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Our Community News - Home Vol. 3 No. 8 - August 2, 2003

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County planning commission hearing on Wal-Mart could come August 19 or 26

View proposed Baptist Road Improvements

Web Site Exclusive: Revised Wal-Mart Site Plan

By John Heiser

In June, Wal-Mart submitted to the El Paso County Planning Department a revised application for an expanded supercenter to be built on the 30-acre parcel on the south side of Baptist Road directly across from the King Soopers. The parcel is just south and west of the limits of the Town of Monument. The county planning commission may hold a hearing on the project as soon as August 26.

The Site Plan

The proposal is for a 24-hour per day supercenter with a 203,007 square foot (4.7 acres) store encompassing a grocery store, garden center, and 6-bay tire/lube express. There would be parking for about 1,001 cars. The store would be at the eastern part of the parcel with the parking lot to the west. It would occupy Lot 1 (23.9 acres).

Lot 2 (1.4 acres) on the northwest corner is proposed to be a Wal-Mart gas station that includes a 975 square foot building.

There are proposed to be three points of access to the store. At the western edge of the proposed development, Jackson Creek Parkway is already a full-motion intersection with a traffic signal. The plan calls for two entrances off the extension of Jackson Creek Parkway south of Baptist Road. The third access to the store would be a right-in/right-out directly onto Baptist Road toward the mid-point of the parcel. That access from Baptist Road would be about 275 feet west of the right-in/right-out access to the King Soopers shopping center.

Drainage from the approximately 25 acres of impervious area would be collected in Lot 3, a roughly 2.5-acre snow storage and run-off detention area on the southeast corner of the parcel. Pollutants such as petroleum products from the lube facility, gas station, and vehicles on the parking lot would be carried into the detention area by storm water. The outflow from the detention area would flow west into a drainage ditch and from there into nearby Jackson Creek and the associated wetlands. 

The plan calls for a retaining wall up to 34 feet high on the east side of the parcel between the back of the store and the existing church and a 32-foot retaining wall on the south side of the parking lot. Retaining walls are being used rather than the graded slopes in prior plans as one means to increase the size of the store and parking lot.

Zoning

The parcel was zoned about 20 years ago as R-4. The commercial form of the now obsolete R-4 zone is equivalent to the county’s current Planned Business Park (PBP) zone district. PBP is defined in the county’s Land Development Code as being for retail sales and service businesses that "primarily serve an adjoining neighborhood or neighborhoods."

At the April 23, 2001 pre-application conference, Carl Schueler, Assistant Director of the El Paso County Planning Department, noted that the required zone for a supercenter Wal-Mart is Planned Business Center (PBC). PBC is the most intense commercial zone in the county’s Land Development Code and is two steps more intense and a significant departure from the existing R-4 equivalent PBP. As defined in the code, the purpose of PBC is for "regional centers" that are expected to draw customers from significant distances.

Instead of requesting PBC zoning, Wal-Mart has requested rezoning the parcel as a Planned Unit Development (PUD). In their letter of intent, Wal-Mart said their use of the PUD zoning "encompasses land uses similar to the R-4 zone." Based on the materials submitted, the planned use is not similar to the R-4/PBP zone but is a regional center requiring PBC zoning as stated by Schueler.

The authorizing legislation for the PUD zone district, the Planned Unit Development Act of 1972 (CRS 24-67-101), was primarily intended to accommodate innovative approaches to clustered residential designs and designs that combine light retail and residential within one plan while encouraging creative development of parks, recreation areas, and open space. The proposed Wal-Mart plan includes no housing, parks, or recreation areas, and almost no open space. The statute states "Planned unit development means an area of land…the plan for which does not correspond in lot size, bulk, or type of use, density, lot coverage, open space, or other restriction to the existing land use regulations." In fact, the county’s Land Development Code contains appropriate provisions that relate to the proposed development under the Planned Business Center (PBC) zone district.

Road Improvements

The traffic study and road improvement plans for the Monument Marketplace and the Wal-Mart have been partially merged (see Baptist Road improvement plan). The same consultant, CLC Associates, is developing both. CLC has identified the following improvements as needing to be completed before the Wal-Mart or the Marketplace Home Depot can begin operation:

  • Construction of two westbound and two eastbound lanes on Baptist Road from Jackson Creek Parkway to the I25 northbound off ramp.

  • Construction of the intersection of Jackson Creek Parkway and Baptist road. This includes adding the fourth (south) leg. In the WalMart case, this leg would be extended south for access to the store. In the Monument Marketplace case, this leg would be stubbed until Jackson Creek Parkway is constructed south.

  • Installation of a traffic signal for a fourlegged intersection at Jackson Creek Parkway and Baptist road.

  • Widening the northbound I25 off ramp to accommodate a left and a right turn lane.

  • Restriping the southbound I25 off ramp to accommodate a separate right turn lane.

Additional roadwork specific to the proposed Wal-Mart:

  • Widening of Baptist Road to the east of Jackson Creek Parkway to accommodate lane alignments.

  • Construction of Jackson Creek Parkway-Struthers Road south from Baptist Road to complete the connection to the extension of Struthers north from Northgate Road.

The Baptist Road Interchange

Since Wal-Mart is considered a "magnet store," a significant portion of the increased traffic attributable to the store can be expected to be between I-25 and Jackson Creek Parkway. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is currently preparing a design for an improved interchange design to address existing and anticipated traffic. Those improvements are expected to extend from the Total station on the west to several hundred feet east of Jackson Creek Parkway. The construction cost has been estimated at approximately $30 million and is currently not funded. According to Schueler, construction of the changes is not included in the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments Traffic Improvement Plan that extends through 2007. Schueler said the project could be made a priority but it is still very unlikely to be funded in less than three years. He said that given the current state budget crisis, a longer delay seems quite likely.

At the June 1, 2002 meeting of the Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO), Schueler stated that traffic at the Baptist interchange is expected to reach Level of Service (LOS) F, the worst there is, sometime before the rework is completed. He said, "If Wal-Mart is approved, the day it opens, the Baptist interchange will go to LOS F. No matter how much Wal-Mart contributes to Baptist Road improvements, the day it goes in it would kill the interchange."

Next Steps

According to Schueler, the planning commission hearing on the rezoning and preliminary plan previously announced for August 19 might be held August 26. After the planning commission renders a recommendation, there must be a minimum 30-day notice prior to holding a hearing before the Board of County Commissioners. Schueler estimates the county commissioners hearing could come in October.

The hearings will be held at the El Paso County Building, 27 E. Vermijo, Colorado Springs, 3rd floor hearing room starting at 9 a.m. In the event of a large turnout, the hearing will be moved to Centennial Hall on the northwest corner of Cascade Street and Vermijo Street.

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For more information on this project and to provide comments, contact Carl Schueler, Assistant Director, El Paso County Planning Department, 520-6300, CarlSchueler@elpasoco.com. Mail comments and questions to the El Paso County Planning Department, 27 E. Vermijo, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80903-2208.

Additional information is available at www.ourcommunitynews.org/top_stories.htm#wal-mart and www.CoalitionTLC.org/wal-mart.htm or by calling John Heiser at 488-9031.

View proposed Baptist Road Improvements

Web Site Exclusive: Revised Wal-Mart Site Plan

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County commissioners approve Forest Lakes metro district plans and Struthers Ranch rezoning

Web site exclusive: View the Struthers Ranch Preliminary Plan

By John Heiser

At their meeting July 24, the Board of County Commissioners voted 4-0 to approve service plans for the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District and the three associated Pinon Pines districts. Later the board voted 3-0 to approve the rezoning of Struthers Ranch from 2 ½-acre lots to a Planned Unit Development (PUD) with lot sizes as small as 6,000 square feet (0.14 acres). Commissioner Tom Huffman was absent. Commissioner Jim Bensberg left part way through the Struthers Ranch hearing.

Forest Lakes Metropolitan District service plans

The Forest Lakes Service Plans include a revision to the service plan for the existing Forest Lakes Metropolitan District and service plans for three new districts, called Pinon Pines Districts 1, 2, and 3. The Forest Lakes district would be a master district and the three Pinon Pines districts would be taxing districts with little or no say in how the tax funds are used.

Carl Schueler, assistant director of county planning, said, "This would not be a typical special district in that it would start as a developer-controlled district but would not evolve into one controlled by residents as development occurs. The legal boundaries of the Forest Lakes district would be limited to a small parcel to be perpetually controlled by the developers. Property owners within the Pinon Pines districts would receive services on what amounts to a contract basis. As proposed, they would have no representation on the district board."

Attorney Darlene Sisneros, representing Forest Lakes, LLC, described the structure as needed to ensure low-cost funding, construction of the needed infrastructure, and long-term provision of services to residents. She said a similar structure has been used elsewhere, including Highlands Ranch.

Sisneros objected to a condition added by the planning department requiring formation of a citizen advisory council made up of directors of the Pinon Pines districts. The condition would require that the chair of the advisory council have full voting membership on the master district board. Sisneros wanted that seat to be non-voting.

The Pinon districts’ property taxes would be capped at 50 mills, with a separate cap of 10 mills to cover operational expenses. Both of these caps are subject to automatic adjustment upwards as the Gallagher Amendment decreases the factor used to determine assessed values from market values. No limits on monthly water and sewer fees paid by residents are proposed.

To answer concern that buyers would not find out about the unusual nature of the districts until ready to close on a property, one of the conditions requires that a notice of the characteristics of the districts be recorded as part of the legal description of all the properties so a search by title companies would ensure that buyers were notified prior to closing.

Paul Murphy, attorney for the Dellacroce family, said a 2.8-acre parcel they own may already be in the Forest Lakes district; even though they have not been billed for district taxes. He said, "We think we are already in; however, the court can’t find the district file." Based on those concerns, a condition was added to conform the district boundaries to the court records.

Regarding the difficulty of including a voting resident representative on the board, Commissioner Jeri Howells said, "I don’t believe it has been an obstacle."

Commissioner Chuck Brown said, "I agree with the developer so they have the wherewithal to continue the development. They need to have control of the district."

Commissioner Wayne Williams moved for approval of the service plans changing the conditions to make the resident representative a non-voting member of the Forest Lakes district board.

The motion was approved 4-0.

Williams remarked that no one from the public came to speak against the plans. The lack of opposition is not surprising given that no one currently lives in the district.

Struthers Ranch

The Struthers Ranch parcel occupies 105.3 acres and lies east of I-25, three-quarters of a mile south of Baptist Road, south of Chaparral Hills, west of Gleneagle, and north of the Academy View and Summer Glen Estates developments. The current zoning, RR-2—rural residential with 2 ½-acre minimum lot size—would allow about 40 single-family lots.

Water and sewer service to Struthers Ranch is to be supplied by the Donala Water and Sanitation District, which serves Gleneagle. On Sept. 19, 2000, by a vote of 7-2, the county planning commission recommended denial of the Struthers Ranch request for a waiver from the county’s 300-year water availability rule. During the course of that hearing, Dana Duthie, manager of the Donala district, stated the district might have as little as 30 years and probably no more than 156 years of water available to be pumped. On Oct. 26, 2000, the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) unanimously approved the Struthers Ranch developer’s request for a waiver from the 300-year rule. That action cleared the way for submission of the sketch plan.

On Jan. 18, 2001, the BOCC unanimously approved a sketch plan with 50 single-family lots on the north side of the parcel, 75 multifamily units on the south side of the parcel, 13.5 acres of office, and 30.2 acres of open space. The lots on the northern boundary were to be a minimum of one acre. A condition of the approval was that the lots on the north side of the project not be developed until an access road north to Baptist Road was available. This requirement seemingly stalled the project.

On Jan. 2, 2003, by a vote of 3-2, the BOCC approved a revised sketch plan with a total of 180 dwelling units, a minimum lot size of 6,000 square feet, and an average lot size of 7,000 square feet. The sketch plan also included about 44 acres of landscape buffer, open space, drainage detention, and habitat conservation areas; about 6 acres for Struthers Road; and approximately 9 acres of Planned Business Center commercial use.

Representing Struthers Ranch Development, LLC, land planner David Jones argued that by taking advantage of the terrain and limiting some lots to single-story houses, the increased density would not significantly impact views from adjacent lots.

Jones said the economics of the project would not work with less than 113 lots in the north part of the parcel because the developer will be required by the county to participate in the cost of constructing three-quarters of a mile of Jackson Creek Parkway-Struthers Road north to connect to Baptist Road. He said, "We cannot pay for that off-site construction with 50 lots. Period. It is just impossible."

Jones’ calculation of the number of lots needed to pay for off-site construction was based on an assumption that county taxpayers will pay for a bridge over the Black Forest Creek drainage swale and mouse habitat that bisects the parcel. That bridge has been estimated to cost $1 million to $2 million.

As the next step in the process, on June 17, 2003, the planning commission held a hearing on the developer’s request to rezone the parcel to Planned Unit Development (PUD) and to approve the associated preliminary plan. The planning department recommended approval but noted that there remained density transition issues with the adjacent developments.

The planning department comments included the following: "It has been agreed that the developer is responsible for construction of four lanes of Struthers Road within the property boundary and that this would constitute the developer’s fair share of the Struthers Road construction." This is a substantial change from the prior implication that the Struthers Ranch developer would pay for a major share of the cost for constructing the road all the way north to Baptist Road. That was a central justification for increasing the number of lots from 125 to 180.

Discussion among the planning commissioners focused on how the developer was no longer required to construct any off-site portion of Struthers Road. Following that discussion, the planning commission voted unanimously to recommend denial of the rezoning and associated preliminary plan.

On July 24, the board of county commissioners held a hearing on the proposal. During his presentation, Jones said, "We meet the spirit and intent of the comprehensive plan and are in compliance with the approved sketch plan." He stressed that the project will assist completion of Jackson Creek Parkway-Struthers Road south, will address long-standing drainage issues on the property, and will provide mouse habitat mitigation for construction of the bridge."

Mike McDowell, a commercial real estate broker who said he was hired eight years ago to represent the property, said, "This land will be developed. Some of the things proposed over the years, you wouldn’t believe. The highest and best use is residential. If anybody else would buy this land, they would at least want what this developer wants to economically develop this property."

Several adjacent property owners spoke against the project.

Gleneagle resident Ron Overson said all the property owners along the east side, except the Donala district, voted against the rezoning. He said, "We never imagined the master plan being changed this drastically. It is just not acceptable to the neighbors."

Falcon’s Nest resident Carla Howerton said, "No one adjoining this property wants this to go as planned. Had we wanted high density, we could have moved to Powers. Our views would be completely, totally destroyed. We are not against development. We are against high-density development. We are asking for a better transition."

Falcon’s Nest resident James Bentley said, "The developer would make just as much money with larger lots and nicer homes. I see concessions to the north and east but nothing to the south. We would like fair and equitable treatment for all adjacent lot owners."

Chaparral Hills property owner Suzan Sery said, "We bought our property expecting 2 ½ acre lots. Why do we have zoning if a developer can do what he wants to? Why have a planning commission with citizens giving of their time and then ignore their recommendations?"

Chris Anderson, also a Chaparral Hills lot owner, summarized the concerns of many on the north side of the project when he criticized the lack of an adequate transition from five-acre lots in Chaparral Hills to a density of six lots per acre in Struthers Ranch. He said, "It is going to look like a brick wall up against our property. Instead of two rooftops, I will see 50 rooftops." Anderson also noted that the cost structure has changed because the county is going to build the bridge and someone else is going to build the road. He said, "The improvements being required of the developer don’t match up to earlier claims."

Steve Sery, a member of the planning commission speaking as a private citizen and owner of an adjoining Chaparral Hills lot, said, "It is 28 times as dense as Chaparral Hills. This is in-your-face density. In no way can this be considered a reasonable transition." He added, "The developer was talking in the range of $2 million to $3 million for off-site improvements. They no longer have to do that. The county has gained nothing. This was a bad plan at the sketch plan stage. It is still a bad plan."

County attorney Michael Lucas noted that master plans are advisory. He also said that PUD rezonings are held to the lesser standard of "general conformity" to the master plan whereas with other rezoning a finding of master plan consistency is required.

In his rebuttal to the opponents, Jones said, "Present zoning is absolutely no indication of what is going to be built on the property. Sub-area comprehensive plans are what you should look at. Here the sub-area plan calls for mixed use. The whole community said, ‘suitable for mixed use.’ We are at 1.1 units per acre. South of this site the density is three, four, or five times higher."

Paul Danley of the county department of transportation said the signed development agreement calls for the Struthers Ranch developer to construct about 2,000 feet of four-lane road. He estimated the cost at about $500,000.

Brown said, "About 20 years ago, I was involved in looking at developing this property. It is one of the most difficult pieces in the county to develop. There have been two or three previous attempts. We have gone about as far as we can go to develop this property. There is no viable way to develop it with large lots."

Williams said, "It is a difficult matter. The sketch plan was approved 3-2. The planning department is in favor. The planning commission is opposed." He then moved for approval with additional conditions that would reduce the total number of lots from 180 to 173 by removing six lots along the north side and one lot on the east side. After further discussion and negotiation including an executive session, the motion was approved by a 3-0 vote.

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The Forest Lakes Service Plans are available on the web at http://adm.elpasoco.com/planning/forest_lake.asp.

The planning consultant on the Struthers Ranch project is David F. Jones, Land Resource Associates, 9736 Mountain Rd., Chipita Park, Colorado 80809, (719) 684-2298, FAX (719) 684-8413.

For more information on these and other projects within the county, contact the planning department at 520-6300 or visit www.elpasoco.com/planning. You may submit comments or questions to the El Paso County Planning Department, 27 E. Vermijo Avenue, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80903.

Web site exclusive: View the Struthers Ranch Preliminary Plan

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Judge upholds commissioners’ decision on Forest Lakes

By Jim Kendrick

District Court Judge Thomas Kane upheld the May 16, 2002 decision by the El Paso County Board of Commissioners (BOCC) to approve the preliminary plan for the Schuck Corporation’s Forest Lakes development. A group of area residents challenged the county’s authority to allow some of the plan’s rezoning and density, and filed an appeal of the decision in district court.

The proposed subdivision of 467 homes on 990 acres is located at the western end of Baptist Road, primarily on the former Beaver Creek Ranch. The plan 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. On February 26, 2002, the county planning commission voted 6-3 to recommend denial of the preliminary plan.

The lawsuit claimed, "The board exceeded its jurisdiction when it approved the Forest Lakes preliminary plan without a valid sketch plan as required by the [Land Development] Code." The suit claimed the 1984 sketch plan had lapsed or was not applicable due to differences between the sketch plan and the preliminary plan. It further claimed, "The board’s decision to approve the preliminary plan was arbitrary and capricious, and not in harmony with the comprehensive plan which is the guiding document as it pertains to land use."

Judge Kane disagreed. The judge ruled, "The Board of County Commissioners did not exceed its authority or act arbitrarily and capriciously when it approved the Forest Lakes Preliminary Plan by Forest Lakes L.L.C. The record in this case contains sufficient and competent evidence supporting the Board’s determination."

In a county press release, Bill Schuck, president of the Schuck Corporation, was quoted as saying, "This is a validation of a good decision and responsible approach taken by the county commissioners. The commissioners did the right thing approving the plan. They’re often called upon to make tough choices under pressure and they’re to be complimented for taking an action that will serve those who live in El Paso County now as well as those yet to come."

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Monument Board of Trustees meetings July 7

By Jim Kendrick

Special Meeting

The Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) and the Triview Metropolitan Water District Board of Directors held a working group session before the regular BOT meeting on July 7. The purpose of the meeting was to initiate discussion about possible participation by the town in funding Jackson Creek Parkway. Triview wants the town to pay for up to three-fourths of the expense of building the parkway, from Lyons Tail to Higby Road, even though the water district is supposed to pay for the roadway per the 1987 intergovernmental annexation agreement for Regency Park. The town would pay by forfeiting its half of the 3 percent sales tax that would have been generated by Marketplace tenants. The tax would be forfeited for up to eight years in one Triview proposal. Triview would not reimburse the town for these forfeited tax receipts under their proposal.

Representing Monument were Mayor Betty Konarski and trustees Frank Orten and Glenda Smith, as well as the full town staff; three BOT members were absent, and Byron Glenn arrived halfway through the meeting. Representing Triview were Directors Martha Gurnick, Gary Walters, and Kathy Walters, as well as General Manager Ron Simpson and attorney Peter Susemihl; two board members were absent. Both sides expressed regret about their respective limited representation and their mutual hesitance to make any decisions without more representation.

Simpson restated the facts and issues facing Triview, which he had discussed at the previous BOT meeting. The parkway cost is now estimated at $5.2 million, excluding the additional cost of all its supporting utilities. Costs for four-lane box culverts spanning Jackson Creek and No Name Creek are included. Although this entire segment is to be four lanes eventually, Phase 1 would only include two lanes from the north entrance of Monument Marketplace to Higby, in order to postpone $1 million of the $5.2 million expense. The cost of extending Leather Chaps to the main Marketplace entrance is an additional $1 million. Home Depot, which was announced recently as the first and only tenant, requires that the developer commit to building all four lanes from Baptist Road, as a condition of breaking ground. Home Depot wants building to start no later than Aug. 31 and further requires the developer to complete Phase 1 of the parkway before the store opens.

Konarski asked for some numbers to review, as she had said she would when Simpson proposed this meeting. However, Simpson had no specific handouts to present. He said the long list of assumptions that have to be made make the creation of projections difficult and their accuracy difficult to evaluate. Simpson did briefly discuss conservative numbers for a single scenario. He said that if the entire 3 percent sales tax was given to the district, instead of the current 50-50 split with Monument, the parkway would probably be paid for within eight to nine years. However, he added that there are a lot of alternative possible development assumptions and at least 20 revenue growth scenarios as well.

Smith mentioned the intergovernmental annexation agreement in 1987. Smith, Konarski, Simpson, and Susemihl disagreed about the dates and splits of different revenues between the town and the district that have occurred since then. Monument planner Mike Davenport indicated that the Marketplace developer might have to pay initial Baptist Road expenses instead of Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart has fallen behind the Marketplace schedule. Simpson expressed concern about the "can of worms" that might be opened by asking the Marketplace developer to contribute to Baptist Road improvement. There was no agreement on who would pay for the widening of Baptist Road from the parkway to the interstate, how they would deal with mouse habitat, or how Wal-Mart would participate in building the parkway. Simpson noted that No Name Creek is wetlands but not mouse habitat.

Susemihl said that the town should only think about how to avoid piecemeal development and slower commercial development. Orten asked about false savings in not building four lanes all the way to Higby. Simpson said the parkway asphalt would become brittle due to underuse. Smith asked if Triview had enough water. Simpson said the Marketplace water could come from the new well for Jackson Creek Filing 5. Gurnick asked when Struthers would be shut down. Simpson said CDOT doesn’t say yet because completion of Struthers rerouting south of Baptist is uncertain.

Konarski noted that Triview would need to get an additional $15 million in bonds and asked when Monument would begin to recoup enough revenue to break even on forfeited receipts from the Marketplace. Simpson replied that too many assumptions prevented him from running any numbers. He said that all projections are guesses and that a bonding house will only look at assessed values. He also said he was not able to provide numbers because they would end up in Our Community News and be misinterpreted. Susemihl said he didn’t care what the press does with the numbers. Simpson countered to Konarski, "I’m not going to do the brain damage if you’re going to run to another pole." Smith replied that she needed something to choose from. Glenn felt that a 50-50 split in the town’s share of Marketplace revenue is appropriate for some period, in order to expedite construction. Simpson offered again that in his worst-case scenario, with a single tenant, that the roadway would be paid for with the entire 3 percent tax totally dedicated to Triview for eight years and tapering to 2 percent then 1 percent in the next two years. He added that if Monument didn’t "invest" [meaning, forfeit revenue to Triview] it wouldn’t get a penny because the Marketplace would fail; in addition, he said, this was not a commitment of funds the town has in hand.

Smith observed that police protection for Jackson Creek is not cost-free and that the older part of Monument would also need to benefit from this process. Simpson said that the Marketplace could produce as much as $42 million per year in taxable revenue in the future. The proposed shopping center between the Marketplace and Foxworth-Galbraith might produce $15million/year in taxable revenue. Smith observed that the Regency Park development was not supposed to cost the town in any way. Gurnick said no one paying Monument taxes would benefit if the improvements weren’t made. Glenn said that giving up revenue did not hurt the town’s current bottom line. Susemihl said that Home Depot, still unidentified at this meeting, would provide enough revenue and attract enough other businesses to make the parkway solvent. He noted that if the Marketplace and Wal-Mart failed, then Monument would not have any debt from the parkway whatsoever.

After much discussion, Konarski asked that the Triview projections presented at the next session account for the loss of the King Soopers shopping center revenue when Wal-Mart opens. Susemihl indicated that Triview would provide three or four alternative scenarios. Both sides agreed to meet again, on Aug. 4 at 5:30 p.m. at Town Hall to discuss costs and revenue projections. The special meeting adjourned at 6:18 p.m.

Regular Meeting

The Monument Board of Trustees held a short regular meeting after its meeting with Triview Metropolitan District. A minimal quorum was present as Trustees George Brown, Christopher Perry, and Doug Warner were also absent for the regular meeting.

Christopher and Michael Temple of USAFA’s Boy Scout Troop 79 led the Pledge of Allegiance. There were no public comments or scheduled guest speakers.

Old Business

The ballot issue for the Nov. 4 election, permitting the town to retain all revenues for the next four years, passed unanimously. The board wants to retain all excess revenues collected rather than refund unexpected excess receipts. Voters previously agreed to give their refunds back to the town in 1996 and 1999. No other ballot issues are expected.

Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg reported that school district bus barn issues were negotiated by the town staff with school district staff. The Lewis-Palmer School District rejected the town’s request, in its letter of June 4, to reconsider building curbs, gutters, and sidewalks. In Superintendent Ted Bauman’s subsequent letter of June 19, following the interstaff meeting of June 17, the district said it would build two on-site detention ponds instead. The school district rejected the town’s request for a 40-foot turn radius at the Beacon Lite Road entrance. However, it agreed with town consultant Transplan’s compromise suggestion to increase the turn radius from 20 feet to 35 feet, to prevent buses from having to cross the Beacon Lite center line to exit the facility. The district’s letter reminded the town that they had donated an acre of land for Beacon Lite Road construction and that the "transportation facility will be a beautiful improvement … to what once was weed covered and somewhat unsightly portion of school district property… ." Other changes suggested by town engineering consultant GMS and/or requested by the town regarding easements, culverts, and grading appeared to be unresolved in the package provided to trustees. A motion to affirm the staff-negotiated settlement with the district passed unanimously.

New Business

At the request of Police Chief Joe Kissell, amendments to business license regulations were passed unanimously, even though wording regarding auctions was not yet included. Kissell wanted the new regulations in place to cope with an increase in the number of door-to-door salespeople within the town limits. Amendments to effect the latest Model Traffic Code were unanimously approved after Kissell observed that they would enhance enforcement regarding reckless driving and speed contests, particularly on Highway 105.

The transportation engineering consultant contract with Short Elliot Hendrickson, Inc. was renewed for a third year. Janet Hruby outlined fee increases in response to Orten’s query. There was a general 5 percent increase, around half the staff classifications were expanded and revised, and some $100/hour fees increased to $135/hour. Konarski noted that using a senior engineer now costs the town $160/hour.

In other financial matters, the Broiler Room had not made its June 2003 tax payment and owed $4500. A motion to purchase anti-virus software for $2593.90 passed unanimously. The town has borrowed $1,964,502 against an upper limit of $2,443,000 for its 2002 loan agreement with the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The board voted unanimously not to borrow more money at this time to pay for Monument Dam expenses.

The board then considered reappointment of citizen committee members. Larry Neddo is the only remaining member of the Public Works Committee, and no citizens have volunteered for the other four positions. Public Works Superintendent Tom Wall observed that this committee has likely outlived its usefulness, and Konarski said the new staff engineer would help fill this role. Smith noted that the committee fostered citizen input. Further discussion concluded that this committee would be allowed to go dormant but be kept in the regulations for possible reactivation, as those serving on the Parks and Landscape Committee would resist being tasked with Public Works issues. After Wall reminded them of Neddo’s unexpired appointment, Konarski and Davenport agreed to ask Neddo to fill the empty planning commission position, which no one had volunteered for. Smith suggested he also be offered an empty seat on the Police Advisory Committee. Perry indicated that he would like to continue on the Board of Adjustments, which also has an empty position that must be filled by a planning commission member.

Liquor licenses for La Casa Fiesta, 7-11, and Cork ‘n’ Bottle were routinely renewed unanimously. The Shell convenience store at the King Soopers shopping center has let its liquor license lapse for over 30 days. Sales tax revenues from Popeye’s Chicken in this building have not been paid recently.

Reports

There were no committee reports and no town attorney’s report. The town manager’s report noted that Oz Architecture had been hired, for $2,750, to generate cost estimates for the new comprehensive Town Hall building, which is to include the police and public works departments. Smith asked if Conservation Trust Fund money could be used for park maintenance. Sonnenburg said yes. The Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency gave a near-perfect score to the town’s loss control standards audit, a dramatic improvement over last year. Smith informed Kissell that a citizen had told her there may be drug problems at the skateboard park. Kissell said he heard no report of such problems but advised that all citizens should dial 911 to report this sort of thing immediately.

The meeting adjourned at 7:19 p.m.

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Monument board approves Addition #5, Regency Park zoning plan, and Marketplace site plan July 21

Web Site Exclusive: View photos of the hearings on Marketplace/Regency Park plans

Web Site Exclusive: Regency Park Zoning Plan

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) met on July 21 to hold public hearings on a number of development issues. Major agenda items were the Monument #5 Addition Preliminary Plat and Final Plat, preliminary cost estimates for a potential new town hall complex, and hearings on the Third Amendment to the Regency Park Development and Zoning Plan and the Preliminary Plan and Final PD Site Plan for the Monument Marketplace. All board members and town staff principals were present.

A special BOT closed executive session was held before the regular meeting to allow the board to receive legal advice. This meeting was resumed after the regular meeting was adjourned. The regular meeting was called to order at 6:38 p.m.

Public comments

Planning Commissioner Lowell Morgan asked that the board consider changing the manner of operation of the new manually initiated Santa Fe Trail crosswalk traffic signals on Second and Third Streets. While the crosswalks are effective and well used by pedestrians who need them, he was almost struck there by a driver doing approximately 45 mph. He thought the lights stayed red a bit too long, inducing some impatient drivers to run the red light once the pedestrians had crossed and disappeared down the trail. He proposed making the lights flashing yellow, or even flashing red, because he believes a flashing light has a more consistent ability to induce caution in drivers, as evidenced by the flashing yellow Santa Fe Trail crossing light on Beacon Lite Road, also a 25 mph zone. Mayor Betty Konarski asked Public Works Supervisor Tom Wall to look into Morgan’s suggestion.

Scheduled guests

Larry Neddo, a two-year member of the Public Works Committee who was invited to fill the empty Planning Commission position, spoke briefly to the board. The Public Works Committee has recently gone dormant due to lack of additional citizen volunteers. This freed Neddo to volunteer for the commission. He was approved unanimously.

Developments

Monument Addition #5

Mike Davenport, assistant town manager and town planner, briefed the board on revisions to the plats for Monument Addition #5 that developer Dwayne Black had made at the request of the town at the June 16 BOT meeting. Black has redrawn the subdivision with eight housing lots, instead of nine, and had changed the former flag lot, along the length of the adjacent railroad tracks, into a common subdivision detention pond for all eight individual dwelling lots called tract B. Davenport added that town consultant GMS concurred with the drainage improvement. Black had agreed to and incorporated all recommendations from fire and police departments and town engineering consultant GMS. The former driveway to the former flag lot is now a utility easement and provides the necessary access to the detention pond. Addition #5 was unanimously approved with those conditions.

Third Amendment to the Regency Park Development and Zoning Plan

Davenport said the amendment is being proposed by Vision Development, Inc. to bring the zoning map up to date incorporating various actions by the BOT, reflecting the mouse habitat, and accommodating the plans for the Monument Marketplace project. Davenport noted that since the original Regency Park plan for a regional mall was adopted in 1987, the nature of retail has changed.

Land planner Michael Pharo presented concerns of his client, property owner Miles Grant. Pharo objected to the road network changes shown on the amended plan. He said, "The plan focuses on [Vision Development’s] private needs to the detriment of my client." In particular, he expressed concern that elimination of the loop road shown in the prior plan will force customers to use Jackson Creek Parkway to travel between stores in the Marketplace and anticipated stores on Grant’s property. He said, "It fragments the synergistic relationship between the uses."

Due to the interdependence of the Regency Park plan and the Marketplace plan, the hearing on the Regency Park plan was continued until after the Marketplace hearing.

The Monument Marketplace

(For details on the Marketplace project, see the April, June, and July issues of OCN.)

In response to Pharo’s concerns, Rick Blevins, representing Vision Development, Inc., pointed out changes to the plan to improve circulation between the Marketplace and the properties to the south.

The town’s consultants confirmed that all significant technical issues with the overall project had been resolved or were covered by conditions.

Trustee Frank Orten made a motion to approve the Marketplace project subject to the list of conditions. The motion was unanimously approved.

With very little additional discussion, the Third Amendment to the Regency Park Rezoning and Development Plan was then unanimously approved.

Subdivision Ordinance Update

Trustee Byron Glenn moved that the hearing on Part II of the Comprehensive Update to Subdivision Ordinances be deferred until the next scheduled BOT meeting. The motion passed unanimously.

Town Hall

A very preliminary cost estimate for a new Town Hall complex was performed by OZ Architecture to provide data to help the BOT decide whether or not to place funding for such a building on the November ballot. Several trustees stated that it was premature to put the issue on the ballot. The next opportunity for such an election initiative is two years from November. The approximate cost estimate for the project is $2.5 million. Treasurer Judy Skrzypek prepared a spreadsheet in which she estimated that 0.3 cents (30 percent) of the 1-cent water tax, would pay off the new town hall structure in 20 years.

Konarski said the guidance she gave the architects was to create a one-stop building that would serve all the town’s administrative needs in a single downtown location. She noted that it must be large enough to have a big meeting room that would provide services for seniors and be possible to rent out for local functions, to recoup some of its expense. Attorney Gary Shupp confirmed Anne Holliday’s date of Sept. 10 as the deadline for submitting a ballot initiative for a November election. While the building could be squeezed onto a 1-acre lot, Konarski insisted that a 2-acre lot would be far better, due to the need for an enclosed car space for prisoner transfer. Davenport concurred. Konarski noted that the Chamber of Commerce might be willing to permanently rent space since it is losing its current location. Doug Warner suggested some permanent features to some rooms such as a dais and fixed furniture to better define rooms for specific municipal purposes. Everyone agreed on the need to improve police facilities whether or not a new town hall is authorized.

Joan Thebert-Cain was invited by Konarski to speak on the need to accommodate senior activities in a larger, improved facility. She gave a moving, extemporaneous presentation on the vital need to prevent the town’s seniors from feeling isolated, and she supported her position with many statistics. Some specific suggestions included establishing pastor support sessions, book clubs, regular meetings to test and secure treatment for macular degeneration, a crafts club, senior exercise classes, community travel and photography groups, and vaccination and wellness meetings. The board praised her presentation, and Konarski thanked her for her expertise and advice.

Glenda Smith expressed concern about reallocating water money away from water projects when, because of very high housing costs, the town needs to keep utility rates as low as possible. Chris Perry noted that the water fund could not be used to subsidize water rates. Warner said that the town could move forward on developing plans and options without committing funds, and needed to get the ball rolling. Konarski summarized, saying that the board needed to move forward on planning and acting on an interim improvement for police facilities, but it is too soon for a ballot issue. She repeated that Town Hall needed to be downtown. Many of the trustees spoke again to the urgency of doing something quickly about police facilities. Skrzypek said that water money could not be used for the police improvements now. Citizen John Dominowski asked the board to look at streamlining all the various special districts that serve its residents, for opportunities to save money and help the overall budget. There was no support from the trustees to prepare a ballot initiative to redirect a portion of the water tax into non-water capital improvements, as there was consensus that it would not pass.

Treasurer’s report

The contract for Chassen Computer Consulting was unanimously renewed, as was the contract for the town auditor, Swanhorst and Cutler, LLC. The June financial report was approved unanimously. Smith said that Skrzypek’s new format and amplifying comments are liked and appreciated by the board. Skrzypek said she had successfully reversed a $78,000 IRS penalty on the town’s 2002 W-2 forms. Several trustees agreed with the suggestion to give it to Chief of Police Joe Kissell for improvements. Warner asked about the Broiler Room’s taxes, and Skrzypek said they were late again. It was agreed that the Broiler Room’s taxes would now be a permanent agenda item. There was some lengthy discussion about effective methods for ensuring collection of vendor taxes at the farmers market.

Other business

The liquor license was renewed for Jackson Creek Chinese Restaurant. Changes to three street names in Jackson Creek Filing No. 5 were approved. A request from the county asking for a water line easement through Santa Fe Trail property was approved. A motion to advertise for a BOT vacancy, effective after the Aug. 18 meeting passed. –(Christopher Perry is moving from Monument to join his father in their family business.)

Kissell spoke about a recent meth lab bust. He said they needed help from the Drug Enforcement Administration because none of the Monument police have received the special chemical training needed for those who handle suspected drug materials.

The meeting adjourned at 9:20 p.m., and the board returned to executive session.

Web Site Exclusive: View photos of the hearings on Marketplace/Regency Park plans

Web Site Exclusive: Regency Park Zoning Plan

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Monument planning commission looks at possible heavy industrial area, recommends approval of Marketplace

View Possible Heavy Industrial Area of Forest Lakes

Web Site Exclusive: Photo of Planning Commission hearing on the Marketplace

By John Heiser

At the Monument Planning Commission meeting July 9, two major topics again dominated the agenda: The update to the town’s comprehensive plan and the Monument Marketplace proposal.

Worshop on the update to the comprehensive plan

David Mertz, chair of the planning commission, announced that the purpose of this workshop is to review the text in the revised draft document. The most controversial item was a suggestion that the southern portion of the Forest Lakes business park just west of I-25 and south of Baptist Road be planned as a heavy industrial district. The district would be immediately east of the wastewater treatment plant.

Tim Siebert, a land-planning consultant from N.E.S., represented Forest Lakes, LLC. He reported that a company had approached them about including a batch plant. He said, "We hadn’t contemplated the use. We are not saying we absolutely have to have it. The Schuck community is committed to a quality development." He said there are concerns about the visual impact from the interstate and how to screen potential heavy industrial uses from the planned commercial uses. He noted that the entire operation would be enclosed in a structure except for materials storage outside. A truck route would be designated and designed to handle the heavy loads.

Bill Simpson, owner of the property on North Washington Street that was to be the site of the Transit Mix concrete batch plant, said, "I take exception to putting a heavy industrial district down there. I already have a heavy industrial area. How would it be any different?"

Commissioner Lowell Morgan replied, "A major difference is that there are no children in that area."

Siebert acknowledged that there would be an issue of dust from the outside materials storage. Commissioner Kathy Spence said, "I don’t think anything that creates dust should be in that area of the foothills. It is just not appropriate on that side of I-25."

Mertz suggested the town get comments on this topic from the Air Force Academy.

The hearing on approval of the update to the comprehensive plan is scheduled for August 13.

Monument Marketplace

The next item was a continuation of the June 11 public hearing on the Monument Marketplace proposal.

Davenport summarized the updates made since last month.

Bruce Rau, a landscape architect for CLC Associates, and Todd Whipple, a senior vice president of CLC, assisted Rick Blevins, representing Vision Development, Inc. in answering the commission’s questions. Paul Battista, an architect for Galloway, Romero & Associates, discussed questions specific to the first big box tenant, subsequently announced to be Home Depot.

Blevins noted that the improvements to Baptist Road must be completed prior to opening the first store. He said those improvements may require an amendment to the Triview Metropolitan District’s mouse habitat conservation plan (HCP) to accommodate the widening of Baptist Road where it crosses Jackson Creek.

Mike Watt, owner of several properties, including the property being leased to Foxworth-Galbraith, asked if the Baptist Road improvements would encroach on his property. Whipple replied that, based on the Colorado Department of Transportation’s roadway profile, the improvements could be done within the existing easement.

Miles Grant, owner of properties on the west, north and east of the King Soopers shopping center, expressed concern that amending the HCP may adversely affect his property. He said, "We have given up 50 percent of our property to the mouse so far. I don’t want to give up more." Blevins said the intent is to avoid triggering an increase in from 300 feet to 395 feet for setbacks from mouse habitat.

Davenport said, "Someday someone will have to deal with this issue. The Baptist Road crossing of Jackson Creek is too narrow to handle the traffic right now."

Following further discussion, Spence moved that the planning commission recommend approval of the plan subject to a list of conditions. The motion was unanimously approved.

**********

The Monument Planning Commission meets on the second Wednesday of each month at Monument Town Hall, 166 2nd Street. The next meeting will be August 13. A work session will be held at 6:00 p.m. followed by the meeting at 7 p.m. That meeting will include a hearing on approval of the update to the comprehensive plan. For additional information, contact Mike Davenport at 481-2954.

For more information on the Marketplace project, contact Rick Blevins at Jackson Creek Vision Development, 385-0555, or rblevins@jacksoncreek.com.

View Possible Heavy Industrial Area of Forest Lakes

Web Site Exclusive: Photo of Planning Commission hearing on the Marketplace

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Monument parks and landscape committee reviewed streetscape plans for downtown July 8

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Parks and Landscape Committee hosted its second presentation in Town Hall by the University of Denver’s (DU) Colorado Center for Community Development (CCCD) on July 8. Two graduate students from DU, with undergraduate degrees in urban planning, have been working for several months on proposals for long-term development of Second Street and the cross streets. This presentation was part of the committee’s efforts to develop a Parks, Trails, and Open Space Master Plan—part of the overall Monument Comprehensive Plan. The committee’s recommendations and conclusions were to be given to the town Planning Commission scheduled to meet the next evening. Eight citizens attended the presentation.

Before the CCCD, Planner Mike Davenport invited comments from the citizens attending. Si Sibell, former mayor, expressed his unhappiness that Third Street, like Second Street, had no curbs, lights, or a gutter and that this proposed development project did nothing to improve this equally important major street. He expressed his disappointment that nothing had been done to improve Third Street for several decades, and that he and his wife thought the committee should come up with similar proposals to those developed for Second Street. When no other citizens supported his views, the Sibells left the meeting.

Before introducing Hsin-yi Chou, Victor Kusmin, and their project advisor, Judith Bergquist, Davenport noted that their work was supported by a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado. Kusmin’s presentation started with an overview of the work they had done since their last presentation on April 29. They combined the best portions of their individual presentations for the three sections of Second Street and obtained cost estimates for the consolidated plan.

The first section is called the Village, between Highway 105 and Beacon Lite Road, and would consist of shops with close lot lines to the street and a high square footage density to create a village feeling, as in Idaho Springs or Colorado City. Architectural features like awnings and appropriately scaled signs would break up the linearity of the basic contemporary structures on the north side of the street. Expected businesses would be small shops and food vendors, and there would be a plaza with umbrella tables and chairs, evoking a farmers market. On the south side, there would an overlook for the viewscape of the Front Range with information kiosks, benches, and telescopes. Near Beacon Lite, there would be an artist plaza. Ten-foot sidewalks and parallel parking would be used to encourage foot traffic and bicycle traffic. Off-street parking behind the north buildings supplements the parallel parking in all three zones.

Kusmin also reprised his recommendation that the town adopt a mouse icon to playfully acknowledge the significance of mouse habitat on local development. This suggestion drew mixed response from the citizens attending.

The second zone, named Downtown, expands on current structures and streetscapes. The street lanes are narrowed to make the zone feel safer and more conducive to pedestrian traffic. Additional commercial buildings, a new Town Hall east of the park, and a theater are proposed. A Santa Fe Trail parking lot would be added in the open space east of the trail on the north side of Second Street, to increase parking. A bike lane on the north side of Second Street would invite bikers off the trail to businesses. There would be a 10-foot sidewalk on the north side and a 6-foot sidewalk on the south side. Town Hall would have a clock tower to provide a visual cue for every part of town and to attract traffic from I-25. The park would have a spray/play fountain like the one in Acacia Park and climbable funny mouse statues for kids.

The Lake Approach is the third zone, leading from I-25 across the railroad tracks to this desiccated mud hole. A median west of Front Street, 6-foot sidewalks, and landscaping would draw pedestrians to Monument Lake. A band shell would be added to Limbach Park in an amphitheater setting. Parallel parking would line the east and north boundaries for convenience.

Kusmin recommended black Victorian street lamps, benches, and drinking fountains with black tubular and wooden slat street furniture. The goal is for the pedestrian to want to sit, relax, and have a cool drink.

The installed cost for all this was estimated at about $5 million, with a 15 percent contingency for inflation and design costs—not including the amphitheater, Town Hall, or bike lanes and signs.

During public comment, Lori Wilson said she was concerned about the high expense for what is now a bedroom community, as well as the limited number of warm months for strolling. Snow removal would be harder with the complications of new curbs and increased street parking. Ron Wilson said he was concerned about overbuilding apartments and excessive vacancies, observing that more than $100,000 had to be spent before a stick was built for a commercial building. Davenport said that the town could reduce required on-property parking and acreage for water, and adjust downtown water and sewer tap fees to promote the renovation. Ron Wilson said that he and many others have been irreparably harmed financially by the mouse and didn’t think it was a playful symbol. The closure of the north exit between the Safeway and Conoco will hurt business more than people expect as well, making funding of the project more difficult.

Tommie Plank indicated that construction on Exit 161 had harmed a lot of downtown businesses and Monika Marky added that Second Street construction had hurt her business also. Davenport said that the town planned to add signs encouraging people to visit side street businesses, citing Old Colorado City and Castle Rock as examples where this technique had been successful for merchants. Davenport concluded by saying that the Comprehensive Plan Update would be discussed at the Planning Commission the next evening and the Parks, Trail, and Open Space plan should be completed early in the fall.

After a short break for further informal discussion, the committee considered street signs and poles for future installation. Consensus was to standardize signs using black lettering and borders on a white background and white steel poles, plus a finial on downtown signs.

To implement the plan, Davenport said the next steps are to verify and flesh out the draft costs that Kusmin had prepared, adding those for the rest of the plan, and present them to the Planning Commission. The commission would integrate their recommendations into the Comprehensive Plan Update and recommend them to the Board of Trustees. The goal is to define and encourage the future character of downtown through revision of current regulations and sound budgeting.

The meeting adjourned at 8:15 p.m. The next meeting is at Town Hall on Aug. 12 at 6:30 p.m.

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Palmer Lake Town Council combined workshop and meeting

By Jim Kendrick and Judy Barnes

Trustee Susan Miner acted as Mayor Pro Tem in the absence of Mayor Nikki McDonald. Trustee Randy Jones was also absent.

Committee Reports

Trustee Cindy Allen reported on the landscaping of the municipal buildings and library, noting that the money for tearing up sidewalks and planting trees was not taxpayer dollars. Funding came from conservation trust funds, lottery and gambling revenue, and donated labor and materials by Jeff Clibon of Oasis Landscape and Irrigation and Jim Eaton of James Concrete. The Blue Columbine Festival on June 14 was attended by hundreds of people. Allen thanked Master gardener Janet Riddle, who gave out 300 blue columbine plants that day. Allen also acknowledged High Country Feed and Garden for helping obtain the plants. She also thanked Les Kregar, who built and donated four "poop bag" dispensers for the Glen Park trails around Palmer Lake. The dispensers can hold grocery sacs, bread wrappers, or newspaper bags. People who use the trails are welcome to replenish the dispensers with reusable bags.

Trustee Chuck Cornell reported that the water treatment plant for the new Arapahoe well was progressing slowly, with an expected operational date in December. He also noted that the town is "out of priority," meaning someone downstream with senior water rights has placed a call, requiring Palmer Lake to release water downstream. Water Supervisor Steve Orcutt will start pumping water from the Denver well into Monument Creek rather than release water from the reservoir.

Bob Radosevich, Roads Supervisor, gave the roads report for Trustee Jones. He said the town’s FireWise wood chipping program is in full swing. The chipper crew made 79 calls, 58 in town and 21 for the Donald Wescott fire department. The town’s water truck was out of service, hampering efforts to flush culverts and apply magnesium chloride for dust control on roads. Miner asked if magnesium chloride could be spread on roads after a good rainfall. Radosevich replied that he plans to have that capability next year and is currently researching an affordable holding tank.

Trustee Eddie Kinney reported that June traffic tickets and police calls were down for the first half of the year. Monument’s Mayor Betty Konarski sent a thank-you note to Officer John Cameron for his assistance in parking control at the gala opening of the Tri-Lakes Views art show at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts. Kinney praised Cameron’s refusal to apply for or accept overtime pay for this work.

Miner thanked all the 10,000-12,000 people who attended the July 4th fireworks, noting that only three trash bags were required to clean up. Allen noted that Kaye Book of Salon 105 was especially helpful in preserving children’s safety with all the traffic and in finding "lost parents."

Trustee Scott Russell reported that the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department had 17 calls in June and 93 calls for the first half of the year; 24 calls were for Palmer Lake and the other 69 were to provide mutual aid for other fire districts. Three firefighters completed upgrade training courses–one to Fire Fighter 1 and two to Fire Fighter 2 levels. The fire department received a grant for $1,100 from the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club; it will be used to purchase equipment for fighting wildfires. Miner pointed out that Tri-Lakes district firefighters were present at the July 4 fireworks display but didn’t attend the safety meeting for that event. She questioned the liability issue in view of their not having attended this meeting. Russell said that next year if firefighters don’t attend the safety meeting, they shouldn’t be allowed at the fireworks.

Russell then noted that the inclusion agreement with Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District was still with the attorneys, and copies would be available at the town offices when it’s done. He reviewed why the fireboard rejected being a separate district after a year of study; Miner concurred, saying the Gallagher Amendment made it impossible to get enough funding.

Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) Chief Greg Lokken said he needed more merger information, then agreed to a two-week period, after receipt of the agreement, to inform all his volunteers. Miner proposed a roundtable working session with all the participants from both fire districts, saying that the atmosphere has to be one of facilitating "coming together" between the Palmer Lake council and the PLVFD firefighters and between the two merging districts. The session will be a public meeting; questions, comments, and concerns are welcome. Firefighter Larry Stromer asked that the attorneys be present at the working session to answer firefighter questions. EMT Annie Brown voiced concern about underrepresentation on the proposed five-member combined fire district board and the possibility of no Palmer Lake member after the election. She was concerned that there might be a subsequent combined district board decision to close the Palmer Lake station with no recourse. Miner told Brown that no one has proposed shutting down the station and that if the negotiated merger agreement is not in the town’s best interest, the town can still say no. Miner stated that fire department members and Palmer Lake citizens need to organize a sufficient turnout at subsequent elections to ensure that Palmer Lake has adequate representation on the proposed combined fire protection district board.

Dirt pile

Kinney raised the issue of the dirt pile on Jim Fitzgerald’s property on General Palmer Drive off Highway 105. At the June council meeting, Kinney voiced concern about dust from the pile and suggested giving Fitzgerald 30 days’ notice to move the pile, which has been there since excavation for the buildings in 1999. Fitzgerald addressed the trustees about his effort to have the speed limit lowered on Highway 105 from 50 to 35-40 mph, so he will not have to build an acceleration/deceleration lane. Miner concurred that speeding on the highway is a continuing problem, having witnessed three rollover accidents in front of her highway property. Fitzgerald noted he has been saving the dirt to build the turn lane if CDOT requires it, and he doesn’t want to just throw away so much valuable material. Miner recommended a town council workshop to resolve the issue.

Flood mitigation study

Mickey Campbell gave an update on the hazard mitigation project. Prompted by the flood in Palmer Lake in 1999, Campbell applied for and received a federal grant, approved in April 2003. Campbell asked the council to help get things moving through federal agency departments, which have delayed disbursements of the funds, thereby delaying the project. The study must be completed before the town can apply for flood mitigation construction project grants.

Business Licenses

New business licenses were approved unanimously for Alan Bockhaus of GIS consultants at 732 Hillview Road and Mark Ennis of Access Construction Company at 780 Highway 105.

Rodermund’s day care: A conditional use for child daycare in a residence in an R-3 zone and a new business license was approved, with conditions for Sherry Rodermund after an extended discussion. Neighbors Dave Austin and Wendy Determan spoke against the proposal. Planning Commissioner Gary Coleman reviewed the circumstances of the planning commission’s conditional recommendation.

The conditions for approval of this residential day care at 459 Virginia Ave. are:

  • a 6-foot privacy fence that completely surrounds the backyard play area, with appropriate setbacks

  • a double S-curve warning sign 170 feet before the blind curve on one-way Virginia Avenue

  • a "20 mph" reminder sign below the S-curve warning sign

  • a "Keep children alive, drive 20" sign at the approach end of Rodermund’s property

  • trimming all of Rodermund’s trees from the ground to 6 feet to improve the view of approaching Virginia Avenue drivers

  • a posted and published policy statement (in the distributed policy manual) to ensure client notification and a signed written client agreement to adhere to the 20 mph speed limit and the need to observe one-way traffic

  • a posted and published client notification that Rodermund’s house is in a floodplain

  • a posted and published snow policy

  • a copy of the policy manual and all posted notifications attached to the license application

Austin stated that a business should not be permitted in a residential area. He noted that people speeding on Virginia Avenue, particularly by those driving the wrong way, has been a serious problem for the entire 12 years he has lived here. Miner observed that speeding is a problem everywhere in Palmer Lake.

Cornell and Kinney observed that a business might not be appropriate in a residential area. Miner said that a family with six children could just as easily have occupied Rodermund’s property. Austin countered that they would eventually grow up and be less noisy. Miner noted that as they age they present different potential problems for neighbors. Town Clerk Della Gins said that state regulations and controls are far stronger than anything the town could apply and that there are a number of illegal day care centers in the neighborhood and other parts of Palmer Lake that call themselves babysitters. (Note: During the planning commission deliberations on Rodermund’s application in June, Determan acknowledged that she had run an illegal day care operation.)

Rodermund spoke again to ensure her desire to comply and to say that the state can shut her down with a single no-notice visit. Austin rebutted that the town should not just rubber-stamp this application. The council approved her variance and license 3-1 subject to compliance with all the conditions listed above. Cornell voted no. Rodermund then asked that the name of the business on the application be changed to The Wee-Treat.

The meeting adjourned at 9:38 p.m.

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Donald Wescott FPD board meeting July 9

By Jim Kendrick

The Board of Directors for the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) met on July 9. Director Joe Potter was absent. Major issues included presentation and discussion of the inclusion ballot issue for some Black Forest residents (to be voted on Nov. 4) and receipt of a clean audit report in conjunction with a half-year finance report. The board went into executive session to discuss a letter to the Tri-Lakes district regarding inclusion of some lots in Black Forest. There were no public comments

The treasurer’s report showed the district had done very well in saving money to be able to cover salary and benefits for two new full-time hires and to upgrade the brush truck. Debt has been refinanced at a lower interest rate, with the first payment due next year. Terry Rupert and Christiana Ronconi of Hanson and Company presented a very positive, discrepancy-free audit report.

Board President Bill Lowes then observed that the approved mill levy increase, payable in early 2004, from 1.94 to 7.00 mills will further solidify Westcott’s financial base. This is important as Wescott moves forward with its inclusion election, announced in February and approved in district court on July 3. The election is for northeast county residents—a 16-square-mile area in Black Forest, east of Highway 83 between Hodgen and County Line Roads—who currently do not belong to any fire district. If the residents of this area vote to be included by DWFPD on Nov. 4, they would provide approximately $110,000 in additional taxes to the district. These two revenue increases would enable Wescott to build a new fire station east of its current Gleneagle station, to ensure coverage within five miles for all residents proposed for inclusion—a critical factor in lowering insurance rates for property owners in the district.

Some affected Black Forest residents petitioned for inclusion in the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District (TLFPD), rather than Wescott, in mid-June. These residents have indicated they petitioned TLFPD because they believed the Roller Coaster station would be built sooner than the new Westcott station and they preferred having Tri-Lakes EMT services rather than commercial services from American Medical Response (AMR), which services the DWFPD. Chief Bill Sheldon observed that such action would create a patchwork of interlocking districts in the election area that would only slow dispatching due to mistakes and time lost. With the completion of 630 legal election notices, Sheldon said Westcott needs to complete what it started regardless of TLFPD’s actions. A motion was unanimously approved to proceed with the election and to deliver a letter to the TLFPD the next morning protesting their plan to accept the petitions.

A unified policies and procedures manual to include overtime and also include separate differently colored pages for distinctive volunteer firefighter instructions is being developed. After the attorney reviews the proposed manual, it will be distributed as the primary directive for all personnel, effective Jan. 1. Discussion of a mission statement was deferred to the next board meeting on Aug. 16.

The meeting adjourned at 8:45 p.m.

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Tri-Lakes FPD board meetings July 10 and 17

Web Site Exclusive: View photo of protest by DWFPD

Web Site Exclusive: View photos of CPR mannequins and Lifepak 500 AED

By John Heiser

The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District held two meetings during July: A special meeting July 10 on the inclusion of 14 parcels in Black Forest held by nine owners and a regular monthly meeting July 17.

Special Meeting July 10: Despite Westcott objections, Tri-Lakes approves inclusions

Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board member Brian Ritz spoke against the inclusion of the parcels into the Tri-Lakes district and delivered a letter citing specific objections.

The letter noted that the Wescott district, "has, for almost thirty years, provided and continues to provide fire protection and emergency medical service to the area proposed for inclusion…on a comparable basis to any such service which can be provided by Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District."

One basis for objecting cited in the letter was that the petitions had been submitted subsequent to the February 2003 proposal by the Wescott board to seek an inclusion election for the 16-square-mile area that encompasses the petitioners’ properties. Another objection was that approval of the petitions would create a "patchwork effect" complicating dispatching of fire or emergency medical services.

Despite the objections, the Tri-Lakes district board unanimously voted to approve the inclusions. The board then adjourned.

Following the meeting, Charlie Pocock, president of the Tri-Lakes board, noted that the petitions were accepted because they were filed with the Tri-Lakes district prior to the July 3 ruling by the judge setting the date of Nov. 4 for the election on inclusion of the area into the Wescott district. Pocock said, "My loyalty is to the people who need fire protection services and come to us for it." He later added, "We couldn’t turn them down. We must keep faith with the citizens."

The Wescott letter raised the possibility that if the inclusion election succeeds, the petitioners would be subject to double taxation. Pocock responded, "You cannot legally be taxed by two districts for the same service."

As background on some of the issues between the two departments, Ron Thompson assistant chief and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) coordinator, said that when a 1993 election was held to include the area east of Highway 83 in the Tri-Lakes district, people from the Wescott district campaigned against it. The proposed inclusion was defeated.

Tri-Lakes district director and treasurer John Hildebrandt added that the Wescott district opposed the Tri-Lakes district’s proposal to expand Station 2 at Roller Coaster Road and Highway 105. Pocock noted that the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners’ denial of the Station 2 proposal "cost us six months and $50,000 in legal fees and so forth. That would pay a paramedic’s salary for a year."

Regular Meeting July 17: Grants and community support for Station 2 noted

Financial Report

Hildebrandt reported that revenues through the end of June were $678,000. He noted that ambulance revenues were somewhat less than projected due to delays in billing and receiving payment. He said expenditures are running about 5 percent under budget.

Chief’s Report

Chief Robert Denboske reported that during June, the district responded to 105 calls, bringing the total for the year to 546. The full year projection is for 1,007.

He noted that over a five-hour period on July 3, the district responded to 16 calls, including traffic accidents, a vehicle fire, and several medical calls. He said the rest of the Independence Day weekend was relatively quiet. There were no fireworks-related calls.

The chief reported that lightning on July 15 started a fire in the Mt. Herman area. Tri-Lakes district personnel assisted the U.S. Forest Service. The burned area was limited, and the fire was extinguished on July 16.

He said department staff built portable hose racks worth about $1,600 for a cost of $140 in materials.

Denboske reported it would cost $10,000 to $12,000 to make needed repairs to the 1969 La France fire engine. He said it is obsolete and not usable, even for training. The board agreed to offer it for sale.

EMS Report

Thompson said the district received a $1,000 grant from the El Paso County Emergency Services Agency to purchase four sets of CPR mannequins. They will enable the district to resume teaching CPR classes to the public within a month or so.

Thompson thanked the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club for their $2,700 grant to purchase ice and cold-water rescue equipment. He said the equipment is on order.

He also reported that the district received a Life Pack 500 AED portable defibrillator from the American Heart Association and the EMS Division of Memorial Hospital. He noted that it is a biphasic unit worth about $3,000. He expressed appreciation to Bill Mayfield for help in obtaining the grant.

Thompson said state emergency medical services approved the full amount in the district’s grant request, covering half the $65,000 cost of biphasic defibrillators for each of the district’s three ambulances plus half the $3,500 cost for an additional computer and trip report software. He said, "We could not afford this without the grant."

He reported that Morgan Cudney and Shelly Moore have been certified as intermediate Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs); Sam Hascek, Dustin Muth, Kristian Naslund, and Jake Villa have been certified as EMTs; and Jamie Courter, Lisa Frasca, Chris Riggs, and Jody Thorpe have been certified for inserting IVs.

Station 2

Pocock noted, "The district has received at least 50 inquiries as to when station 2 [at Roller Coaster Road and Highway 105] will be expanded. They are upset with the county commissioners."

To measure the sentiment in the community, Pocock said the following petition would be circulated:

"Petition For Approval Of Manned Fire Station At Roller Coaster Road And Highway 105 TriLakes Fire Protection District

TO: Commissioners Williams, Huffman and Bensberg:

The undersigned are citizens served by the TriLakes Fire Protection District in northern El Paso County. We are very concerned about your vote to deny the TriLakes Fire Protection District’s request for subdivision exemption. Your disapproval prevents improvements from being added to the District’s Roller Coaster Road/Highway 105 fire station that would substantially decrease the response time for medical and fire emergencies in our neighborhoods. The ability to respond quickly to a fire or medical emergency is critical in our rapidly growing area. The District has the funds to upgrade this facility immediately if you approve the subdivision exemption. To deny the fire district the right to upgrade its fire station, which has been at this location for over 20 years, places our lives and property in jeopardy. Requiring a full subdivision approval for this existing fire station site will unnecessarily delay upgrading this facility until this winter at the earliest, and require expenditure of District funds (that would otherwise be available for protecting the public safety) to be spent with little, if any, public benefit. We strongly urge you to reconsider your denial and approve the request submitted by the TriLakes Fire Protection District."

As OCN went to press, volunteers had reportedly gathered more than 3,000 petition signatures. Pocock said signatures will be gathered through the end of July and then presented to the county commissioners.

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The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District board normally meets at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the district firehouse, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley). The next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 21.For more information, call Chief Denboske at 481-2312.

Correction

Past issues of OCN have incorrectly identified the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). HIPAA included provisions designed to encourage electronic transactions and also required new safeguards to protect the security and confidentiality of health information. The final regulation covers health plans, health care clearinghouses, and those health care providers who conduct certain financial and administrative transactions (e.g., enrollment, billing, and eligibility verification) electronically. Most health insurers, pharmacies, doctors and other health care providers were required to comply with these federal standards beginning April 14, 2003. Additional information is available at http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa.

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Woodmoor-Monument FPD board meeting July 28

By Jim Kendrick

The Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District Board met on Monday morning, July 28 at 8 a.m. to hear concerns about recent fire inspections of local merchants and to conduct its routine monthly business. John Dominowski, Steve Marks, and Suzanne D’Innocenzo presented to the board a list of concerns, supporting statements, and a list of signatures from 26 businesses. The board also reviewed a positive draft audit report by Mitch Downs from Osborn, Parsons, & Rosacker.

Board president Bob Browning gave a brief overview of his understanding of the concerns of local business owners. He noted that Dominowski had given him seven pages from six business owners on Friday, July 25. There were three straightforward statements and three more serious concerns, all of which he wanted to have investigated. He was particularly concerned about allegations of threats to close businesses. He has appointed board secretary Bob Harvey, a Colorado Springs firefighter, to go to each address to look at each situation and to talk directly to each of the six business owners. He agreed to have these visits done no later than August 18.

Browning then asked Dominowski to summarize his concerns. Dominowski said that many business owners "are in the fight of our lives" trying to find a way to stay safe and in business. "If Old Town owners have to meet current standards, then Old Town is shut down." He said he had added the signatures of over 20 businesses since giving Browning the first packet. He added that some other business owners were reluctant to voice official complaints. He emphatically said that none of these businesses has any problems with the firefighters, many of whom are considered heroes–their staff, or the board members.

Director Russ Broshous asked Dominowski if the inapplicability and expense of maintaining standards in historic buildings had been brought to the attention of the county and if these buildings qualify for grandfathering of some kind. Dominowski replied yes. Then he said that Petal Pushin’ moved from suite 4 to suite 13 and they were four months into the fire inspection process of the simple modifications performed by his Class C contractor, with no end in sight. The holdup prevented him from replacing an unsafe wooden ceiling because of the time it would take to get all the various approvals. He said many businesses are put in the same situation where commonsense repairs cannot be made without a complete renovation that is cost prohibitive, typically exceeding three years rent. Hence, building owners are coerced to do nothing about hazards rather than be vulnerable for a near-complete demolition and restoration to meet ever-changing codes.

Broshous said the issue owners have is with those who write the codes. It is not the inspectors’ job to determine which rules are worthy of enforcement and which discrepancies they should not write up in the name of fairness. Harvey said that they may not be able to do anything about the code, but they could look at application of the code and possible variances. Dominowski said the amount of continuous change in building regulations is overwhelming, making all building owners criminals, and then the fire inspectors enforce those regulations.

Browning reiterated his concern about alleged fire inspector threats to close businesses, as their role is simply to inspect and document what is found. Fire inspectors do not and cannot close businesses. Other officials and boards of supervisors are the ones who do that. Harvey said that fire codes will always evolve because they are broad and have to cover a wide range of circumstances. He will see if there were instances where the code was not applicable. Vice President Si Sibell said, "There is a chance for some compromise and final agreement." Harvey agreed, saying the board has no philosophy to shut businesses down. Browning concluded by saying they inspect but they don’t decide and that he looked forward to working with the owners.

Chief Youtsey began with a report on his and Brown’s attendance at an Special District Association workshop in July. There they obtained several types of new administrative forms for policy and record-keeping that would be analyzed for possible adoption. A firefighter hired under the old hiring system died without heirs and the board is working with lawyer Tim Schutz on how to disburse the unclaimed proceeds of his pension. The district has made great strides in improving its response times with a general goal of one minute for calls. The unique and various way alarms and calls are dispatched makes start times difficult to standardize and analyze through reports. All agreed there was still room to improve in the alerting system and in equipment that could be installed at the station, despite the improvement of the past few months.

Tom Conroy reported that the merger with Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) is moving forward. The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) needs more time due to their Black Forest inclusion ballot in November and their changing boundary if the vote is yes. "Palmer Lake has to do the most heavy lifting. They are eager. We are eager." He added, "DWFPD wants to merge. We want to merge." He said again that it is hard for DWFPD to move quickly at this time.

After an extended executive session with the board’s lawyer, the draft audit was reviewed. A few minor corrections were suggested and the audit was approved. The corrected audit forms were to be sent to supervisory agencies on July 30. The meeting was then adjourned.

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BRRTA meeting July 25

By Jim Kendrick

The Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) meeting July 25 was attended by all five board members: Monument Trustee Byron Glenn, Monument Mayor Betty Konarski and county commissioners Jim Bensberg, Chuck Brown, and Wayne Williams. The primary agenda items were staff reports and discussion of the contract for continuing the design of improvements to Baptist Road.

BRRTA President Glenn noted the previous meeting minutes had an incorrect spelling for his last name and that his answer to a question from Steve Waldmann, a Fox Run resident, regarding the November 8 minutes should have been that the grade on Baptist Road east of Gleneagle "cannot not be corrected" instead of "cannot not be altered." The maximum grade between Desiree and Tari is about 10 percent. The current design for Baptist Road calls for that maximum grade to be reduced to about 9.5 percent but it will still far exceed the county’s recommendation of a maximum grade of 5 percent on major arterial roads. With these corrections, the minutes of the April 11 meeting were unanimously approved. Financial matters were deferred, as BRRTA Manager Connor Shepherd was late to arrive.

County planning department report

Carl Schueler, assistant director of the El Paso County Planning Department, reported on county planning and development activities:

  • Judge Thomas Kane ruled against an appeal by residents of the board of county commissioners’ approval of the Forest Lakes rezoning and preliminary plan. The judge’s ruling holds BRRTA harmless in any future litigation.

  • The Planned Unit Development (PUD) rezoning of Struthers Ranch was approved by the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC).

  • Hay Creek Ranch, southwest of Forest Lakes, has not yet been annexed by BRRTA but will be. Shepherd, now present, asked BRRTA to formally request county GPS maps to accurately plot and legally describe the property to be annexed by the Authority.

  • Wal-Mart has submitted an updated proposal showing a larger 203,000 square foot store. Because of its larger footprint, one satellite retail lot has been deleted, although the gas station remains. Schueler noted that the property west of the centerline of Jackson Creek Parkway on the west side of the store is owned by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). That property lies within the Town of Monument. Similarly, the property north of the centerline of Baptist Road north of the proposed Wal-Mart is also within the town boundaries.

  • Schueler showed a new plan for Baptist Road with up to seven lanes to address the expected increase in congestion. Improvements were identified as those to be paid for by the developer of the Monument Marketplace and those to be paid for by the Wal-Mart Public Improvement Corporation (PIC). Schueler said the PIC will not participate in the improvement to the Baptist Road interchange but may pay for an extra lane to be built in the eastbound direction from the northbound I-25 exit ramp to Jackson Creek Parkway. Schueler added that the PIC would not pay for mouse habitat to offset that needed to add the lane. CDOT owns the mouse habitat south of Baptist Road that would be affected and is opposed to providing habitat mitigation for the project.

  • Schueler reported that the Monument Board of Trustees approved the Monument Marketplace. He noted that the Triview Metropolitan District has assumed full cost responsibility for infrastructure improvements including extending Jackson Creek Parkway from Baptist Road to Higby Road and extending Leather Chaps Road to the Parkway. The town is considering how much sales tax revenue from the Marketplace to give to Triview to help with road construction costs. He added that the Marketplace will add significant traffic to Baptist Road and other roads in the area including Highway 105 and the associated I-25 interchange.

Department of Transportation Report

Andre Brackin of El Paso County Department of Transportation briefed the board next.

  • BRRTA needs to clear the Baptist Road corridor to allow the developers to implement their construction plans by obtaining right-of-way access, utility relocations, and environmental evaluations that may be needed if federal funding is sought.

  • CLC Associates, design consultant for the Monument Marketplace and Wal-Mart projects, may do some environmental mitigation work but not all that is required of BRRTA, hence BRRTA needs to hire its own environmental consultant and a primary engineering consultant to coordinate the efforts of all the various developer consultants

  • Wal-Mart will be doing a number of improvements, though less than originally thought. Wal-Mart will design Baptist Road from Leather Chaps west to Jackson Creek Parkway and Jackson Creek Parkway south of Baptist Road to the Struthers Ranch parcel. The latter requires Wal-Mart’s consultants to obtain right-of-way access from the Struthers Ranch landowner.

  • The Wal-Mart PIC will not pay for construction of the bridge in Struthers Ranch. Glenn asked, "Then who is going to do it?" Although no answer was given at this meeting, in prior meetings, county administrator Terry Harris said the county would pay for it. The bridge would span mouse habitat. The cost has been estimated at $1 million to $2 million.

  • Brackin said CLC is doing a right-of-way study for the four-lane section of Jackson Creek Parkway south of Baptist Road. The county has 60 feet of right-of-way but needs to buy another 22 feet. Brackin said this would require condemnation of private property of landowners in Chaparral Hills.

  • CLC has done three right-of-way studies on Struthers Road and they are doing a study on cut and fill slopes to change the grade of Baptist Road up to Leather Chaps. Glenn asked if CLC was looking at utility relocation and if BRRTA was going to have to do right-of-way studies for Baptist Road east of Leather Chaps. Brackin replied yes to both questions.

Baptist Road design contract

Brackin continued:

  • Although BRRTA’s design consultant Loris and Associates was originally tasked to evaluate all potential Baptist Road improvements, other consultants such as CLC are providing information on some of the improvements, to satisfy a variety of clients and government agencies. This evolution would normally require a new request for proposal (RFP), not limited to Loris. County commissioner Chuck Brown asked if there was any advantage to getting a different contractor than Loris. Brackin said the project would fall behind due to the time needed for RFP process. Brown asked Schueler about the timing of Wal-Mart issues to be presented to the BOCC. Schueler said it might be possible for the county planning commission to hold a hearing on Wal-Mart August 26. He said October was about the earliest the BOCC might hold a hearing on the project. Schueler said the earliest possible timing for a building permit would May 2004.

  • Glenn asked if Loris had "deciphered who owns all the affected property?" Brackin said yes to some extent, but that a right-of-way agent would need to be hired. He said that surveying the property and generating the legal descriptions would take from six to twelve months. Glenn asked if Loris was working on that. Brackin replied that they were, through a variety of agents who have the appropriate topographical data and planometrics to be integrated into the design. Glenn asked who chooses the subcontractors. Brackin said it would be Loris if their contract is extended as prime or it could be the right-of-way agent if BRRTA designated the latter as the prime. Glenn asked when this type of work would be done east of Leather Chaps. Brackin said it depends on Wal-Mart’s proposal sequencing.

  • Konarski asked "Why not have Wal-Mart’s consultant do all of Baptist Road east of Jackson Creek Parkway and bill back to BRRTA for it?" Brackin said that Wal-Mart was not interested in doing that. He added that CLC might be interested in doing the work east of Leather Chaps directly for BRRTA. Glenn asked about the timing for an RFP for this part of the work compared to simply extending Loris’s contract. Brackin said about 8 weeks, but perhaps as few as 5 if the RFP process was accelerated and focused. He noted that this decision is the critical path for accomplishing that part of the road construction. Glenn asked James Hunsaker from Grimshaw & Harring, BRRTA’s attorney, if they should hire Loris for Phase II or do an RFP. Hunsaker said they could not hire anyone other than Loris without undergoing an RFP process.

  • Glenn said he preferred an RFP process because he was not too happy with Loris. Brown thought Loris was doing fine. A motion to have Loris do some right-of-way work on a contract extension received a 3-2 vote with Konarski and Bensberg voting no. Glenn asked for a motion for an RFP for the rest of the work being currently considered. Brown reiterated that Loris has designed much of the work already, they had done the work properly, and there was no reason for delay. The motion to make an RFP passed 4-1, Brown voting no. Konarski directed the staff to get the RFP done in one month.

Payment of bills

Despite some confusion regarding which amounts applied to which change requests from Loris, payment of all bills was unanimously approved.

New accountant selected

At the April meeting, Konarski asked that a local auditor be selected to replace Clifton/Gunderson, the parent company of Shepherd’s employer, and only BKD responded to the RFP. They were unanimously approved. Shepherd then noted that Clifton/Gunderson had prepared the second quarter financial report despite not having a contract.

Creekside Middle School fee dispute

Hunsaker said there had been no meaningful discussions or progress in the past year on the dispute with the Lewis-Palmer School District over BRRTA’s claim for payment of a $60,000 to $100,000 fee for Creekside Middle School. Williams offered to conduct a one-on-one discussion with someone from the school district, but said the settlement would have to be considered at a public meeting. Brown said that no one member could speak for BRRTA. Konarski said a lower fee should be proposed as a basis for discussion. Brown replied that he did not know these people or their position and that he did not want to be put in a box by Konarski’s proposal. Bensberg suggested they all get together to work out a compromise. Shepherd said they needed to get it done soon so the outgoing school district superintendent and incoming superintendent could both participate for continuity. Glenn said he was disappointed the school district had avoided payment for a full year.

The meeting adjourned at 2:46 p.m.

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The next meeting of the BRRTA board of directors will be Friday, Oct. 10, 1:30 p.m., Monument Town Hall, 166 2nd St.

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

To get more information and provide comments on the Baptist Road Improvement Project, contact:

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Stephenson joins Triview board

Web Site Exclusive: View photos of the Triview Metro meeting July 23

By John Heiser

The Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors held its regular meeting July 23. It was announced that director Jim Perry resigned due to heavy workload with his commercial real estate business and health issues. G. B. "Steve" Stephenson, a resident of the Heights at Jackson Creek, was unanimously appointed to fill the vacancy. His position, along with the positions occupied by Kathy Walters and Gary Walters, will be up for election in April 2004.

Stephenson likened the appointment to the rush he got, "Hitting a hole in one yesterday after 56 years playing golf."

Monument planning department report

Ron Simpson, manager of the district, read the following highlights from a written report from Mike Davenport, Monument assistant town manager and town planner:

  • On July 21, the board of trustees approved the Third Amended Development and Rezoning plan for Regency Park.

  • Also on July 21, the board of trustees approved the final PD site plan for the Monument Marketplace.

  • The planning commission will hold a work session and hearing Aug. 13 on the update to the Monument comprehensive plan. Simpson said, "Ninety percent of the changes we requested are in the comp plan."

2002 audit

Jim Thieme, accountant for the district, and auditor Jim Giblin, a CPA with Hoelting and Company, presented a summary of the audit of the district for the calendar year ending Dec. 31, 2002, and compared the results with those for 2001. Some highlights:

  • Total district debt increased from $21 million at the end of 2001 to $24.1 million at the end of 2002. Of the $3.1 million increase, there were $570,826 in supplemental bonds, $1.7 million in advances from the developer, and $802,903 in unpaid interest.

  • Water and Wastewater Fund revenues declined from $1.8 million in 2001 to $1.6 million in 2002, attributable to a $450,150 reduction in tap fees due to slowing housing starts. This led to a net loss for the fund of $796,904 in 2002, versus a loss of $468,633 in 2001.

  • The General Fund declined from $343,816 at the end of 2001 to $53,774 at the end of 2002.

  • The value of General Fixed Assets increased from $5.4 million at the end of 2001 to $6.4 million at the end of 2002.

Giblin remarked, "For a small district, the numbers are big."

Parkway design

Rick Blevins, construction manager for Jackson Creek Land Company and Vision Development, reported that the design of Jackson Creek Parkway from Baptist Road north to Higby Road is nearing completion. Within the next few weeks, the district will advertise for bids to construct the road.

Phase G financing plan

The roadway, water, wastewater, reuse water, and drainage improvements associated with the Marketplace project are collectively labeled Phase G.

Pete Susemihl, attorney for the district, reported that an arrangement regarding Phase G financing has been reached with Tim and Tom Phelan, principals in Colorado Structures, Jackson Creek Land Company, Vision Development, and Centre Development and the primary holders of the existing debt. Susemihl said the property tax mill levy cap on the new bonds will be 54 mills. He said the existing bonds held by the Phelans will be subordinated to the new debt and the repayment plan will be capped at 25 mills, unless the district runs into financial difficulty and the Phelans have to provide additional funding to pay for operations and maintenance. In that case, the cap would rise to about 32.5 mills to offset reductions in assessed values imposed by the Gallagher Amendment.

Sam Sharp, vice president of Kirkpatrick Pettis, a Denver bond agent, added that of the proposed $15 million Phase G bond issue, the proceeds will be about $11.5 million. The remaining $3.5 million will go to bond agent and attorney fees and other costs associated with selling the bonds.

As to the question of how much will be used for infrastructure and how much will be used to retire old high-interest bonds, Blevins said, "We will put infrastructure up for one user." Susemihl added, "We will agree among ourselves that if no additional user appears, we will ask for an amendment to pay debt."

That raised the question of what would happen if another user appeared just after the decision was made to use the remaining money to pay off the old debt. Citing the lead time to obtain additional funding, Stephenson said, "It seems to me you shoot yourself in the foot." Blevins replied that in that circumstance, the Phelans would probably be willing to issue additional debt.

Stephenson asked how close the district is to its maximum capacity for bonded indebtedness. Sharp said, "We are pretty much maxing your capacity now." Sharp added that the district would have to see increased assessed property values to issue additional debt.

Director Martha Gurnick likened the district’s delicate balancing act carrying this much debt to "…a seal with a ball on his nose."

Sharp said the current rate is about 1.5 percent on 30-year bonds, with an annually adjustable rate. He said the five-year fixed rate on 30-year bonds is about 3.5 percent. Sharp acknowledged that rates are likely to be higher in the future.

Blevins said the Phelans think the district should opt for the one-year adjustable debt. That would reduce the debt service by about $300,000 per year at first. That reduction in interest payments on the new debt would be available to put toward accrued interest on the old high-interest bonds. Blevins added, "Cash flows will be higher further out where the debt service increases." Sharp added, "Rates are unlikely to go up that much." Director Linda Jones was skeptical saying, "Nobody would have predicted what has happened [to interest rates]."

Sharp said that the initial term would be picked to synchronize the bond cycle with the board’s calendar year mill levy setting cycle.

The board voted unanimously to proceed with the bond issue and set the initial term to coincide with the end of 2003.

District engineer’s report

Chuck Ritter, district engineer from Nolte, reported on discussions regarding the sewer line to serve the Marketplace. He said the goal is to avoid having to redo the sewer line when the interchange is reworked. The line will be buried 3 to 4 feet deep. Simpson added that care must be taken to avoid the fiber optic cable along the Struthers frontage road. Ritter commented that plans for constructing the portion in Baptist Road are complicated.

Ritter reported on the flow analysis for firefighting water for the Marketplace. He noted that CLC’s design that calls for a 12-inch looped line should be more than adequate.

Wal-Mart Status

Simpson said a revised letter has been submitted regarding the district’s water availability. He said no waiver of the county’s 300-year rule will be required for Wal-Mart.

Simpson said that based on discussions with the county, it appears the required changes to Baptist Road where it crosses Jackson Creek can be done within the existing right-of-way. He said that mouse habitat mitigation remains an issue.

Blevins added that the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has purchased land for mouse habitat mitigation. He said, "The question is, Will they allow us to use that part of their permit? If not then we must amend the district’s 404 permit, which will take nine months to a year."

Marketplace Status

Blevins announced that Home Depot has signed as the first major Marketplace tenant. It plans to occupy the 102,000-square-foot pad on the south side of the site. Susemihl added, "Home Depot isn’t going to sit out there by itself for long."

Blevins reported that the Monument Board of Trustees approved the Marketplace final PD site plan on July 21. He noted some major conditions of the approval:

  • Expansion of Baptist Road from Jackson Creek Parkway to I-25 including the crossing of Jackson Creek.

  • Improved roadway connections to the properties on the south side of the site.

  • Improvements in the slopes and height difference compared to the properties to the south.

He added that construction of Home Depot is expected to start in September.

Monument participation in parkway costs

Simpson reported that he made a presentation to the Monument Board of Trustees, seeking participation in the cost of constructing Jackson Creek Parkway. The trustees requested a financial analysis. Simpson distributed copies of his analysis that will be discussed at the Monument board meeting Aug. 4.

The analysis was based on an estimated cost for the parkway of $4.25 million, with Monument rebating $2 million in sales tax revenue over eight to 15 years to help defray the costs.

Half the scenarios in the analysis looked at Home Depot being the only Marketplace tenant. The other half assumed complete build-out of all 658,000 square feet of the Marketplace. Total sales at Home Depot were assumed to peak at $20 million per year after four years. Total annual sales for the entire Marketplace were assumed to peak at $42 million after eight years. In each case, the revenues were projected to decline somewhat after 15 years due to new development and competition.

The current agreement with the town calls for the 3 percent local sales tax to be split equally between the town and the district. Simpson suggested that a split in which the town keeps 0.25 percent or 0.5 percent to cover administrative costs would be best. Triview would then get 2.75 percent or 2.5 percent. Simpson added, "This is not money out of their budget. It is new money they haven’t seen yet."

As to why the town would agree, Susemihl said, "We can say to them, ‘You can stick at 1½ percent and we might sit and not do the parkway.’" Simpson said, "We are going to do it regardless."

Well D7

Simpson reported that two bids were received to drill Denver aquifer well D7 needed for Myles Grant’s Jackson Creek Filing 5 project. The cost is to be paid by the Public Facilities Authority (PFA) formed for the project. The board unanimously approved the bid by Hinkle for $150,624.

Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion

Simpson reported that Dana Duthie, manager of the Donala water and sanitation district that serves Gleneagle, has approached Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) about connecting to the city’s planned new north side wastewater treatment plant. If that is approved by the city, Simpson said, Triview could buy Donala’s interest in the current treatment plant south of Baptist Road for about $1.3 million. He said that would mean expansion of the current jointly owned plant could be deferred for eight to 10 years. He said if Duthie’s proposal is rejected, "We need to start [the design of the expansion] yesterday" and construction would need to start in 2005. [Subsequent to this meeting, OCN learned from Duthie that the Donala district has decided not to pursue connecting to CSU’s new wastewater treatment plant at this time due to the prohibitive cost.

New Water Rates

The board approved a request from Dale Hill, administrator for the district, to base sewer charges for new customers on the district average water usage.

Public Input

Jackson Creek resident Phillip Beaudoin asked how Baptist Road improvements are being funded. Susemihl replied that they will be paid for by the Wal-Mart Public Improvement Corporation (PIC) and CDOT. CDOT has announced they will not have funds for this project until 2008 at the earliest. The PIC will not have funds unless the county approves the Wal-Mart project. Susemihl omitted mention of Baptist Road funding by the district, although that has been implied in Marketplace presentations.

Beaudoin asked about the board’s decision to accept a halving of the district’s share of the PIC retail sales fee. Susemihl replied, "We were hoping to get more, but there was no agreement."

Beaudoin asked whether the district might have more leverage if the Wal-Mart were a tenant of the Marketplace. Susemihl replied, "It is too late for that."

Jackson Creek resident Sonja Beaudoin said, "We are very pleased that Steve Stephenson joined the board."

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The Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors normally meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month, 4:30 p.m., at the district offices, 174 N. Washington St. The next meeting will be held Aug. 27. For further information, contact the Triview Metropolitan District at 488-6868.

Web Site Exclusive: View photos of the Triview Metro meeting July 23

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WIA reviewed Walters multifamily project July 10

View a map and photo of the Walters' Property

By Chris Pollard

The major item of interest for the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) was, again, discussion of the Walters property and the proposed development of the southwest corner of Woodmoor Drive, just east of Lewis-Palmer Middle School. Around 80 people showed up to a WIA town meeting July 10 and were led through the details of the proposal by representatives of the landscape architects, developer, and builder, Pulte Homes.

The proposed houses provoked some disagreement in terms. While the zoning is for multifamily, which implies occupants in the same building living over one another, the actual homes proposed are terraced, attached, or row-type homes—sharing a common wall but not living over each other. The homes would be between 1,100 and 1,600 square feet in two types: one with two levels and the other with three. Drawings and pictures of similar houses that had been built elsewhere were shown but caused some confusion because the builder said that in reality the finishes would be different and the three-level version would actually be partially buried to comply with WIA rules. The houses would be constructed in rows of between three and five houses. Drawings and plans of the layout and appearance were shown but again caused confusion because the layout was not firm and the overall appearance used the pictures of houses from another area and did not show the promised berms around them.

The developer went to some effort to point out that the alternative to this development—which reserves most of the land, about 130 acres, for green space adjacent to other WIA lots—would have been to develop all the land at two houses per acre. As it is, the conservation easement that is proposed for the open space will allow some input from the neighbors and residents of the new development.

The builder was still working on the proposed appearance of the homes, so it was difficult to judge what the final "look" will be. Because of WIA rules, the roof lines and sides had to be "broken up" so there were different textures and surfaces. Negotiations are ongoing as to how much the buildings can be sunk into the ground because WIA rules restrict grading. In order to screen the homes from the surrounding area, it was proposed that a berm roughly 6 feet high and 25 feet wide be constructed. As noted before, there were no renderings of the berm or the trees that might potentially be on it. Another contradiction regarded parking spaces: County rules require 100 more spaces than the WIA requires, when for aesthetics and solar heating considerations it would be desirable to have less.

When it came time for questions, the atmosphere turned somewhat tense. Many neighbors are concerned about the traffic and the number of houses. In real terms, the number of units would be roughly similar if the whole of the land had been developed as standard single-family homes, increasing the total for the whole area by more than 50 percent.

More specific concerns were over the density in the small areas immediately adjacent to current Woodmoor homes. It was not clear whether or not the plans were for smaller units to be placed there. Another issue was whether over time, once the first owners had moved on, the units would be turned into rental homes.

Reassurances were given as to the quality of construction, the roofing (which would conform to WIA standards), and exterior surfaces, which would be of masonry and Hardiplank, a very durable fiber cement siding.

Reassurances were also given about lighting. In some respects, the developers are governed by county rules but say they are doing their best to reduce lighting by clustering the homes with the roads on the inside. Porch lights would be individually switched, and the only required lighting would be for the mailbox clusters.

The next step is for more complete plans to be presented to the WIA Architectural Control Committee, which must approve certain aspects of the development before the project can proceed to the county planning commission.

View a map and photo of the Walters' Property

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Planning commission Flying Horse Ranch hearing Aug. 7

By Jim Kendrick

About 50 area residents met with representatives from Classic Communities on July 28 to discuss the proposed Flying Horse Ranch project. The project is proposed to be built over the next 10 years on 1,565 acres west of Highway 83 and south of Northgate Road to the Pikes Peak Community College campus. Hosted by the Abert Estates Home Owners Association (AEHOA), Classic Communities listed changes in the plan since a similar presentation on May 15, 2002.

The representatives of Classic said most changes were driven by the refusal of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to pay for the Powers Boulevard interchange within the parcel that is now proposed to include 3,975 dwellings housing an estimated 16,000 residents, as well as three District 20 schools, business parks, and industrial zones. Classic said it could not afford to build the interchange either. All of the residents who spoke opposed the project. The city planning commission is expected to hold a hearing on the plan Aug. 7.

John Madden, president of AEHOA, introduced Drew Balsick, Classic Communities’ vice president and project manager for Flying Horse Ranch; John Maynard, a land planning and landscape consultant from N.E.S.; and Bob Tegler, of the Colorado Springs Planning Department. Richard Marciniak, former AEHOA president, spoke after the presentations.

Maynard outlined the latest proposal, which increases the number of dwelling units from 3,650 to 3,975. 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 168 acres of "Office/Industrial" across from Abert Estates has been reduced to 30 acres of "Office" now located on the south side of the entrance to the development opposite Abert Way. The office/industrial acreage has been replaced with 70 acres of "village" designation (700 units) and 62 acres of "residential" (190 units). The 16 acres (305 units) of multifamily dwellings opposite and just north of Shoup Road have been eliminated. Maynard said the reason for these changes was the inadequate access for commercial traffic now that there will be no Powers Boulevard exit in the area previously planned for industrial use. There will also be no access to Powers from within the development. Maynard noted that giving up 100 acres of Powers Boulevard right-of-way bisecting the property was still the primary determinant in developing the design. Previous Classic efforts, costing $180,000 over 18 months, were unsuccessful in having Powers connection to I-25 rerouted away from the project.

The 229 acres for a private golf course—which Marciniak said would require 500,000 gallons of water per day—and conference center-resort, and the 80-acre K-12 school site are unchanged. Marciniak said the project’s trail system will connect the New Santa Fe Trail to Black Forest Regional Park, but did not say how this would be accomplished. Classic will own, operate, and maintain all project parks and will create its own metropolitan district for that purpose, rather than donate the land to the city to maintain.

In August 2000, Classic submitted an annexation request to Colorado Springs. Classic does not want the land to be annexed unless the zoning is changed and their development plan is approved, a common developer practice in Colorado Springs. Upon annexation, Classic would transfer its water rights for all the land to the city. These rights are: 126 acre-feet from the Dawson aquifer, 1,173 acre-feet from the Denver aquifer, 608 acre-feet from the Arapahoe aquifer, and 446 acre-feet from the Laramie-Fox Hills aquifer. The water rightsand the property taxes from 16,000 residents are the primary reasons the city is interested in annexing Flying Horse Ranch. The city would provide wastewater treatment via the current Las Vegas Street facility. Classic proposes buying back the water rights for 250 to 300 acre-feet (82 million-98 million gallons) per year and drilling into the Denver aquifer in order to irrigate the golf course and parks. Marciniak noted that this promise is not in writing nor notarized and that the city could change this proposal.

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."

The first phase of development will be at the north end of the project, between the current Northgate Road and the new straighter Northgate Road, to be built straight east of the 90-degree bend in the road that currently goes around the steeply-sloped Smith Creek drainage. School construction would start after the Colorado Springs planning commission meeting Aug. 7. District 20 needs the middle school to be opened next summer and wants the elementary school to open six months later. Multifamily areas will not be developed until the market for them rebounds.

Citizens complained strongly that Maynard’s presentation clearly shows that the master plan guidelines are not being met. Marciniak stated that the desired density transition—from highest at the south and west borders to lowest at the north and east borders—was still diametrically opposite to what Classic has planned. Tegler said that despite this, the city planning staff will recommend the plan for approval. Marciniak praised the four-lane stretch of Highway 83 that Classic proposes building from Shoup Road to the old Northgate Road intersection and the four additional traffic lights that will make the highway safer.

Several citizens said one purpose of the annexation was to have only non-city residents in opposition. Tegler said the city planning staff had heard the county citizens’ complaints but were still recommending the approval of the project. . Many citizens told Tegler they didn’t think he was doing his job. When asked what would prevent Classic from increasing the density for every part of the project throughout each successive round of hearings, Tegler replied, "Nothing."

Marciniak urged all residents to attend the meeting and voice their concerns about the developer and planner ignoring all three master plans and the current zoning, and the failure to enforce appropriate density transitions. He said that the annexation was a done deal, no matter what, and that citizens needed to focus on demanding reasonable modifications to the Classic proposal that conform to the master plans’ recommended density transitions.

For example, Marciniak suggested the focus be on the use of 500,000 gallons of water per day by the proposed golf course rather than on the fact it would be the third in an area where the other two golf courses are bankrupt. He said the new plan will still have a devastating impact on adjacent properties but that residents need to work to reduce the plan’s repugnance as much as possible. Madden, Balsic, and Tegler had no comment when asked directly if this negative effect on neighboring property values was inevitable.

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The project is expected to be heard by the Colorado Springs planning commission on Aug. 7; however, no agenda has been published for the meeting. The City Council is tentatively set to hold two hearings on the preliminary plan and annexation on Oct. 14 and Oct. 28.

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.

  • 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.

Information on the original proposal is at http://www.ourcommunitynews.org/v2n6.htm

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Light Pollution, Part I

By Chris Rasmussen

In the early morning hours of Jan. 17, 1994, thousands of residents of southern California were shaken from their beds before sunrise by the Northridge earthquake. With electric power knocked out over wide areas of the Los Angeles basin, these unwilling early risers were stunned to see something in the sky many of them had never seen before—STARS! And lots of them. So unusual was this that hundreds of people called local emergency lines to ask if the sudden brightening of the stars had somehow caused the earthquake! Of course, it was the earthquake that had turned out the man-made lights normally beaming up from the ground and seemingly turned on the stars.

Here in the Tri-Lakes area, we have not yet raised a generation of residents who are unable to see the stars above us, but it is easy to see how it could happen. Look to the south toward Colorado Springs at night—that glow you see in the sky is the visible manifestation of light pollution. Look to the north and you can see the glow of distant Denver, even on seemingly clear nights. With the northward advance of development from Colorado Springs and growth in the Tri-Lakes area, we are beginning to establish the elements that may, slowly but perceptibly, blind us to the stars of the night sky that are, at present, readily seen.

Light pollution. What is it? What causes it? The answers to these and other questions, and the actions we take when we have the answers, will determine whether we will continue to enjoy the glittering stars and the awe-inspiring Milky Way, in view above northern El Paso County.

If there is pollution, there must be a polluter. In the case of light pollution, the polluter is, simply put, all of us. Not all light contributes to light pollution, but certain types and sources of light are the major contributors to that glow above the Springs, Denver, and other urban areas in the country and around the world. The worst culprit is most often streetlights, simply because there are tens of thousands of them lining most streets and highways. They quite often light the roads and sidewalks beneath and the open air around and above them. This characteristic of lamps, glowing in all directions, is an important link in the reduction of light pollution and will be discussed later in this series.

Another major source of sky glow is parking lots, which are numerous and often well-lit. Again, the type of light fixtures being used makes all the difference. Light that beams out to the sides and upward contributes to sky glow and creates glare. Illumination of buildings and landscaping by lights that beam upward from the ground are inherently light polluting unless they are well shielded to prevent beaming in directions other than toward the intended target. And we’ve all seen those lamps mounted on the sides of commercial or government buildings that glow with white intensity all night long. Look at them closely and you will see that the light from those lamps travels in all directions because there is nothing to prevent it; they’re essentially bare bulbs glaring outward from a simple box.

Then there is the exterior lighting we have on and around our houses—the bare floodlights and household bulbs, even decorative carriage lamps and sconces we often let burn all night. These also contribute their share of sky glow. Multiply the lamps on our one little old house by the hundreds and thousands of bare lamps on the hundreds and thousands of houses in our town, and you can see the pollution potential.

The type of lamp used contributes to—or helps moderate—the unwanted dispersion of light into the sky. Mercury vapor, metal halide, and high pressure sodium vapor lamps—often cheap and always bright—are major contributors to the glow if not shielded or filtered. Sodium vapor and other types often used in streetlights, commercial fixtures, and cheap exterior home security lamps also contribute disproportionately to the sky glow because of the particular characteristics of the light they give off. On the other hand, there are light sources that do not contribute much to the skyward beaming because of their less-penetrating, less-glaring attributes. Among the best substitutes for mercury vapor and high pressure sodium vapor lamps are, for example, low pressure sodium vapor lamps.

Lighting that contributes to the sky glow effect are also usually most responsible for glare, that annoying and dangerous condition when lights before and around us are so bright they overwhelm the ability of our eyes to adjust to them. The hazardous side effects of glare from badly or improperly positioned light fixtures contribute to auto accidents and to situations in which pedestrians are hit by cars; those drivers were partially blinded by overly bright lights in the surrounding area, often around buildings and parking lots. Use of 150- or 200-watt bulbs, when 60 watts would suffice, and use of light fixtures that point horizontally rather than downward toward the ground are common causes of glare.

In part 2 of this series, we will explore a relative of light pollution, something closer to home and often much more personal: light trespass.

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Letters to Our Community

When will it all end?

Those of us who pay attention to local government and how they use our tax dollars should not be surprised by the inefficient use of those dollars by the elected boards and the lack of public involvement by voters.

In this vein, let us review the latest scheme by the Board of Trustees for the town of Monument concerning an unnecessary new Town Hall. Taking a page from the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners—who thumbed their collective noses at the voting public last November when they went ahead with their Jail Expansion Scheme (after the voters turned it down at the polls)—the Board of Trustees have decided the location, scale, and possibly the design for a new Town Hall on a piece of property owned by another local government, namely the school district. Note that anyone giving land to the town of Monument under this administration should put a reverter clause on the deed, since this administration likes to give away public property as they did with lakefront property last January to a private owner—whose political support was instrumental in getting most of this Board of Trustees elected. Nice payback, or what?

The voting public should ask this question of this untrustworthy Board of Trustees: What should be the public process for deciding whether a new Town Hall is needed, where it should be located, and what the design should be? I would suggest that what is most needed is to relocate the Town Yard out of the residential section of the town as a first priority. Next would be a new police station. The current Town Hall is sufficient for the existing staff and other functions. When a large investment will indebt the town over many years, the TABOR amendment to the state constitution requires a vote of the people who have to pay the taxes for such large-scale public structures. Further, to garner public support, they need to be involved in the process. An example of this would be, if the need for these public structures can be verified, then at a minimum, three viable alternatives should be presented. In the case of the new Town Hall, these could be: 1.) siting this structure east of I-25, 2.) siting this structure west of I-25, and 3.) expanding the current site.

However, those poor voters who live in the Triview Metro District, which is known locally as Jackson Creek, have not had any past or present participation in the massive debt increases of $4 million during 2001, $6 million in 2002, and possibly another $12 million in 2003. This board has raised the mill levy cap to over 50 mills, larger than the school district’s. All of this has been done without a vote by the voters, who should be asking, Under TABOR, is this legal?

At the same time, the county commissioners are at it again by considering the latest Wal-Mart application, which will create traffic jams along Baptist Road. The county has even entered into negotiations with the private developers to use public funds to build the needed roadways. The plan has numerous flaws, but the public needs to ask, Who is benefiting by this scheme?

Remember Thomas Jefferson’s words, "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance."

Leon Tenney

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Open Letter to the Monument Board of Trustees

I have read in the paper that Monument has been asked by the Triview Metropolitan District to forfeit all or part of the town’s share of sales tax revenue derived from the Marketplace to the district. I do not blame Triview for asking but I do not understand why you would agree to do that. There are two basic reasons changing the split in revenue with Triview is not in the town’s best interest.

First, do you remember the reason Wal-Mart is not within the town limits of Monument? It is because Triview betrayed a longtime understanding with the town that everyone Triview served would be within the Monument town limits. Have you forgotten that Monument would have derived upwards of $1 million per year in sales tax revenue had the Wal-Mart store annexed to Monument? Triview has not been a good partner to Monument, and it is time Monument looks out for its own interest just as Triview always has.

Second, I believe the town will need all of the revenue from the Marketplace to maintain its income level. It is my understanding that Home Depot has been signed by the Marketplace to be one of the anchors for the center. That is great, but has Monument considered the loss in revenue to the town if Home Depot comes in? It is my understanding that at this time the town receives 3 percent of all sales from the Foxworth-Galbraith lumber yard; however, because of the split with Triview, Monument will receive only 1 ½ percent of the sales from Home Depot. Surely you realize that Home Depot will not generate all new income. Rather, a large percentage of their sales will be at the expense of Foxworth-Galbraith. I think there will be very little increase, if any, in tax revenue generated from the Home Depot because of the split with Triview. By giving away the split you are entitled to, I think it is possible the town will receive less net revenue from the two stores than what it is currently receiving from Foxworth-Galbraith alone.

As a developer, I think I have a good grasp of all the issues involved, and I can see no reason—given the past history between Triview and Monument—why I would even consider sacrificing Monument’s share of revenue to Triview. It is not in Monument’s best interest to further dilute its share of revenue. Monument can best be served by keeping its share of the revenue generated by the Marketplace to provide the town with an additional long-term, adequate tax base.

Triview’s best interest is directly opposed to Monuments best interest. By Triview’s past actions it has proven it will work against Monument’s interest to serve its own. It is doing the same thing this time. If I sat on the Board of Trustees, I would welcome the Marketplace to town. I would remember who my friends are and who I am representing and tell Triview to take a hike. When you consider their proposal to increase their split of the shares, do not forget: Triview is not Monument’s friend.

Dale R Turner

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High Country Highlights: Gardening Tips for Water Restrictions

By Woody Woodworth

The following are some rules-of-thumb suggestions for getting your garden through drought conditions and the tight watering restrictions many cities and towns have had to enact. These ideas are all part of good Xeriscape gardening principles and will help your garden be much healthier now and in the future.

New plantings and their watering requirements

  • Very xeric native shrubs/trees will establish on potable water irrigation once a week. A 5-gallon potted xeric shrub or tree generally needs 5 gallons of water applied once a week.

  • Most trees, shrubs, and xeric perennials will establish on irrigation twice a week.

  • A 10-gallon tree or shrub needs 10 gallons of water applied twice a week.

  • Large balled-in-burlap trees need approximately 20 gallons of water applied twice a week. Sandy soils may require extra amounts of water.

  • Most perennials will need 1 to 2 gallons of water applied twice a week.

To make new plantings water efficient

  • Add water-holding polymer crystals to the soil or growing medium.

  • Use Vitamin B1 on all in-ground and container plantings. It takes four to eight weeks for roots to grow into the surrounding soil and begin extracting water stored in the polymer crystals.

  • Prepare the soil with ample compost mix and other soil improvement ingredients, such as EKO Compost products and Earth Essentials amendments.

  • Fortify roots with a root stimulator or liquid seaweed to encourage root growth and minimize transplanting shock. Add to your irrigation water two or three times at two-week intervals.

  • Mulch all your plantings. Perennials should be mulched to a depth of 1 to 2 inches, trees and shrubs to a depth of 3 to 4 inches. Soil Pep and small and medium bark are good examples of mulch.

  • Create a "well" for irrigation water around newly planted trees, shrubs, or perennials by making a circle of plastic edging, rocks, or rings cut from the top of a plastic nursery pot. This is highly preferable to a ring of soil that washes away or breaks down. Fill the well twice when watering, to completely saturate the soil and root ball.

  • When using drip systems, be sure at least one emitter is placed directly over the root ball. Other emitters should be placed off to the sides, to moisten the surrounding soil.

Maintaining established landscapes

  • Established landscapes (with the exception of Kentucky bluegrass) can be successfully maintained with once-a-week watering. If restrictions allow, and if necessary, water twice.

  • Set drip system timers to thoroughly soak the soil once a week instead of running it for a short duration many times per week.

  • Mulch all your established plantings. Again, perennials should be mulched to a depth of 1 to 2 inches, trees and shrubs to a depth of 3 to 4 inches.

  • Water established and mature trees and shrubs once every two to three weeks. Use drip irrigation or soaker hoses covered by a layer of mulch, to apply water most efficiently. Soak deeply.

  • Kentucky bluegrass and fescue turf grasses will struggle with a once-a-week irrigation. A wetting agent sprayed over the lawn can improve water penetration. Rent an aerator to plug the lawn. Then top-dress with a half-inch layer of EKO Compost to mulch the roots. Remember that non-native turf lawns use up to 75 percent of your landscape’s total water needs. Let Kentucky bluegrass die out so it can be replaced with native grass in future years. Dead bluegrass can have fescue blends planted right through it.

Woody Woodworth owns High Country Feed & Garden and is a member of Garden Centers of Colorado and the Green Industry

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Busy Beats Boredom

By Judith Pettibone

The "dog days of summer" not only conjures up the panting family pup spread-eagled on the coolest surface it can find; but it also speaks to moms and dads counting to ten before responding to "I’m bored" or to that dreaded "are we there yet?" question. Books to the rescue!

I Spy: Extreme Challenger!
Scholastic Press, $13.95

This "book of picture riddles" is well named. Each page is a photographically vivid montage with a rhymed riddle beneath. When you find all the items, you have unraveled the riddle. This is not as easy as it sounds. I Spy would make a good group or solo activity. For the young ones, there is a boxed board book set called Little Learning Box of numbers, letters and a toddler edition of I Spy.

DK Eyewitness Books
Dorling Kindersly, $15.96

While not activities book per se, these beautifully photographed, encyclopedic explorations of one subject is the perfect way to encourage a passion or suggest one. The breadth of the series subject material is substantial, tackling such diverse topics as whales, baseball, media and communications, mythology, costumes, cowboys, watercolor and weather. For example, in the whale book, one can find information on the evolution of the whale, historic information, whale vocalization, descriptions of specific whales and much more.

My First Jumbo Book of Letters
Scholastic Press, $9.95

This is a great book for the toddler waiting in a doctor’s office or sitting in a car seat. This book features sturdy lift-up flaps, touch-and-feels, movable parts, and a pop-up, too. Because it has lots of these "to do" activities, it might be nice to have an older helper (good sibling activity) at the child’s side. The series also includes colors, numbers and things that go.

Book of Lists
Scholastic Press, $8.95

What a fun way to play ‘car trivia’. When the "social director" in the front seat runs out of ideas for roadside bingo, tell the back seat crew to open a notebook and then reach for the "Book of Lists." Open the book to almost any page and there is a built in game. For example, there is a page on initials and what they stand for or a page with the warmest and coldest states. Each quiz could have a winner, perhaps with a prize at the end of the trip for the most accomplished "lister."

All-American Car-I-Oke
$14.95

Do you like to sing but never know the lyrics? Or do you try to start a family sing-a-long but the kids don’t know the words? Again, here is a book to the rescue. Cleverly packaged with CD and three songbooks (for the ‘back seat’, ‘the way back seat’, and the ‘extra edition for extra singers who don’t feel like sharing’) this book puts karaoke in the car. It also comes with a manual including extra goodies like chords for songs, trivia, additional verses and even a harmonica lesson (maybe best saved for when you get home). Now why didn’t I think of this?

Fun Places to Go with Children in Colorado
2nd Edition, $11.95
By Meitus and Thorn

This family guide will help you find over 300 kid-friendly destinations including both activities and restaurants. A jacket review from the Houston Chronicle states: "Rich with specific instructions … from Gold Rush Alley at the Keystone Resort to the cliff dwellings of the Anasazi in Mesa Verde National Park, the authors offer practical and creative suggestions." Both authors are editors for the Rocky Mountain News and are experienced travelers with small children.

Tours for Free Colorado 2003
By Jodi Jill, $16.95

This guide highlights over 100 different, unique, interesting and free tours in our fabulous state. The book is divided into regions, with one devoted to Metro Denver. The rest of the state is sectioned into geographic quadrants. There would probably be no argument as to which tour wins the ‘most unusual’ prize … how about the Antique Washing Machine Museum in Eaton, Colorado? If you need an activity for those last few weeks of summer, without straining the wallet, this book is a perfect choice.

My Vacation Album
$19.95

This selection is an appealing combination of activity book and scrapbook. The spiral bound scrapbook comes with a disposable camera and a glue stick. The first two pages ask the owner "all about me" questions. Each subsequent page is for pictures and memories from a special vacation. This might be a great gift for a grandparent to give a grandchild before a shared time together.

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Believing there is a book for every occasion is a bookseller’s mantra. This concept seems particularly apt when pondering kids and vacation time. Books truly can come to the rescue for both the child and the parent. Enjoy this last month of summer. Those school buses will be rolling before we know it.

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Trees, bugs, and stuff

By Bob Pietsch 

As a volunteer Woodmoor Forestry Tree Monitor, I have visited several properties over the past few months and must say the overall state of health of our trees is not good. The drought of the past three to five years is taking its toll. In spite of a somewhat moist spring and an occasional rain, moisture content of our trees remains well below average for this time of year. We are classified as a Red Zone, meaning we live in a high-risk fire area. This should be self-evident as we drive around and see our overcrowded forest.
As you might have noticed, there are clusters of dead trees throughout Woodmoor and elsewhere. For some of those trees along the roads (Highway 105 in particular), the magnesium chloride sprayed during the winter to reduce icing is believed to be the culprit. This seems to be a trade-off between winter highway safety and the loss of some trees along right-of-ways. I think it is a reasonable trade-off, and it is not a case of total destruction of our forests. However, the use of magnesium chloride remains a controversial subject for some. For those wishing more information on the use and effects of magnesium chloride, visit http://www.dot.state.co.us/Publications/PDFFiles/magchlorideenveffects.pdf. I do wish the state and county would get out and remove the dead trees along the right-of-ways.
Other situations involve trees that have been infested with dwarf mistletoe for many years. They are finally succumbing to this insidious parasite. As a parasite, the mistletoe gradually saps the strength from infested trees. Combine this with the drought and you have seriously stressed trees. And if this isn’t enough to kill the trees over time, the beetles (both ips and mountain pine) move in to finish the job. Add into this equation our overgrown forest, and we have an almost no-win situation. For information on dwarf mistletoe, check www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/Garden/02925.

What can we do to minimize the threats to our trees? For starters, removal of the dead trees should take priority. Fire officials characterize dead standing trees as nothing more than "matchsticks" waiting for ignition. With the entire Front Range of Colorado being second only to Florida in the number of lightning strikes, it makes sense to get rid of those dead trees. That includes taking the stumps down to ground level and chipping the slash or hauling it to the Black Forest Slash and Mulch site. Chip piles should be hauled off or scattered over the landscape as mulch.

Thinning of live trees is the most effective means of promoting a healthy forest. Many of our properties are vastly overgrown with ponderosa pines and scrub oak. Thinning reduces the forest fuel load and at the same time promotes a healthier stand of remaining trees. It is highly recommended that closely spaced trees of 4 inches or less in diameter be removed to reduce the fuel load and promote the health of remaining trees. They are unlikely to grow into healthy trees because of overcrowding and competition for water and nutrients. The next time you are out on your property, take a look upward. How many trees do you have that are nothing more than sticks with tassels on top? Get rid of them! They will never develop into worthwhile trees. To properly thin larger trees, determine the average tree diameter—measured at chest height, in inches—of five to 10 trees. Add to this average diameter the number six. The resulting number is the recommended average spacing, in feet, between trees. (Reference: Colorado State Forest Service Pamphlet #116-386.

For those of you with scrub oak growing under your decks or along the side of your house, you might as well place gasoline-soaked rags against your house. They are bad news. Trim them back at least 30 feet from your house, limb them up from the ground, and trim them down where they can’t provide ladder fuel to your pines. 

While over the years the dreaded mountain pine beetle has been our major concern, this year the lesser-known critter called the ips beetle has been occupying center stage. This rascal is usually limited to small, newly transplanted trees, slash piles, and occasionally a branch or two on larger trees. However, because of all the stress factors involved, it has chosen to make a major debut this year.

For starters, the IPS beetle becomes active and emerges from previously infested trees and slash piles when temperatures reach the 50- to 60-degree range. This means that the first of the three to four generations that occur per season began arriving as early as April, maybe even in March. There is a four-to-six-week period between generations, with overlap between each. In other words, ips beetles are a seasonlong threat. They love stressed trees, especially those with mistletoe, previous lightning strikes, construction damage, etc. Like the mountain pine beetle, they carry the blue stain fungus that clogs the "arteries" of the tree, resulting in the tree’s demise. Of course, their tunneling under the bark contributes as well. Symptoms include isolated branches dying off and/or the upper portions of the tree dying. Signs include reddish, fine sawdust in the bark crevices. Exit holes of the new generation are about the size of the tip end of a ballpoint pen. For more information check www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05558.

As I write this article, the mountain pine beetle has begun its annual attack on ponderosa pines. A new generation is emerging from trees attacked last year. There is one generation of these beetles per year, and they will be active into the early fall. Be on the lookout for globules of sap—referred to as pitch tubes or sometimes characterized as "popcorn"—on the trunks of trees, from about chest height on up to where the trunk narrows to 4-6 inches in diameter. Note that because of low moisture content in the trees, you may not see prominent pitch tubes. Prompt removal and disposal of infected trees are of paramount importance. Check www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05528 for more information.

A final note about cutting trees during the summer when the beetles are active. Fresh-cut tree logs and green slash will attract beetles. That is why it is critically important to get rid of the slash promptly and chemically treat the logs if you choose to keep them for firewood.

Additional information is available from the following sources: Colorado State Forest Service, 687-2921; and the CSU Cooperative Extension Service, 636-8921. In the meantime folks, take two aspirin, drink lots of water, and call me next year.

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Sanders’ efforts yield commemorative stamp

Debbie Sanders, longtime Tri-Lakes resident and domestic violence victims’ advocate, was recognized in Denver June 14 for her concept leading to the creation of a commemorative postage stamp to raise money for domestic violence prevention programs. The United States Postal Service unveiled the stamp design at the ceremony. Sanders’ plan was submitted to Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell in 1999 and became a reality with the successful passage of the Stamp Out Domestic Violence Stamp Act of 2002. Issuance of this semi-postal stamp is scheduled for Oct. 13.

The stamp will raise funds for domestic violence prevention and education programs. The first semi-postal stamp was the Breast Cancer Research stamp. It raised $8 million. The Postal Service sets a special rate of postage that is up to 25 percent higher than first class mail as a voluntary option, which the public may use to contribute to funding for domestic violence prevention programs. The funds realized from the sale will be paid to the Department of Justice and distributed to worthy programs.

Commitment to combating domestic violence has been an ongoing effort for Sanders. Her involvement includes training local emergency personnel in domestic violence awareness, addressing the issues of date rape and teen violence at the local high school, and acting as a domestic violence victims’ advocate with local police departments.

Palmer Lake Police Chief Dale Smith is urging all Tri-Lakes residents to purchase the Stop Family Violence stamp as a demonstration of their support in combating domestic violence.

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Special Events and Notices

Black Forest Slash-Mulch Site is open

The Black Forest Slash-Mulch program is a wildfire mitigation and recycling program of the El Paso County Solid Waste Management Department. The site accepts slash up to 6 feet in length, with a maximum diameter of 8 inches. No stumps, roots, lumber, ties, dirt, household trash, or weeds are accepted, and all loads must be covered and tied. Hours of operation are 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursdays, and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, through Sept. 14. Mulch is available on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The mulch loader fee is $3 per bucket. Those bringing their own tools may load mulch free of charge. A donation of nonperishable food will be distributed to nonprofit Black Forest organizations.

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Palmer Lake offers slash-chipping for residents

Residents of Palmer Lake can have their slash chipped on-site by the town’s new chipper. The cost is $25 for two hours. Town employees will run the chipper. Slash must be stacked at the roadside with all limbs pointing in the same direction. Call the town office at 481-2953 to arrange an appointment.

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Storytelling Festival comes to Palmer Lake

The Fifteenth Annual Rocky Mountain Storytelling Festival returns to Palmer Lake on Aug. 1 and 2. The activities take place at Palmer Lake Elementary School, with registration at 8 a.m. Participants can enjoy workshops over the two days in beginning and advanced storytelling and puppet making. An evening concert Aug. 1, from 7:30 to 10 p.m., will feature storytellers Joe Hayes, Lois Burrell, Mark Gardner, and Kate Lutz. Participants can pay for individual events. For information, call John Stansfield at (303) 660-5849 or visit http://carbon.cudenver.edu/~jbowles/festival.html.

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Woodmoor Garage Sale

The All Woodmoor Garage Sale Weekend will be held Friday, Aug. 1 and Saturday, Aug. 2 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Garage sale guide maps will be available for shoppers at the WIA office, 1691 Woodmoor Dr., and the Prudential Professional Realtors offices, 1860 Woodmoor Dr., Suite 200.

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Friends of Nature Adventure Club events

Sat., Aug. 2, 7 a.m.: Summit Pikes Peak from the west side (Craggs). Beautiful trail with wilderness views; 7 miles, challenging.

Sat. Aug 9, 8 a.m.: Pike National Forest Trail 715. This trail has many points of return for those who do not want to hike the whole trail. Moderate.

For information on the hikes, contact Sue Buell (719) 481-2474 or suebuell@earthlink.net.

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Old-fashioned Ice Cream Social with Barbershop Singers

The Palmer Lake and Monument Branch Libraries are co-hosting an ice cream social at the Palmer Lake Village Green on Friday, Aug. 8, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. This free event honors our community’s much-valued seniors and features the vocal talents of the Daytime Singers of the America the Beautiful Barbershop Chorus.

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Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce Annual Golf Tournament

The chamber’s annual golf tournament will be on Friday, Aug. 8, 8 a.m., at King’s Deer Golf Club. It’s a four-man scramble with a $125 per person entry fee. Proceeds benefit the chamber. If you are interested in sponsoring, playing, or helping the committee, please call Lee Kilbourn, 495-1995.

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Library Channel airs local program

Adelphia cable channel 17, the Library Channel, will air "Tri-Lakes Today," a 30-minute public affairs program featuring news and information about the Tri-Lakes area, on Aug. 15 & 16 at 1, 3, 5, 7, and 11 p.m.

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Matt Lang’s 5th Annual Pig Roast

Matt Lang is inviting everyone to his annual open house on Friday, August 15, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. It’s happening at the office of MR Lang Investments, 1864 Woodmoor Drive, right across the street from the Woodmoor-Monument Fire Station. Matt says, "If you visit one barbecue party this summer, make sure it’s this one!" For information, call Matt at 481-0887.

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Black Forest Festival

This event features fun for the whole family, Saturday, Aug. 16, from 6:30 a.m.–3 p.m., at Shoup & Black Forest Roads. Attractions include a pancake breakfast, parade, all day entertainment, vendor booths & flea market, kids games, lunch vendors, & ice cream parlor. For information, call Sherrie or Chuck, 495-8675.

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Masonic Lodge and Eastern Star Open House and Picnic

Families and all guests are welcome to an open house and picnic hosted by Centurian Daylight Lodge No. 195. This free event will be on Saturday, Aug. 16 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 18275 Furrow Road in Monument. Lunch will be at noon. The Lodge will give a scholarship award of $1,000 to a deserving student and $100 awards to an outstanding teacher and law enforcement individual. Order of the Eastern Star will also present a scholarship award. The award presentations begin at 2 p.m. For information, call Eddie Kinney, 481-2750.

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Estemere Tour

The Palmer Lake Historical Society has scheduled a guided tour of Estemere, the grand Victorian mansion, on Saturday, Aug. 23 at 10 a.m. The first 300 people to arrive will be admitted on the tour. This is a great chance to see how Roger and Kim Ward have restored and renovated their landmark estate. It’s also an opportunity to meet interesting people–including noted photographer John Fielder, author of Colorado, 1870-2000: William Henry Jackson and John Fielder–and hear stories about local history. Numerous booths will offer goods and refreshments, including barbecue, homemade baked goods, and the annual pie sale. To join the society or for information, phone PLHS President Sam DeFelice at 481-8623.

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Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce Business Expo coming in September

This year’s business expo, "Expose Your Business," will be held Tuesday, Sept. 16, at the Pinecrest Event Center in Palmer Lake. For information or to reserve a booth, call the chamber at 481-3282.

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Handbell ringers needed

The Tri-Lakes Community Handbell Choirs (adult and youth, 5th grade and older) will resume rehearsals in September and are in need of more ringers. If you would like to be a part of these great musical teams, contact Betty Jenik at 488-3853 or e-mail: ljenik@earthlink.net.

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Empty Bowl potters needed

The Empty Bowl Dinner, a popular fund-raising event in October, needs handmade pottery bowls. Contact Linda Pankratz, 481-3108.

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Lions Club in Tri-Lakes

A Lions Club chapter is being formed in the Tri-Lakes area. The Lions Club is a nonprofit service organization of volunteers who serve their community by providing services such as vision screenings for preschoolers, eye exams and eyeglasses for the needy, sponsoring handicapped campers for the Lions Camp in Woodland Park, sponsoring Boy Scout troops, and much more. All of the funds raised by the Lions go back into the community. For additional information, call Ralph or Karyl Thies at 488-1201.

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The Society Page: Members gather for ice cream social

Web Site Exclusive: View Photos of the Ice Cream Social

By Leon Tenney

The Palmer Lake Historical Society held its annual Ice Cream Social on July 20 at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. It was a members-only event and featured Joe Bohler playing old-time favorites on the ivories.

Many of the society’s stalwarts were present, including Virgil Watkins, Lola Thompson, Bonnie Allen, and George Reese. Apple pie and cherry pie were available with the ice cream. The entire group listened as Bohler offered his renditions of "Sentimental Journey," "Has Anybody Seen My Gal?" and "Somewhere over the Rainbow." He played nonstop for more than an hour without the need of printed music. Quite a performance!

It is not too late to join the society and visit some old-time mansions in Palmer Lake and the Broadmoor. You can join at the next event. On Aug. 23, the first 300 people to show up at Estemere in Palmer Lake will be able to tour the mansion at 10 a.m.. Along with the tour are booths featuring the annual pie sale and a barbecue. The following month, on Sept. 13, the society will visit the Broadmoor. Because of the limited number of tours, this event will be for members only. Nonmembers should sign up immediately by calling PLHS president, Sam DeFelice at 481-8623 or by visiting the Lucretia Vaile Museum. You can have a real foot-stomping times participating in these society events.

Web Site Exclusive: View Photos of the Ice Cream Social

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Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts reduces membership fees

To encourage more participation and include a broader segment of the community, the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) has reduced its membership fee schedule effective July 1. Members joining at the higher rates in May and June will have their memberships extended for two years.

Individual memberships for singles, students, and seniors have been reduced from $15 to $10. Family memberships for two or more in the same household have been reduced from $40 to $20. Two new levels have been added: An artist’s level at $30 will offer the opportunity to exhibit work in the Lucy Owens Gallery; and a gallery and business level at $75 is for members who want to support and further the mission of the art center. All membership fees include the following: free year-round gallery admission, discounts in the gift shop and for special events, invitations to receptions and special events, and eligibility for art classes.

Increasing the membership is part of the center’s new business strategy to increase its eligibility for corporate and foundation grants and funding. "Our goal is to double the center’s membership," says Sandy Kinchen, TLCA membership chairman. "But there is a more basic grassroots need, too. Once people see how much we offer, they will be willing to be more involved by donating their time and resources."

Anyone interested in getting membership information should call the TLCA at 481-0475, or log on to the Web site at www.trilakesarts.com.

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Wet and Dry exhibit opens at TLCA

View a painting from the TLCA "Wet and Dry" Exhibit

By DeAnn Hiatt Green

More than 250 people attended the July 25 opening of Wet and Dry, an exhibit at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts presented by the Pikes Peak Pastel Society (PPPS) and the Pikes Peak Watercolor Society (PPWS). Ninety-eight pieces by 48 regional artists fill the center’s galleries with images ranging from flowers to donkeys and canyonlands to cityscapes.

"This is an incredible group of artists with national reputations and international connections," says Mariya Zvonkovich, one of the exhibit’s organizers. "Their work can be found in private and public collections across the country."

For example, PPWS member Don Van Horn took this year’s silver medal at the prestigious American Watercolor Society juried show, hung at the Salmagundi Club in Manhattan. Tom Owens is another national award winner from the local society. Both artists’ works are displayed in this exhibit. Martha Mans, a PPWS exhibitor, teaches workshops in Italy.

"For its size (about 100 members), this is a very accomplished group of artists," says Zvonkovich, who is a master pastel artist exhibiting in this show and has taught international workshops in Mexico.

The PPPS is smaller (about 25 members) but growing steadily. Other pastel artists in this show are Diane Brewner and Howard Dutzi.

"We feel extremely fortunate to have such a talented group of artists represented in a show at our local arts center," said acting president and District 20 art instructor Dennis Phillips.

Most works are for sale; prices range from $100 to $3,000. The exhibit will remain on display through Aug. 22. Gallery hours are noon to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays.

DeAnn Hiatt Green is a freelance writer living in Palmer Lake and the head of Shameless Self Promotions.

View a painting from the TLCA "Wet and Dry" Exhibit

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