West Glenwood group receives referendum petition verification
Glenwood Springs’ city clerk verified Friday the petition signatures needed for a referendum to repeal the City Council’s decision to annex 480 Donegan in West Glenwood.
“We were just tickled and happy,” Glenwood resident Laurie Raymond said. “But we’re not surprised given how many signatures we got.”
A member of a group of residents formerly identifying themselves as the West Glenwood Pasture Group, Raymond said 23 volunteers scoured the city in November for registered voters to sign the referendum petition and found many residents ready to overturn the council’s Nov. 4 annexation decision.
“While we were getting signatures, we kept hearing the same concerns,” Raymond said, “that council doesn’t listen to us, and they seem to give developers preference over residents.”
The council is scheduled to review the referendum during its regular meeting Jan. 6, at which point it could decide to repeal its annexation and rezoning decisions or put the decision to repeal to voters in the spring.
Originally, the West Glenwood group organized its efforts to shut down developer R2 Partners’ proposal for 480 Donegan on a public Facebook Group, but in recent weeks, the forum went private and changed the group’s name to Glenwood Citizens for Sensible Development. Following the changes, the group removed some members, including Glenwood Springs residents and members of the media.
One of the Facebook group’s administrators, Annie Uyehara, said in a text message the group decided to go private, because other similar Facebook groups were doing the same. She did not comment on the decision to remove some members of the group.
Raymond said she does not use social media, but she believes the referendum is a community topic and would like the community to weigh in on future development discussions.
“I think there’s a potential for real creative engagement going forward,” Raymond said. “We may not have an infinite amount of time to posture and lob snowballs at each other. We’re in this together for the greater good of the community.”
Kathleen Wanatowicz, an R2 Partners spokesperson, said the developers were not ready to comment on the referendum.
“This development is 300 residential units with 60 of those units, 20%, meeting the city’s affordable housing requirements,” Wanatowicz said, “despite the application not being subject to affordable housing requirements approved by the council in March.”
With the referendum moving forward, Raymond said she hopes more residents will become active in voicing their concerns about future developments from Rifle to Aspen.
Some members of the group could meet in the new year to discuss strategies for including more resident voices in the city’s development process, but for now, Raymond said the group is in a waiting pattern.
“We’ll dig into our plan for the future after the holidays,” she said. “I’m hoping our group will have an impact in those (land-use) decisions going forward.”
Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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