Glenwood Council met with sometimes unruly crowd, but sticks behind 480 Donegan annexation
Dozens of residents booed, hissed, insulted, and at times even threatened Glenwood Springs City Council as it reviewed the second reading of an annexation and rezoning of nearly 16 acres in West Glenwood for the proposed 480 Donegan project.
Residents crammed into the council chambers Thursday night, many refusing city staff requests that people who could not find a seat attend the meeting via the council’s overflow chamber across the hall.
For several minutes, the group refused to budge, shouting over city staff, council members and Glenwood Springs Police Chief Joseph Deras.
Once the rabble settled, council began its regular session by voting to allow public comment on the second reading of multiple agenda items related to annexation and rezoning for the project — only to pause several times and ask boisterous members of the group not to shout, level insults or raise a round of applause after every public comment.
At one point, a man, who did not identify himself, shouted menacingly at Mayor Jonathan Godes, “I’ll see you after the meeting, Jonathan.”
The man voluntarily removed himself from the meeting after making several more comments, ending with “you can all go to hell.”
For two hours, residents, most of whom identified themselves as residing in West Glenwood, berated council members, targeting Mayor Pro Tem Charlie Willman specifically, for voting to approve the annexation and rezoning of the property on Oct. 21.
Residents threatened to recall the councilors, expressed concerns about the safety of West Glenwood if R2 Partners continued with their plans to build 300 residential units on the property and said they were concerned about further decreasing childcare options in the community by increasing the population.
“We got to think about who we let in,” West Glenwood resident Lori Welch said.
Another resident, Laurie Chase, said more people could mean less teachers and police, which might raise crime rates.
“People that aren’t educated tend to commit more crimes,” Chase said.
Jennifer Vanian said she was concerned that a development of 480 Donegan’s size would attract too many trade workers to the area.
“I could see them earning more here than they might back home and realize they could earn even more in Aspen, so they decide to move here, too,” Vanian said.
Some residents presented their comments respectfully, thanking the council for the opportunity to be heard and asking council members to listen to a primary message of the group — no more growth in West Glenwood until a new comprehensive plan has been approved.
Council ultimately ratified its approval of the annexation and rezoning for 480 Donegan by a vote of 4-3, with Willman, Godes and council members Shelley Kaup and Steve Davis in favor. Council members Tony Hershey, Paula Stepp and Ingrid Wussow voted against.
Many residents booed and one audience member shouted “chicken s—” at Willman when he announced he would continue his support for the development.
“I have fully heard what the group have said,” Willman said. “I made an unpopular decision, and I will stand by that decision.”
Explaining his decision was made after careful consideration of numerous calls, letters, emails and voicemails, Willman said he felt annexing and rezoning the property was in the best interest of all the residents of Glenwood Springs.
“I didn’t take this office to be popular — I took this office to make the best decisions I could for the city and its residents,” he said. “People have a right to develop their property.”
Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.