No sidewalk for Sundance

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— Going against City Planning Commission's recommendation, the City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to allow the owners of Sundance Plaza to pay $38,000 instead of building a sidewalk along the south side of Anglers Drive.

In a 6-0 vote, the council approved a proposal by AlpenGlow Ventures, LLC to build a sidewalk across the street from the Sundance Plaza rather than next to the shopping center. In exchange, AlpenGlow will make a $38,000 contribution for more needed sidewalks in the city and increase the landscaping along Sundance Plaza.

If the council required a sidewalk on the south side of Anglers Driver, AlpenGlow Ventures' Jim Larson said the project would not be feasible. The renovation, which was set to begin as soon as city approval was granted, will upgrade the nine-building commercial center at the corner of Anglers Drive and U.S. Highway 40 and open up the back of stores facing Fish Creek.

Larson said the sidewalk, which would be sandwiched between Anglers Drive and the center's parking lot, posed a safety and liability concern. It was a risk AlpenGlow wasn't willing to take.

"I will absolutely not overrule an architect, engineer or insurance agent regarding safety and liability," Larson told council. "This is your choice, whether Sundance is rehabilitated or whether this project does not go forward."

City Council members questioned how much use a 4- to 6-foot-wide sidewalk would get along Sundance Plaza and said that a sidewalk across the road would meet the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists.

"I see the need for sidewalks. I see the need for alternative transportation. I just don't know why the (sidewalks) have to be on both sides," Councilman Loui Antonucci said.

AlpenGlow plans to build a sidewalk along Fish Creek that will connect the adjoining development to U.S. Highway 40. Another sidewalk system runs through the shopping center.

The council's approval went against recommendations made by city staff and Planning Commission.

City Planner Tom Leeson said staff felt that a sidewalk on the south side was safe and giving money in lieu of sidewalks might solve a sidewalk deficiency somewhere else in the community, but would leave another one along Anglers Drive.

On May 8, the Planning Commission approved the Sundance Plaza development plans but recommended a 4- to 6-foot-wide sidewalk be constructed along Sundance Plaza.

In a May 20 meeting, after the applicants presented their alternative proposal, the council tabled the plan and sent it back to Planning Commission.

On Monday, the Planning Commission voted 4-3 to require a sidewalk on the south side of Anglers Drive.

"Nobody is going to want to put a sidewalk in if you let this go," Planning Commissioner Dana Stopher told council. "It is time to let people know we are serious about alternative transportation."

Later in the meeting, City Manager Paul Hughes said the discussion highlighted the city's need to revisit the sidewalk code and asked the council to put it on an upcoming agenda.

"There is a clear disconnect between the community's desire for sidewalks and the ability to apply that desire to specific sidewalks," Hughes said.

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