Project location and density generates lively debate
~ by Bob Volpe ~
Last week’s regular meeting of the Woodland Park City Council sailed by quickly until
the subject of Peak View Townhomes arose.
Then, tensions mounted regarding a proposed zoning permit for the development, with the council previously finding itself in a dead heat on this issue.
The meeting began with the usual housekeeping items and moved quickly through a single ordinance on initial posting for rezoning a light repair service change from multi-family residential suburban to
community commercial. The public hearing for this item is scheduled for the April 4.
There was an unusually large crowd for what seemed like a short agenda. The crowd was there to express their opposition or support for the Peak View Townhomes project. This project, the brainchild of Johnson and Associates Construction, calls for the construction two, two-unit townhomes on two vacant lots next to Judd’s Glass on Rampart Range Road. Each of the two buildings will have two, 1,500 square-foot residences. Each unit will sell for approximately $400,000.
At the last council meeting, council voted 3-3 on the project. Councilperson Carrol Harvey was absent, so the 3-3 vote sent the issue to the last week’s meeting, as required by the city charter.
Erin Johnson spoke to council at length about the benefits of the project. She described how the project developers considered issues raised at the last meeting and made changes to some of their plans to
address those concerns.
Among the concerns of the project were: how the project fits in with existing buildings, drainage, blockage of a dentist sign, lack of an HOA (homeowners association), the lots being more suitable to
commercial development, and noise from Judd’s glass.
City Planner Lor Pellegrino explained the reason this otherwise routine project found its way before council. She said the planning department received several letters from citizens who opposed the project for some of the reasons mentioned above.
When the public hearing portion of the issue opened up, Real Estate Broke, Kerri Kilgore went into detail as to the viability and need for the project. She presented statistics on the need for affordable
housing and the existence of many vacant commercial sites in town.
The theme of all those who supported the project was the same: There is an extreme need for affordable housing in Woodland Park. Those opposed the project expressed the same concerns they raised at a previous council meeting. The dentist, who complained the project will block his sign, stood and said the lots would be better suited for something like a child care facility.
Council deliberated for about 20 minutes before bringing the issue to a vote. The project passed 5-2. The council members who voted against the project were, Mayor Pro Tem Val Carr and Paul Saunier.
Carr, who lives in the area, was concerned about crime that he believes is associated with the density of multi-family projects.
Too expensive to build?
In other action, the council adopted a resolution establishing water and sewer plant investment fees.
Public Works Director Kip Wiley addressed the council and asked for a 5 percent increase
in water tap fees. Wiley explained that the increase is consistent with previous year increases in tap fees dating back five years.
Although approving the increase, the high cost of Woodland Park tap fees raised the ire of Mayor Neil Levy.
Levy expressed his concerns about these annual fee hikes. He said, “While we keep increasing tap fees, are we going to price ourselves out of the market for affordable type housing? Will builders be able to do that? I don’t know.”
Between tap fees, material costs, land costs, labor costs, Levy and other political and business leaders fear that developers may find themselves looking to other cities to build in that are less expensive than Woodland Park.