Craig The Craig City Council chambers were full Tuesday night as local residents organized to protest a proposed annexation plan southwest of town.
The council hosted a public hearing during its regular meeting for the Frazier East annexation proposal, a roughly 59-acre stretch directly south of the Pine Ridge subdivision near First Street and Colorado Highway 13.
After testimony from the project's developers, a city-hired consultant and Pine Ridge residents who opposed the annexation plans, the council unanimously approved the annexation proposal's first reading with one caveat.
The annexation agreement must include a stipulation that developers secure Colorado Department of Transportation approval for a new access road off Highway 13 to divert traffic from Pine Ridge subdivision, Councilors said.
The council agreed to further add that the city will not approve any building permits for the property without that access being built.
Councilor Byron Willems recused himself from the hearing and the vote because he lives in Pine Ridge and felt it could be a conflict of interest.
"I'm inclined to approve this annexation knowing that access downstream on (Highway) 13 is going to be done before we see any other building," Councilor Terry Carwile said.
The annexation approval process is not yet complete. The council will review the annexation ordinance for second reading at its July 8 meeting, at which point its passage would be final.
Pine Ridge residents - many of whom had signed and submitted a protest petition to the Craig Planning and Zoning Commission at its June 16 meeting - were chiefly concerned with two aspects of the proposed annexation, one being traffic on Pine Ridge Drive.
Pine Ridge Drive runs off Highway 13 through the southern part of the Pine Ridge subdivision and would be a secondary access to properties within the Frazier annexation. Residents felt the added traffic would burden their homes and pose possible dangers to pedestrians and children.
Their other chief concern was with the annexation's proposed zoning plan.
Original plans submitted in May by the developers - Las Vegas-based 9 Cents, LLC - had some commercial zoning along Pine Ridge Drive, as well as apartment buildings planned for off Highway 13.
After hearing concerns from Pine Ridge residents at the Planning and Zoning meeting June 16, the developers agreed to replace the commercial zone on Pine Ridge Drive with plans for single-family homes, which conform to Pine Ridge zoning.
At Tuesday's council meeting, Pine Ridge residents still were concerned with the remaining residential high- and medium-density zones, which would be apartment complexes and duplex- or town home-style housing.
"My vision is to match the neighborhood we have around it," said Pine Ridge resident Ron Schnackenberg, who proposed the whole annexation be zoned for single-family homes and not duplexes or apartments.
Schnakenberg and other residents said apartments could invite increased crime and become run-down. They did not want a situation like that near their homes.
"To zone this high-density residential right next to one of the nice places in town doesn't make a lot of sense to me," said Mike Brinks, another Pine Ridge resident.
Another Pine Ridge resident asked if the apartments could ever be turned into government-assisted housing.
David Fedel, with the developer 9 Cents, said that would not happen - that kind of housing would not pay for the quality of construction his company plans.
Mayor Don Jones and Councilor Gene Bilodeau said they supported the annexation plans for addressing existing needs in Craig.
"One of the things we're trying to do here is make this a place where people who grow up here want to stay here," Bilodeau said. "We're trying to keep our young people here and already houses are too expensive for many people to afford."
Jones said Craig needs affordable housing such as duplexes and town homes as well as apartments, all of which are in the Frazier proposal.
"I think the annexation agreement is in the best interest for Craig and the citizens of Craig," Jones said.
The council plans to host a public hearing on zoning within the annexation at its July 8 meeting. If approved, the zoning would be final and would not need a second reading.