Garco rejects Four Mile moratorium |

Garco rejects Four Mile moratorium

Dennis Webb
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Garfield County commissioners on Monday considered but ruled out the idea of imposing a moratorium on development up Four Mile Road to allow for study of traffic impacts.

Commissioner Tresi Houpt suggested the idea Monday, as the county faces the prospect of a proposed massive development at Sunlight Mountain Resort and a revived housing proposal on the Bershenyi and Martino ranch properties outside Glenwood Springs.

Houpt, who lives up the Four Mile corridor, is concerned about how much new traffic volume the two developments and others could create along the corridor. She wants the county to take a closer look at the problems and potential ways of addressing them, and suggested the moratorium as a way to provide time for that to occur.

She said it’s important for the county to have independent analysis done, rather than relying on developers’ traffic analysts.

“I think timing is critical,” she added.

County planners expect Sunlight to submit its proposal by the end of this week. The resort has been talking about building hundreds of homes, condos and hotel units as part of a major redevelopment.

Commissioners rejected a proposal for about 200 homes on the Bershenyi/Martino properties earlier this year, in part out of traffic concerns. Developers are expected to submit a new plan for that property.

“I don’t want to keep voting against applications because we as a county haven’t looked closely at this corridor,” Houpt said.

Although the moratorium idea wasn’t put to a formal vote, commissioners John Martin and Larry McCown both said they didn’t back it.

“I’m not supportive of a moratorium, nor will I ever (be),” McCown said.

He said the county has past traffic studies for the corridor that might be able to be updated. He also questioned whether the county wants to discredit the results of traffic studies done by professional firms for developers.

McCown compared that to efforts to discredit local air and water studies because energy companies paid for them.

“We went out and got independent studies that said the same thing and yet they were (supposedly) better,” he said.

He and Martin also pointed to the fact that the county already has subdivision rules that include fees to mitigate traffic impacts.

In the end, commissioners decided that they could hire firms to analyze the conclusions of developers’ studies and past county and Glenwood Springs studies to determine their adequacy or need for revision.

If the commissioners had wanted to pursue the moratorium, they would have had to hold public hearings first. County Attorney Don Deford said he didn’t know whether a moratorium would even apply to Sunlight if the resort got its application in before the moratorium had been adopted.

Meanwhile, McCown said any complete traffic studies for the corridor need to consider impacts on the Glenwood Springs area as well. Currently all corridor traffic must follow heavily traveled Midland Avenue into town.

That could change if plans for a road connecting to a proposed bridge over the Roaring Fork River south of town ever become a reality. But McCown questioned whether the city will be able to come up with the political will to decide on a route for the new road and bridge.

One possible route would require closing the city’s airport. Another would require crossing the Carter ranch property, which is protected by a conservation easement, McCown said.