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Our Community News - Home Vol. 2 No. 6 - June 1, 2002

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Forest Lakes plan approved despite concerns of residents and planning commission recommendation for denial

Above: Jerry Hannigan, representing the Tri-Lakes Land Use Committee, argues against the Forest Lakes plan. Seated from left to right at the front: County Attorney Mike Lucas and Commissioners Ed Jones, Duncan Bremer, Tom Huffman, Chuck Brown, and Jeri Howells.

By John Heiser

On May 16, following a nine-hour hearing attended by about 75 people, the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners approved the plan proposed by the Schuck Corporation, operating as Forest Lakes, LLC, to build 467 dwelling units on about 990 acres located at the western end of Baptist Road, primarily on the former Beaver Creek Ranch.

A complicated history

  • 1955: The property was first zoned to A-4 (Agricultural) that required a five-acre minimum lot size. A 1991 change in the Land Development Code replaced the A-4 zone designation with the RR-3 (Rural Residential) zone designation. RR-3 also requires a five-acre minimum lot size.

  • February 1984: The High Meadow Lakes Sketch Plan for the area was approved. It addressed 1,367 acres and included 466 residential units, four lakes, a school site, and commercial and industrial areas near I-25. The residential lots were a minimum of 20,000 square feet (approximately one-half acre) and were distributed throughout most of the western portions of the site including areas now designated as Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse habitat. It was required that a preliminary plan be submitted and approved within two years.

  • April 1984: A preliminary plan for the 910-acre residential portion was submitted but was never heard.

  • May 1984: The county commissioners rezoned the property to the R (Residential) zone district that has a minimum lot size of 20,000 square feet.

  • September 1985: The Forest Lakes Metropolitan District was organized and the board of county commissioners approved its service plan.

  • February 1986: The planning commission voted to allow a two-year extension for the sketch plan. At that time, the planning commission had approval authority for sketch plans because sketch plans were considered elements of the county’s master plan.

  • March 1986: A board of county commissioners motion to overturn the planning commission’s action to extend the deadline failed 2-3. No further action was taken.

  • April 1987: The preliminary plan submitted in April 1984 was withdrawn in favor of a more limited plan for 118 lots on 257 acres.

  • January 1988: The preliminary plan for 118 lots was approved. It was required that a final plat be submitted and approved within one year.

  • 1989: Approximately 500 acres in the non-residential portions of the 1984 sketch plan were annexed into the Town of Monument.

  • January 1992: After several administrative extensions for submittal of the final plat, the approval of the 118 lot preliminary plan expired.

  • 2000: When describing the Twin Valley area, the revised Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan says, "The previous land use approvals in the Forest Lakes project are acknowledged, but it is noted that the development within this property should be sensitive to the surrounding existing and planned lower-density uses. For this reason, adherence to the originally approved clustering plan is strongly recommended."

  • Spring 2000: A plan for annexation and rezoning was submitted to the Town of Monument. A hearing on the request was scheduled for November 2000.

  • October 2000: The annexation request was withdrawn.

  • March 2001: A pre-application meeting was held with the developer. The planning director, Ken Rowberg, made administrative determinations that planned unit development (PUD) zoning is required and there is no need for a revised sketch plan.

  • August 2001: The developer held a meeting at Grace Best elementary school to describe the project. The meeting was attended by at least 100 people.

  • September 2001: The Forest Lakes request for rezoning and preliminary plan approval was submitted to the county.

  • February 2002: The planning commission voted 4-3 to recommend approval of the PUD rezoning and 5-2 to recommend denial of the preliminary plan. [See the March 2 issue of OCN "County Planning Commission delivers mixed message on Forest Lakes."] Carl Schueler, assistant planning director for the county, said, "At the planning commission hearing there was some confusion. The planning commission liked the idea that it should be a PUD instead of the R zoning but they didn’t like the density and use relationships with adjoining properties."

Prior to starting the May 16 hearing on the project, at the suggestion of county attorney Michael Lucas, each of the commissioners described their prior contact with the supporters and opponents:

  • Commissioner Jeri Howells said, "Six or seven months ago, the developer contacted me. I also had informal discussions with the opponents."

  • Commissioner Chuck Brown noted that he has a long-standing business relationship with a development company that at one time was considering developing this property and a family relationship with people who live near the property.

  • Commissioner Duncan Bremer, who represents the northern part of the county, said he has done past legal work for the Shuck Corporation, but not for many years. He noted, "Many people in the audience are my neighbors. I live adjacent to the Forest Lakes commercial property and the metropolitan district."

  • Commissioners Tom Huffman and Ed Jones said they had minimal contact regarding this project.

The Plan

The preliminary plan and planned unit development (PUD) rezoning request approved May 16 calls for a clustered design with areas of high density patio homes coupled with an assortment of larger lots, open space, trails, and recreational use of two lakes. The land use breakdown of the 990 acres is approximately as follows:

Acres and Use

Description

510 acres, Residential 467dwelling units

  • 209 patio homes in two clusters: One at the far eastern end of the property and the other in the center. These lots would have a minimum lot size of 3,200 square feet, with most greater than 4,050 square feet.

  • 179 large lots range from 20,000 square feet up to 12 acres and are mostly located at the northwest and south along the valley walls.

  • 79 medium-sized lots of 8,800 square feet or greater. They are located in the north-central part of the site, north of the larger lake.

450 acres, Open Space

This includes passive open space, mouse habitat, and two lakes occupying 77 acres.

20 acres, Parks

Two parks are to be developed and maintained by the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District.

10 acres, School

This is an elementary school site.

A total of 467 dwelling units on 990 acres yields a gross density of .47 dwelling units per acre. Tim Siebert from the developer’s land use consultant NES, Inc., described it as "medium density comparable to Woodmoor." He said, "The maintenance-free patio homes will be marketed to empty nesters."

Covenants applied throughout the subdivision will address such things as building design, landscape standards, exterior lighting, and wildfire mitigation.

The Forest Lakes Metropolitan District will supply water and sewer service. Fire hydrants will be installed throughout the subdivision. A 30’ high 1.5 million gallon water storage tank is planned for the northwest corner of the property. The location of the tank will be presented to the planning commission for approval.

A major trail through the property is proposed for non-motorized public access. A second trail will be posted as a private trail for use by residents.

Improvements at the lake are proposed to include a trailhead, waterfront park, fishing pier, and use of non-motorized boats.

The Issues

The major issues with the project include consistency with the comprehensive plan and the 1984 sketch plan area and compatibility with the area; traffic impact; the potential Mitchell Avenue extension; the railroad crossing; and water usage and wastewater handling.

Consistency with the 1984 sketch plan and the comprehensive plan and compatibility with the area

Schueler represented the county planning department, which recommended approval of the project. Schueler said the clustering of lots and road plan "conforms generally to the [1984] sketch plan. There are significantly smaller lots in this plan." Two of the lakes proposed in the 1984 plan cannot be built due to the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse habitat.

Troy Olson, attorney representing the Delacroce Ranch, said the plan should be denied because it is substantially different from the 1984 sketch plan. He noted that the 1984 plan had 20,000 square foot minimum lot size vs. 3,200 square foot minimum with this plan. He also pointed to the changes in the road structure, requirements for mouse habitat, and addition of 80 acres.

Noting that there are two lakes instead of four and the water supply is different from 1983, Pine Hills resident Chris Jeub asked, "Why don’t you develop a new sketch plan?"

Another major issue was whether the proposal was consistent with the Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan. Schueler said, "We believe this is consistent with the Tri-Lakes plan as written." He added, "We believe [the preliminary plan] is a good plan, if you want the overall density."

Schueler noted, "Essentially everybody in the Twin Valley and Green Mountain Ranch area signed the petition [opposing the project]." He said the majority objected that it is not in character with the area and should be limited to one house per five acres.

Jerry Hannigan, chair of the Tri-Lakes Land Use Committee and a participant in the development of the Tri-Lakes plan, expressed the committee’s view that "The proposal isn’t suitable. We think there is a better solution. 200-220 dwelling units would not be out of line."

Green Mountain Ranch resident Joyce Hannigan said she moved to the area because "We wanted a retreat." She noted a variety of wildlife frequent the area including deer, elk, bears, mountain lions, foxes, and skunks and expressed concern that "wildlife will be trapped in those dense developments." She described the Twin Valley area as "the only pristine piece along the front range except for the Air Force Academy. The rural way of life is vanishing."

Jeub agreed saying, "Tell the developers to come back with something more reasonable. This is an urban plan in a rural setting. It is the density of the homes we object to. We see it as the true atrocity it is. Every problem Forest Lakes creates can be eliminated if the density is reduced."

Steve Mabon added that his parents, who are property owners to the north, bought the land in 1958 and built their house 20 years ago. He described it as "our refuge from sprawling suburbia" and said the proposal is "a blasphemy of the scenic views." He said, "The real issue is maintaining what everyone has come to expect will be the future of this area."

Twin Valley resident Jacques Adnet, a contributor to the Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan and member of the Tri-Lakes Land Use Committee, said he moved to the Tri-Lakes area in 1973 and bought his property in 1979. He said, "This plan is going to create trouble forever. Your freedom to extend your arm stops at your neighbor’s eye. This project is the eye of everyone here." He urged the commissioners to "forget the past. We are reasonable people. We can come up with a plan everyone can live with. Lets work together for the good of the community. The people are counting on you to do what is right and extend equal rights and equal protection."

Ray Delacroce who with his brother operates a 725-acre ranch and gravel pit next to the Forest Lakes property and has lived in the area for 50 years, said "It is going to ruin the character of the area and destroy the lifestyle. 150-200 homes we could probably live with. We want to ranch through the current generation. This project will drive us out. Ranches and patio homes are incompatible."

Siebert responded, "We are willing to work with them to solve this problem."

Bremer asked, "How do you propose to make it compatible?"

Siebert replied, "There are places in Boulder County where people choose to live next to ranch operations." Buffers are used and those developments are geared toward empty nesters.

Traffic Impact

Jeff Hodsdon, traffic engineer for LSC Transportation Consultants, reported that at full build out, which he estimated could come as soon as 2005, the Forest Lakes project would add 4,500 average weekday vehicle trips on Baptist Road just west of the railroad crossing. Hodsdon estimated that 1,000 vehicle trips per day would result from residents in the Pine Hills subdivision to the north of Forest Lakes using Lindbergh Road and Rickenbacker Avenue to go through the Forest Lakes subdivision to reach Baptist Road and I-25. Combined with the present 500 vehicle trips per day, the total projected traffic on Baptist Road west of the tracks would be 6,000, 75% of which would be from Forest Lakes. If Mitchell Avenue were connected south to Baptist, Hodsdon estimated the total would reach 13,000, of which 34% would be the result of Forest Lakes.

Hodsdon reported that CDOT has requested signalization at I-25. Assuming the Mitchell Avenue extension is built, Hodsdon estimated the Forest Lakes contribution would be 21% on the west side of I-25 and 9% on the east side. The implication was that they should contribute no more than that much toward the costs of the traffic signals.

Commissioner Bremer asked how it would be handled if the signals are warranted but CDOT does not have the rest of the money. Hodsdon suggested that CDOT should "use their own monies." Siebert added that with appropriate reimbursement agreements, the developer could provide the upfront funding. Bremer proposed adding a condition that agreement must be reached with CDOT for signalization at I-25. Brown suggested the condition be amended to read "with appropriate cost recovery to the developer."

Hodgdon said that the changes to the Baptist interchange will not be completed until at least 2005. He said, "In the meantime, signals would help but with a two lane bridge there is just so much life to that solution."

Bremer added, "We have a lot of traffic there now. Jackson Creek and subdivisions on Old Denver Highway are adding to it. At some point, we will have too much traffic for even signalized intersections. Have we already permitted as much as we can stand? We need to look at the cumulative effect of all these developments." He said, "I am not confident that CDOT will have the money in 2005 to rebuild the interchange."

Brown said, "There is a transportation crisis. The long-term solution is a commitment from the legislature to access the $408 million in bonded indebtedness available."

Mitchell Avenue Extension

Schueler reported that an attempt to connect Mitchell Avenue south to Baptist using Rickenbacker Avenue met opposition from residents. The alternative would be to build a 1,000’ bridge over Monument Creek and the associated mouse habitat. The developer’s consultants estimated the cost to extend Mitchell south to connect with Baptist would be $2.4 million.

Pine Hills resident Steve Phillips, a former deputy sheriff in Portland, Oregon, said his discussions with county DOT put the cost of the bridge and road at $3.5 million. He said, "Realistically, Mitchell is not going through." He said the developer’s contribution to the cost of improvements to Baptist Road should be based on that assumption requiring that they bear a significantly higher portion of the costs.

The Railroad Crossing

Schueler said, "The railroad crossing issue is delay especially for emergency services."

Hodsdon said the railroad estimates a two to four minute delay per train. With the additional Forest Lakes traffic, the backup on Baptist toward the east could reach 800’. Hodsdon said it is 950’ from the tracks to Old Denver Highway.

Some estimates are that as many as 44 trains per day use that line.

The developers consultants estimated the cost for construction of a grade-separated (i.e., underpass-overpass) crossing at about $4.4 million of which they estimated the railroad would pay $1.1 million.

Phillips displayed a picture of the May 4 fire on the Forest Lakes property south of Spaatz Road and said, "We are in a 30-year drought." He stated that the deputy county fire marshal agrees that without a grade-separated railroad crossing emergency access would be hampered.

Phillips said that based on discussions with the county department of transportation, the cost for the railroad crossing would be $7.6 million. Phillips noted that sometimes the present wait at the crossing is as much as 30 to 45 minutes. He added that with the traffic from the Forest Lakes subdivision, the traffic on the east could be backed up to I-25.

Hodgdon agreed that an extended delay could have that result. He said, "The first thing is to contact the railroad and the Public Utilities Commission and see if they can change their behavior."

Bremer said, "The reason they stop is because the Monument siding is blocked. There may not be a management solution."

Phillips noted, "The [railroad crossing] issue is created by this development. It is being created by the density of this development." He added that without the Mitchell Avenue extension, the developer should pay 75% to 80% of the $7.6 million cost.

Jeub said, "Without the [railroad crossing] problems solved, the hydrants will do little good if the fire trucks can’t get there. Access, not water, was the problem in the [May 4 Spaatz] fire."

Water usage and wastewater handling

The Forest Lakes Metropolitan District Water would provide water, wastewater handling, and road maintenance. In addition, the off-site transportation improvements would be guaranteed through the district. Schueler noted, "We do have concerns about the district’s outstanding debt." A condition was added to place a property tax mill levy cap to reduce the financial exposure of the first few Forest Lakes residents.

John McGinn, manager for the Forest Lakes metropolitan district, estimated the water usage at 185 acre-feet per year for the residential properties (an average of 0.4 acre-feet per dwelling unit per year) and 25 acre-feet per year for the water treatment plant and the elementary school. The total of 210 acre-feet per year is equal to 68.7 million gallons per year or an average of 188, 051 gallons per day.

The district plans to use water from Bristlecone Lake, the larger of the two lakes in the subdivision, to meet that demand. McGinn said that the district has rights to 660 acre-feet per year through an exchange of water rights with Colorado Springs Utilities. He said the lake has a storage capacity of 1,200 acre-feet. A well drilled into the Arapahoe aquifer would be used as a backup supply. A maximum of 115 lots would be allowed prior to completion of the lake water intake structure. McGinn said, "The well will cause very minimal impact on groundwater supplies. [The alternative of] 150 five-acre lots with wells would have a vastly greater impact on groundwater supplies." He suggested that the Forest Lakes water system could serve as a "back up to those whose wells might go dry."

The wastewater treatment plant, jointly owned with the Trivew Metropolitan District that serves Jackson Creek and the Donala Water and Sanitation District that serves Gleneagle, would process an estimated 125,000 gallons per day from the Forest Lakes project. Bremer noted that the treatment plant has a capacity of 875,000 gallons per day and is currently handling 700,000 gallons. McGinn said the plant could be expanded to a capacity of 3.3 million gallons per day by 2006 but the expansion would be "constrained by the mouse." He also noted that the Donala district is considering switching to use the Austin Bluffs Colorado Springs wastewater plant. If that happens, it would free up additional capacity for Jackson Creek and Forest Lakes.

McGinn suggested reuse water from the wastewater treatment plant could be returned to the upper reaches of Beaver Creek to "enhance the habitat" and recharge the lakes.

Jim Drewry, a long-term resident to the south of Forest Lakes, appeared in water court on behalf of adjoining property owners at the time of the original sketch plan. He stated at the planning commission hearing that since wells have never been drilled, it is difficult to predict if water will be available to the residents of Forest Lakes prior to the permanent water system becoming operational. He noted that the Forest Lakes property is right on the western edge of the aquifers and "can’t be compared to developments east of I-25. On both sides of Forest Lakes, wells have gone dry or not struck water, produced low flow rates, and some have struck natural gas." Drewry showed a US Geological Survey depth graph for the Dillon well on the Forest Lakes commercial property near I-25. The water level in that 1,200’ well drilled into the Arapahoe aquifer dropped 52’ in two years. The well is now dry. Drewry said, "One-third of the water in the bedrocks belongs to Monument. Monument owns all the senior water rights on Forest Lakes tributary flow." He concluded, "No one really knows how much water is there. By the time it is clear that the water isn’t there, it is too late. They will have to look for outside sources. They are operating on the principle ‘build it and the water will come’." He expressed concern that those who buy into the subdivision will be saddled with a large, overhanging debt.

Commissioner Brown replied, "No one is forced to buy into there."

Adnet showed pictures of Beaver Creek where it comes through an 8" pipe and crosses his property. He said, "Is this what is going to provide water to 3,000 people and replace evaporation from the lakes?" To underline the water shortage in the area, Adnet said the water in his 365’ well dropped two feet in two months. He also showed pictures of a 1865 house and 6’ well on his property. The residents used the well for over 100 years. "That well had water in it only once in the last eight years and that was the year we had flooding."

McGinn said the concern about groundwater supplies is the reason the developer proposes to build a renewable water system.

Responding to Jerry Hannigan’s suggestion, Siebert noted that 200 houses are not enough to support a metropolitan district using a renewable water supply. Individual wells and septic systems would have to be used.

The Vote

When it came time for a motion, Bremer announced, "I am awfully conflicted on this." He then moved to continue the hearing for sixty days to study the cumulative traffic impacts, buffering, and compatibility. He said, "We need to have a plan for traffic moving through the interchange three years from now. We don’t have that information before us today." His motion failed for lack of a second.

Brown said, "I am thoroughly convinced this is the best option for this parcel." He then made a motion for approval of the rezoning to PUD. Commissioner Ed Jones seconded his motion. The vote was 4-1 with Bremer the lone dissenter. In recording his no vote, Bremer said, "It is a very good plan but I am very concerned about transportation issues. And I do hope there will be opportunities to alleviate the buffering issues."

Bremer then said that since the rezoning was approved he would move for approval of the plan. His motion was unanimously approved.

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View the Forest Lakes Plan

View the Forest Lakes Plan (High Magnification)

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County commissioners disapprove Hay Creek Ranch subdivision

By John Heiser

On May 23, following a lengthy hearing that featured testimony by property owner Mert Hull, members of his family, and numerous Twin Valley residents and property owners, the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners voted 3-1 to disapprove the requested Planned Unit Development (PUD) rezoning and the associated preliminary plan calling for 15 lots on the 50 acre Hay Creek Ranch parcel. The action followed a unanimous March 19 planning commission vote to recommend denial. The county planning department background material included a note that "the proposed plan shows considerable environmental sensitivity" but concluded with a recommendation that the project be denied "due to inconsistency with the Tri-Lakes small area plan in regard to density."

The land, located on Hay Creek Road that connects to the western end of Baptist Road, is currently zoned RR-3 (Rural Residential, five acre minimum lot size). Subtracting area for the required access roads would allow at most nine lots. The steep terrain with Hay Creek running through the property complicates development. The preliminary plan shows a minimum lot size of 2.75 acres, an average density of 3.3 acres per lot, and approximately 20% of the area held as open space.

Mert Hull, a 44-year Colorado resident, described the project as a family-oriented development for his seven children and their families. As stated at the planning commission hearing, they feel they need fifteen lots to make the project economically feasible. Family members would purchase about twelve of the lots. The others would be marketed to recover development costs.

The present 1926 farmhouse was built on the site of the original 1876 house that burned down. Supporters of the project said that as part of the project they plan to restore the big red early 1900’s barn and the arts and crafts style farmhouse.

Both sides referenced the 1999 Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan. Part of that plan says, "This sub-area should remain primarily rural residential with lot sizes averaging five acres exclusive of roads and tracts not devoted to open space areas. Large lot clustering options, utilizing minimum 2 ½ acre lots, should be considered only if there is strict adherence to this overall density approach…"

Dan Schneff with Matrix Design Group presented the design. He contrasted the potential for 25% of the area of each lot to be occupied by an unlimited number of buildings under the existing RR-3 zoning to the 5.5% lot coverage proposed in the PUD.

Mert Hull’s son Jamie added, "I was born less than two miles from this site. We want to do the best we can with the property." He said development under the existing zoning might require three crossings of Hay Creek as instead of the one crossing with the proposed plan. He said the proposed plan is 85% conformant with the Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan whereas a strict five-acre lot development would conform to only 35%. The only real issue is density." He noted that the Forest Lakes project is 66 times as dense.

Attorney Troy Olson, representing Ray Dellacroce, an owner of the Dellacroce Ranch at the western end of Baptist Road, said the proponents are offering only the worst case scenario using the existing zoning. He said, "Typically five-acre lots have one house and maybe one out-structure. [The proponents] haven’t given a reason why they can’t do a PUD with 10 houses. We aren’t opposed to development or rezoning. We are opposed to violations of the comprehensive plan and existing uses. This project is not like Forest Lakes that was in the works for many years and has renewable water." Olson urged the commissioners to "start making developers conform to the Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan."

Ray Delacroce, who with his brother operates a 725-acre ranch and gravel pit next to the Forest Lakes property and has lived in the area for 50 years, said, "Continually increasing density is going to doom our lifestyle as ranchers. Ten houses on this property would be fine. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere."

Richard Dudding, a 35-year resident of the county whose 30-acre lot adjoins the Hay Creek Ranch parcel, said, "This project is the whole rest of my life. Density is the issue. The overall density in Twin Valley is 15.34 acres per lot." Dudding presented a petition opposing the project signed by all but two of the Twin Valley neighbors.

Twin Valley property owner Jim Drewry raised concerns about ground water shortages in the area. He said the well on one nearby parcel produces only one-half gallon per minute and another one produces only 60 gallons per day. He noted that higher density would accelerate depletion of the remaining groundwater.

Commissioner Duncan Bremer, who represents the northern part of the county and lives near Baptist Road, made a motion to disapprove the proposal. He said, "The plan is a sophisticated, quality plan but doesn’t conform to the Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan that so many people worked so hard on. The Forest Lakes project has a specific provision in the comp plan. This one doesn’t." Commissioners Bremer, Jeri Howells, and Tom Huffman voted for the motion to disapprove. Commissioner Chuck Brown, who favors the project, voted against the motion and saying, "I think this plan is the finest development plan I have seen. The planners and owners have made every effort to do a good job." Huffman said he would welcome a PUD but not at this density.

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County Planning Commission recommends approval of Greenland Forest and disapproval of Falcons Nest #3

By John Heiser

At its hearing May 21, the El Paso County Planning Commission recommended approval of the request from Wiepking Real Estate Investments LLC to rezone 56.4 acres fronting on County Line Road roughly one mile east of I-25 to the R (residential) zone district which has a minimum lot size of 20,000 square feet (approximately one-half acre). The current zoning is C-1 (commercial) and RR-3 (rural residential, five-acre minimum lot size). The planning department concluded that the proposed rezoning is generally consistent with the Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan and the residential developments that border the parcel.

In a separate action, the planning commission recommended denial of the Planned Unit Development rezoning request from Summit Enterprises of Kansas, LLC, for Falcon’s Nest Filing #3. The proposal is for 127 lots on a 29.3 acre parcel located east of I-25 between the interstate and Struthers Road about ¾ of a mile north of Northgate Road. The single family housing subdivision would be buffered from I-25 by 500’ of Air Force Academy property. The proposed minimum lot size would be 3,600 square feet. Privately maintained hammerhead cul-de-sacs would be used to access the closely spaced houses. The planning department recommended denial of the project "because it does not substantially meet the criteria of considerations for rezoning to PUD." Commissioner Steve Sery, a Chaparral Hills resident, who joined the majority in voting against the project said, "The main reason for seeking this PUD is to achieve lot sizes not allowed by conventional zoning. I have a hard time with this being a legitimate use of PUD zoning." Commissioner Joe Salute who voted for the project said, "The plan is better than the uses allowed under the current Planned Industrial District zoning."

Planning commission votes are advisory. The Board of County Commissioners makes the final decision on land use proposals.

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For more information on these projects, contact the county planning department at 520-6300 or www.elpasoco.com/planning/PD-Agend.htm.

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Monument Board of Trustees Meeting May 6

By Jack Barber and OCN Staff

More time allowed to resolve RV park zoning violations

Local RV park owner Ernie Biggs appeared before the Monument Board of Trustees Monday evening to discuss citations issued to him regarding various zoning violations. In the ongoing dispute, Mr. Biggs explained that he could not move existing cabins because the town may be taking the land on which the cabins are currently sitting. He requested that he not have to plant requested trees because the land is too hard to dig at this time due to of dryness. More time was allowed by the trustees for these activities to be completed. A third consideration was the parking of recreation vehicles in a location thought not to be appropriate by the citizens living close to the facility. Trustee Warner asked to be recused from any further discussion and/or vote on this matter due to a personal conflict. Action on these matters was delayed until the May 20 meeting.

Certificates of Appreciation awarded to Officers Rich and Lewis

Police Chief Joe Kissell awarded certificates of appreciation to Officers Rich and Lewis for their timely off-duty actions involving the apprehension of alleged truck thieves who were also suspected of illegal alcohol use. The suspects were successfully captured and turned over to the Colorado State patrol.

Police department involved in community education

Chief Kissell also reported on the community program involving children from Lewis-Palmer elementary school. Local police officers work on education and attitude with numerous students. The police department will also be holding classes for local merchants to assist them in dealing with shoplifting.

School diagrams to help in emergencies

The chief reported on progress in making diagrams of schools available on disk in the event of any disturbances. This will provide valuable information for officers regarding location of hallways and classrooms.

Plan for three four-plexes approved

Keith Nemmers and Joyce Heffner-Williams of Keller Williams Realty received approval to subdivide four lots near Monument Lake in order to build three four-plexes. This request for preliminary and final plat approval was accomplished in one step instead of the usual two-step process.

Storm drainage impact fee ordinance amended

Mike Davenport, town planner, described the proposed changes in the town’s ordinance that will mirror El Paso County’s revisions to its drainage fee ordinance. There will be a different fee for each of the five drainage basins in the town. Previously one standard fee was imposed. The measure passed unanimously.

Mooney appointed to the Planning Commission, Smith appointed to the Board of Adjustment

Responding to advertising to fill vacant planning commission seats, Bob Mooney and Michael R. Smith appeared before the open meeting. Mr. Mooney was appointed to the Planning Commission and Mr. Smith was appointed to the Board of Adjustments. Bob Mooney works for Qwest doing technical support. Michael Smith is Service Manager and Territory Manager for Cintas Corporation.

Final approval given to the Village at Monument project

Mike Davenport requested final approval for the Village at Monument development. He explained that major improvements were already in place ahead of time and that final inspection was pending. The board unanimously approved this action.

Carriages at Jackson Creek project approved

Final approval was granted for the Carriages at Jackson Creek subdivision, consisting of 23 lots for single-family detached homes on an 8-acre site at the southwest corner of the intersection of Lyons Tail and Leather Chaps. In response to concerns expressed by some Jackson Creek residents, he developer replaced some multi-family structures with single family homes and improved landscaping.

Peak View Ridge project second amendment denied

Approval was not granted for the Peak View Ridge plat. In 1998, the subdivision, a John Laing Homes project, was approved for 150 single-family dwelling units. In 1999, the southern portion of that plan was amended following the discovery of the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse, a federally protected species. This application is for the northern portion, originally platted for 28 lots. The applicant is requesting 14 single-family dwelling units. Building materials, ability to build on certain lots, lack of access to sanitary sewer mains, bond request, and general lack of good faith being shown contributed to that request being denied. Town planner Davenport recommended that a subdivision improvement agreement be added as a condition of any future approval.

Synthes Corporation’s tax incentive approved

Lee Kilbourne, chairman of the Economic Development Council of the Chamber of Commerce, presented information regarding tax incentives for the Synthes Corporation. The school board has already agreed to the tax credit for Synthes, provided the town also agrees to provide Synthes with a tax credit. Kilbourne discussed what type of precedent this would set, and also what offering this type of tax incentive would do to encourage new businesses to locate in Monument. Synthes is planning two expansions. Possibly within two years, a five million-dollar addition will be built, with another within five years. The board granted a fifty-percent personal property tax credit for the Synthes Corporation. The trustees indicated that a tax credit of up to fifty percent should be advertised in order to attract appropriate new business into the area.

Status of repairs to Monument Dam

Ed Toms of Boyle Engineering reported on the progress of the Monument Dam repairs. The project is about two-thirds completed. The spillway is about one third completed, and the embankment and the outlet works are about three-fourths completed. The project should be completed by the end of May. Dredging has started. Provisions have been made to protect mouse habitat. The county has paid its share, one million dollars, toward the dam repairs.

Decision on the Palmer Lake fireworks request postponed

Mayor Konarski was somewhat at odds with the trustees over the granting of money to the Town of Palmer Lake for the annual fireworks display. She stressed the need to have a collaborative relationship with Palmer Lake and the Tri-Lakes community in general. The Mayor proposed $3000 be appropriated for the fireworks. The board agreed to wait until the May 20 meeting to discuss the issue further. It may be a moot issue however, in that a ban on burning is likely to still be in effect on the fourth of July.

Regional transportation planning contract approved

The board approved a contract with Transplan, Inc. to study road needs in the Tri-Lakes area. $43,000 from the State Heritage Grant project will be used to pay for this comprehensive study. Transplan will expand upon their prior study of the Town of Monument.

Water restricitions in effect

Public works superintendent Tom Wall reported on impending water restrictions. The odd and even house number watering schedule for every other day watering will be in effect from May 15 through September 30.

Regional mouse study funds requested

Town Planner Davenport reported that the City of Colorado Springs has allocated monies in excess of $200,000 for a study concerning Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse, a federally designated threatened species. A fee of $2,000 was requested as Monument’s part in this far ranging study. All subdivisions have to be approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in order to ensure that Preble’s mice will not be adversely affected.

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For more information, contact town hall at 481-2954.

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Monument Board of Trustees Meeting May 20

By Judy Barnes and Bill Chin

Executive Session for legal advice

A special meeting at 6 pm preceded the regular meeting of the Monument Board of Trustees. Mayor Betty Konarski called the meeting to order, and the council immediately went into executive session. The stated reason was to confer with the town attorney for the purposes of receiving advice on specific legal questions pertaining to Monument vs. Gulf Coast properties, and Monument vs. Beck. The executive session was adjourned at 6:40pm, and the regular meeting was called to order.

Police Chief Joe Kissell introduced Lewis-Palmer High School student Evan Briggs who was attending the meeting as part of a community service project.

Concerns about campground

Tim Schutz and Don Smith expressed their dissatisfaction with the appearance of the Lake of the Rockies campground, citing storage of recreational vehicles and a number of junk-like vehicles near the entrance, existence of fence and road near the south end of the property, and some excavation activities. Schutz said campground owner Ernie Biggs appears to be in violation of town ordinances and the agreement of operation. Town staff was directed to look into their concerns and respond at the next meeting.

Alternative high school configurations proposed

Ted Bauman, Lewis-Palmer School District Superintendent, presented options the school board is considering to accommodate growth at the high school level. Keith Jacobus, LPHS principal, and Dave Dilley, Assistant Superintendent, joined him. Two options are being considered: building a new high school, and expanding the current campus. A PowerPoint presentation can be downloaded at www.lpsd.k12.co.us/News_and_Events/news_and_events.htm. The school administrators will take all comments back to the school board, and a decision should be made within a year.

Street closing during May Fair created difficulties

Suzanne D’Innocenzo, owner of Petal Pushin’ in Monument, and a member of the Historic Monument Merchants Association (HMMA), appeared before the board to address some concerns about a street closing on May 11, 2002. The HMMA sponsored "Mayfair" on that date, a community event that included a quilt show, art shows, activities for kids, and many other activities. The event was planned weeks in advance and was heavily advertised throughout the region. It was brought to her attention early in the afternoon that Third Street was closed to through traffic, making it very difficult for shoppers to get to the downtown area. D’Innocenzo questioned the appropriateness of scheduling the roadwork for that day, further noting that the town manager, mayor and police were unaware of the road closure. Considerable discussion by the mayor, trustees, Chief Kissel, and town manager Rick Sonnenburg followed.

Mr. Mike Wicklund, project manager for the Beacon Lite Project appeared before the board to discuss the Beacon Lite Road paving project, from Third Street to Highway 105, and to address the Third Street closing on May 11. He apologized to the HMMA, stating that he takes responsibility for the decisions he made, which, along with an accident on I-25 that caused the asphalt trucks to be delayed an hour and a half, resulted in the lengthy road closure. No one knew until later the reason for the delay.

Trustee Byron Glenn expressed the need for a traffic control plan when such closures were scheduled. No plan was filed for this closure. This paving subcontractor did this at least once in the past without notifying the town or the fire districts. Glenn expressed the desire "to cite any group which blocks a street without filing any traffic plan."

Auditor, computer service, and engineering contracts approved

Mr. Dennis Yockey of Grant Thornton, LLP the proposed contract renewal for his accounting firm. Trustee Christopher Perry remarked that the number of hours expended on the FY2000 audit were excessive. The motion to renew the agreement passed unanimously. The FY2001 audit will start next week.

Vickie Classen of Classen Computer Consulting presented a proposed contract for hardware service, and possible software development. Ms. Anne Holliday stated that the current contract-holder has not been performing as well as should be expected. Trustee George Brown expressed concerns regarding payment terms, price of service delivered, and lack of acceptance prior to payment. Trustee Doug Warner expressed the desire to check the 6-year-old company’s references. Trustee Glenn remarked on the cost of maintenance calls and the current budget of $3,000 whereas the past year was $16,000. Trustee Smith inquired of an "Opt out" possibility. After the discussion, it was agreed to enter into the contract with Classen.

Mr. Roger Sams of GMS Engineering, consultant for the Town of Monument for the past two years, also presented a renewal proposal for Municipal Engineering Consulting Services. GMS also works with other local entities, including Donala Water and Sanitation District, the Monument Sanitation District, and the Fountain Sanitation District, but Mr. Sams stated that he felt there was no conflict of interest. The contract, which includes an increase over the previous one, was approved.

Budget workshop and hearing scheduled for June 2 and June 10

Mayor Konarski explained that the board must set a public budget hearing. She further noted she had met with the previous mayor, Leon Tenney, John Dominowski, a long-time local property-owner, town manager Sonnenburg, and Trustee Glenda Smith. Konarski recommended that the Board of Trustees hold a special budget workshop to go over the budget issues prior to the public hearings. The workshop has been scheduled for Sunday, June 2 from 8 am until 11 am, and the hearing for the 2002 budget will be held June 10 at 6:30pm.

Knollwood Drive and Knollwood Loop accepted by the town

The developer of Valley Vista Estates has requested the Town of Monument accept Knollwood Drive and Knollwood Loop, the roads within the development. Two outstanding items remain that depend on the Colorado Department of Transportation schedule for reconstructing Highway 105, namely, a turn lane from eastbound 105 to southbound Knollwood Drive and completion of the northernmost 75 feet of Knollwood Drive (in a strip of land CDOT expects to acquire for widening 105). The Public Works Committee has recommended acceptance of the roads. The motion to accept the roads was unanimously approved. A financial guarantee will be required sufficient to cover the two items not completed.

Dam Repair Payment

A payment request was approved for ASI-RCC, the contractor on the Monument Lake Dam Rehabilitation project. The bill was for $651,411.01 of which El Paso County paid $85,906.48. The town paid the remaining $565,504.53 from the Colorado Water Conservation Board loan of $2.1 million.

PPACG

Trustee Smith noted that Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments will have a meeting on June 6.

Police Department

Police Chief Joe Kissell presented the Town of Monument Police Department monthly report. He further noted the police department applied for a grant through the Department of Justice for the purchase of new ballistic vests for the officers. The grant would cover 50% of the costs.

Reuse Water Plan

Mike Wicklund of the Monument Sanitation District reported that the Monument, Woodmoor, and Palmer Lake sanitation districts are investigating the feasibility of a facility to treat wastewater for bulk water to be used by commercial excavating contractors. Such reuse water could possibly be resold to contractors. This project will considerably cut down on the use of treated water by substituting this reuse water for use in dust mitigation, trench backfilling, and site compaction. The Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility would operate the reuse facility. With all the construction projects ongoing in Northern El Paso County, the demand for treated water is high.

Planning Department

Town Planner Mike Davenport reported that the Colorado Department of Transportation will commence work on the Highway 105 Interchange project in August 2002. The project has funding, contrary to information given in a recent TV report. Davenport noted that there will probably be follow-up meetings in June to address comments received concerning the draft comprehensive plan. A meeting of the combined steering/advisory committee will follow. The Planning Commission will consider interim parking regulations and recommendations for downtown parking at its meeting on June 12. On May 6 the Town of Monument received the first $3,500 of the $10,000 GOCO grant for the Parks, Trails, and Open Space Plan.

Public Works Department

Mr. Tom Wall, Public Works Superintendent, reported that, for now, the Town of Monument has asked for voluntary water conservation efforts, and is restricting and allocating non-potable water use. Work continues on the sanitary sewer line expansion up Beacon Lite Road, north of Highway 105. The work is now in a section of road owned by El Paso County, and they have approved a traffic control plan that allows for road closures over the duration of the project. Work continues on the Second Street extension project. The paving is expected soon. Town Manager Sonnenburg reported that Doug Jones has resigned from the Public Works Committee.

Irregular Pavement Surface on Beacon Lite Road

Dave Frisch, of GMS Engineering, addressed concerns about the irregular pavement surface on the newly installed Beacon Lite Road from Santa Fe Avenue to Second Street. He explained that the road surface was out of tolerance. The contractor had not stayed within the Colorado Transportation Standard Specifications for Road and Bridge Construction. The surface is irregular beyond the 3/16-inch tolerance per 10-foot segment allowed. The paving subcontractor, Rocky Mountain Materials and Asphalt, Inc. (RMMAI) offered to deduct $10,000 from the paving cost if the street surface is left as is. The trustees recommended negotiating with RMMAI.

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For more information, contact town hall at 481-2954.

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Palmer Lake Town Council Workshop May 2

By Judy Barnes

Trustee Susan Miner served as mayor pro tem due to Mayor Nikki McDonald’s absence.

Parks and Recreation Committee Report

Trustee Cindy Allen reported that there is a new fence at the ball field. The Tri-Lakes Athletic Association coordinated the effort. The second annual Columbine Festival is being planned. The festival will include a band, vendors, and free columbine plants.

Road Committee Report

Trustee Randy Jones mentioned that there is no water available for road dust control. The department is experimenting with applying dust control materials without water. Trustee Susan Miner pointed out that if the community could use 10 percent less water than last year, then they could reprioritize and use the water on the roads, which require 5,000 gallons per week. Allen Fritts of Missionary Training International (MTI) offered the town excess water from the MTI well, which has been adjudicated for municipal use. He will check into whether the state will allow such a transfer.

Police Committee Report

Trustee Eddie Kinney reported that calls for service had increased in April. On the previous Monday night a large bear was spotted on South Valley Road, and a mountain lion was seen south of Red Rocks Ranch Road.

Community and Economic Development Committee Report

Trustee Susan Miner presented some highlights from the first annual report for the Economic Development Committee. Palmer Lake has 144 business licenses, with a retention rate for businesses of 98 percent.

Fire Department

Chief Greg Lokken reported that the fire department will man a slash/mulch collection station on the east side of the lake. An explanatory flyer will be available soon. The July 4 fireworks could be cancelled due to the high fire risk. If they do have the annual display, it will be at the south side of the lake.

Trustee Scott Russell expressed his frustration about claims Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District has better trained firefighters and volunteers. Russell claimed the state trains all firefighters the same.

Palmer Lake Tennis

Kim Makower appeared before the council on behalf of Palmer Lake Tennis, which will offer tennis programs for children during June and July. For more information, visit www.palmerlaketennis.com.

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For more information, call town hall at 481-2953 or visit www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us. Note: The annual Palmer Lake water quality report is available at www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us/docs/water2001.html.

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Palmer Lake Town Council Meeting May 9

By Judy Barnes

Business licenses approved

The council approved new business licenses for Lorie Hicks, An Escape Day Spa, and Kimberly Naslund Massage, both of which will be located in the West End Center. Missionary Training International was approved a new business license. They will train a thousand missionaries to serve worldwide. The Palmer Lake Veterinary Clinic at 790 Highway 105 was approved for a change in ownership, to Judith-Ann Jensen, DVM & Karl G. Jensen.

Auto sales approved

George Reese’s request for a conditional use in a C2 zone was approved. Reese intends to sell late model vehicles on the strip of grass, owned by the town, along Highway 105 between Fletcher Drilling and the West End Center.

Alternative high school configurations presented

School Superintendent Ted Bauman and Lewis-Palmer High School Principal Dr. Keith Jacobus gave a presentation concerning the future of Lewis-Palmer High School. The student capacity of the present high school is 1,700. Current enrollment is 1,414 students. If enrollment grows at a rate of 3%, the capacity will be reached in the 2007-8 school year. At a 5% growth rate, the school will be at capacity in 2005. Building a new school is a three-year project, from passing a bond to completing construction. Twenty-five percent of the district’s residences have school-age children, and most of them are in the Woodmoor area. The district is exploring numerous options, including expanding the current campus to have a separate building for 9th graders, or for 12th graders, or for science, or for the arts. Maintaining a small-school atmosphere is also a consideration, although there are academic advantages to a large school. The issue of whether to build a new high school or expand the existing one could be decided on cost, since 75% of the residents don’t have children in school.

Fire Committee Report

Trustee Scott Russell pointed out that the draft report of the consultant study for consolidation of area fire departments was supposed to be handled by the fire chiefs alone. The consultants are coming to give a presentation this summer. "We need to wait for the final report before we spout our opinions," said Russell. Palmer Lake Chief Lokken is waiting to comment until after the consultants present the final report.

Water Committee Report

Newly elected Trustee Chuck Cornell was appointed to the water committee, a position that Mayor Nikki McDonald had been filling.

Community and Economic Development Committee Report

Trustee Susan Miner reported that the fish folk had visited the lake, and had noted that there were plenty of warm-water fish. The water level in the lake is too low to stock cold-water fish so for the fishing derby, they will switch from salmon eggs to worms for bait.

Interchange Construction

Mayor McDonald reported that construction of the I-25/Highway 105 interchange will begin at the end of July.

Kudos Award

Pam Collins and her daughters Bailey and Bryn received the award for stuffing over 1,100 eggs for the Easter egg hunt. At age 4, Bryn is the town’s youngest Kudos recipient.

Water Rate Increase

The council voted to delay the new water rates one month, to go into effect on May 16 rather than in April, since the notice of the rate residents received increase on May 4th.

Fire prevention

It was announced that a firewise seminar for area residents will be held on June 1. Disposing of dead slash, and making a building’s address visible from the street are two recommended actions. Attorney Larry Gaddis pointed out that there is an ordinance prohibiting discharge of fireworks, with a maximum fine of $1000 and up to a year in jail. Call the marshal or police to report violators.

Kurt Ehrhart of the Inn at Palmer Divide, which will be comprised of a restaurant and 39 units, requested an extension of the fireline 600 yards, from MTI to the Inn at no cost to the town, with fireplugs every 400 feet. He will return to the council with a design plan.

Sue Coons, who lives very close to the Tri-Lakes fire station, addressed the council with her concerns about the lack of automatic mutual aid. Town staff assured Coons that Tri-Lakes would receive a call within 30 to 50 seconds of the tone to Palmer Lake fire department.

Lodging tax

The council voted to submit to the voters the question of an occupation tax on lodging room or accommodations rented in Palmer Lake for less than 30 days. The council proposed a tax of $2 per room, per night. The issue will appear on the November ballot. With three new bed and breakfast establishments coming to Palmer Lake, the lodging tax can bring new revenue to the town.

Brush removal

The council approved an ordinance requiring removal of weeds, brush, leaves, pine needles, and litter from private property. This ordinance gives the town the right to remove fire hazards if residents don’t comply with requests by written notice to do so within an allotted time. Violators could face a misdemeanor charge with a fine up to $1000 and up to a year in jail. The Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department will be collecting brush, thinned trees and limbs at the town yard on County Line Road on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Saturdays in June. Residents will be able to pick up mulch from the same site. A donation of a nonperishable food item or a cash donation for local food pantries is requested.

Willow Creek Landscape Plan

The council voted 4-3 to approve the new landscape plan for the Willow Creek townhouse development. Trustees Allen, Jones, and Russell opposed the plan. The new plan, submitted on May 2, uses 55,252 square feet of irrigated blend of Windsor sod, which requires less water than the 88,000 square feet of Kentucky blue grass originally proposed. There will be 23,800 square feet seeded with native grass not requiring irrigation. The Tot-Lot playground, which had been eliminated in the previous plan, was reinstated in the new plan. The new plan, like the previous plan, specifies 39 Austrian Pine, down from 130 in the plan presented in December 2000. Developer Dan Potter would like to irrigate with water from the creek on the property instead of getting water from the town, but that water doesn’t belong to the development. Potter is seeking approval in water court to buy water to release upstream in exchange for the right to use the creek water. The council decided to classify the landscape tap as commercial, not residential.

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For more information, call town hall at 481-2953 or visit www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us. Note: The annual Palmer Lake water quality report is available at www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us/docs/water2001.html.

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May 7 Special District Election Results

On May 7, there were four contested special district elections: The Tri-Lakes Parks and Recreation District, The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District, and the Triview Metropolitan District.

Tri-Lakes Parks and Recreation District: Funding Denied

Ballot measure

For

Against

5A-District Operating Levy

399

1,913

5B-Communicty Center Bonds

400

1,913

5C-Trails & Open Space Bonds

429

1,888

The election for directors was uncontested. The following directors were elected to four-year terms: Si Sibell with 819 votes and Max Williams with 882 votes. Rebecca Albright won a two-year term with 951 votes. Total voters, both absentee and at the polls, was 2,321.

Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District: Turner, Nassar, and Durham elected

The following directors were elected to four year terms, Ron Turner with 93 votes, Benny Nassar with 87 votes, and Dick Durham with 87 votes. Jim Heintz was not elected since he got the lowest vote total of 70 in a four-way race for three seats.

Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District: Hildebrandt, Pocock, and Barnes elected

The following directors were elected to four-year terms, John Hildebrandt with 390 votes, Chuck Pocock with 370 votes, and Rick Barnes with 362 votes. The other three candidates did not get seats in this six-person race for three seats, and they were Glenn Scott with 204 votes, Joel Azrikan with 202 votes, and Steve Stannard with 201 votes. The sole ballot issue was to eliminate term limits for the directors. It failed to pass: 202 to 350.

Triview Metropolitan District: Gurnick and Jones elected

The following directors were elected to four-year terms, Martha Gurnick with 72 votes and Linda Jones with 69 votes. The two candidates who did not win seats were Corinne Reed-Watt with 69 votes and John Reisberg, the only non-resident running in this election, with 9 votes. The seats occupied by the other non-residents on the Triview board will be up for election in two years. Since Jones and Reed-Watt were tied, lots were drawn to determine the winner. Linda Jones won the tiebreaker. Out of 696 registered voters in the district, 117 ballots were cast.

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Regional planning work resumes, looks for a permanent home

By John Heiser

At a meeting May 3, work officially resumed on a local grant-funded regional planning project known as the Heritage Grant. The state agency that authorized the grant has agreed to extend the deadline for spending the $50,000 grant through June 30. So far, $5,000 has been spent in support of the $28,000 fire district study. The other $45,000 is earmarked for transportation planning.

Emergency Services Study

Representatives the consulting company preparing the fire district study, ESECG, spent one day each with the Palmer Lake, Tri-Lakes, and Woodmoor-Monument fire organizations collecting data and asking questions.

The report is now on its third draft for comment by the fire chiefs. Chief Youtsey of the Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District noted that the draft reviewed April 29 by the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District board (see OCN May 4 issue, "TLFPD Meeting April 29 on Draft Feasibility Study") was intended only for review by the chiefs and not for release to the boards. The next revision is scheduled to be available about May 20 for review by the boards of each of the fire organizations.

Once the final draft has been reviewed and approved by the three fire organization boards, copies will be available to the public. A public meeting is planned for the week of June 17. Youtsey added, "This will be the most widely distributed report in the history of the department. A ballot on the unification recommendations could be held within 18 to 24 months. Our board has pushed for 10 years for consolidation. But the voters will ultimately decide, not the boards and not the chiefs."

Based on the drafts received so far, Youtsey said, "If the departments will take the recommendations to heart, it will make a tremendous improvement in delivery of services. There are at least twelve items they recommended we have already done."

In response to claims that there have been no fire district consolidations since 1992, Youtsey noted that there was a very large consolidation within La Plata County near Durango.

Monument Planner and Assistant Town Manager, Mike Davenport, noted, "This study is a good model for other districts in Colorado."

Transportation Study

Monument consultant Transplan, Inc. is using mapping data supplied by El Paso County and Community Matters, Inc., the consultant preparing Monument’s comprehensive plan update, to develop regional traffic projections. Davenport noted that the county provided about $20,000 worth of geographic information system (GIS) data. One of the key issues is the growth model used to calculate traffic generation.

Davenport noted, "The goal of this effort is to come up with a prioritized list of transportation projects for PPACG [Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments] and El Paso County."

The Future of Regional Planning

Even though the follow-on grant request was denied, many have voiced the view that some sort of permanent regional body is needed to coordinate the planning efforts of El Paso County, Monument, Palmer Lake, and the multitude of special districts in the Tri-Lakes area. In prior meetings, one name suggested for this body is the Tri-Lakes Area Council of Governments (TLACG). It could be loosely based on the PPACG.

Heritage Grant meetings are scheduled for May 31, June 21, and July 12. All meetings will be held on Fridays at 1:30 pm at Monument Town Hall, 166 2nd St. Topics for the May 31 meeting include the fire study final report, growth projections for the Tri-Lakes area, and maps of existing land use, zoning, and growth sub-areas.

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For more information, contact Mike Davenport, Monument town planner, at 481-2954.

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Tri-Lakes Parks and Recreation District Meeting May 21

By Chris Pollard

At the May 21 meeting of the Tri-Lakes Parks and Recreation District board of directors, the atmosphere was somewhat charged from the beginning of the meeting. Apparently, most of those present in the audience (about 20) were attending to support a case for disbanding the district. A letter by Ruth Higgins published in the Gazette may have prompted this effort.

A brief history is that a majority voted to establish this special district, but in two elections voted against funding a recreation center and trails and open space.

There were few arguments against the district at the meeting except for concerns over spending priorities - recreation versus the need for security - and the potential problems of trails in residential areas. Most comments were restricted to questions about the board being paid – no they do not accept payment - and whether the board had operated incorrectly and therefore was not eligible for funding. The board members were adamant that they had reviewed their actions with all interested parties and had been given approval for their direction.

A smaller number of people proposed that the district continue but look at smaller projects to gain momentum.

The individuals on the board presented their own opinions on the future of the district and in the end voted to study the aspects of dissolving the district (which would require another election) before further discussions of the matter at the next meeting July 16, 7 pm, at the Lewis-Palmer School Administration Building, 2nd and Jefferson, in Monument.

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Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Meeting May 28

By John Heiser

At the May 28 regular monthly meeting of the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Board of Directors, incumbents John Hildebrandt and Charles Pocock and new board member Rick Barnes were sworn in to start their four-year terms.

Finances

Treasurer Hildebrandt reported that the district has received 45% of its anticipated income for the year but has expended only 24% of the annual budget. Switching from VHF to 800 MHz radios as required by the county has been somewhat more expensive than anticipated. Hildebrandt suggested that to simplify coordination between the Tri-Lakes district and the Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District, both districts adopt the same accounting structure.

Chief Keith Jensen reported that a brush truck built in the late 70’s needs an engine overhaul. He said that with the other problems likely to develop with the vehicle it is probably time to replace it. A new brush truck typically costs about $90,000.

Emergency Responses

Jensen reported that the latest month required 68 responses of which 18 were for traffic accidents. 20 patients were transported to area hospitals. The total number of responses for the year stands at 328.

Jensen noted that during a four-hour period on Friday afternoon May 24 they responded to five accidents on I-25. One of those accidents involved four cars, and an RV towing a boat. The majority of the traffic accidents were due to tailgating. Three people were transported to area hospitals.

Jensen described the 63-acre May 4 Spaatz fire on the northern edge of the Forest Lakes property as "The biggest thing since Mt. Herman." A 1989 fire on Mt. Herman burned several hundred acres and threatened several structures. At the May 4 fire, the Forest Service provided aerial tanker drops at no charge to the district in exchange for taking charge of the fire scene. According to Jensen each drop costs about $20,000. District firefighters remained on the scene all night and declared the fire completely out at 6 pm the next day. Jensen reported that a teenager playing with a lighter started the fire. He said he expects the teen’s parents will be required to pay the firefighting costs estimated at more than $100,000.

Unification Feasibility Study

Pocock reported that he sent the letter discussed at the special meeting April 29. He described the response from the consultant as "a lot of froth but not much satisfaction." As an example he cited his request for justification for the report’s reference to "poor patient outcomes across the Tri-Lakes area." Rather than a justification, their response was that it was an educated guess based on their years of experience. Pocock said, "They have their minds made up. They are not going to change the recommendations due to logic or anything else. As far as I can see, the preliminary report is the final report."

Pocock said he is working with Palmer Lake and the Woodmoor-Monument district to arrange a public meeting for 7 pm, June 20 for the consultant to present the report and their recommendations. The consultant suggested meeting with the boards at 5:30 pm on the 20th and meeting with the chiefs and assistant chiefs on the 21st.

Hildebrandt suggested that instead the consultant meet with the boards June 19. Jensen added that the consultant could then meet with the chiefs and assistant chiefs during the day June 20.

Pocock agreed to coordinate those suggestions with the consultant and the two other fire organizations.

District Election

Jensen reported that 500 absentee ballots were mailed. Three were returned due to bad addresses. More than 200 absentee ballots were cast and in excess of 300 people cast ballots at the firehouse. A record total of about 540 ballots were cast. Vote counting was completed by 11 pm.

Election of Officers

For president, Pocock nominated Gillespie and Gillespie nominated Hildebrandt. Gillespie was reelected president by a secret ballot vote of 4-1.

For vice president, Pocock nominated Gary Morgan. Hildebrandt nominated Pocock. Pocock was elected vice-president by a secret ballot vote of 4-1.

Hildebrandt was reelected treasurer by acclamation.

For secretary, Pocock nominated new board member Rick Barnes. Barnes nominated Morgan. Barnes was elected secretary by a secret ballot vote of 4-1.

Personnel Shortage

Pocock said the district needs to hire additional full-time firefighters to bring all three shifts up to three people each. Jensen reported some anticipated departures that will increase the need for additional personnel.

Station 2

Station 2 is currently a metal equipment shed on Roller Coaster road near Highway 105. The intent is to expand it to a full firehouse. Pocock said, "I suspect we need to get cracking on Station 2." He said he felt they needed to complete the design this year and plan for construction next year. This topic will be discussed further in association with the feasibility study results.

25th Anniversary Celebration and Memorial Garden

Preparations are continuing on the open house and celebration to be held on Saturday, July 13. Work is also underway on the memorial garden the district is constructing to honor deceased firefighters. A portion of the memorial will include recognition of the loss of life on September 11.

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For further information, contact Chief Keith Jensen at 481-2312.

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Triview Metropolitan District Meeting May 23

By John Heiser

The Triview Metropolitan District held its regular monthly meeting on May 23. Former directors John Riesberg and Bud Weis were in the audience. Newly elected director Linda Lee Jones was absent. Ron Simpson said she was working in Denver.

Evening Meeting scheduled for June 26

District President Kathy Walters said, "I think we can try evening meetings. After the first two or three meetings, we will reevaluate. It is going to disrupt everything." Riesberg said, "You guys have a life too. Why did she run for the board when she can’t attend the meetings."

Newly elected director Martha Gurnick said, "Residents are concerned that people in the district are stealing from them. They wonder about old debt and new debt." She said having evening meetings would make it easier for residents to attend the meetings and get their questions answered.

The board decided to hold its next meeting on Wednesday, June 26, 6:30 pm, at the district offices, 174 North Washington St.

Walters noted that election of officers will be held at the June 26 meeting when all the directors can be present.

Financial status

Peter Susemihl, attorney for the district, said the deficit shown in the audit reports was due to accounting presentation.

Ron Simpson, district manager, added, "The bottom line showed an increase of over $300,000."

Simpson reported that revised projections have been prepared assuming 150 to 300 units platted per year with and without Wal-Mart. This is a 50% reduction in platting rate from projections discussed last month.

Thanks expressed to departing board members

Director Jim Perry expressed appreciation to Riesberg and Weis for their time and effort on the board. "They will be sorely missed on this board." A motion to commend them for their service to the district was unanimously approved.

Weis said, "I enjoyed working on the board. The next four years are very critical. Everyone is driving for the same goal – to make the project the best possible. Politics can ruin a board. We need to move politics out of the situation. The biggest challenge is to make sure everyone is educated."

Monument Planning Status

Mike Davenport, Monument planner, reported:

  • The plat for the Carriages at Jackson Creek is ready for recording.

  • Homestead Filing #3 will go before the board of trustees in August.

  • Jackson Creek Land Company has updated the zoning map to reflect what the town has already approved.

  • Work on the 105 interchange has been funded and will be submitted for bids soon.

  • Work on the comprehensive plan will resume in June.

  • Loris and Associates, the consultant on Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority’s improvement project will use the traffic generation numbers based on the draft comprehensive plan. Switching to use traffic generation according to the district’s zoning map would need to go through the Pikes Peak Area Council of Government’s formal process. The potential 14% increase would necessitate a corresponding decrease elsewhere in the region.

  • Concerns remain about the impact of Forest Lakes traffic on the Baptist Road interchange.

The board voted for Jim Perry to succeed Bud Weis as the district’s representative to the comprehensive plan effort.

Traffic study issues

Simpson reported that CDOT’s consultant PBS&J thinks Loris’ traffic generation numbers are too low. He also said CDOT is pushing for a diamond interchange design at Baptist Road whereas the county and BRRTA want a cloverleaf.

Mill levy cap agreement approved

The board approved a revision to the mill levy cap agreement that Susemihl described as "cleaning up details."

District Engineer’s Report

Chuck Ritter, the district engineer reported that in a surprise move the railroad approved a permit for a simple private crossing of the tracks for access to the wastewater treatment plant. The $48,000 cost of the crossing will be evenly shared with the Forest Lakes and Donala districts. The factor that seemed to sway the railroad to grant the permit was concern that otherwise there might be damage to the train trestle that is being used as an underpass.

Ritter reported that the water quality complaints have been resolved and the A7 well has been tied into the system to address firefighting needs.

Wal-Mart status

Simpson reported that Wal-Mart has not yet submitted an application to the county. He said the documents are undergoing final review in Arkansas to "make sure corporate powers understand and agree." He said the submittal is expected by June 1 "at the latest."

Simpson said completion of agreements creating a Public Improvement Corporation to make improvements to the roads and including the parcel into the district will be conditions of approval of the project by the county. Simpson said a letter with numerous caveats committing the district to provide service to the project has been supplied to Wal-Mart.

Parks, open space, and landscape

Simpson reported that three-rail white fencing with reflectors will be installed at the end of Lyons Tail next week. Then they will clean up and remove some of the berms to the east.

Jackson Creek resident Bill Chin noted that there is a broken sprinkler by Lariat Ranch along the fence. Simpson agreed to look into it.

Simpson reported that a church has requested use of a Jackson Creek park for a church function. He said it is not the right facility for it since there are no restrooms or drinking fountains. The board voted to neither permit nor prohibit it. The church would use the park on the same basis as the rest of the community.

Trustee fees increased

Dale Hill, district administrator, reported that US Bank is raising their trustee fees for handling the district’s bonds. The cost will go from $4,000 this year to about $10,000 per year. It was suggested that the district research the fees at other banks.

Susemihl said, "We are limited to banks with resources."

Simpson added, "We are limited by statute in what we can do but we will look into it."

Revised water agreement approved

Susemihl reported that in the original 1986 service plan for the district, water rights were to be leased and purchased through a long-term agreement. So far there have not been any lease or purchase payments. Due to escalation clauses in the plan, the cost now would be about $5,000 per acre-foot. The developer has proposed a new agreement that would yield an average cost of less than $3,200 per acre-foot.

Simpson said, "[The revised agreement] is to our advantage. It lowers our cost by $6 million to $9 million. We have got to get rid of the 1986 agreement."

A motion to approve the revised agreement was unanimously approved.

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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority Meeting May 10

Above: Maryam Babaki, project manager for Loris Associates, answers questions about the Baptist Road improvement project. At the front table from left to right: Monument Mayor Betty Konarski, BRRTA manager Conner Shepherd, County Commissioners Duncan Bremer and Chuck Brown, and Monument Trustee Byron Glenn.

By John Heiser

The Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) held its regular meeting May 10 at the Monument Town Hall.

Finances

Conner Shepherd, BRRTA manager, reported that current assets stand at $447,065 including $61,080 in receivable fees. With $25,281 in accounts payable, that leaves retained earnings of $421,847 of which $385,985 is cash on hand.

Improvement Project Report

Loris and Associates project manager, Maryam Babaki, reported that more than 200 people attended the March 18 public meeting at Lewis-Palmer High School [see OCN April 6 issue, "Baptist Road Improvement Project meeting March 18 draws more than 200"]. The results of that meeting are posted at http://www.elpasoco.com/Transprt/baptist_rd.asp.

Loris and Associates completed the draft traffic report and Mitchell Road extension sensitivity analysis. If Mitchell is extended to Baptist and if the Forest Lakes development is approved, their analysis calls for Baptist to be widened to two lanes in each direction from Old Denver Highway to Hay Creek Road. From Old Denver Highway to I-25 there will need to be two or three lanes in each direction.

The report also calls for three lanes in each direction with a full complement of turn lanes from I-25 east to Jackson Creek Parkway and then two lanes in each direction with turn lanes from Jackson Creek Parkway to Gleneagle Drive. Signals will be needed at Leather Chaps and Gleneagle Drive. Turn lanes will be needed at the intersections east of Gleneagle Drive to Tari.

Ron Simpson, manager of the Triview Metropolitan District, objected to Loris’ basing traffic generation on the projected land uses in the draft Monument comprehensive plan update instead of using the approved Regency Park-Jackson Creek zoning map appended to the development agreement with the town. "I am concerned about areas around the interstate, especially the 245 acres on the west side [of I-25] which shows as light industrial instead of commercial," remarked Simpson.

Responding to questions as to why Loris was directed to use the comprehensive plan’s projected land use map, Carl Schueler, assistant director of the county planning department, said, "Zoning in the county bears little relation to what is likely to be built. We felt the comp plan was more applicable than existing zoning."

Simpson replied, "The zoning map is really a comp plan for Triview."

Babaki said, "In aggregate, it may not make a whole lot of difference except in storage lane lengths. It takes a lot to require additional traffic lanes." She added that to do a comparative trip generation analysis would cost $3,000. To rerun the entire analysis incorporating the revised trip generation would cost an additional $2,200 for a total of $5,200.

Monument planner and assistant town manager, Mike Davenport, noted, "The town has no objections to using the existing zoning for the planning studies." Monument mayor and BRRTA board member Betty Konarski said, "There will be value at least to [Monument] in having both scenarios." She noted that the area around Lewis-Palmer High School is being discussed for a possible expanded campus or arts center. The final configuration may greatly affect the traffic generation for that area.

County Commissioner and BRRTA board president Duncan Bremer suggested doing it in two steps, first the trip generation and then, if warranted, the rest of the analysis. The board authorized that approach and a total not to exceed $6,000 to perform the additional analysis.

Schueler said, "The Mitchell Road extension appears to be a long way off." There are mouse habitat issues. Schueler estimated the cost at $4 million for that section of road. Babaki added that their analysis showed 7,000 additional vehicle trips per day on Baptist Road if Mitchell is connected south. Monument Trustee and BRRTA board member Byron Glenn said, "The developers traffic engineers can work on [the changes needed]."

Bremer said, "I don’t see any need for further study beyond Old Denver highway."

Simpson reported that the latest designs for the changes to the Baptist Road I-25 interchange shows two lanes in each direction with additional turn lanes. (The five designs presented at the meeting February 11 can be viewed at www.interstate25.com/ncdot/bapt/bapt21102.htm). County Commissioner and BRRTA board member Chuck Brown said, "It is a very constrained area with environmental issues." Simpson noted that the consultant on the Baptist I-25 interchange project, PBS&J, is using the current Triview zoning plan.

County Planning Department Report

Schueler reported that the Forest Lakes residential project proposing 467 dwelling units on about 1,000 acres west of the western end of Baptist Road will be heard by the Board of County Commissioners on May 16. The proposed Hay Creek Ranch project with 15 lots on 35 acres will be heard May 23. Justin Hotz of the Hay Creek Ranch project said, "We are more than happy to be part of BRRTA."

Schueler said he expects an application to be submitted soon for rezoning and preliminary plan to build a Wal-Mart supercenter across Baptist Road from King Soopers.

School District Dispute

Konarski reported, "School Superintendent Ted Bauman said the Lewis-Palmer board feels they do not owe BRRTA fees. They view it as a form of double taxation." Bremer said, "Double taxation is irrelevant. We are all trying to solve traffic problems together." He estimated the fee as "about $60,000." Bremer said it would be a waste of the taxpayers’ money if the two bodies go to court over this matter. The board voted to send a letter to the school district requesting payment of the BRRTA fee of $1 per square foot of developed space.

Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held Friday, August 9, 1:30 pm, at the Board of County Commissioners 3rd floor hearing room, 27 E. Vermijo, Colorado Springs. At that meeting, hearings will be held on the annexation of the Total Station and Brookhart’s parcels into BRRTA.

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Articles on prior Baptist Road-related meetings are posted at www.ourcommunitynews.org/top_stories.htm#baptist. There is also background information at www.elpasoco.com/Transprt/baptist_rd.asp and www.coalitiontlc.org/baptist_road.htm.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board Meeting May 15

By Elizabeth Hacker

President Beth Courrau called the meeting to order at 7 pm and welcomed the more than 30 guests assembled to hear the district 38 high school presentation by Superintendent Ted Bauman, Vice Superintendent Dave Dilley, and High School Principal Keith Jacobus. The presentation showed the district’s demographic projections for growth, the locations of the geographic and population centers, the educational goals of the district, and various options to provide for the growing student population. After the presentation, there was a short discussion period and Bauman encouraged people to view the district’s website at www.lpsd.k12.co.us.

The board then discussed the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District’s plans for the South Water Treatment Plant, the new slash/mulch site, and approval of the Greenland Forest subdivision prior to adjourning into executive session.

Courrau noted that the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District agreed to upgrade the current South Treatment facility and that the new facility would appear more residential and blend into the character of the existing South Woodmoor neighborhood.

The slash/mulch site off Baptist Road is planned to be operational this year, although a date for it’s opening has not been set. The site will be open due in part to a $250,000 federal grant for fire protection. There is still a need for volunteers to man the site on weekends. If you would like to volunteer to help at the site, call the WIA office at 488-2693.

The board noted that Greenland Forest developer Jack Wiepking had worked with WIA to incorporate similar covenants and that they would support approval of the 56-acre parcel. The development is located near Silverhorn Road south of County Line Road in North Woodmoor.

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For more information, contact the WIA at 488-2694.

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Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board Meeting May 16

By Tommie Plank

At the Lewis-Palmer Distrct 38 school board meeting May 16, school Superintendent Ted Bauman presented commendations to Assistant Superintendent Dave Dilley and High School Principal Keith Jacobus for the many hours they have given beyond their normal responsibilities helping with the future high school presentations throughout the district. Twenty-three presentations were made to various community and school groups since mid-March. Their final presentation will be made at the June 20 Board Meeting, along with a summary of the comments and concerns heard over the three-month-long information-gathering presentations.

Joe Subialka, Executive Director of Financial Services, presented the district’s preliminary 2002-2003 budget for discussion and approval. The board believes this budget, developed through two public board workshops and hundreds of hours of work by the financial office and administrators, incorporates and adequately funds district 38’s mission and programs for the upcoming fiscal year, including:

  • Ten additional teachers to reduce class size

  • Five elementary building resource teachers

  • Increasing physical education and music to full-time at every elementary school

  • Additional funding for increased health insurance costs

  • Additional bus drivers

  • Increased utility costs

  • Additional building maintenance

The budget provides for a salary increase of 4.8%. The total compensation package, including salary, insurance, and retirement benefits, amounts to a 7.5% increase for certified staff, and a 7.1% increase for classified employees. The average teacher salary in 2002-2003 will be $39,336, at a cost to the District of $47,025, including benefits. This pay schedule should position the district slightly above the mid-range of area districts, a critical factor in attracting and keeping the best-qualified employees.

Excluded from the motion to approve was the Monument Academy’s portion of the preliminary budget. There were several questions concerning the budget figures provided by the Monument Academy, and neither the board treasurer nor president was in attendance to respond. It is expected those details will be provided at the June meeting, at which time they are also on the agenda to give a report of their progress toward reducing their deficit. The rest of the budget was unanimously approved as presented.

The next regular meeting of Lewis-Palmer District #38 Board of Education will be held at 7 pm June 20 at the Administration Building, Second Street and Jefferson Street in Monument.

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Covenant enforcement in Jackson Creek’s Lariat Ranch passed to residents

By Bill Chin

On May 1, Richard Blevins of Vision Development and the Warren Management Group relinquished control of the approving authority and enforcement duties of the covenants in Lariat Ranch to residents. A similar group was established for the Heights in October 2001.

Each group is composed of three residents. At least ten highly interested residents of Lariat Ranch volunteered, but in the only announced meeting at Warren Management five were present and three were selected.

The Warren Management group has yet to advise this new group of Lariat Ranch volunteers of ongoing reviews of landscaping, past records of approvals and enforcement issues or even guidelines from which decisions should be made.

Questions, comments and landscaping plans should be directed to these individuals in their respective subdivisions:

Rex Barber, 210.5339, 401 Oxbow Dr

Steve Hurd, 487.3121, 253 Talus Rd

John Pounder, 484.0405, 383 Talus Rd

Other interested individuals may join these citizen groups by contacting any of the volunteers.

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Neighbors express concerns about 1,500 acre Flying Horse Ranch project

By John Heiser

About 75 residents met with representatives from Classic Communities on May 13 to discuss the Flying Horse Ranch project proposed to be built over the next 10 to 25 years on 1,565 acres west of Highway 83 and south of Northgate Road. [See map] Classic Communities made prior presentations to the Black Forest Land Use Committee and the Abert Estates board of directors. All of the residents who spoke opposed the project.

The Proposal

Doug Stimple, President of Classic Communities, introduced Drew Balsick, Classic Communities Vice President and Project Manager for the proposal; John Maynard, partner with N.E.S (named for founder Nolan E. Shriner); Bob Tagler, of the Colorado Springs planning department; and Chris Smith, from the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Maynard outlined the proposal that includes 3,650 dwelling units on 708 acres, 244 acres of office and light industrial, 229 acres for a private golf course and conference center-resort, 100 acres of parks and open space, 95 acres of commercial and retail space, and an 80-acre K-12 school site. The land currently carries a county RR-3 rural residential zoning that requires a 5-acre minimum lot size. Using the existing zoning, a maximum of around 300 houses would be allowed.

The area west of Highway 83 and south of Northgate Road has been identified as a cooperative planning area between the Black Forest Preservation Plan, the county’s Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan, and the City of Colorado Springs’ Northgate Master Plan. In particular, the Tri-Lakes plan says,

"It is anticipated that development within this unit will ultimately include a mix of residential densities, some non-residential uses, and significant open space…Higher density and higher profile uses should be located between the Powers Boulevard alignment and Interstate 25…Northgate Road should be re-aligned and additional buffers should be provided to protect the existing rural-residential development to the north of Northgate Road…Panoramic views to the Front Range should be given special consideration in this area. To protect these views, structures should primarily keep a low profile and conform to, rather than contrast with, the landscape."

In keeping with the suggestion in that plan, the project proposes to realign Northgate road so it would go due east, bypassing two existing 90-degree turns.

In August 2000, Classic submitted an annexation request to Colorado Springs. Stimple said the land is within the urban planning area of the city. It is at the approximate limit of expansion of the city as identified in the recently revised city comprehensive plan. Stimple noted, "This property was rated [in the comprehensive plan] as likely to be annexed."

The principal reason given for seeking annexation is access to city utilities. Maynard said that currently, connection to utilities is generally at the boundary of the property. Classic proposes drilling into the Denver aquifer for water to irrigate the golf course and parks. They propose retaining water rights for 250 to 300 acre-feet (82-98 million gallons) per year for that purpose. If reuse water from the wastewater treatment plants becomes available, Stimple said that would be tied into the irrigation system.

According to Stimple, they spent $180,000 over the past 18 months in an unsuccessful attempt to have the proposed Powers connection to I-25 rerouted away from the center of the project. He reported that Tom Norton, head of CDOT, said the route has been chosen and the road will be built through the project within the next seven to ten years. CDOT’s Chris Smith said, "The issue has been thoroughly looked at. The decision has been made." He added that about 25% of the funding for construction of Powers has been identified. Smith said that north of Woodmen Road, Powers is designated as a freeway. Maynard said having 100 acres of Powers Boulevard right-of-way bisecting the property was a primary determinant in developing the design.

The next step is for Classic to submit a master plan for the area. Although he noted the need for several changes to road alignments and addition of neighborhood parks, Maynard concluded, "It is our intent to submit a plan very similar to this." That plan will be subjected to an internal review by Colorado Springs staff. Once the issues resulting from that review are resolved, the Colorado Springs planning commission and the city council will hold public hearings. Maynard added, "We would like to have the planning commission hearing this year."

Opposition from neighbors

Dr. Richard Marciniak, representing the Abert Estates board of directors, read a letter opposing the project as inconsistent with applicable land use plans noting especially the proposed location of commercial/industrial and retail businesses along Highway 83.

The letter also said the proposed pumping to irrigate the golf course and parks poses a risk of depletion of groundwater supplies needed by area residents. One resident asked, "When my well goes dry, who do I turn to?" No response was given.

The Abert Estates letter also charges that Classic is seeking annexation to the city "to bypass the El Paso County-approved Black Forest and Tri-Lakes comprehensive plans." Marciniak said the commercial industrial space should be moved further south away from the existing large lot residential areas.

Many residents living along Northgate Road expressed concern that the school, commercial, and residential structures proposed along the northern boundary of the project will obstruct their view of Pikes Peak and the Front Range.

Several people objected to the placement of commercial buildings and high-density residential developments adjacent to existing low-density residential areas. It was also noted that the lower density residential uses within the project are placed adjacent to existing and proposed higher density residential communities. One opponent characterized it as a plan "designed by a lawyer" to minimize the number of people who would object.

One resident remarked, "It is a beautiful plan but it doesn’t belong where you’re putting it."

Concerns were raised about the types of commercial, industrial, and retail businesses that might be located in the project. Stimple responded, "We don’t want muffler shops, self storage, and the like at the front door to our project." He said talks have been held with a religious institution interested in a 20 to 40 acre site and companies interested in small office buildings on one to one and a half acre sites. Maynard added that there would be controls placed on architectural designs and landscaping to ensure a high quality project.

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Questions and comments on this proposal should be sent to

  • Bob Tegler, City of Colorado Springs Planning Department, 30 S. Nevada, Suite 301, Colorado Springs, CO 80903. (719) 385-5905.

  • Doug Stimple, President, and Drew Balsick, Vice President, Classic Communities, 6385 Corporate Drive, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80919. (719) 592-9333 dbalsick@classichomes.com.

  • John Maynard, Partner, N.E.S., 1040 S. 8th St., Suite 201, Colorado Springs, CO 80906. (719) 471-0073 jmaynard@nescolorado.com.

For more information on the Powers Boulevard project, visit www.thepowerslink.com.

View an aerial photo of the area

View the Flying Horse Ranch Plan

View the Flying Horse Ranch Plan (High Magnification)

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Letters to Our Community

Letters Guidelines

Our Community News welcomes letters to the editor on topics of general interest. Please include full name, home address, and day and evening phone numbers. A limit of 300 words is recommended. Letters may be edited for length, grammar, and accuracy.

Send your letter to our_community_news@hotmail.com or mail to Our Community News, P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.

Road Construction Projects in Monument

In a conversation with Mayor Betty Konarski, she indicated an interest in the background of the road construction projects this year. There are four projects: 1) the 2nd Street extension to the 105 bridge, 2) the Beacon-Lite/Old Denver link, 3) the sewer pipeline in Beacon Lite Road north of Highway 105, and 4) the Jackson Creek Parkway from Highway 105 to Higby. These projects were initiated during the last quarter of 1999.

The 2nd Street extension was in the 1983 Comprehensive Plan and during the mid 1990’s, the Town Board of Trustees attempted to negotiate for the right-of-way from the property owner. They came to an impasse. With the 2000 election, the new board began an extensive year long process to acquire the right-of-way. This involved getting an appraisal, good faith negotiations, and finally going to eminent domain process, since the property owner became very uncooperative and said, "Go to court." The day before the court hearing on April 13, 2001, the town acquired the 80 foot right-of-way, as well as 30 feet along the Beacon Lite/Old Denver Highway link for $457,000, which was paid to the property owner. Design was begun and the contract was let for bid in the fall of 2001. The town got a good bid for approximately $200,000. In order to defray the expense, Trustee Glenda Smith, working with the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, got a $200,000 grant. This project will link up with the existing western end of the Highway 105 bridge. When CDOT finishes their project in 24 months, they will realign 2nd Street to link up with the new bridge. Further, the state will put a new traffic light, at no expense to the town, in exchange for the town acquiring the Jackson Creek right-of-way from Highway 105 to Higby Road. The contractor waited the winter to allow for good construction weather this spring and will finish in early June 2002.

The Beacon Lite/Old Denver Highway link was also in the 1983 Comprehensive Plan. When the Monument Sanitation District began construction of its new 12-inch line from the Dirty Women Creek Railroad Crossing, the town partnered in order to defray the common costs of putting utility lines and construction of a new road. Due to the absence of the town’s Public Works Superintendent and a Town Manager, both the sanitation district and the town agreed to allow the District Manager, Mike Wicklund, to be the project manager of the joint project. The project went through many phases and had to coordinate with many parties, as well as solve the seemingly ubiquitous mouse habitat issues. As part of the coordination, School District 38, the County Parks Department, and the Town of Monument participated in a three-way swap of land in order to get the right-of-way for the southern portion of the road. Again the project was delayed by problems with uncooperative private property owners, which were finally resolved by eminent domain procedures to acquire the aforementioned 30 feet of road right-of-way on the eastern side of the road. The project was designed in the summer of 2001and the ground breaking was in August 2001. The contract was approximately $785,758.78 with the town’s portion as $464,412 and the Monument Sanitation District part was $321,346. The contract included a new sewer line north along Beacon Lite to Highway 105 and the resurfacing of Beacon Lite. Further, the town got 7 inches of new flexible pavement on the new road part up to 2nd Street and received 4 inches of new asphalt to Highway 105. The new road was opened in the latter half of April 2002. The other part was finished substantially on May 10, 2002.

The third project, to emplace a 12-inch sewer line north along Beacon Lite Road of Highway 105, is funded totally by the Monument Sanitation District. The purpose of this line is to open up the commercial properties east of Beacon Lite and to provide sewer services to Wakonda Hills.This subdivision is nearly built out, but each house has well and septic on only one acre of land, which is not recommended by the County Health Department. The county no longer approves well and septic on lots less than 2 ½ acres. This provision of sewer line to Wakonda Hills subdivision will allow the residents to hook up to sewer and keep their wells. The contract was let for under $400,000 and began the first week in May 2002. When it is finished in July, the last part of the 12-inch line from the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility on Mitchell Avenue to the Palmer Divide will be completed. The sanitation district has been constructing the line for the last 5 years. This line has made possible much new development in town from the new housing developments on Old Denver Highway, 2nd Street, and now north Beacon Lite Road.

The last project is funded jointly by the town, the state, and Triview Metropolitan District. It consists of construction of a new road, Jackson Creek Parkway, from Highway 105 to Higby Road, near the Lewis-Palmer High School. The reason for this project is that the CDOT project will close Struthers Road, the current way to the high school, to use for its on and off ramps. This was necessary since the presence of Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse prevented the normal connections with Woodmoor Drive. The state would only build two-thirds of the new Jackson Creek Parkway segment and wanted another entity to construct the last piece. The town acquired the right-of-way from cooperative land owners of Jackson Creek Land Company and Pine Tree Properties who donated this right-of-way to the town. Triview Metro District agreed to share the estimated cost of this segment of road on a 50-50 basis with the town. The total cost is estimated at $150,000. It will be scheduled to begin when CDOT finally starts their project.

These projects will enable the residents of not only the town, but the surrounding community, to move more freely and until the state finishes the project over I-25, more freely through the Highway 105 Bridge bottleneck. With these projects extending over many years, there are many Boards of Trustees for the Town of Monument to thank. In the fall of 1999, the board consisted of Mayor Si Sibell and Trustees John Bailey, Ed DeLaney, Kristi Schutz, Glenda Smith, Leon Tenney, and Dutch Van Kekerix. They started the ball rolling with the Monument Sanitation District, whose board consisted of Ed DeLaney, Connie De Felice, Darwin Dimmick, Larry Mckesson, and Leon Tenney. The next Town Board elected in 2000 consisted of Mayor Leon Tenney and Trustees Ed DeLaney, Nick Leibovitz, Lowell Morgan, Kristi Schutz, Glenda Smith, and Steve Wilcox. Another board which continued this process in 2001 consisted of Mayor Betty Konarski, and Trustees Ed DeLaney, Faye Elbaum, Byron Glenn, Katy Page, Christopher Perry, and Glenda Smith. Finally, your current board, which consists of Mayor Betty Konarski, and Trustees George Brown, Byron Glenn, Frank Orten, Christopher Perry, Glenda Smith, and Doug Warner, will oversee the final touches and officially open these roads for the good of the entire town, Some other people who participated in key roles were Rick Sonnenburg, the Town Manager, Mike Wicklund, the Sanitation District Manager, Dave Fritsch, the inspector from GMS, Bernie Guevara, the CDOT manager, the District 38 School Board, the El Paso County Commissioners, and the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments. These are not all the people who made these new roads possible, but most of the key players. Success has many fathers and mothers, failure is always an orphan.

Leon W. Tenney, Former Mayor, Town of Monument

Open Letter To Mr. John Bass, County Assessor

In response to your recent letter to The Gazette, I wish to applaud your courageous stand in listing many of the failings attributable to our County Commissioners.

As lengthy as your list is, it is not exhaustive. For example, on May 16th, the Board of County Commissioners ignored the voice of the people completely by approving the rezoning and the preliminary plan of a development–known as Forest Lakes–that will greatly impact the area at the western end of Baptist Road. Presentations by an opposing attorney and by concerned citizens residing in adjacent areas were totally ignored, if not ridiculed. As anticipated, the proposed development was approved, flagrantly disregarding published county regulations.

For instance, the Land Development Code in force at the time of the initial application in 1984, as well as the current one, specifically states that "any substantial change in the sketch plan will require resubmittal of the plan in its entirety." Both citizen objectors and responsible Planning Department personnel acknowledged that there were significant changes from the original sketch plan. Even the developer stated that the water system was dramatically different than that originally proposed. Yet, the Board of County Commissioners approved this eighteen-year-old project in its entirety with virtually no debate.

The provision covering inactive projects was also ignored as a steamroller approach was used during the hearing. A request to be heard in the form of a "Point of Order" by an ordinary citizen was summarily dismissed, discouraging any further objections. A document was privately distributed to each commissioner by a developer’s representative during the rebuttal phase but was not communicated to the objectors, in clear violation of fair, open and impartial procedures. As of now, objectors are still not aware of the contents of this document.

This project will result in some homes as close as seven feet from each other, on a number of 3200 square-foot lots. The entire development is surrounded by rural residential lots of five acres or greater, as well as one large working ranch with major operations a short distance from one of the densest proposed residential areas. Yet, all of the commissioners, including our own representative, asserted in their motion that the property was compatible, harmonious and responsive with the existing surrounding area and that the plan will not negatively affect existing and future development. Very pointedly, objectors had described the impact on the character of the area, on traffic on Baptist Road and on water resources available to nearby wells, including those of existing water districts, all to no avail.

No appeal to reason was heard. Several pleas for a compromise and alternative proposals by the Land Use Department were not even openly entertained. Objectors were allowed to speak but were, at times, treated condescendingly. 

In short, the rights of the average citizens in our area were swiftly disregarded to the benefit of a developer fronting for out-of-state owners of the property, a developer who has openly bragged about his influence and his power to get individuals elected to the Board of County Commissioners.

This is was not an unusual experience, as County officials have allowed increasingly dense developments to spread across the Tri-Lakes Area, as anyone driving to Denver can attest. This clear trend informally–if not surreptitiously–adopted during the last eight years is in clear defiance of common sense and logic. Monitoring of wells by the U.S. Geological Survey undeniably shows that ground water levels are dropping at an accelerating rate. It is only a matter of time before a crisis is reached and a gargantuan task will have to be undertaken to import water in order to prevent property values to approach the vanishing point. Who will pay for this new infrastructure? Not the developers, of course. They will have left, taking their financial gains with them. The new residents will have inherited all responsibilities for this new or expanded infrastructure, as well as the debt of service districts created and later abandoned by developers. There is no doubt that every taxpayer in the county would be affected in various ways. Forest Lakes has already cost millions of dollars to taxpayers as the result of bankruptcy in the mid-80’s. It will undoubtedly cost even more to future taxpayers.

This new development will also necessitate the construction of a railroad overpass extending over Monument Creek, replacing a bridge built by the county for over three-quarters of a million dollars. The contribution from the developer for this project essential to traffic will be minimal, with the state, county, and local citizens contributing the major balance in the form of taxes. Our own commissioner has already mentioned a sales tax for that purpose.

During the 1984 hearing on the same project, a free citizen spoke eloquently against this project. Last week, the very same man supported that development without any major reservation, without shame, without apologies, without eloquence. He has become our commissioner. What causes a man to change his position on a development at his very own doorsteps? The answer does not require much surmising on any dispassionate observer.

For any or all of the county commissioners to blame the press for "the lack of credibility our government has with our citizens" reflects further on the arrogance of our commissioners who continually trample the rights of the average citizens with impunity while accommodating the boundless greed of the politically powerful.

Over the years, the county commissioners have lost much of their credibility by violating their own regulations, redefining the very meaning of key words that do not fit the demands of their campaign contributors and the powerful interests that try to still the voices of the very people that our officials allege to be serving.

By summarizing some of the most egregious failings of our county commissioners, you have rendered a great service to the entire community. It is now the duty of every responsible citizen to insure that your voice is heard. Of course, the commissioners will deny your allegations, as well as mine, displaying the lawyerly cleverness of Johnny Cochran and the sly deceitfulness of Bill Clinton. Undoubtedly, they will attack the messengers of truth, including the press, but there are times in life when free men must stand up and be counted in the fight to restore trust and integrity in our government. This is one of them. . . and I am prepared to join the battle with you and many others, including the honest, hard-working county employees dedicated to serving the people and who silently decry the current state of affairs within our county government.

At the beginning of every session, our county officials routinely and perfunctorily recite the Pledge of Allegiance and then, whenever they deem appropriate, they proceed to violate the basic principles of justice for all . . . and that, in this country, all men are created equal under law. Indeed, this current Board of County Commissioners does not represent a government of the people, for the people and by the people. Lamentably, it has become the government of the people by brazen politicians for the powerful amongst us.

In the next election, citizens must reject those who have usurped the limited powers granted to them by the people, as well as their chosen successors who would follow the same path. Echoing Harry Truman’s challenge of the past, "it is time to get the rascals out!"

Even though we have never met and have never conversed, you have earned my most profound respect for speaking out on behalf of all concerned citizens. I stand with you in the fight to restore credibility of the people in their own county government.

Jacques Adnet, Lieutenant Colonel, U. S. Air Force (ret)

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Congratulations Grads and Parents of Grads!

By Judith Pettibone

It’s the launching time of year … to be launched or to do the launching. Whether setting out or sending off, it probably is not surprising that there are books to guide, inform and amuse. Graduation gifts are traditional and a book is often a perfect choice. There are even graduation books for parents … "Dr. Spock" for the parents of the newly graduated.

For the high school grad:

Been There Should’ve Done That
$9.95

Aside from the great title, this book has an amazing amount of good advice packed into a small format. It should be required reading for all four years of college. As one college junior said, "It really is just about everything I should’ve known before I left for college … if my brother absorbs even half of it, he’s going to have it ten times easier than I did."

The Everything College Survival Book
By Jason Rich, $12.95

Another version of the ‘going off to freshman year’ advice book. Subtitled "From Social Skills to Study Skills – Everything You Need to Know to Fit Right in Before You’re a Senior", it is a comprehensive look at being successful in college. The sections include: Getting Ready to Go, The College Scene, The Social Scene, The Study Scene and perhaps more unusually, The Big Picture. This last section gives information and advice on day trips, spring break trips, internships and even transferring.

Oh, The Places You’ll Go
By Dr. Suess, $17.00

You have brains in your head
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.

Need more be said?

For the parent of the new grad:

Just when you think you have out-parented the parenting books, you might think again. Sending children off to college may be a parent’s biggest transition and you might find yourself needing the comfort of an advice book. Warning: grown fathers have been reduced to tears in the parking lot at the end of the ‘moving in’ day.

Letting Go, 3rd Edition
By Coburn & Treeger, $13.00

This is a practical and sensitive guide to help parents understand what their children are experiencing as they leave home for college. Taking parents through the leave-taking and the first years of college, the authors give sound advice without falling into pat jargon. This book has been recently updated to include such areas as diversity and technology.

Empty Nest … Full Heart
By Andrea Van Steenhouse, Ph.D., $14.95

Speaking primarily to the emotional journey that parents embark upon as they launch a child and experience the empty nest. A cover quote states: "It’s like having a friend who understands, who shares your sense of loss and offers a few words of advice and encouragement." As you experience the first of the lasts … "last teacher conference" or "last first day" you might find this book comforting and insightful.

For the college grad:

R.A.T. The Real World Aptitude Test
By Homer Moyer, Jr., $19.95

Moyer, a dad and an attorney, became concerned about how well equipped his four children were to cope with ‘real life.’ He has organized his book using a series of quizzes – basic cooking, money management, etiquette etc. Information follows to fill in any knowledge deficiencies. Do YOU know how to treat poison ivy?

Graduate! Everything You Need to Succeed After College
By Karen Gustafson, $14.95

Relying on her experience as a recent grad (1998), Gustafson wrote this book when she realized how much she didn’t know. "Graduates will feel the euphoria of finally having a diploma quickly turn into a paralyzing fear that none of the expense or hard work of school taught them how to survive in the outside world." Writing a book was her way to survive while sharing good, practical advice with recent grads.

Graduations are all about getting ready … for work, for continuing an education … for life. While one often has to discover how life works by experiencing it first hand, it is also true that a book can be a friend along the way.

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Cinco de Mayo celebration a huge success for the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club

Above: A great group of guests enjoying the evening of bidding and fun.

Above:  Bill Kaelin, Incoming TLWC President J. J. Kaelin, Lorraine Fritts and Al Fritts

By Marina Nelson

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club fifth annual silent auction was held on May 5 at the Air Force Academy. The Cinco de Mayo celebration was part of the Pine Forest Antiques Show and Sale effort to raise funds for non-profit organizations in Lewis-Palmer School District 38.

Marina Nelson and Kristen Kelly co-chaired the silent auction. Marina Nelson noted, "One third of the auction items were donated by our members. We had many artists and quilters who shared their talents." Nelson observed that initially there was concern that local merchants would be hesitant to donate after the September 11 tragedy. They happily found the reverse to be true, as "the merchants were extremely generous this year." The Pine Forest Antiques Show and Sale that was co-chaired by Jan Vaughn and Terry Franz, was held several weeks prior to the Silent Auction and most of the antique dealers donated items to the auction. Tri-Lakes Women’s Club president, Peggy Lilly, commented "Most dealers have been loyal to the show for many years and wanted to express their appreciation".

Rich Kelly, husband of Kristen Kelly, acted as MC for the evening. Peggy and Morgan Lilly’s houseguest Dick Smith, a childhood friend of Morgan, provided music along with Tom Nelson, who welcomed guests with piano music as they arrived at the door. One of the most bid-upon items was an antique set of skis with cable bindings and bamboo with leather poles along with a pair of single blade wood skates. Kathy Coombs went home the happy winner. Equally fierce bidding occurred over a rose decorated birdbath and many other items. Many ladies went home anticipating the facials, massages, and manicures they won and their husbands were ready to take their cars in for that oil change they had bid upon or to have that dinner out at their favorite restaurant.

The silent auction committee had the assistance of several Monument Hill Sertoma members who acted as the event’s cashiers. Jan Vaughn’s husband Gov Vaughn was among the cashiers along with Glenn Scott, Dick Spearel, Mike Hoskinson and Tom Nelson.

The event’s proceeds will be added to the Pine Forest Antiques Show and Sale profits to be distributed to the community through the club’s granting process chaired by Ruth Ann Spidell. During 2001, the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club donated $28,719 to 21 non-profit organizations in School District 38. The total contribution the Club has provided in the past 26 years is over $307,000.

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Tenth Annual Rocky Mountain Youth Leadership Conference

By George Barnes

A national organization that began in the years following World War I will continue its support of regional youth this summer. The Military Order of the World Wars (MOWW), a fraternal organization started by former American military officers in 1919, in collaboration with the Rocky Mountain Youth Leadership Foundation, Inc. (RMYLF), will sponsor its tenth annual Youth Leadership Conference July 15-19. The event will held be on the campus of the University of Southern Colorado in Pueblo. The guest speakers, many of whom are well-known leaders in the military and civilian communities, focus on non-partisan patriotic and leadership issues. Last year’s conference, also held in Pueblo, brought together selected high school sophomores and juniors from all over the state, to participate in discussions presented by recognized authorities in the fields of education, business, and leadership, including Pete Lemon, a Medal of Honor recipient.

This year, more than 80 students sponsored by various individuals and civic organizations throughout Colorado have been invited to take advantage of this unique learning opportunity. The vice-president of the RMYLF, Colonel Watt Hill, USAF (Ret.), of Woodmoor, also notes that the organization is regularly active in the Tri-Lakes area. As a former professor of history at the Air Force Academy and district 38, he brings a wealth of information and personal experiences to the youth of the present generation. The goal of all the members of the MOWW is to help spread the RMYLF’s motto of, "It is better to serve, than be served."

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For more information, contact Col. (ret.) Watt Hill at 481-3345 or Col.(ret.) James Taylor at 488-1317.

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High Country Highlights: Seven Xeriscape Principles

By Woody Woodworth

Owner, High Country Feed and Garden

Xeriscape principles were developed in 1981 by members of the "Green Industry" to promote landscaping practices that conserve water. Our semi-arid region requires us to use these sound principles in our everyday gardening to help promote conservation of water and the resources around us. The seven basic principles are as follows:

  1. Plan ahead - A good design is the backbone of any great xeriscape. Use plants with similar water needs, sun or shade requirements, and soil conditions. Notice the lay of the land and areas that may require additional preparation to incorporate your plan. Planning ahead will save you time, money and frustration.

  2. Improve the soil - The single, most important task you can do when starting your landscape is to amend the soil. Generally, in our area, the soil has a wonderful mineral content, but is an inadequate medium for plant root growth. By adding composted material to the soil, we can increase the soil’s capacity to retain moisture and provide air to the roots which helps promote healthy root growth during drier seasons.

  3. Irrigate efficiently - Water at the right time, using the right amount of water for the season, the weather and plants. Generally watering early in the morning reduces water loss through evaporation. Don’t let your sprinklers run if it is raining in the morning or if it rained the night before. Use the proper amount of water. It makes no difference whether you’re dragging a hose around or have an irrigation system, the amount of water your plants need will vary and it’s your responsibility to know how much moisture is necessary to keep them healthy.

  4. Limit turf areas - Confine the lawn to high-traffic areas and places where it will be used. Turf in limited amounts is easy to manage and maintain. Small areas will prevent excessive water use, over-fertilizing, and will require less cutting time. Try to plant shrubs and plan gardens where normally you might have turf areas. Use containers and your imagination to create any setting.

  5. Select appropriate plants - Using plants that require less water is the key to success in xeriscape gardening. The variety of heights and colors can create a landscape that is eye appealing all year long. Group plants with different bloom times and textures to achieve non-stop color in your garden. Ask your local garden center for help choosing low water-using plants.

  6. Use mulch - Mulch has three purposes in the garden. A layer of four to six inches of mulch can control weeds in and around your gardens and pathways. Mulch conserves soil moisture by allowing less evaporation and keeping plant roots cool during hot, dry seasons. Using mulch with your landscape can add an interesting and natural appearance.

  7. Maintain it - By watching the amount of water your garden consumes, keeping the mulch at adequate levels, pruning when necessary and fertilizing your plants you can easily maintain a healthy garden. A properly maintained garden is hardier and better able to withstand drought, freezing and pests.

Thanks to the Denver Water, ALCC, CNA and the CSU Extension for these tips on xeriscape principles.

**********

For more information on xeriscape and the most drought tolerant plant species, contact the Colorado Springs Utilities Xeriscape Demonstration Garden at 668-4555 or www.csu.org/xeri.

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An Old Fashioned Fourth of July

By Lucy McGuire

Independence Day is more than just a day off work in the TriLakes area each year. This year in particular it will mark a day to be grateful for our history of freedom and to resolve to protect our future freedoms. Come out and celebrate the way our grandparents did.

The Monument Street Fair opens at 8 am and runs until 3 pm. Vendors will be offering all manner of handmade goods and interesting things to see and buy. Many offer food or drinks; others sponsor product demonstrations. There is even a hearing booth where you can establish a baseline hearing standard or check your current status. The Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce sponsors the street fair.

Big excitement begins with the children’s parade at 9:30 am. Any child may participate: just show up at St. Peter’s Church parking lot on Jefferson Street about 15 minutes before the parade. Most of the kids decorate their bicycles (or tricycles or whatever) but many walk carrying flags or patriotic banners. It’s great fun to be in and to watch.

Immediately following the children’s parade is the official Monument Fourth of July Parade, sponsored by the Sertoma club. One of the largest in the state, this parade features a huge variety of floats and old cars and performers and other attractions. Come early to find a good place to watch. The parade will begin at 10 am and last for about an hour and a half, or longer if there are many entries. Both parades proceed north on Front Street and east on Third Street. The end point is Beacon Light Road. Gold Kings hockey players will be on hand at the parade to sign autographs.

Kiwanis sponsors a Kid Games event starting at 1 pm at "Big Red", the District 38 Administration Building on the corner of Second and Jefferson. The games are held on the grassy area next to the parking lot south of Second Street. Other Tri-Lakes Area activities include the annual 5K race from Palmer Lake and an afternoon concert, also in Palmer Lake.

Radio station KSPZ, Oldies 92.9, will broadcast a running commentary on the parade and other activities all day.

On center stage, The String Dudes will offer free entertainment from noon until 3 pm. This is an eclectic group of career musicians who offer a terrific show. They play all styles of music and even have a rock ‘n roll tuba! The stage is located in the center of the Street Fair at Second and Washington Streets.

Shuttle buses are in the works to alleviate the parking problems associated with a large crowd. Watch flyers and town signs for details or tune to FM 92.9 on July 4th for details on the shuttle buses.

**********

For more information, contact the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce at 481-3282.

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July 3rd Festivities

By Kelly McGuire

For the first time in several years, Independence Day festivities will start on July 3rd with a kid carnival, barbeque, and barn dance.

The Kid Carnival will be held from 3 pm to 8 pm in the parking lot at the Monument Village Square on Front Street between 2nd and 3rd. Entertainment will include a dunking tank, jumping castle, Gold Kings hockey puck shoot, face painting, fish pond, and ring toss.

The barbeque starts at dinnertime (about 5:30 or 6 pm) and will be catered by the Coffee Cup Café.

The Barn Dance and Party will start at about 9 pm. It features games for the youngsters, music for all, and a general good time. It will be held at Si Sibell’s barn on Front Street at Second, across from Limbach Park. The Mirage band will provide music. Door prizes have been donated by local businesses.

There is nominal cost for tickets for each of the events. Profits from this Tri-Lakes Chamber sponsored event will go to help fix up public access to Monument Lake.

**********

For further information, call the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce at 481-3282.

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Creating Wildfire-Defensible Zones

Excerpted from Creating Wildfire-Defensible Zones by F.C. Dennis, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, Natural Resources Series: Forestry, no. 6.302

Defensible Space

Roofing materials and the quality of the "defensible space" surrounding a home are the chief factors determining a home’s ability to survive wildfire. Defensible space is an area around the home where fuels and vegetation are treated, cleared, or reduced to slow the spread of wildfire toward the home. It also reduces the chance of a structure fire moving from the house to the surrounding forest. Also, defensible space provides room for firefighters to do their jobs. You may not be able to accomplish all of the following defensive measures this year, but each will increase your safety. Begin your work closest to your house, and move outward. Start with the easiest and least expensive actions and keep working on the more difficult tasks until you have completed the entire project.

Zone 1

Clear all flammable vegetation from within 15 feet of the house. This is zone 1 of your defensible space. It is recommended that you plant nothing within 3 to 5 feet of the house, especially if the building is sided with wood, logs, or other flammable materials. If the house has noncombustible siding, widely spaced foundation plantings of low growing shrubs are acceptable. However, avoid planting directly beneath windows or next to foundation vents, and be sure there are no areas of continuous grass adjoining such plantings. Prune to keep plants low and remove all dead wood from plants in zone 1. Do not store firewood or other combustibles in this zone. If you do keep a tree in this zone, consider it to be part of the structure and extend the distance of the entire defensible space to isolate the tree from any surrounding trees. Remove branches to at least 10 feet above the ground, and remove all "ladder fuels" from beneath the tree. Ladder fuels are small shrubs, trees, tree limbs and other combustibles that allow fire to climb into the tree branches.

Zone 2

Zone 2 is an area of fuel reduction designed to reduce the intensity of any fire approaching your house.

The size of zone 2 depends on the slope of the ground where the home is built. Typically, zone 2 extends at least 75 to 125 feet from the structure. To maintain this zone, thin trees and large shrubs so there is at least 10 feet between crowns. On steep slopes, allow more space between tree crowns. Remove all ladder fuels from under the remaining trees. Prune trees to a height of 10 feet. Mow grasses or remove them with a weed trimmer, keeping them no higher than 6 to 8 inches. Stack firewood and woodpiles uphill or at least 30 feet away from the structure. Keep flammable vegetation at least 10 feet away from woodpiles. Don’t stack wood against the house or under the deck, even in winter.

Locate propane tanks at least 30 feet from any structure, on the same elevation as the structure. Keep flammable vegetation from within 10 feet of the tank.

Dispose of slash - limbs, branches, and brush - removed from your trees and shrubs by chipping or take it to your local slash/mulch site. If neither of these choices is possible, then lop and scatter slash by cutting it into very small pieces and scattering it on the ground so that the pieces lay close to the ground, speeding decomposition. Two or three small, widely spaced brush piles may be left for wildlife purposes, but they should be located towards the outer reaches of your defensible space.

Zone 3

This is the zone that extends from the edge of your defensible space to your property lines. Here you should thin your trees for forest health, leaving the biggest and best trees. A rule of thumb for tree spacing of ponderosa pine and Douglas fir is diameter plus 7: Measure diameter in inches at about 4 1/2 feet above the ground. For an 8-inch ponderosa pine, add 8+7 = 15, for a spacing of 15 feet between tree trunks. Pruning to eliminate ladder fuels within a tree stand is still advisable, but mowing is not necessary in zone 3.

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For more information:

Colorado Office of Emergency Management: www.dola.state.co.us/oem/PublicInformation/firebans/sitrep.html

Colorado State Forest Service at CSU: www.colostate.edu/Depts/CSFS

The Firewise website: www.firewise.org

Interactive FireWise Landscaping preparation: www.firewise.org/pubs/fwl

Rocky Mountain Area Fire Plan: www.fs.fed.us/r2/nfp

US Forest Service: www.fs.fed.us

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Palmer Lake Tennis Meeting May 22

By Heidi M. Juell

Cindy Allen, who is responsible for Palmer Lake’s Parks and Recreation, hosted a town meeting on May 22 to discuss use of the tennis courts. Several avid tennis players and frequent users of the Palmer Lake courts attended to voice their concerns and opinions about use of the courts. At issue for the town is how to manage the increased demand for the courts with the upcoming schedule of tennis lessons and the resulting new players. In addition, demand will increase due to experienced players discovering the new tournament-grade surface. Everyone agreed the town should provide new recreational opportunities for kids and all were supportive of the efforts of the Palmer Lake Tennis Center. There is also potential economic value to Palmer Lake’s restaurants, shops, and arts center by attracting area residents to town. The next steps are to design and implement a procedure for reserving one of the courts. The other court will remain open to walk-ups. The reservation procedure will involve a small fee paid to the town in exchange for a permit to play during the reserved time slot. Once the procedure is in place, instructions will be posted at the courts. The earliest date the new procedure could be implemented is June 17.

A community party will be held at the Palmer Lake tennis courts on Friday, June 7 from 5-7 pm.

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For more information on the Palmer Lake Tennis Center and the party June 7, call 487-9184 or visit www.palmerlaketennis.com.

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Bear on the Loose

By Bill Chin

On Saturday, May 25, an adolescent bear was sighted in the area of the Monument Cemetery near Beacon Lite Road and 8th St. The bear apparently came into the area seeking food and water. The Monument Department of Public Works and the Monument Police Department temporarily secured the gates of the cemetery. Monument Officer Rick Tudor said he suspects the bear wandered through a tunnel under I-25 near the Safeway supermarket.

The public is advised to be on the lookout for the bear. Remember that bears are adept at climbing trees so look overhead as well as around you.

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