Reserve at Elk Meadows rejection not up for debate
GLENWOOD SPRINGS The attorney for the Reserve at Elk Meadows failed Monday to get Garfield County commissioners to reconsider their recent rejection of the 200-home development near Glenwood Springs.Commissioners turned down the unusual request Monday in part because they have no process in place for reconsidering development decisions.Attorney Larry Green said he believes commissioners may have misunderstood some issues related to the development application, and developers were seeking reconsideration as one alternative to possibly taking legal action.”I don’t think the decision you made is legally defensible,” Green told commissioners.He said there’s a significant chance of a court overturning the commissioners’ decision, but he preferred to avoid such a time-consuming process.Commissioner Trési Houpt said she believes she fully understood the issues surrounding the proposal.”I’m a little uncomfortable with the notion of starting a process that we have no process for,” she added.County attorney Don Deford said he can’t remember county commissioners ever agreeing to reconsider a development decision over the last 20 years, and believes few such requests have been made. The normal option when a developer is turned down is to submit a revised proposal that goes through the full county planning review process, which also includes review by the county planning commission. Alternatively, a developer can take the matter to court.Deford said the county could risk legal action by project opponents if it allowed reconsideration of the decision without having a process to follow.Green contends that the commissioners’ determination that the development is too dense contradicts the county comprehensive plan. He also takes issue with their conclusion that the project’s traffic impacts were underreported and inadequately addressed.Green noted that the project’s traffic impacts were dealt with to the satisfaction of the city of Glenwood Springs, and also took into account the impacts expected as a result of the proposed development of hundreds of housing units at Sunlight Mountain Resort.”I don’t understand how one can conclude that that was an underreporting of the traffic impacts,” he said.Green said he takes some responsibility for not better informing commissioners. He said he had assumed the project would be approved after it was supported by county planning staff and the planning commission, and was surprised that it was turned down.”I was lulled to sleep, for lack of a better word,” he said.Commissioner Larry McCown said going through the county approval process from the beginning would take less time than would a court action.Green agreed. But after the commissioners’ decision not to reconsider, he said he would need to consult with the developers about what to do next. He said the advantage of taking legal action is that a court could rule in favor of the existing proposal. If developers started the planning process anew, they probably would feel compelled to submit a modified plan to address issues that have been raised.Houpt said she hopes developers would come back with a revised proposal dealing with those issues.”There are some concerns that are still lying out there,” she said.
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