After nearly six hours of discussion and review, the City of Montrose Planning Commission offered recommendations and guidance on the Hub at Montrose Crossing, a 35-acre multi-family and senior living proposed housing development (located at the corner of 6450 Road and Cobble Drive) led by developer Matt Miles.
Members of the commission recommended Miles and his team to adjust the landscaping involved in the project (to mitigate noise and lighting), as well as to focus on the parking areas and the lighting, though the project will be dark sky compliance, Miles said (dark sky minimizes light pollution, light glare and skyglow).
Miles said he is willing to comply to use vegetation to mitigate the lighting concerns, something a few commission members presented.
Additionally, Miles had requested setbacks to help increase the green space of the project, which members of the commission were OK with, but it was uncertain whether the setbacks were approved as the decision took place with few minutes remaining.
Relocation of the pond was also an inquiry, but the direction of the water sewage makes any relocation of that part of the project not viable, Miles said.
The guidance came after more than two hours of public comment, all of which opposed the project and offered questions and concerns to the commission. A major concern of residents in the area — Cobble Creek and Spruce Point, as well as neighboring communities — was that of potential increased traffic on Chipeta Drive, 6450 Road and Cobble Drive.
Residents expressed concern that an already unfriendly intersection on 6450 Road and Chipeta Drive, and Cobble Drive and Chipeta, could be further exposed with nearly 500 new residents entering the area (500 units are proposed, though a portion living in the units will be senior citizens, Miles said).
This also includes the intersection at Chipeta Drive and Highway 550, which is also met with concerns from residents who say they’ve witnessed collisions at the intersections along Chipeta Drive leading up to Highway 550.
After sending in well over a 100 letters and emails to the City of Montrose Planning Commiss…
A traffic study, conducted by Skip Hudson, found that the project has low traffic impact. The study also found that the traffic from the project would have levels of service acceptable per county requirements (during peak travel times), and which is expected to be the case in 2022, 2025 and 2042 (on Cobble Drive and Chipeta Drive). The same was found for Chipeta Drive and 6450 Road.
(The study was met with substantial pushback during public comment, questioning the validity of the study. Hudson said the study took into consideration the project traffic, but also 60 new units in Cobble Creek and the growth rate on Chipeta).
Despite this, the planning commission’s ability to ease any traffic concerns was basically non-existent, as it’s not the project’s fault the traffic issues exist and the city and county’s ownership of the roads as right of ways. Rather, the proposed development can serve as the “straw that breaks the camel’s back” on an issue that has been building for years, City Engineer Scott Murphy said.
(According to a 2018 press release from the City of Montrose, the Colorado Department of Transportation updated city councilors regarding safety improvements and growth along the Highway 550 corridor, with design plans to mitigate traffic issues a central topic. CDOT, at the time, said safety measures can only advance when funding is allocated for such a project, though its possible an increase in traffic in the intersection would move the needle for CDOT.)
Public comment also expressed concern with the project’s density, believing it to be too large and not in accordance with the density at Cobble Creek and Spruce Point communities. The development, at its current state, is at 500, Miles confirmed, below the max of 537 allowed under R3-A zoning.
Other members of the public took issue with Miles saying, in 2018, that the project would be similar to the neighboring communities and would consist of family homes. The project, rezoned and annexed in 2018 and approved by the planning commission as R3-A (medium high density) and B-4 (neighborhood shopping district), at the time did not have a market for apartment complexes, Miles said, but that assessment has changed in the years since.
“We have a unique window in time right now with interest rates to make this project totally viable,” Miles said. He added he expects the project to attract locals in the community while opening up housing availability for others.
Amenities included in the project include a swimming pool, dog park, conference room and relaxation areas.
The project’s open space requirement (20% under the current zoning) is currently at 26%, which doesn’t include the parking areas, Miles said.
With recommendations and guidance made, the development will now enter the preliminary plat and planned development phase, at which point the planning commission will then give its recommendation to city council after reviewing the plan.
At the tail end of the meeting, Greg Easton, a member of the planning commission, said it was ideal for the commission to take a step back, believing the project “does not meet the comprehensive plan.” (This was also a chief concern during public comment.)
Phoebe Benziger and Jan Chastain, members of the planning commission, also expressed concerns, with Chastain saying she felt the meeting was moving “too fast.” Benzinger, along with Easton, felt the location of the project was not ideal.
Anthony Russo, a member of the commission who led the virtual meeting, highlighted the project’s ability to increase potential housing in the area.
“This is a serious issue and housing is a problem,” Russo said.
At the end of the meeting, the planning commission members made plans to visit the site of the proposed development, and plan to travel there when traffic is at its peak in the area.
The next planning commission meeting is scheduled for Jan. 13.