Following an hours-long conversation Thursday, Glenwood Springs City Council decided to postpone a decision on the Bell Rippy development until next Thursday.
The current proposal includes five three-story buildings and one duplex with 38 one-bedroom units and 62 two-bedroom units on a nearly 6-acre parcel adjacent to Palmer Avenue between 26th Street and Blake Avenue.
City Attorney Karl Hanlon told Bell Rippy representatives the decision to spread a land-use topic across two meetings was the new standard. Doing so allows for a longer comment period and can help mitigate any technical problems the public might have during the first meeting.
Hanlon explained the oral comment portion of the Bell Rippy site plan review and rezoning proposal was closed after Thursday’s meeting, but residents could submit written public comments until the next meeting.
“I would prefer we had two weeks to accept comments,” Hanlon said. “But given the time sensitivity of this topic, one week is acceptable.”
During the council’s regular meeting, city staff and Triumph Development West, LLC, representatives presented councilors with multiple in-depth presentations regarding revisions to the Bell Rippy project plan.
The current proposal was submitted after residents voiced opposition to the original Bell Rippy site plan during a Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission meeting May 26.
Several options were presented at the May 26 meeting, but public attendees rallied behind Traffic Mitigation Option C: a redesign repurposing a portion of Palmer Avenue between 26th Street and Blake Avenue as a bicycle and pedestrian path.
The redesign proposal includes five three-story buildings and one duplex with 38 one-bedroom units and 62 two-bedroom units on a nearly 6-acre parcel adjacent to Palmer Avenue between 26th Street and Blake Avenue.
To make the new Bell Rippy layout work, Triumph requested parking variance, reducing the city’s multi-family home requirements by 20 percent. Under current standards, the 100 unit complex would be required to provide residents 1.5 parking spaces per unit with an additional space for every five units, totaling 170 spaces.
With the variance, the developer would only be required to provide 136 spaces. Triumph, however, included 151 parking spaces in their redesign.
Additionally, the redesign includes more green space than the original design.
After nearly 10 hours of deliberations and meetings, the Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the revised site plan and rezoning proposal, which would change the Bell Rippy parcel from Residential High-Density to Residential Transitional.
City staff also recommended approval of both on some conditions, including the need for the applicant to submit a full landscaping and irrigation plan, install or construct all traffic improvements required to accommodate the access and circulation plan outlined in Option C, work with the fire marshall to address the design details related to the Palmer Avenue bicycle-pedestrian-emergency access road, among others listed in the staff report available on the City Council’s July 16 agenda at http://www.cogs.us.
If the council decides against approving the revisions, Triumph representatives said the developer would need to move forward with the previously approved plan that initially sparked public ire.
Additionally, the window for funding the revised site plan closes at the beginning of August, requiring a council decision on the redesign beforehand.
Much of the public comments provided Thursday night were in direct response to the likely traffic impacts of the Bell Rippy development on its surrounding neighborhoods.
One of the most openly debated changes to current traffic patterns was opening the Blake Avenue Gate, which prevents southern traffic from circumventing Colorado Highway 82 traffic by detouring through the neighborhoods north of Bell Rippy via Blake Avenue.
“I’m very pleased with the revised plan, and I support it,” Glenwood resident Trish Kramer said.
However, she reminded the council they received a petition against turning Blake Avenue into a one-way street as proposed by Option C. Instead, she said she would like the gate on Blake Avenue moved to 26th Street, which would, in turn, prevent the development traffic from entering the neighborhoods north of Bell Rippy.
“As a council person once told (Glenwood Springs City Engineer) Terri Partch, ‘We owe people a trip through our town, but we don’t owe them a fast trip,’” Kramer said.
Frank Martin, Councilor Paula Stepp’s husband, identified himself as such and clarified his comments were not associated with his wife’s position on council.
Martin said he supported the development plans, but disagreed with opening the Blake Avenue Gate, which is one traffic-reducing measure presented in Option C.
“I, along with my neighbor’s on Crestwood and Palmer, are concerned with the impact of opening the gate,” he said. “That would certainly open our neighborhood to more traffic, and if the proposed changes to make Blake Avenue a one way is implemented, much of that traffic … will head down Palmer Avenue.”
Glenwood resident Joel Shute said the increased traffic and altered traffic patterns also concerned him, but his first thought was of the potential Bell Rippy residents.
“I know a lot of people around here in their 20s and 30s are on furlough with the current economic crisis,” Shute said. “People right now wouldn’t be able to afford $2,200 a month.”
City Council is scheduled to continue the Bell Rippy review and discussion virtually at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 23, but public comments will not be accepted during that meeting.
To submit written public comment, email any of the councilors at their city emails listed at http://www.cogs.us/280/About-the-Council or email City Manager Debra Figueroa at firstname.lastname@example.org or mail a letter to labeled “Attention: City Manager” to City Hall, 101 West Eighth St. Glenwood Springs, CO 81601.