Glenwood amenable to Four Mile annexations | AspenTimes.com

Glenwood amenable to Four Mile annexations

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A majority of the current Glenwood Springs City Council would be OK with including the lower Four Mile corridor into the city’s so-called “urban growth boundary,” at least up to the Elk Meadows property that’s targeted for future development.

The urban growth boundary, typically a three-mile area of influence surrounding the city, is one of the key components of Glenwood Springs’ ongoing comprehensive plan update.

Recently, city planners asked consultants working on the update of the 1998 comprehensive plan, Winston and Associates, to prepare a series of white papers summarizing the major issues that were determined from public input sessions earlier this year.

Among them are annexation and influence areas, potential future airport land use, growth in the city’s secondary centers beyond downtown, and downtown pedestrian vs. traffic improvements.

The issues were discussed at another in a series of City Council work sessions on July 1, designed to eventually bring the existing comprehensive plan up to date.

The key phrase in the context of the plan, City Councilman Dave Sturges said, is “eligible for annexation.”

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“That’s all we’re talking about here, and not that we’re actually considering annexing at this point,” he said. “It’s just an opportunity to be considered.”

The white papers include a preferred alternative on each of the topics, including how the city should deal with future growth specifically along Four Mile Road, and along Highway 82 south as far as Cattle Creek.

Sturges said the white papers should be viewed not as land-use policy, but rather as providing a long-range view for specific development proposals to be considered as they come along.

Councilwoman Shelley Kaup, however, pointed out that whatever ends up in the comprehensive plan will be used to guide land-use policy.

Even now, “when you get beyond our current urban growth boundary, there is a lot of urban growth going on,” she said.

Sturges suggested forming a jointly appointed city/county planning commission to address land-use proposals in the areas just outside the city limits.

As for the Four Mile corridor, council heard from attorney Larry Green, who represents the would-be developers of the Elk Meadows property (the former John Bershenyi ranch).

“I would urge you to include Elk Meadows property for potential annexation,” Green said. “It is the last large piece of developable property in immediate environs of city, and you don’t want to preclude the potential for development in the city by not including it in your urban growth boundary.”

Whenever a development plan does come forward, the city can then weigh the potential benefits of annexation versus the impacts, he said.

“I can agree with going up as far as Elk Meadows,” said Councilman Stephen Bershenyi, who is a distant relative of the family that previously owned the property. “It’s a way to control a wide-open piece of ground that hasn’t been touched yet … but I think that’s as far as we can logically go up Four Mile.”

In 2006, the city had a pre-annexation agreement with Elk Meadows that would have allowed the developer to purchase 200 sewer taps, but the deal never went through, and Garfield County ultimately denied the project. The property is also not currently contiguous with city limits, meaning that the city may have to annex the existing Four Mile Ranch subdivision, with which the city also at one time had a pre-annexation agreement.

As for the area south of Glenwood along Highway 82, council members generally agreed that the growth boundary should extend no farther than the Buffalo Valley/Red Canyon area. However, the city should have a say in whatever new development plan comes forward for the long-controversial Cattle Creek property. Garfield County is anticipating a new development plan for the property later this year.

Also discussed was the notion of future development of the municipal airport land, should the airport ever go away.

Community input on the issue of whether the city should retain the airport has tended to lean toward keeping it as is, Glenwood Community Development Director Andrew McGregor said.

The airport also provides a certain positive economic impact on the city, according to a 2008 Colorado Department of Transportation report, including a $400,000 annual payroll, $243,000 in lodging, car rental and sales tax, and an approximate $9.6 million total annual output, ranking the Glenwood airport 13th among general aviation airports in Colorado.

“There are people who base businesses in Glenwood because of the airport, which provides a means of doing business here,” Mayor Bruce Christensen said. “They bring hundreds of thousands of dollars into this community.”

However, some council members said the city needs an independent analysis of the airport’s economic impact before making any determinations on how to view the facility in the future.

The comprehensive plan update will be a continued topic of discussion over the coming months, both by City Council and the Glenwood Planning and Zoning Commission. For more information about the process, visit online at http://www.glenwoodspringscompplan.com.

jstroud@postindependent.com

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