Commission OKs housing at Meadows
November 3, 2005
A city board has recommended approval of an affordable housing proposal at Glenwood Meadows but failed to support relaxed requirements on height limits and a park for the 120-unit project.Members of the Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission this week were sharply divided on several issues surrounding the proposal as they debated how many concessions the city should make to help provide more affordable housing.The panel voted 4-3 to approve the apartment complex, which will undergo final review by City Council. Eighty-four of the apartments would be available as low-income housing.Planning Commissioner Bruce Barth led the criticism of the proposal.”I think it needs [to be] reworked,” he said.He joined a majority of the commission in rejecting variances on height and block length on the project and on a requirement to provide a one-acre park.Commissioner Mark McClain shared many of Barth’s concerns and said the project hadn’t improved enough since the P&Z began considering it in an earlier meeting.”I think a lot of the details got better, but a lot of the major problems didn’t change much or go away,” he said.But other commissioners argued in favor of easing some requirements for the sake of providing more affordable housing in a city that sorely needs it.”I don’t know where else this will occur if the private sector doesn’t step up,” commissioner Dave Sturges said.Fellow commissioner Joan Baldwin said she recognizes the concern about creating “huge buildings in what was open space.””I think it’s startling to look at that, but on the other hand I think it’s the kind of variance that we’re going to have to put our hands around and embrace,” she said. “I think that’s what we’re going to have to think about when we have community housing.”Developer Robert Macgregor said he was somewhat baffled when P&Z denied variances related to building size and the parks even while approving the development.”It’s a confusing set of conditions. … We didn’t get a consistent message,” he said.He said he’s excited the project was approved but won’t know if the denial of the variances could make it unworkable until he’s had a chance to analyze it.Macgregor and other developers also plan to ask council to waive some development fees to help make the project financially feasible.Glenwood Meadows LLC is proposing a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. About 70 percent would be income-restricted, limited in some cases to residents earning less than 40 percent of the area median income and in other cases to those earning less than 60 percent of the median.Under those restrictions, rent for some of the units would be $531 a month, and others would be $860 a month.The restrictions qualify the project for federal and state housing finance assistance. The restrictions would remain in effect for 35 years.The apartments would be built in six buildings over about seven acres.