Zone changes from commercial to medium density residential at Rifle’s North Pastures neighborhood

An open parcel at the intersection of Birch Avenue and East 16th Street in Rifle that is now planned for residential development.
Ray K. Erku / Citizen Telegram

As houses in an east Rifle neighborhood continue to go up, the developer now wants to use remaining open land originally intended for commercial use in the area to build additional housing.

John Savage, owner of Savage Land Co. in Rifle, proposed to Rifle City Council on Wednesday that a parcel at North Pastures at East 16th Street and Birch Avenue be changed from Community Service Business District to Medium Density Residential.

According to city documents, Savage has been unable to attract commercial interests to the area.

With council member Brian Condie absent, the motion passed 4-2. Council members Alicia Gresley and Joe Carpenter opposed the proposal.

The proposal is to build 25 units within about a 3.46-acre development with a density of 7.22 units per acre, according to city documents.

Minimum lot size in the area is 3,000 square feet. The lots proposed for more housing are 4,000 square feet, Rifle Planning Director Patrick Waller said.

Prior to passing the proposal, council discussed potential issues like parking and traffic.

“I think that’s my only big concern is just making sure we can contain those people in there reasonably with good parking,” Council Member Sean Strode said. “We’re also adding another, potentially, 50 cars going in and out of 16th and Birch.”

In off-street and tap fees alone, Savage estimated the project would generate $150,000-$165,000 for the city.

Christina Anderson, who lives in the neighborhood, spoke publicly against the zone change. She said no one has just one car and that the houses already built there are “crammed in.”

“You can reach out and say, ‘Can I borrow the Grey Poupon?’ from windows,” she said.

But speaking to the bigger picture issue of creating affordable housing, Council Member Clint Hostettler said you can’t have it both ways.

“If you build a house on a 5,000-square-foot lot instead of a 10,000-square-foot lot, it becomes more affordable,” he said. “But it creates density.”

In addition to the zone change, council also approved the final plan for the proposed project.

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.