River Edge at Cattle Creek headed for public hearing
June 13, 2011
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A new plan to build 366 houses on at least part of the troubled Cattle Creek property between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale goes before the Garfield County Planning Commission next month.
Prior to the July 13 public hearing, both the city of Glenwood Springs and town of Carbondale, along with a variety of other referral agencies, have been offered the opportunity to comment on the latest proposal.
The property in question has been the subject of four different development plans since the late 1990s, including two versions of Sanders Ranch, one of which included a large commercial component, Bair Chase, which had an 18-hole golf course, and most recently, the primarily residential Cattle Creek Crossing project.
The Related Westpac development group, which had proposed Cattle Creek Crossing, was also involved in the development of the financially troubled Base Village complex in Snowmass Village. Like that project, Cattle Creek ran into financial trouble and fell into foreclosure.
Now called River Edge, the new developer, Carbondale Investments LLC, proposes to convert 160 acres of the larger 280-acre site straddling Cattle Creek between Highway 82 and the Roaring River into a mix of 366 single- and multi-family residential units.
About 50 percent of the development site would be committed to open space in some form, including several tracts set aside for gardening and orchards, according to the development application submitted to Garfield County planners earlier this year.
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Fifty-five of the residential units would be deed-restricted to meet the county’s affordable housing guidelines. The project proposes to tie into the existing Roaring Fork Water and Wastewater District, which services nearby Aspen Glen, for water and sewer needs.
“Unlike past plans for the property built on unrealistic expectations and absorption rates, this plan represents a ‘real world’ design that offers a wide array of detached and attached housing types at pricing levels to meet the needs of current and future Garfield County families,” reads a Jan. 24 cover letter from River Edge project executive Rocky Shepard.
And, unlike a golf course community, the open space is designed to be more usable by the residents, including ball fields, parks, gardening plots and locations for orchards, he said.
No commercial development is included in the plan, other than what might accompany a community center that is planned near the main entrance.
However, one question that came up during a June 2 Glenwood Springs City Council discussion of the project was whether the parcels not included in the current plan might be proposed for commercial development in the future.
According to the county’s long-range planner, Kathy Eastley, the larger site was subdivided by the property owners before the development application was submitted. Roughly 120 acres not included in the current development plan was divided into 35-acre parcels. The owners also purchased the former Sopris Restaurant parcel bordering Highway 82, she said.
“They have not made any statement in this application about their intentions for those parcels,” Eastley said. “They are not part of the subject site for this proposal.”
Chief among the concerns of some Glenwood City Council members is that the Cattle Creek area not be overdeveloped.
“A lot of the issues are the same issues as before with this property,” Councilman Stephen Bershenyi said. “The intent of the county’s comprehensive plan is to avoid large, unincorporated communities.
“I feel that there are more problems than can be handled by the neighboring municipalities with this development,” he said.
However, the developer, in his letter, said the county comprehensive plan supports large-scale residential development at that site.
“We believe this is one of the best locations in the county for higher density residential development,” the letter states. “By locating residential development south of Glenwood Springs, rather than downriver to the west, traffic will be better balanced during peak periods, thereby reducing congestion across the [Grand Avenue] bridge and through Glenwood Springs.”
The scale of the project is significant enough that Councilman Dave Sturges suggested an extra month for the city to review the proposal and issue its comments. His motion failed on a 5-2 vote, but council did approve a motion that the county and city work closely in reviewing the River Edge project. Both the city’s and county’s comprehensive plans call for more collaboration on projects that have impacts on both jurisdictions.
“What better time than now to see if we can make this work?” Glenwood Mayor Matt Steckler said.
Since that meeting, the city has sent its comments to the county outlining concerns ranging from potential traffic impacts to wildlife and environmental concerns, as well as the project’s likely impact on public schools.
Meanwhile, Carbondale town planner Janet Buck said the River Edge plan will be discussed by the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission at its June 16 meeting. The planning board will likely forward comments for the Carbondale Board of Trustees to consider later this month, before forwarding any formal comments to the county.