Glenwood Springs council deadlocks on Glenwood Meadows proposal, killing development
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
A proposal to build 300 residential units in Glenwood Meadows died last week after a 3-3 tie vote by Glenwood Springs City Council.
Located on land annexed by the city about 20 years ago, the development proposal included 14 buildings on about 30 acres of land with about 3 acres of parkland for tenants’ use as well as public access to the Wulfsohn Trail system.
Trent Hyatt, the city’s senior planner, told council members at Thursday’s meeting the applicants, BLD Group and Glenwood Meadows LLC, volunteered 15 of the 300 units to be deed-restricted for up to five years and be rented at a rate based on 100% of the area median income during that time frame. Because the permitting process for the development began before the council implemented an affordable housing requirement for new developments early this year, Hyatt said the developers were not required to deed restrict any units.
During meetings with the planning and zoning commission, the developers volunteered to rent 10 units at 100% AMI. While the commission approved the proposal 6-0, commissioners asked BLD Group to consider increasing the amount of deed-restricted units. The developer responded by volunteering five more units.
Representing the applicants, attorney Chad Lee said the developers meticulously designed the units to meet the city’s codes without the need for variances.
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“We’re proud to present this project, which has been 20 years in the making,” Lee said.
In addition to the residential units, the design proposal included an approximately 21,000 square-foot clubhouse, which could feature about 5,000 square feet for a day care to serve up to 70 children, he said.
About 52% of the residential units were designed as two- and three-bedroom apartments, with the remaining units consisting of one-bedroom and studio apartments. Lee said those units might be rented at rates of about $1,500 a month for a studio on the low end, and up to $2,800 for a three-bedroom apartment.
Mayor Pro Tem Charlie Willman asked if the applicants anticipated police officers, firefighters and teachers — people Lee previously identified as potential benefactors of the development — would be able to afford those rents.
“Yes, I think they could,” Lee said. “These are market-rate apartments, and they will be rented at market rates. Rents are only going to go up.”
Lee said the development did not receive any feedback from the public — good or bad — prior to the meeting, and during the public comment portion of the council’s meeting, no one spoke for or against the proposal.
One resident did speak up to request the council require future developers enroll in mandatory composting and recycling programs.
Council member Tony Hershey, who opposed the 480 Donegan development, said he supported BLD Group’s proposal.
“This is different, this is classic infill,” Hershey said. “I am not surprised there is not a public outrage here.”
The 480 Donegan development proposal began as several apartment complexes similar to the design layout proposed for Glenwood Meadows, but Donegan developers R2 Partners later responded to public feedback by including a mix of townhomes and increasing the number of two- and three-bedroom apartments. The proposed 480 Donegan development plans include 300 residential units located on about 16 acres.
Willman, who initially opposed the 480 Donegan development, but later supported it following changes made by the developer, said he was disappointed in the Glenwood Meadows proposal’s lack of housing diversity.
“This project is 13 homogenous boxes,” Willman said. “I don’t think that’s what we need in this community.”
Willman said the residents would be better served by the development of various housing types, including townhomes, single-family units and apartments. He also expressed concerns about the lack of affordable options within the proposed development.
Sharing Willman’s concerns about the lack of housing diversity, Council Member Paula Stepp, who opposed the 480 Donegan development, said she was also worried about the traffic impacts created by a high density development with limited egress options.
Lee responded to Stepp’s comments by pointing out the area is zoned for high-density residences, and the development’s traffic layout complied with city code.
The potential for a day care caught the attention of Council Member Ingrid Wussow, who opposed the 480 Donegan project.
“It is to my own chagrin that I am probably supporting this,” Wussow said. “Because my preference would be that you meet the affordable housing requirements of today.”
Council Member Shelley Kaup, who supported the 480 Donegan development, said she would support the development because of the mounting evidence a lack of housing is at the root of the area’s labor force challenges.
“I am intrigued that there have been no public comments,” Kaup said. “I would, however, like to see the 15 units deed restricted for longer than five years.”
Mayor Jonathan Godes, who supported the 480 Donegan development, said the tiered landscaping was an impressive approach to developing the sloped terrain and agreed with Wussow about the daycare being an attractive addition, but said the lack of housing diversity was an issue for him.
“I’m very torn on this,” he said.
Instead of what was proposed, Godes said he would rather see a phased development proposal for all 415 residential units permitted by city code to be built within the area, which included 300 apartments and 115 townhomes or single-family units.
Council Member Steve Davis was absent.
BLD Group’s development proposal was killed by a tie vote, with Godes, Willman and Stepp voting against the proposal and Hershey, Wussow and Kaup voting for.