Sidewalk debate delays Sundance

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— A sidewalk debate has delayed plans for renovating Sundance Plaza.

Today, the City Planning Commission will hold a special meeting to decide whether it should give a sidewalk variance to the shopping center's owner, AlpenGlow Ventures, LLC.

On May 20, the City Council tabled final development plans for the exterior remodel of the Sundance South Village project. The renovation, scheduled to get under way this summer, will upgrade the nine-building commercial center at the corner of Anglers Drive and U.S. Highway 40.

The planning commission first approved the development plan on May 8, but recommended that a 4- to 6-foot-wide sidewalk be constructed along Sundance Plaza.

Council tabled the plan and sent it back to the planning commission after the applicant presented an alternative proposal for the sidewalk along Sundance Plaza.

In a letter to the city, applicant Jim Larson proposed installing a 6-foot-wide sidewalk on the north side of the project next to McDonalds, but asked that AlpenGlow not be required to put a sidewalk or trail along the south side of Anglers Drive. Mature trees between the roadside ditch and Sundance Plaza's parking lot would make it hard to build the sidewalk, he said.

"We feel that such a sidewalk would have numerous problems due to inadequate space to satisfy all of the needs currently required in this location, and offers a very low benefit to the community," Larson wrote.

If the city agrees to waive the sidewalk requirement, Larson said AlpenGlow Ventures would make a financial contribution equal to the cost of putting in 1,000 lineal feet of sidewalk. Additional trees would also be added along Anglers Drive.

The money, estimated to be about $38,000, could go toward sidewalk projects that are more needed in the city and could be used and maintained all year round, Larson wrote.

But City Planner Tom Leeson believes sidewalks are needed along Sundance Plaza.

In a memo to the Planning Commission, Leeson said the planning department feels a 4- to 6-foot-wide sidewalk with a hard surface should go on the south side of Anglers Drive.

"The disadvantages to the community of no sidewalk on the south side outweigh the advantages," the memo stated.

The city Public Works Department would allow a culvert to be installed in the drainage ditch along Anglers Drive. It could be covered so a sidewalk could be built. Some trees could be lost, but a sidewalk would be a better asset to the community, the memo stated.

The memo asked the planning commission to set the in-lieu-of fee at the actual cost of the sidewalk along Anglers Drive, including a culvert, retaining wall and handrails. However, planning staff also questioned the practice of allowing in-lieu-of fees for sidewalks.

"Such a contribution may mitigate sidewalks deficiencies somewhere in the community, however, if it is done in lieu of making a connection on the Sundance South site, it is just creating another deficiency," the staff memo states.

Today's special planning commission meeting will take place at noon at Centennial Hall.

After a recommendation from the planning commission today, the council is expected to make its final decision Tuesday night.


-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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