Residential Rezoning Bid in Woodland Park Draws Strong Neighborhood Opposition

Council vote clashes with resident petition

~ by Bob Volpe ~

 

The Woodland Park City Council has barely approved a highly contested rezoning request by Steve Randolph, a former WP mayor, for his 10-acre parcel known as the Aspendell property.

 

The request, which changed the zoning from suburban residential to urban residential, was approved by a 4-3 vote during a recent meeting. With this verdict, the council once again remains quite divided on key development issues. 

The property is located south and west of Stone Ridge Village, and is north and east of Northwoods subdivision.

The purpose of the request was to allow increasing the density of single family home lots from 10 per 10 acres to a maximum of 20 per 10 acres.

The Planning Commission voted to approve the request at their June 8 meeting by 5-3 vote.

Planning Department Director Sally Riley gave a presentation describing the scope of the proposal and reasoning behind the planning department’s vote to approve the request. Riley noted that similar 10-acre lots in close proximity to the Aspendell lot already have over 10 single family lots on their 10 acres, including one that has 27 home lots on a 10-acre area.

Riley pointed to a community goal that applies to the request. She contended that request conforms with the land use goal, to provide opportunities for growth and development, while preserving community and environmental quality. She explained, “By going to an urban residential zone, it reduces urban sprawl and provides more efficient use of infrastructure. It also has the capability of preserving open space and natural features of the site. It affords the availability of smaller lots so that you can retain key areas and preserve the environmental quality.”

Mayor Neil Levy asked Riley what the concerns were for the three members of the planning commission who voted against the request. Riley replied, “One of the members seemed to be concerned about the future water supply. The other two did not give a strong indication of why they voted
against it.”

Councilman Noel Sawyer commented, “Well, when we’re talking water supply, we’re talking 20-30 years from now. We’re not talking five years from now right? Things will change. We have things in progress now to increase our water supply. Is that correct?”

Utilities Advisory Committee member Kip Wiley responded, “Yes and no. We’re not developing any local water, but we are always looking for opportunities to purchase augmentation water.”

Neighbors strongly oppose project

 

Public comment during the council meeting was vigorous and generally negative toward the proposed change.

Residents of the nearby Northwoods subdivision and Stone Ridge Village crowded council chambers and spoke out against the proposal on several grounds.

Stone Ridge resident and former Woodland Park Planning Director Larry Larsen, who also has recently served on the planning commission, gave a presentation in opposition to the request.

Larsen contended that the request did not meet the zoning criteria. According to Larsen, the proposal fails to ensure that the new development fits with the intent of the town’s comprehensive master
plan, because it does not respect private property rights, preserve the residential and commercial property values, nor uphold neighborhood integrity.

He said, “This parcel is surrounded by suburban residential properties and should be developed the same.” Larsen referred to “spot zoning” (a method of rezoning that benefits a single parcel or land owner) that is not consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan.

Furthermore, Larsen believes the future water supply is in jeopardy. He said, “The city recognizes water is a finite resource, and has identified and projected a build-out population of 12,600 persons. The
additional 10 taps does not significantly burden the water budget, but in the long term rezoning could result in increased like this will have a cumulative effect upon future users. We know that the idea of purchasing future water is not an easy task. It is a very competitive market. We need to be very diligent with our water. We need to budget our water.”

Other concerns included; drainage, excessive traffic, and cut through traffic due to the development of two access points to the proposed plot.

Larsen also pointed out that local residents have submitted 23 letters and a petition with 73 signatures, opposing the request.

When discussion turned back to council, there were some questions raised.

Councilman Paul Saunier questioned the drainage issue. Buttery responded that if there is an issue with drainage the developer will have to address that issue. He said, “The water that leaves his development can’t be more than what historically leaves it now. He may address that through detention, a surface pond.”

Councilman Ken Matthews questioned the water issue. He said, “I just don’t think we can continue to authorize things just because we have the water today. I think at some point we have to say,’Wait a minute.’ I would vote no, because I don’t think it meets criteria.”

Mayor Pro-tem Carrol Harvey responded to the concern for future water supply. She said, “I think it’s important to recognize that we will have to make hard decisions, but why penalize one now when we have the water.”

Councilman Val Carr was concerned about access to the plot and open space. He said, “I’m concerned about the open space, but the bigger issue is we have a land locked parcel with those two connectors. We have a huge snake getting out of there. I’m concerned about fire access and the exodus in the event of a wild fire. I think it’s a safety issue.”

In the final tabulation, the yeas won out for the rezoning plan in a tight vote, one of the closer tallies for a development bid in Woodland Park. 

Matthews, Carr, and Saunier cast the dissenting tallies. But Levy, Harvey, Schafer, and
Sawyer voted to approve the request, allowing the plan to move forward.