Garco sinks Rapids subdivision plan |

Garco sinks Rapids subdivision plan

Dennis Webb
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. ” The 104-home Rapids on the Colorado subdivision proposal capsized Monday when Garfield County commissioners rejected it by a 2-1 vote.

The denial came after several neighbors said it was too dense a development for a rural area.

“We cherish our open space and wildlife and we need you to save it,” Ken Collins told commissioners.

The subdivision was proposed for a 121-acre parcel that the county had approved for 33 homes in 1997. Four homes now exist on the site.

Karl Hanlon, an attorney for the property owner, Gene Hilton, said the proposal would have increased open space on the property and provided trails and Colorado River access for the public. He said it also conformed with the county comprehensive plan as well as nearby New Castle’s plan.

“This type of development at this type of density is what is implicated at a location like this,” he said.

The proposal also would have included a wastewater treatment plant, rather than the individual septic systems that are planned in the existing subdivision. But Kent Jolley and John Olson, who co-own property adjacent to where the plant would have been located, said it would have hurt their land’s value and the quality of life it offers.

County officials also were worried about the public trail and river easement aspects of the plan. They have had continuing concerns about the maintenance costs and legal liabilities the county would take on if it accepts such land donations. The county has no parks department.

County Commissioner Tresi Houpt also worried about the proposal’s possible impact on wildlife.

Pat Fitzgerald, a Glenwood Springs real estate agent, said developments such as the Rapids on the Colorado are needed to deal with a severe housing shortage. Yet such proposals run into opposition from neighbors, he said.

“This happens every time and we can’t turn down every subdivision,” he said.

Said Houpt, “We are in short supply of housing … but that doesn’t mean we still shouldn’t proceed in a prudent manner.”

She said a development as dense as the Rapids on the Colorado should be closer to a municipality and would have been out of character where it was proposed.

Commissioner Larry McCown voted against denying the project.

“I’m not prepared to stick my head in the sand and say no more growth in Garfield County,” he said.

He said of the Rapids proposal, “Is it popular? Heck no. Does it meet the letter of the law? Heck yes. We have to deal with reality. We have to set ourselves aside from emotion and it’s not easy,” he said.

The Rapids site had been proposed for 319 homes in the 1980s, before approval later was given for 33 homes. Roads have been installed for that development, and Hilton had hoped to build cul-de-sacs off those roads to put up more homes on smaller lots.

County Commissioner John Martin said he would like to see a development there incorporate more clustering of homes between pockets of open space.

Hilton earlier had proposed 121 homes but scaled back that plan to address density concerns.

A traffic consultant for the developer had said the project wouldn’t have had traffic impacts, but neighboring residents scoffed Monday at that conclusion. It was projected to generate an average of 1,078 vehicle trips per day.