Urban Growth Boundary merits vote of public | PostIndependent.com

Urban Growth Boundary merits vote of public

Last July, when we advised the Glenwood Springs City Council to hold its collective nose and approve annexation and higher density for the Red Feather Ridge subdivision, the issue of expanding the city’s Urban Growth Boundary was not at the fore.

Our reluctant support of the project centered on the community’s need for more affordable housing, and its distinct lack of need for another upscale, large-lot development – the default option for Red Feather Ridge.

Now, however, the Urban Growth Boundary principle has become a key part of this debate.

A new citizens group, Community Voices for Responsible Growth, has made preservation of the Urban Growth Boundary their rallying cry.

They seek to reverse the City Council’s first-reading, 4-3 decision to annex Red Feather Ridge and zone it for 149 lots, which will also require an extension of the city’s Urban Growth Boundary.

Glenwood Springs established its Urban Growth Boundary in 1996, when it adopted a land use plan as part of the city’s overall comprehensive plan. The boundary line, which matches the 6,000-foot elevation line in most places, is meant to encompass the realm of dense, urban development that defines Glenwood Springs.

At present, the Urban Growth Boundary line crosses Four Mile Road at the city water tank level.

In and of itself, the Urban Growth Boundary is a commendable concept. It is a very clear way for city leaders to set a course for the future and convey their vision for the city’s growth to those who lead the city years later.

This newspaper still favors annexation and more dense development at Red Feather Ridge, and city control over the development. We feel this outweighs the fact that such a move will bail out an unfortunate investment and add congestion to the Four Mile area.

But in light of the public controversy and valid questions being raised, we believe extending the Urban Growth Boundary should be a conscious choice made by the community.

In 2000, Colorado voters turned down a constitutional amendment that would have required any such extensions of a city’s Urban Growth Boundary to be approved by city voters. State law doesn’t require such a vote, but the City Council, which is narrowly split over the Red Feather decision, would show good faith in putting such a question to the voters.

It’s likely the Community Voices group will seek such a ballot question if Red Feather Ridge is approved on second reading, set for Thursday. If City Council refers the issue to a vote, community debate can focus on the most important issue at hand: should the Urban Growth Boundary be extended?

– Heather McGregor, Managing Editor

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