for owner-occupied housing, more inclusionary housing than minimum required, a need for an evacuation study, a need for a fire station in West Glenwood,
The possibility of redeveloping this property and the Glenwood Springs Mall simultaneously and creating parkland within the development, rather than allowing the developer to pay parkland fees, was also pitched, as reported by the Post Independent.
R2 Partners had presented its annexation application to City Council in July, 2021.
The development was revised to build 40 townhomes and 230 apartments instead of 400. It also included an acre of land for a new fire station, more than an acre to parkland, $100,000 donated to the city for fire evacuation planning, agreements with the mall property owners for a potential future mixed development and an offer to dedicate 20% of the apartments to affordable housing requirements.
The housing requirements were only an offer to dedicate the 20%, so the developers were not obligated to legally include affordable housing.
“We’re hoping City Council learns from this experience that they need to listen to their constituents and trust the community,” Laurie Raymond, a member of the Glenwood Springs Citizens for Sensible Development organization, said after the May election. “Affordable housing is important, but we don’t believe this was the right solution or the right time. We will really be engaged in this issue going forward.”
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