Greg George, Loveland's Director of Development Services was joined by his subordinate Troy Bliss, a senior planner, when they addressed local residents at a public meeting held in Loveland's council chambers last Thursday night. The audience consisted of Namaqua Hills. The Trimble Hills development was built in 2001east of Namaqua Hills and is bordered to the north by a 22nd St. extension eminating from Cascade Ave. that dead-ends in the Trimble Hills development.
At issue is the city’s original plan to place some of the burden of the traffic for a proposed development west of Hunter’s Run on Namaqua Hills residents by providing a south exit to the development that will use Morning Drive to connect to Highway 34. Other ancillary issues include a proposed hiking trail that will be accessed only over the substandard county road (Morning Drive) along with a Loveland staff initiative to promote a requirement the developer connect 22nd St. to Morning Drive as a condition of plat approval.
County residents pay a special assessment to maintain the hilly Morning Drive and argued the substandard street cannot safely serve as a “collector” street for traffic generated by the proposed development within a newly annexed area of Loveland north of their neighborhood. In addition, Loveland city staff appears determined to see the now emergency only access from west 22nd street onto Morning Drive opened by the developer whether or not the development is eventually connected to Morning Drive. The primary ingress and egress for the proposed Namaqua Central development will be a proposed extension of 29th Street.
Handout Doesn't Help Situation
A four column table with color coding was distributed to the audience showing two alternatives (A&B) along with the city’s original plan that was appealed to Loveland’s City Council by Namaqua Hills resident Mike Thompson. George and Bliss explained to the audience the city was hosting the community meeting to seek input on which alternative (A or B) people preferred. Of particular concern to the audience was row number six that stated, “Need to open 22nd Street” and the words “medium” in the A column and “highest” in the B column.
The developer has represented he is “indifferent” to opening 22nd street to Morning Drive especially since it isn’t in proximity to his development and was really a requirement added only by city staff as an alternative route off Morning Drive should the development connect directly to Morning Drive. Instead, Plan A presented by staff proposed “No South connection – no gate at north entrance with public streets [Morning Drive] while Plan B proposed “Emergency access only at south entrance [to Morning Drive]…”
The Namaqua Hills residents tried in vain to understand the city’s vacilating arguments for connecting 22nd Street to Morning Drive when it appeared to be a seperate initiative by staff not necessarily related to the proposed development in question. Niether Plan A nor Plan B proposed that evening by staff required the new development connect to Morning Drive except for emergency access (Plan B) which already exists between 22nd Street and Morning Drive. Some of the staff explanations were interrupted by “no its not” when they explained the city doesn’t want any new emergency only access dead-ends. Finally Greg George and Troy Bliss sat down and listened while one Namaqua Hills resident and volunteer firefighter explained 22nd St. already has an emergency only access that has worked well for fourteen years.
Traffic Engineer Becomes A Partisan
Longtime Loveland resident and traffic engineer Mathew Delich and his wife sat in the audience and occasionally stood to make comments. Ironically, the couple resides at 2272 Glen Haven Drive in Loveland adjacent to an “emergency only” barricaded dead-end between the south end of Glenn Haven and 37th Street near Centennial Elementary School. Delich also uses his residence as the commercial address for his Loveland consulting firm Delich Associates.
While the couple acknowledged after the meeting they did lobby Loveland’s Planning Commission in the past to keep their street closed to through traffic to 37th street years ago; Delich claimed he was attending Thursday’s meeting to argue the city open 22nd Street (in an area where they don’t live) out of concerns for public safety.
Mathew Delich is the traffic engineer who provided the traffic study for the developer of the proposed Namaqua Central development causing the upset. Delich said keeping 22nd Street closed creates a safety hazard as traffic on Highway 34 increases and Namaqua Hills residents continue to attempt left turns onto Highway 34 from their smaller street where no traffic signal can stop dangerous oncoming traffic travelling east on Highway 34. Delich argued opening 22nd Street will provide the Namaqua Hills residents an additional egress onto Cascade Ave. that connects to Highway 34 where the new La Quinta Inn is located and a traffic signal stops the traffic on Highway 34 for the egress from Cascade Ave.
Loveland Councilman Daryle Klassen also lives near the same dead-end as the Delich’s near Loveland's Country Club Estates but on the east side just off 37th Street. Klassen appeared to have made his mind up already during the last council meeting by supporting “increased circulation” when speaking in favor of opening 22nd Street to through traffic onto Morning Drive. No word yet on whether Klassen will now also support “increased circulation” inside his own neighborhood where removing the barricade would mean more traffic near his home.
Commissioner Vs. Project Engineer
Perhaps the loudest applause came at the end of the meeting when Larimer County Commissioner Tom Donnelly announced to the frustrated and clearly annoyed audience “I represent you” before making his comments. Donnelly assured the crowd he and his colleagues were in agreement on the issue and would make sure that any plans the city approved would provide an assessment on the newly developed lots to share the costs of maintaining Morning Drive maintiance should the road be later opened.
Ken Merritt of Landmark Engineering, seated in the front row, interrupted Donnelly by cautioning, “the county has no say in this matter.” Donnelly retorted in a serious and low voice, “Ken, the City of Loveland doesn’t control the county roadways.” LovelandPolitics later learned from a county engineer that one alternative the commissioners have discussed is barricading Morning Drive just outside city limits. He said stopping the connection of 22nd St. to Morning Drive may involve legal issues but blocking Morning Drive just outside the city’s limits is a possibility.