Weighty matter: Glenwood City Council looks at lifting moratorium
After working through some major issues this year, Glenwood Springs City Council has agreed to try to lift a development moratorium in the south part of town later this month.However, it is conditioning that action on some more big decisions, including considering reinstating bus service to south Glenwood, trying to revive traffic impact fees, and reaching a more specific agreement with Garfield County on sharing of traffic improvement costs.Following an hour-long work session Thursday and further debate during its regular meeting, council voted 5-1 to direct city attorney Karl Hanlon to prepare an ordinance repealing the moratorium, which was put in place at the start of the year. The ordinance will be considered at the July 20 council meeting.Council imposed the moratorium to give it time to do some planning to meet future transportation, sewage treatment and other needs. Since then, it has adopted a wastewater treatment plan, including the eventual relocation of its sewage plant to West Glenwood.The city also has identified a need for improvements to the intersections of 27th Street at South Grand and Midland avenues, and has received a tentative commitment from two of Garfield County’s three commissioners to help fund those improvements and continue to partner with the city in pursuing the south bridge project. That project would provide a second access route to south Glenwood and the Four-Mile Road corridor.However, the uncertain level of county support remains a source of concern for council members. Council member Joe O’Donnell said he didn’t hear unanimous agreement from commissioners Trési Houpt and John Martin in their recent meeting with council regarding county support for south Glenwood traffic needs. Said Mayor Bruce Christensen, “We need the county to be a participant because development is going to occur up (Four-Mile Road) sooner or later. Every bit of that traffic is going to dump into this town.”The city plans to pursue discussions to clarify the county’s intended level of monetary commitment to the south bridge and 27th Street intersection projects.Meanwhile, council member Dave Merritt said the city hasn’t adequately addressed transportation needs in south Glenwood as long as it doesn’t provide city bus service there. Council cut service to south Glenwood last year due to funding limitations, and Merritt said it’s time to restore it.”It’s something we can do now. We don’t have to wait two or three years to do it,” he said.O’Donnell said if that’s the case, it’s equally important to complete the bike path that has long been planned to extend into south Glenwood. But he questioned where the money would come from to restore the bus service, and took issue with linking that to ending the moratorium.”I believe the moratorium ought to be lifted but I think we’re putting so many restrictions in there it’s going to be difficult,” said O’Donnell, who voted against lifting the moratorium with those restrictions attached.Council agreed to look at addressing the bus service as part of lifting the moratorium, however. It also agreed to look into restoring impact fees as a means of generating money for traffic projects. The city used to impose the fees on development in the 1990s but rescinded them out of concerns that included their possible negative effects on economic growth.Mark Iddings and Chris Steuben, who both have developable land impacted by the moratorium, voiced unease Thursday about how the fees might affect them, even as they expressed hope that the moratorium might be lifted. Iddings noted that there are few developable properties left in town.”I don’t know if a little bit of development can pay for everything that needs to be done. Maybe it needs to be spread through the whole city,” he said.
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