PI Editorial: Gleaning lessons from Glenwood Springs’ annexation repeal

Post Independent Editorial Board

In the end, it wasn’t even particularly close.

Voters last Tuesday voted by double-digits to overturn the annexation of property in West Glenwood that was slated for high-density residential development.

This board advocated earlier this year for upholding the annexation, but the voters decided otherwise, and we respect and appreciate that. We congratulate Glenwood Citizens for Sensible Development on their success in communicating their concerns with voters, which very clearly resonated.

For us and others who supported annexation, now is the time to consider what we can learn from the results in order to hopefully avoid a similarly divisive vote in the future.

First off, it’s important to note just how common it was to hear opponents speak about a lack of trust in annexation supporters’ attempts to allay their concerns. We don’t necessarily feel that lack of trust was entirely fair, but it doesn’t matter if we think it’s fair or not. The good news is that the city has a clear opportunity to engage and facilitate trust with residents through the ongoing Comprehensive Plan update process.

Comprehensive plans are guiding documents for local governments, which can inform policy decisions on topics such as affordable housing, growth, development, climate considerations and economic resiliency. Before Tuesday’s vote, some residents urged the developers and City Council to hold off on future housing until the comp plan is updated. The election results give everyone the opportunity to do just that.

But an opportunity to weigh in on the future of our community doesn’t matter if we don’t show up. So we’d encourage all residents, including those living just outside city limits, to talk with their council members, attend public listening sessions and actively engage to make sure the updated comprehensive plan reflects their desires and hopes.

The next Comprehensive Plan Project Steering Committee meeting is slated for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Glenwood Springs City Hall and via Zoom.

Another lesson we could take away from Tuesday’s election is that everyone could use some time to breathe. We’ve had a lot of ballot measures recently and, frankly, not enough effort has been put into building those initiatives up from the grassroots level. Our recommendation? No ballot initiatives until fall 2024. That’s not to say Glenwood Springs City Council members should put governing and policy on ice but that they should really focus on seeking out collaboration over the next year before bringing another initiative to the voters.

One final small yet big recommendation we have for our council members is to really attempt a reset at interpersonal relationships with each other. Snipping and snapping happens all too frequently and easily right now, and that surely has an impact on how people regard the council. Policy differences are one thing, but we don’t think it benefits residents when council members seemingly can’t trust one another.

Remember that policy differences don’t supersede the most important goal you all share for Glenwood Springs: to help bring about the best present and future possible for residents. Hang onto that, and try to lead with that first.

The Post Independent editorial board members are Editor Peter Baumann, Managing Editor/Senior Reporter John Stroud, and community representatives Mark Fishbein and Danielle Becker.

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