Monday letters: Readers respond to mayor’s column, and other annexation vote thoughts
Special Election Note: Today, Monday, April 25, is the deadline to submit letters related to the May 3 Glenwood Springs special election. Letter writers are limited to one letter per topic. Our 350-word limit will be strictly enforced.
Get the facts straight on Question B
Recently you may have received a mailer depicting an artist’s rendering of the potential development of 480 Donegan and the potential redevelopment of Glenwood Mall. If you still have that mailer, please refer to it as you read this op-ed.
Last Friday, the mayor stated in an op-ed: “Make no mistake, 480 Donegan is legally bound to the annexation agreement and cannot move forward if the mall does not get developed, regardless of the owner.”
The mayor’s statement is incorrect. When one reads the annexation agreement, it is clear that development of 480 Donegan does not assure development of the Glenwood Mall and that 480 Donegan may proceed absent mall redevelopment.
This distinction is critical because the mayor infers that a “no” vote on “B” will result in some version of the development shown in the mailer being built in its entirety.
This inference is false. Question B is about 480 Donegan, not the mall.
Referring to the mailer, the only thing you are being asked to vote on in Question B is the yellow outlined section containing 300 units proposed by the developer, R2 partners. R2 does not own or control sections outlined in red. Neither R2 nor the city can assure that anything outlined in red will ever be developed. Not the mall, not the new retail, not the residential over retail, not the grocery store, nothing.
So don’t be fooled. In no case are you voting for the complete development shown in the mailer. You are only voting on 300 units and 1,000 new residents (a 10% bump in population) for which our infrastructure is unprepared.
The mayor’s assertion that there are only two options — either the pretty picture on one side of the mailer, or warehouses depicted on the other side — is simply untrue. There are always other options. A “yes” vote on “B” will prevent annexation and encourage the Diemoz family and R2 to find other, less disruptive options for Glenwood.
In the PI’s sixth pro-annexation column, our mayor makes two major claims in support of annexation and Issue “B.” Neither is correct, and his statements are inaccurate.
One, the mayor’s column claims that the developer “cannot move forward [with the annexation] if the mall does not get redeveloped, regardless of the owner.” That is not true. There is nothing in the annexation agreement requiring purchase or redevelopment of the Glenwood Springs Mall.
Yes, the annexation mentions the mall, but if the developer does not buy the mall, and they don’t own it now, and are not under contract to do so, they may still proceed with the annexation. They do need to provide land for a fire station, and they need an easement, so it might make economic sense to acquire adjacent property like the mall, but there is no requirement to do so, and if they don’t, the annexation, per the agreement, proceeds.
The easement already exists, redevelopment, no matter who owns the mall, is not required, and for the final time, if the mall is not purchased by the developer nothing prohibits the annexation from going forward. It might make economic sense to buy the mall if you are going to build a massive development at 480 Donegan, and you wouldn’t want to give up an acre for a fire station on valuable land zoned for 300 units of housing, but there is no “contractual requirement” to buy or redevelop the mall or any other property for the annexation to proceed. To claim differently is simply not true.
Second, the mayor again threatens the people of Glenwood Springs with warehouses if the annexation is not approved. He writes: If “the annexation fails, the land will become a warehouse district under county control.” Scary, but also untrue.
Yes, the land owner could build warehouses; they have a 40-year-old approval to do so. I can knock my house down and leave it an empty lot forever, but neither of those plans make economic sense. The more likely scenario is a return to the county for a reasonable development and/or sale to another developer to get approvals to build private homes. But nothing is certain.
So please vote “yes” on B on May 3, to stop annexation.
Tony Hershey, City Council member at-large
We can do better
In Friday’s PI guest column Mayor Godes states, “make no mistake, 480 Donegan is legally bound to the annexation agreement and cannot move forward if the mall does not get redeveloped.” I can find nowhere in the Annexation Agreement where he can back that statement up.
What is true according to the agreement, and the photo postcard R-2 sent the entire city: The promise of a small 1-acre park sits on the mall property.
The townspeople are affronted at the idea of 300 units. I believe the reason the city and Mayor Godes want to rush this project lies in the picture postcard mailed to the townspeople. If you look closely you will see two more stories of apartments above a brand new mall. If the whole project were presented with that density it would have been soundly rejected.
Mayor Godes also states, “according to traffic studies a warehouse district would create more traffic than residential.” The city did not do a traffic study. R-2 did a traffic study by Kimberly Horn on March 3, 2021. School was let out early on Wednesdays, and it was a COVID-19 traffic pattern.
There are some real deep-dive issues here. The city is wholly unprepared to add 800-1,000 more cars on each side of the already outdated West Glenwood roundabout. Please vote “yes” to repeal the annexation of 480 Donegan. We can do better.
County zoning correction
I do not write letters to the editor, but I feel that I have to write a letter to correct a misrepresentation regarding the potential possibility that the 480 Donegan property could become a warehouse district if the property is not annexed as proposed. This is an incorrect statement.
In 1980, by Resolution No. 81-121 of the Garfield County Board of County Commissioners, approved the Glenwood Business Park by Special Use Permit, the SUP limited the use of the property to 15 buildings with uses consistent with the Commercial/Limited zone district as it existed at that time and any future uses allowed in the C/L zone district.
Any different use would require a zone district and/or land use permit to change the existing land use permit, which would require hearings before the Board of County Commissioners.
The present C/L zone district is described as follows in the Garfield County Land Use Code:
Commercial, Limited (CL). The Limited Commercial Zone District provides for a limited range of commercial uses needed to meet the shopping needs of residents in the adjacent neighborhoods. Businesses are to be oriented to the neighborhood and compatible with surrounding residential uses.
The intent of the C/L zone has not changed much since 1980 in that it is a commercial service zone for offices and personal service establishments. It is not a “warehouse” zone that would have large tractor-trailer trucks idling 24/7, as represented in the column (Mayor Godes, April 22). If the property were to be successfully developed as a commercial center, it may in fact alleviate some of the traffic on the streets in the rest of the city and provide job opportunities to people not wanting to commute upvalley.
It is really disturbing to think that someone in a position of authority would make such incorrect statements, without doing the research. All of the statements I have made regarding the zoning of the property can be backed up by going to the Garfield County Community Development Department/Planning website and looking at Special Use permits, Glenwood Partners.
Mark Bean, former county planner
Why no press?
The decision by GSPI staff not to publish anything related to the recent Imagine Glenwood Town Hall meeting. This discussion regarding the upcoming city of Glenwood Springs ballot question B should have been prime material for a local newspaper. There was very strong turnout and deep analysis of technical issues in the virtual meeting portion of the presentation.
This omission was characterized as a “[choice] not to publish a story” because “new information was not presented at the town hall.” Attendees disagreed. The impacts of the annexation and zoning of 15+ acres into the city with 700-900 or more residents, nearly a 10% increase, are complex and many.
Ignoring the concerned and involved citizens of the Imagine Glenwood grassroots group hosting and moderating a virtual and live forum on this is a curious choice.
Many thanks to Sumner Schachter and the Community Builders team of Clark and Rachel for believing in the importance of providing a forum to help the voters in Glenwood Springs proper. City voters through their vote will determine an important part of Glenwood’s future. Not the most impacted people, but the electorate, controls the neighborhood’s destiny. The concerns of many were not heard with council’s majority vote. Elected leaders’ choice to build in hopes the right “they” will come has immediate impact city- and regionwide and adds to recent years’ growth before the dirt has settled.
My wife and I live on Blake Avenue. It’s too late to save us from development. As part of the community, we write to save others.
If we must grow, Glenwood has many prime areas for redevelopment. Instead, the council is opting to destroy open space while leaving the old sewer plant and West Glenwood Mall. That is an ugly choice.
Did our Spanish outreach
“We believe the city and our community must do a better job of engaging the city’s Latino residents.” (Alex Sanchez column, 4/20/22).
I cannot speak for the city of Glenwood, but as far as the Glenwood Springs Citizens for Sensible Development group goes, the efforts that have gone into keeping the Latino community involved have been awesome.
From Spanish material being distributed since the inception of the volunteer group, Facebook posts giving Latino community opportunities to get involved, getting the groups voice out through radio ads that Samuel was generous enough to help us out with, so more of the Latino community would know more about the group’s efforts.
The volunteer group also reached out to a Glenwood Springs member even before the repeal signature campaign, and I was asked to help in engaging Latinos with the issue. I was one of the original petitioners and a part of the core leadership since the beginning. In regards to the “insensitive and racially charged statements,” like any other Facebook page, people voicing their opinions will always happen, but the fact that people’s comments have overshadowed the hard work of the volunteer group is very disheartening.
You mention “300 market-rate rental and affordable units,” but I am more interested in the community understanding what market-rate rentals mean. Rather than give specific numbers of what these rents will look like, developers tend to use this term to hide generally expensive rents.
I am also curious to see what the community thinks about adding more traffic to West Glenwood? In the event of an emergency, do the West Glenwood residents feel confident that they would be able to leave in a quick and efficient manner if required to do so? If these questions cannot be answered right now, then this is not the right move for Glenwood.
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