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Tram approval has one more hill to climb

Greg Mass

The fate of the Glenwood Caverns tram could ride on a Thursday night City Council decision. Although the Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission approved a special use permit and major development permit for the tram at their April 30 meeting, city manager Mike Copp filed an appeal to Glenwood Springs City Council to revisit those approvals. The planning commission approved a variance that would allow construction of the tram towers and a 9,500-square-foot tram terminal at the top of Iron Mountain. The commission also approved a variance that would allow the tram company to provide less parking than the city usually requires. Copp wrote that the variances would create a precedent “which marks the beginning of the end of the hard-fought battle to create the (hillside preservation overlay zone) and protect the hillsides of Glenwood.”Glenwood Caverns owner and tram partner Steve Beckley has said any delays could kill the project. In a memorandum written June 3 by Mike Copp to members of City Council, Copp again explained the rationale behind his appeal. “I believe, by Planning and Zoning’s powers to grant these variances, it placed Glenwood Springs City Council in a position that, in order to enforce the provisions of the code, they would have to deny the overall development that was requested,” he wrote. “Council now has the opportunity to review and modify the major development permit by denying the approvals and still be able to pass the project with regard to the major development permit.”John Schenk, the attorney for the tram project, which is officially titled Cavern Plaza LLC, wrote a letter to City Council stating his client’s view of the appeal. “At the outset, the applicant objects to the validity of this appeal,” Schenk wrote.That objection, Schenk wrote, is based on what he sees as the illegality of a member of the city staff undertaking the appeal. In addition to his initial objection, Schenk also went through the objection paragraph by paragraph, stating his client’s side of each issue. He concluded by writing that his client “has provided ample information to allow this project to proceed to construction. The applicant requests that the actions taken by the Planning Commission be upheld in all respects.”Also on the agenda:-Council will consider granting a lease of the police station, old city hall or the old gas station on Grand Avenue and 23rd Street to the Salvation Army. -Council will consider a request by Mike Alsdorf to waive claims to a prescriptive easement in return for Alsdorf making some street improvements next to his property. An approval would pave the way for the old Cardiff School to be moved to a new and permanent location in the city-owned Conservancy Park. Once it is moved, the plan is for the school to be used for educating children on river ecology. Before that happens, however, the Garfield County commission must waive their claim to a right of way in the area. -Council will discuss a proposed annexation agreement with the developers of Glenwood Meadows. -Council will consider a resolution that would find a petition of annexation for 2550 Highway 82 in compliance, setting in motion annexation proceedings and setting a public hearing on the matter. -Council will discuss the progress of a noise abatement ordinance. -Council will peruse the city staff’s recommendations for drought preparation. The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Glenwood Springs City Hall.


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