A promising development,a promise to neighbors
City Council has done right by downtown in granting a parking variance that will allow several restaurants to open at the old Elk Mountain Motors location across from the Hotel Colorado.Now it must do right by residents of that part of town by following through on a promise to institute a parking program that provides them with some relief from the near-constant crush of cars parked outside their homes.Council faced a difficult decision this month when developer Steve Lundin appealed a city Planning and Zoning Commission decision on the parking variance. Lundin had all the other approvals necessary to open at least some restaurants on the property but needed some more parking spaces if he was to go forward entirely with eateries. He proposed 47 spaces, and the Planning Commission stuck by the city’s regulations requiring 64. Yet Lundin believes restaurants to be the best use of the space, and has received a lot of interest from prospective restaurant tenants.He also pointed out that he can expect a lot of pedestrian use of the restaurants, given the proximity of so many hotels and motels.But residents have a legitimate gripe, too. They bear the brunt of a parking problem created by an area that built up around far too little parking. Lundin didn’t believe he should be punished for an existing problem, but the fact remained that his restaurants pose the potential to make it worse.Working in cooperation with Lundin, City Council’s solution was to approve the variance on the conditions that a parking program be established in the neighborhood, and that the restaurants be required to set up a program to encourage employees to get to work by nontraditional means, so they use less parking.Frankly, the employee program sounds nebulous, hard to enforce, and not entirely likely to be enforced as the years go by. But much of the neighborhood’s problems could be solved if a workable parking program is instituted that assures residents have the ability to park close to their homes, if not out in front of their homes, on a regular basis. The city also should make certain that any parking bans and restrictions in the neighborhood are strictly enforced.Revitalizing the former car dealership will result in a more welcoming entrance to downtown, and boost Glenwood Springs’ appeal to tourists and locals alike. The city is sometimes criticized for having onerous and inflexible regulations that discourage rather than foster such development, so council’s willingness to bend things a bit for the betterment of downtown is good to see.We hope the city also keeps to its promise to show similar attention to the needs of residents of north Glenwood.We hope the city also keeps to its promise to show similar attention to the needs of residents of north Glenwood.
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