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Our Community News - Home Vol. 3 No. 9 - September 6, 2003

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Habitat survey results delay Wal-Mart

Web site exclusive: Read the FWS' July 30, 2003 Letter

View revised Wal-Mart Site Plan


U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Photo

By John Heiser

In June, Wal-Mart submitted to the El Paso County Planning Department a revised application for a supercenter to be built on the 30-acre parcel on the south side of Baptist Road, directly across from King Soopers. The parcel is just south and west of the Monument town limits. The county planning commission was to hear Wal-Mart’s requests for rezoning of the parcel and preliminary plan approval at its Aug. 26 meeting.

However, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) concluded the proposed project could damage habitat of the threatened Preble’s Jumping Meadow Mouse. Wal-Mart withdrew it’s requests from the agenda for the Aug. 26 meeting. Wal-Mart’s representatives are scheduled to meet with FWS representatives Sept. 4 to consider ways to address the issue.

The Site Plan

The proposal is for a 24-hour supercenter with a 203,007-square-foot (4.7 acres) store that includes a grocery store, garden center, and six-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.

Three points of access to the store are proposed. 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 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 runoff 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. 

FWS Letters

Wal-Mart obtained a habitat survey in 1999. The FWS issued a letter accepting the report’s methodology and concluding that Preble’s habitat was not present within the site. It expressed concern about downstream impacts.

According to Carl Schueler, assistant director of county planning, the county required an updated habitat survey. The new survey, conducted by a different environmental services firm, led the FWS to state in a letter dated July 30:

"Based on new information provided, the Service has determined that a population of Preble’s may be present within the subject area and does not concur that the proposed project on this site would not have direct/indirect adverse effects to Preble’s.

Jackson Creek adjacent to the subject site has known occupied habitat, and given the contiguous riparian and upland habitats present, the swale located on the southern edge of the subject site may provide a movement corridor for Preble’s and likely supports resident Preble’s at times (with breeding, sheltering, feeding, and/or hibernating sites).

The Service concludes that the proposed development of the site may adversely affect the Preble’s. In addition, actions on the site outside of Preble’s habitat that result in significant modification of Preble’s habitat downstream (for example, through alteration of stream flow regimes, increased erosion, sedimentation, and nonpoint source pollution) may present secondary impacts subject to provisions of the Endangered Species Act (ESA, 1973). Specifically, outfalls from onsite detention facilities or its runoff must not impact potential Preble’s habitat."

The letter also noted that the updated site assessment does not address the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) habitat conservation site west of the 30-acre parcel or potential indirect impacts to it. The letter raised questions about the design of the outfall structure for stormwater drainage and potential impacts on Jackson Creek.

The letter concluded that the areas within 300 feet of the swale on the southern edge of the site are potential mouse habitat. If those areas were to be left undisturbed, a large portion of the 30-acre parcel could not be used for the store and parking lot. If Wal-Mart intends to proceed with full development of the parcel, the letter indicates the FWS might require a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). Preparation, review, and approval of an HCP, and purchase of an associated habitat conservation site, could take several months.

Next Steps

The FWS letter proposes a meeting with Wal-Mart’s representatives to discuss FWS and CDOT concerns as well as any concerns of the El Paso County Environmental Services Department. OCN has learned the meeting was scheduled for Sept. 4. If this issue is resolved at that meeting or soon thereafter, the county planning commission could hold a hearing on the project on Tuesday, Sept. 23. The project is currently being shown on the agenda for that meeting.

Once the planning commission renders a recommendation, since a rezoning is involved, there must be a minimum 30-day notice prior to holding a hearing before the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners.

The hearings would 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 hearings would 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 80903-2208.

Additional information is available at www.ourcommunitynews.org/top_stories.htm#wal-mart and www.CoalitionTLC.org/wal-mart.htm.

The 1999 FWS approval letter and associated habitat survey are available online at www.coalitiontlc.org/prebles_mouse_letter.htm.

View revised Wal-Mart Site Plan

Web site exclusive: Read the FWS' July 30, 2003 Letter

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County faces unprecedented $8 million shortfall

By John Heiser

At their financial workshop Aug. 18, the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners heard Terry Harris, county administrator, and Julie Johnson, director of the county’s financial services department, describe an unprecedented $8 million anticipated shortfall in the county’s approximately $200 million budget for 2004.

Harris said, "County government is at best complex. It is much different from any other form of government. It is not well consolidated. People still do their own things. As a result, it is not as efficient as I would like."

Of the $8 million shortfall, Harris proposed using $2 million from the county’s $5 million reserve fund to cover what he termed "mandated" additional funding requests (AFRs). These include county expenses dictated by contract or state or federal laws. Commissioner Tom Huffman noted later that the reserve fund cited is not the officially required statutory reserve but is instead a "rainy day" fund. Harris remarked, "The rainy day is here."

Harris said, "We are looking to get through 2004. If the economy does recover, we hope in the 2005 budget to get back to 2003 levels. We are looking at the very worst year we have had in the history of county government: 2004. We have to suck it up and get through the year."

Harris and Johnson proposed a series of options and alternatives. The recommended option includes all of the following:

  • An across-the-board reduction of 5.5 percent in all department budgets

  • Funding the mandated AFRs with $2 million from the reserve fund

  • A freeze on all salaries and non-mandated training and travel

Harris said this set of actions would not require cuts in staff or salaries and would not result in significant decreases in service levels.

Wayne Williams, county commissioner for district 1 that includes the Tri-Lakes area, asked, "How will departments that are mostly salary accomplish the 5.5 percent reduction?" Harris replied that those departments could reduce staffing levels through attrition and by eliminating temporary help. He acknowledged that some departments might have to cut salaries or take other measures. Harris added, "It is very difficult and we have never had to do this before."

Harris noted that without the use of $2 million from the "rainy day" fund, the across-the-board cut would have to be 7 to 8 percent.

Harris and Johnson went on to describe a variety of alternative steps that could be taken to address the shortfall, including:

  • One-day unpaid furloughs of county employees (Harris said this would save about $300,000 per day)

  • A freeze on hiring

  • A freeze on 2003 spending

Harris added that a freeze on 2003 spending would "really foul up 2003." Huffman said, "It is not only painful but pretty dumb. The net cost savings is very nebulous until after the action."

Harris described the recommended alternative as "the most cost effective, administratively least painful, and fairest to all departments."

Mid-course correction

Harris suggested the possibility that in March 2004, the county might have some funds resulting from 2003 spending that comes in less than budgeted and the potential for increased sales tax collections if the economy improves.

He listed the priorities for applying any available money as:

  1. Fund reappropriations of existing contracts.

  2. Replenish the "rainy day" fund.

  3. Replenish the department budgets to restore the 5.5 percent.

  4. Pay one-time awards to outstanding workers.

  5. Fund prioritized AFRs.

Harris said, "We may never get below 1 or 2."

Additional Funding Requests

The rest of the meeting was devoted to presentations of AFRs from various departments. Johnson said the submitted AFRs total $32.7 million. She said, "Those are the needs of the county, the needs your departments are bringing to you."

Department of Transportation

John McCarty, county engineer and director of the department of transportation, presented about two-dozen AFRs totaling $13.5 million.His top priority items included:

  • Field inventory of county assets.

  • Adding 2½ inches of asphalt overlay to 2 miles of County Line Road, from Furrow Road to Highway 83, at a cost of $300,000. McCarty said this is El Paso County’s obligation under an agreement with Douglas County.

  • An additional $1 million for paving numerous county roads. McCarty said this is in addition to the $1 million for paving in the current budget and includes $250,000 for asphalt paving of some of the roads that currently have "chip-and-seal" oil and gravel paving, and $150,000 for replacement of some deteriorated curbs, gutters, and sidewalks. McCarty said, "The county has a severe roadwork backlog."

  • Struthers Road bridge over Black Forest Creek that bisects the Struthers Ranch. The bridge is needed to complete the connection of Struthers Road south to Northgate Road. The need for this bridge is linked with the Struthers Ranch and Wal-Mart projects. McCarty estimated the cost at $1.45 million and said that one of the issues is that the CDOT mouse habitat mitigation property to the west of the road was calculated with only 30 feet allowed for Struthers Road right-of-way (ROW). Since Struthers is to be a four-lane road, he said the county needs 60 feet of ROW on each side of the centerline. Harris said, "We have some time on Struthers, so we earmark it and split it over two years."

  • Baptist Road connection to Hodgen Road at Highway 83. McCarty said approximately 1 mile of road is needed at a cost of $1.375 million, which includes $1.2 million for construction, $100,000 for ROW acquisition, and $75,000 for engineering services. McCarty said completion of this segment will create a 15 mile east-west route carrying people to and from I-25. Williams said, "I have received 50 letters on the need to connect Hodgen to Baptist. It is a critical piece of roadway." Commissioner Chuck Brown said, "If Hodgen is completed prior to the [Baptist Road] interchange work, it’s going to create a hazard, a real congested area." McCarty replied, "It is a congested area even without the connection. We have gotten considerable help from the traffic signals [installed at the interchange by CDOT]. They are really working well. If Wal-Mart goes in, there will be considerable improvements to Baptist Road, but the bottleneck will still remain the interchange." Williams added, "Four lanes [of Struthers Road] heading south will help alleviate some of the interchange challenges at Baptist."

  • A salt-sand storage facility in the area of Baptist Road and I-25.

  • Upgrades to County Line Road from I-25 to Furrow Road. McCarty said that segment includes steep grades and sharp curves. He estimated the design work would cost $200,000.

McCarty said the countywide rural transportation authority (RTA), contemplated as a ballot measure in 2004, could provide funding for many of the transportation capital improvements.

To keep up with growth and development in the county, McCarty said the department needs additional staff: three inspectors, two design engineers, one registered professional engineer, and one traffic engineer. He said some of the additional personnel should be funded from the Development Review Fund, that receives the recently increased project review fees. Harris said, "The Development Review Fund will take some time to build."

As an aside, McCarty noted that the highway trust fund revenues are running less than expected. It was subsequently reported that about $1 million of those funds owed to El Paso County were erroneously sent to Elbert County.

District Attorney’s Office

Daniel May, from the DA’s office, expressed surprise and concern about the proposed across-the-board budget cut. He said the DA’s office handles 183 felonies per attorney, the highest number in the state. He said the proposed cuts would put public safety in jeopardy.

May said that if an additional judge is assigned to the county in 2004 and if that judge is assigned to hear criminal cases, then the DA’s office will need two additional deputy DAs to staff that court. May noted, "There is a big shortfall in judges, especially in civil and domestic cases. It can be 3 to 5 years to get into court."

Information Technology

Bill Miller, county chief information officer, and his staff described upgrades needed to replace obsolete hardware and software and to make it easier for county employees and the public to access information.

Clerk and Recorder’s Office

Bob Balink, county clerk and recorder, presented a dozen AFRs resulting from:

  • Federal and state election law changes

  • Increasing use of early voting and absentee ballots

  • Increasing volumes of documents to be recorded, which Balink said is expected to reach 280,000 to 300,000 documents during 2003

  • The need to improve service levels at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV); he noted that El Paso is ranked ninth among Front Range counties in DMV offices per citizen and DMV employees per citizen.

Balink said there have been no new employees in the recording department in five years, yet the document volume has increased threefold. He added that there has been no increase in the election department staff since 1997, even though the election laws have become more complex and there are many additional jurisdictions, such as special districts, that rely on county election services.

One suggestion for reducing the election department expenses would be to cut the number of polling places from 187 to about 20 polling centers. Williams said, "There is something beneficial about going to the polling place and voting with your neighbors. Neighborhood polling places build community." Huffman responded, "This might be one of those nice-to-have things but a little too expensive for our current county government."

Balink added that revenue generated from document recording is expected to exceed the associated expenditures by about $2.8 million in 2003. He said the net revenue to the county is projected to increase to about $5.5 million in 2004. Williams noted that the fees for recording documents are set by the state legislature.

County Attorney’s Office

Michael Lucas, county attorney, presented a $6,000 AFR to pay for software and hardware needed for mandated electronic filing of court documents. The county attorney’s office is involved in defending lawsuits against the county and in bringing actions to enforce county regulations such as the zoning and subdivision ordinances in the Land Development Code.

Bus service

Harris described as "a contractual AFR, not mandatory" the county’s projected $235,000 contribution toward bus service to unincorporated areas. He said this is up $35,000 from the prior requests because Pikes Peak Community College and Fort Carson have decided against paying their anticipated $70,000 contribution toward the service. Harris said the City of Colorado Springs agreed to provide the other $35,000 to make up the difference. He described the $235,000 as one-time expenses in 2003 and 2004.

Huffman noted that when annual bus passenger trips were analyzed, it was found that there were 80,000 boardings specific to the unincorporated county. He said the subsidy amounts to $6.40 per trip. That figure translates to a subsidy of $512,000.

Commissioner Chuck Brown said, "We have waffled on this issue for six years. We are not required to provide this service. We said we were not going to fund it. We were coerced to provide it. The public needs to come to the table and give us a way to fund it."

Williams asked if it was possible to place a measure on the November 2003 ballot to create a special bus service district. Harris said, "We haven’t done anything on that. It can’t be done this year. If the rural transportation authority ballot measure succeeds in 2004, 5 to 15 percent would be dedicated to transit. Ten percent is the federal guideline."

Harris said, "[Bus service] is a hot issue, very important to people." He predicted that the budget hearing on this item will be very attended.

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Information on the county budget is at http://adm.elpasoco.com/FinanceAndBudget.

The hearings on the 2004 budget start on Monday, Sept. 15, 9 a.m., at the county building, 27 E. Vermijo, 3rd floor hearing room, Colorado Springs 80903. Information on the board of county commissioners meetings is available online at http://bcc.elpasoco.com/bocc/agenda.asp. A link is included to view and listen to the meetings.

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Monument Board of Trustees Meeting Aug. 4

By Jim Kendrick

The regular meeting of the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) was held on Aug. 4 at 6:30 p.m. Trustees Doug Warner and Christopher Perry were absent. The agenda consisted of development proposal reviews, selection of the new town logo contest winner, and a number of town staff reports. The public hearing on the 150-page Comprehensive Update of Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances was continued to the Aug. 18 meeting.

Old Business

The first item considered was the Valley Ridge Subdivision Improvement Agreement (SIA). The final PD site plan had been approved at the April 7 BOT meeting. This meeting was for approval of the SIA that includes the requirement for a letter of credit–a financial guarantee that roads and utilities will be built. The contractors who build the individual homes will be required to provide a bond to cover the cost of the sidewalk along the street in front of the house. The original proposal called for a mix of single and duplex homes, but in April the builder changed to all single homes in response to neighboring property owners’ concerns. While this increases the water requirement for the project, there is adequate water at the site. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asked for modifications in wording regarding weed control. Trustee Byron Glenn asked that open dirt be reseeded if not built upon in 90 days. The board agreed to accept mouse habitat along Dirty Woman Creek, as the amount was a larger percentage of the project than required and the town could not use the land otherwise. The SIA was approved unanimously.

An ordinance to add auctions to the business and zoning codes was developed by staff to prevent frequent flea markets and car auctions and to preclude public nuisances in a neighborhood. In discussion, Town Attorney Gary Shupp noted that much discretion is given with regard to licensing and that estate sales are not auctions, hence not a business. An auction requires a $50 license fee. The ordinance was approved unanimously.

Shane Kromka and Eric Deuel were announced as the semi-finalists in the town logo contest. Kromka’s logo was selected unanimously by the board after he discussed the features and symbology of his design. Deuel was not present. Mayor Betty Konarski announced that the town would be presenting town mugs and other mementos to everyone who participated in the new logo competition.

New Business

  • A resolution revising water fees, eliminating and refunding previously collected water deposits, and reducing weekend Town Hall rental fees for regular users not requiring staff presence for opening or closing the building passed unanimously.

  • Trustees agreed that taking a position as a board on Referendum A, the Save Colorado’s Water Campaign, was inappropriate, as it was a highly charged issue on which individual voters should make their own decision. Trustees agreed their positions would not be referred to as the town’s position.

  • The board agreed to a recommendation by Superintendent of Public Works Tom Wall to pay $5,000 in dues for the rest of the calendar year to extend the town’s intergovernmental agreement with the Palmer Divide Water Group.

  • Konarski praised Police Chief Joe Kissell for receiving recognition by the FBI National Academy Conference.

  • Renewal of the town’s memorandum of understanding with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department was approved unanimously.

  • Treasurer Judy Skrzypek reported that sales tax erroneously paid by Popeye’s to Colorado Springs was being recovered and that she would contact Shell corporate offices to recover taxes they had not paid. The Broiler Room is late on its tax payment. Payment of town consultant SEH, Inc. and Skrzypek’s monthly report were approved unanimously.

  • County planning asked the town for comments on the larger Wal-Mart building proposal. The town’s engineering consultant GMS, Inc. said the runoff computations in the drainage plan need revision. The board voted unanimously to recommend denial of Wal-Mart’s rezoning request, agreeing that if it’s built, it should be in Monument Marketplace. Orten agreed to attend the planning commission meeting to present the board’s position.

  • Public Works’ recommendation to add more levels to water use rules and restrictions was discussed, and then deferred to a later meeting, to allow for more public notification of possible change. Wall’s request to use a BOMAG process of grinding up old asphalt and laying it back down in the same place, lane-wide, rather than doing more expensive pothole repair, was approved unanimously.

  • The board voted unanimously to accept infrastructure improvements and release sureties for the following subdivisions: Peakview Ridge 1, Peakview Ridge Second Amendment, and Village of Monument Phase 1.

Committee Reports

  • Konarski announced that Boyle Engineering had just learned that the Monument Dam had won the award for national rehabilitation project of the year. Konarski will send letters of thanks to all dam contractors and consultants.

  • Glenn reported that the Marketplace has to negotiate with Fish and Wildlife to get approval to widen Baptist Road between King Soopers and I-25 because of the affected mouse habitat. The Marketplace will pay for widening the road through its Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority fee.

  • Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg said the cost of a traffic light at Safeway on Highway 105 will be about $100,000.

There were no public comments. The board went into executive session at 8:12 p.m. and adjourned 30 minutes later.

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Joint Triview/Monument board meeting Aug. 4

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Board of Trustees held a special meeting Aug. 4 to discuss helping the Triview Metropolitan District pay for building the first phase of Jackson Creek Parkway from Lyons Tail to Higby. Majorities of both boards were in attendance. Trustees Christopher Perry and Doug Warner and Triview attorney Peter Susemihl were not present. Discussion focused on whether or not Monument would contribute to the $4.25 million cost of building phase 1 of the Jackson Creek Parkway: Four lanes from Lyons Tail to the north entrance of Monument Marketplace, then two lanes to Higby. This is the cost of the road only and not the related utilities. Another $1.2 million is required to build four lanes to Higby and extend Leather Chaps to the north entrance of the Marketplace.

Ron Simpson, general manager of Triview, said he hopes to see what is possible based on different percentage splits of revenue between the town and the district. He presented eight scenarios outlining the town’s possible financial assistance for construction of Jackson Creek Parkway north from Leather Chaps. Four scenarios reflected the development of Home Depot only. The other four reflected the same scenarios with the development of the entire Monument Marketplace.

In the scenarios, the sales tax split between Triview and the town was shown as anywhere from 2.25 up to 3.00 percent going to Triview with 0.75 down to 0 percent going to the town. The analyses did not consider any commercial enterprises along Jackson Creek Parkway other than those in Monument Marketplace.

Trustee Glenda Smith asked, "Wouldn’t Triview benefit from other development?" Simpson answered only through normal taxes. Town attorney Gary Shupp said this major undertaking is a pure policy decision and that it will be a long process. Smith asked who had read the 1987 annexation agreement or intergovernmental agreement of the 1999 modification; only Mayor Betty Konarski and Trustee Byron Glenn responded affirmatively.

Konarski pointed out that the revenue numbers appeared to be the same in different scenarios presented, and they did not appear to take into consideration the specific number of stores at different periods during buildout. Simpson answered that he had made a safe estimate–assuming buildout would not happen as fast as has been discussed by the developer. He said the district could not assume in its financial decisions that major retailers will be present.

Trustee George Brown said the spreadsheets do not account for the loss in revenue from Foxworth-Galbraith nor do they account for the potential losses in revenue from Safeway and King Soopers due to Wal-Mart. He said Monument had finally gotten itself beyond its financial problems after many years. He added that just as the town appears to have some money for road repairs, sewers, and gutters, it seems to want to give its new revenue to Triview without knowing how this new development will affect Monument’s tax base.

Brown then asked why Triview should not just get a loan. Three times, Martha Gurnick of Triview replied, "We’re part of the town." Brown reiterated that there are too many unknowns and it is not fair for the town to lose revenue when funding is needed for projects that have been put off in the past. Trustee Frank Orten said there will be losses of revenue due to Home Depot, but eventually the revenue from other Marketplace stores should more than offset the losses. Simpson said the owner of the Foxworth-Galbraith property is already considering possible replacement businesses should they fail. He said King Soopers has done an analysis and may be able to rebound if Wal-Mart is built. Simpson noted that the town gets half the district’s taxes, providing only police and administrative services, but no water, sewer, or maintenance. Smith and Simpson agreed that this was a turning point for the residents.

Glenn asked Town Planner Mike Davenport who is doing Baptist Road improvements. Glenn, who is president of the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, said he is uncertain who is paying for what portion of the road’s modifications. Davenport said whoever builds first—the Marketplace or Wal-Mart—has to widen Baptist Road from the southbound I-25 exit up to the King Soopers before they would be allowed to open their doors. After that, responsibility for road improvements would be determined on a case-by-case basis, as the town considers plats for individual stores.

Konarski said participation was an investment of roughly $2 million, which was necessary to greatly increase sales tax revenues they could not otherwise get. Gurnick added that Triview residents pay taxes for the Monument water system and should get some help back. It was noted that none of the scenarios take adjacent commercial, office, or industrial development on either side of the Marketplace into account. Davenport added that there are firms that specialize in evaluating these types of proposals. He suggested the town contact such a firm to analyze the proposal and suggest a fair and appropriate way to handle it.

In public comments, John Dominowski questioned whether landowners along Jackson Creek Parkway were contributing enough, reducing the need for town participation. Simpson answered they were donating all the land for the roads plus extensive right of ways. Larger contributions would limit their ability to develop the land profitably. He added that Home Depot has set a time limit for road construction and he was concerned they would leave. He said that if Home Depot does not come, Triview will not fund the Jackson Creek Parkway improvements. Dominowski said that he agreed with Brown that the demise of Foxworth-Galbraith was a big concern, meaning old town improvements would be postponed and its businesses could not compete. Downtown revenue would then go down. He asked if the board was permitted to make this $2 million decision on its own. Shupp said he would have to investigate that.

Mayor Konarski closed the public session and asked the trustees if they wanted to support Triview and if so at what level. The trustees were hesitant. Smith said, "What am I committing to? My concerns are that we have no documentation." Orten said he was in favor of single user option D that gives only half the town’s Home Depot revenue to Triview, retaining a full 50-50 split in revenue from other stores. Glenn concurred with this option and a fixed dollar limit on participation. Brown agreed generally but said he is concerned about the loss of revenue that is inevitable from existing businesses. He said no one answered his question as to how the town avoids losing money. Konarski said trustees should just decide if they are generally in favor of funding the parkway. She summarized their comments by saying they are in favor of a single user, incremental contribution, 75-25 revenue split basis, with policies and an intergovernmental agreement to be agreed upon later.

The vote was 5-0 in favor of Monument supporting the extension of Jackson Creek Parkway. Konarski asked Triview’s delegation to return on Aug. 18 for another special session to continue discussions.

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Monument Board of Trustees meetings Aug. 18

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Board of Trustees met at Creekside Middle School at 6:30 p.m. with all members present. After extended discussion of the Comprehensive Update to Subdivision and Zoning Ordinances, the emergency ordinance concerning a ballot issue for creation of indebtedness to assist Triview Metropolitan District in financing the construction of Jackson Creek Parkway, and the intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with Triview for financial support of the parkway’s construction, all were continued to later meetings. Other routine financial and contractual issues were approved.

Discussion

Town planner Mike Davenport said the proposed update of zoning and subdivision ordinances consolidates and streamlines some 250 pages of regulations into just over 150, with about 50 pages of tables that serve as checklists for construction design and approval, reducing the cost of research and compliance. Appendices are used to facilitate updates of maps and tables. New instructions on review and acceptance of improvements and dedications are also added.

Ernie Biggs, owner of the Lake of the Rockies, and John Butler asked about a number of paragraphs, noting that there was nothing to indicate what had been changed in eliminating 90 pages of regulations. Nearly all of their questions were about rules that had not changed. For several of their questions, revisions were proposed by Davenport or the board members. Tim Schutz, a local attorney, advised the board that it was being a bit hasty in accepting a citizen’s wording changes. He recommended considering input by an outside professional before deleting regulations, to be sure there is compliance with federal, state, and county statutes. Davenport agreed with the recommendation, noting that many rules may have been copied from Castle Rock, which is a home rule entity with different regulations.

After other discussion regarding corrections and some confusion over wording, Mayor Betty Konarski asked the board to accept the update with the proviso that there were still many corrections to be made later. Glenn disagreed, saying it was premature to accept it. The board voted unanimously to continue discussion at the second September meeting.

Konarski next asked for board comment on the emergency ordinance to submit a ballot issue concerning the creation of indebtedness to assist in financing the construction of Jackson Creek Parkway. Trustee Christopher Perry said, "I’m concerned that the proposal completely ties the board’s hands without knowing what we’re going to put to the town for a vote." Shupp reminded them of the Sept. 10 deadline. Perry added that the wording was a catch-all proposal and was too long and too confusing. He asked, "What if the revenues aren’t there? Is payment still required?"

Trustee Glenda Smith said there was no language referring to roadway extension all the way to Higby and questioned wording specific to Home Depot. Konarski replied that the wording was too restrictive. Treasurer Judy Skrzypek discussed the table of numbers she prepared in analyzing the proposal. She said there was plenty of money in the water fund that could be used for other things if revenue was less than expected.

Schutz said that without a citizen vote, the ordinance is a violation of TABOR. He said the town had a contract with Triview that gives them half the revenue and it is Triview’s sole responsibility to pay for the parkway. Triview wanted annexation and made this binding contract. He asked why the town would give them $2 million when Triview will more than break even on the parkway in time. He said the parkway will be built whether or not the town contributes. He characterized previous statements that the road would not be built without Monument’s participation as "balderdash." He asked if Triview would participate if Monument wanted to build the new police station. The $2 million should go to building a new town hall/police station and parks. He said the ballot is adversarial, pitting old town residents against Jackson Creek-Triview residents who would vote for the $2 million benefit simply out of self-interest.

Konarski and Simpson said there had been no threat not to build the parkway; however, Simpson later commented that Triview has not gotten its funding yet, and if Home Depot does not come, "We won’t build it." Konarski said the IGA needs a time limit if construction is postponed. Simpson said those utilities costs have to be factored in as well as paving costs, leading to a $10 million expense. He said Schutz had no right to say how Triview would vote on a jail proposal. "The town can’t know that we would turn it down." Also, without annexation, all the Triview revenue would have gone to the county instead of Monument.

Smith said that Brown, Glenn, and Konarski should not have been the only board members who met on Aug. 15 to put together numbers. Konarski said it was not a private meeting; they were just working on the wording to get it into the trustees’ packet for tonight’s review. Smith asked who wrote up the IGA and what dates would be used for the agreement. Shupp replied that he wrote it. Smith asked that it exclude alleys and ways and limit payments to solely the parkway. She also asked if it is a 15-year payback with a fixed fee or fixed time and would it conclude early if the $2 million were paid sooner.

After trustees raised more questions, a motion to continue the ballot issue was passed unanimously, as was a motion to continue the IGA.

Routine business

  • A motion to change to Aetna for employee health insurance passed unanimously.

  • A motion to spend $6,000 on a water re-use study funded by Northern El Paso County Water Providers and conducted by consultant Halepaska passed unanimously.

  • A motion to adopt the salary study by compensation consultant Alan Jaramillo and apply the recommended raises in the next pay period–using money that is already budgeted–passed unanimously.

  • A motion to approve all disbursements over $5,000 and a motion to accept the treasurer’s report both passed unanimously.

  • A motion to renew the liquor license for Tri-Lakes Liquor passed unanimously.

  • Sonnenburg noted that they had received $58,000 from the $194,000 mouse grant.

  • A brief interview of trustee candidate David Mertz, current chair of the planning commission, was conducted. He was appointed unanimously, after Perry formally resigned. Town Clerk Anne Holliday administered the oath of office to Mertz.

A certificate of appreciation was presented to Perry. He said, "I wish the town well."

The meeting adjourned at 8:35 p.m.

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Monument Board of Trustees meeting Sept. 2

By Jim Kendrick

Special and regular meetings of the Monument Board of Trustees were held on Tuesday, Sept. 2, instead of the usual Monday due to the Labor Day holiday. Mayor Betty Konarski and Trustee Glenda Smith were absent for both meetings. Six affirmative votes are required for emergency ballot issues. Since only five trustees were present, the issues on the agenda could not be voted on. Trustee Frank Orten was absent for the special meeting. Trustee Byron Glenn directed both meetings.

Special Meeting

This meeting was held to discuss revised documents for proposed financing assistance for Triview Metropolitan District and to discuss a Great Outdoors Colorado (GoCo) preliminary mid-range grant application concept paper for expanding existing trails in and around Monument, from Palmer Lake and Monument Lake to Jackson Creek and Fox Run Regional Park. Grant money is also proposed to open new recreational fields and facilities. The special meeting was well attended by interested citizens.

Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg distributed drafts of an emergency ordinance to create a ballot issue for the November election and an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) that would implement giving $2 million to Triview from half of the town’s share of the Monument Marketplace Home Depot’s tax revenues. The editing of these documents during this special meeting was originally to have led to a vote during the subsequent regular meeting.

Triview has asked Monument to participate in funding construction to extend Jackson Creek Parkway from Lyon’s Tail to Higby Road. The ballot ordinance and the IGA must be finalized and submitted by Sept. 10 to county election officials. The board has already initiated a ballot issue to have Monument’s citizens vote on allowing the town to keep excess tax revenues in accordance with TABOR requirements.

In reviewing the documents, Glenn asked that Home Depot be referred to consistently as the anchor tenant of Monument Marketplace. Town Attorney Gary Shupp noted that Attachment A of the IGA lists the payment projections that come solely from Home Depot revenues. Trustee George Brown expressed concern that the wording be clear that no tax increases are inferred or proscribed. Newly appointed trustee David Mertz asked if there needed to be any definition of Triview’s obligation to Monument; Shupp said no. Trustee Doug Warner asked if the IGA was properly worded to cover the possibility of the ballot issue not being approved. Brown asked how revenue was built into the IGA and, in particular, how potential lost revenue from Foxworth-Galbraith was accounted for. Shupp pointed out that Attachment A of the IGA lists a specific deficit line for lost revenue and another line for other unexpected contingencies.

Attachment A refers to the general fund only and does not include the water fund portion of tax revenues. It shows the projected lost Foxworth-Galbraith revenue for the first 15 years as $1.433 million, which, coupled with $2 million for Triview, leaves a net expense of $3.433 million—more than the $2.678 million in projected revenue the town will receive from Home Depot for these 15 years. The attachment does not account for any possible revenues from any other Monument Marketplace businesses or any other neighboring businesses that may be built along the parkway.

Likewise, Attachment A does not address the total cost to Triview–over $8 million, after participation, for building Jackson Creek Parkway Phase 1 and Phase 2, plus extending Leather Chaps to include all required utilities—as this is not part of the ballot issue. Nor does Attachment A deal with the expense of widening Baptist Road from the parkway west across I-25 for the same reason. Wal-Mart-related improvements to Baptist Road and Jackson Creek Parkway are likewise not addressed by this ballot issue.

The trustees reviewed both documents and provided typographical and clarification revisions to Shupp. They agreed to meet again at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 8, if Orten and Smith are available. If all six trustees are not present, another meeting would be scheduled for sometime after 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 9, to allow for at least 24 hours notice. Konarski will not be available to attend on either date.

The trustees agreed to have town staff begin work on applying for the trails and parks GoCo grant after resolving some initial concerns about whether there was enough time to do a thorough job in preparing the required paperwork before the mid-October deadline. Town Planner Mike Davenport said that 30 days of dedicated staff time should be sufficient to produce a competitive application, assuming the proper preliminary work was done.

Warner expressed some concerns about considering trail construction to Monument Lake until the lake is actually filled. Trustees agreed that water rights attorney Bob Krassa should be consulted to determine if and when the town could expect to have the lake filled before submitting the GoCo application. Discussion of negotiations with the railroad to buy their portion of Limbach Park—the southeast corner—was deferred to the executive attorney session after the regular meeting.

The special meeting adjourned at 6:15 p.m.

Regular Meeting

The meeting was devoted to routine business:

  • Contracts for water improvements and unexpected excavation costs were approved unanimously. New data acquisition hardware/software and an extended warranty are included in the approved contracts.

  • A change order to convert the two new Santa Fe Trail crossing lights, as requested by Planning Commissioner Skip Morgan, to flashing yellow lights was approved unanimously. Red light timing will be reduced from 30 seconds each to 20 seconds on Second Street and 14 seconds on Third Street.

  • No contractor has bid on Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse mitigation work at Monument Lake. Public Works’ consultant GMS will continue to pursue a bidder.

  • Two routine disbursements over $5,000 were unanimously approved.

  • Safeway’s liquor license was unanimously renewed.

  • An application to the county for new Forest Lakes Lift Stations to be built outside of Monument was discussed briefly. A recommendation to approve the application passed unanimously.

  • A recommendation to appoint a trustee to the Colorado Municipal League for the coming year was continued until the next regular meeting.

There was one controversial agenda item. A proposal to appoint Town Treasurer Judy Skrzypek as town clerk (concurrently with her job) and divide the duties between four staff members passed 3-2, with Warner and Brown opposed. Former Town Clerk Anne Holliday resigned effective Aug. 22. Colorado law requires that the town have a clerk to handle the ballot issues, which must be submitted by Sept. 10. Sonnenburg said there was not enough work to justify hiring a full-time replacement. Skrzypek would serve the unexpired term through April 2004.

During discussion, John Dominowski expressed concern that in the past the Monument treasurer and clerk duties had been performed by a single person with unsatisfactory results and that the positions inherently should act as checks and balances on each other. Shupp said there is no inherent conflict in combining duties, which is specifically permissible by statute. Orten agreed, emphasizing there is no conflict in terms of accounting. Warner and Brown were concerned because the actual division of duties and the effects on staffers Irene Walters and Mary Russelavage in terms of workload were undefined. Sonnenburg said he had performed manager, clerk, and treasurer duties simultaneously for a decade in a job he had before moving to Monument and that they needed to have the position filled to comply with election law. Warner expressed a desire to continue the matter for two weeks until the division of duties could be better defined.

Shupp said the appointment is temporary, because the board can always change its mind about Skrzypek filling both positions if it does not work out.

The public meeting ended at 7:45 p.m. An executive session with attorney Gordon Vaughan was then held to discuss the lawsuit against Monument by Kalima Masse of Rockwell Ready-Mix Concrete.

The next regularly scheduled meeting is Sept. 15 at 6:30 p.m.

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Monument planning commission approved updated comprehensive plan Aug. 13

Web site exclusive: View the Monument Comprehensive Plan Update Future Land Use Map

By John Heiser

The update to the town’s comprehensive plan, almost three years in development, was adopted at the Monument Planning Commission meeting August 13.

The remaining issues with the draft revised plan were resolved as follows:

  • What uses should be recommended for the Lake of the Rockies Resort? The unanimous decision was to show the recommended future land use as Downtown (D). The Downtown land use allows a variety of non-industrial uses.

  • Should heavy industrial uses be recommended for the south end of the Forest Lakes Business Center? A majority voted to leave the recommended future land use as Planned Industrial. Planned Industrial does not allow heavy industrial uses such as concrete batch plants.

With those decisions and the prior changes made to the draft plan in past meetings, the revised comprehensive plan was unanimously approved.

Mayor Betty Konarski came forward from the audience to extend her thanks to the planning commission and committees for the work involved in revising the town’s comprehensive plan. She described it as, "a template for the next 20 years."

The only other major item on the agenda was a minor re-plat and final PD site plan for Phase II of the Village at Monument. That was unanimously approved with conditions.

David Mertz, chair of the planning commission, announced he had applied for appointment to the open position on the Monument Board of Trustees and, if appointed, would be leaving the planning commission. Several planning commissioners expressed appreciation for his efforts on the commission.

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The Monument Planning Commission meets on the second Wednesday of each month at Monument Town Hall, 166 2nd Street. The next meeting will be September 10. The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. For additional information, contact Mike Davenport at 481-2954.

Web site exclusive: View the Monument Comprehensive Plan Update Future Land Use Map

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Monument parks and landscape meeting Aug. 12

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Parks and Landscape Committee met at Town Hall at 6:30 p.m. Graduate students from the University of Denver returned to Monument to present another progress report on their recommendations for the parks and trails portion of Monument’s new comprehensive plan. Landscape plans for Home Depot, Village at Monument Filing 2, and Integrity Bank were also reviewed. Linda Pankratz and Ed Delaney were absent.

Judith Bergquist is the Department of Local Affairs’ advisor to Colorado Center for Community Development (CCCD) graduate students Victor Kusmin, Rachel Johnson, and Hsin-Yi Chou. Bergquist gave a short overview of the project’s progress to date and described the goals of CCCD and qualifications of the students.

Kusmin’s briefing showed several park overlays to a large map of the town, indicating the relationship between recommended parks and trails and the areas they are intended to serve. These overlays reflect the standards of the National Recreation and Parks Association. Pocket and neighborhood parks serve a quarter-mile radius. Special use parks and playfields serve a one-mile radius, while community parks serve a two-mile radius. For example, Lavalett and Limbach Parks are neighborhood parks, the skateboard park is a special use park, and Dirty Woman Creek Park is a community park. Another overlay showed recommended additional trails over, under, and along I-25 and through neighborhoods.

Santa Fe Trails residents Sylvia Musser, Lisa Baca, and Phil Mahone provided numerous suggestions on the proposed plan and volunteered to solicit feedback and assistance from their neighbors. Town Planner Mike Davenport gave the students feedback on which of their proposed trails might not be built because the land—commercial property along I-25—was too valuable. He also gave them guidance on which large culverts under I-25 were in mouse habitat, perhaps rendering them useless for proposed paths crossing under the freeway. Davenport then asked a series of questions to the students, residents, and board members to guide their analysis of the proposal and elicit alternative suggestions where initial proposals might not be feasible. He explained how the Jackson Creek development had lost its long-planned recreational facility to mouse habitat and why he was working on a joint use amendment with District 38.

The board discussed adding a 10-question use survey to the town bulletin, to provide additional data for the CCCD students to incorporate in their next iteration, which will be presented in September. The residents made it clear that all the new subdivisions’ open space along the railroad tracks would best be left open and relatively unstructured to facilitate activities like Frisbee tossing rather than soccer.

The Home Depot landscape plan was a subset of the previously approved Monument Marketplace landscape plan, incorporating all the committee’s earlier recommendations; it was approved unanimously.

The developer of the Village of Monument asked the town to consider a different kind of buffer along Old Denver Highway rather than the six-foot wood fences that were installed in neighboring subdivisions. He also wanted to change the layout of the rear private driveway, having decided to build single units instead of duplexes along the boundary next to Old Denver Highway. The proposal was somewhat vague as worded, and there was no representative present. The committee felt that without additional information, it preferred the developer stick to his original proposal but asked Davenport to solicit a more complete description of an alternative buffer at the next meeting. (The developer provided more information on these changes at the Monument planning commission’s meeting the next evening.)

Integrity Bank is proposed as a temporary modular structure just southwest of Knollwood and Highway 105. In a few years, the bank expects to occupy a permanent building in a proposed office park diagonally across that same intersection. The modular building is to be built on a subdivision perimeter lot. Once it’s removed, the lot will convert to a residential lot. This nonstandard use presents some interest bonding issues to the town, to ensure that money is available to excavate the modular bank’s parking lot and driveways once the property is abandoned. Usually this type of bond is only held by the town for a year or two. The committee approved the bank’s landscape plan with a three-year bond, on condition that the site clean-up bond can be extended if the bank has not relocated at the end of that period. The bank will be required to meet with the Landscape Committee again to discuss site clean-up plans when it relocates or at the three-year point, whichever occurs first.

The meeting adjourned at 9 p.m.

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Triview board approves revised mill levy cap

By John Heiser

The Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors held a special meeting Aug. 6 and a regular meeting Aug. 27. The main focus of discussion was a revised agreement with the existing bondholder setting the maximum mill levy that can be charged property owners in the district.

Special meeting Aug. 6

The purpose of the special meeting was to review an amendment to the mill levy cap agreement with the current bondholders: Centre Development, Vision Development, Colorado Structures, and Tom Sharkey. Tim and Tom Phelan are principals in Centre Development, Vision Development, Colorado Structures, and Jackson Creek Land Company.

The prior agreement capped the property tax mill levy at 25 mills but included offsets for reductions in assessed values resulting from the Gallagher Amendment. According to Ron Simpson, Triview district manager, with the current Gallagher adjustments, the mill levy on the existing bonds could rise to 32.5 mills.

At the Aug. 6 meeting, Simpson and Peter Susemihl, attorney for the district, recommended against signing the agreement because of a clause that would give the current bondholders veto power over the district’s budget. Director Martha Gurnick said, "I am not in favor of giving the bondholder that kind of power over the district." Susemihl said, "You can’t let an outside private party have veto power."

Bondholder representative Rick Blevins of Vision Development said, "The bondholder wants say-so. We are subordinating debt and could be without revenue for some time. We have a lot of money hanging out there. According to our attorney, there is nothing legally wrong with it."

The meeting ended with an agreement to have the lawyers confer and develop different language.

Regular Meeting Aug. 27

Revised mill levy cap agreement

The revised agreement omits the bondholder veto language and instead details the specific allowed uses for the recently approved $15 million in Phase G bonds. Phase G is the collective label for the roadway, water, wastewater, reuse water, and drainage improvements associated with the Monument Marketplace project. The uses listed in the mill levy cap agreement are as follows:

  • $6.91 million for improvements to Jackson Creek Parkway and Leather Chaps Drive

  • $1.5 million to retire existing utility bonds held by Mountain View Electric and Qwest

  • $1.47 million for reserve and deposit funds

  • $644,150 as the cost of issuing the $15 million in Phase G bonds

  • The remaining $4.47 million would pay interest and principal for the existing bonds; the agreement includes a note that any and all Phase G bond proceeds not used according to this list must be applied to interest and principal of the existing bonds

The agreement subordinates the existing bonds to the Phase G bonds and caps the mill levy on the existing bonds at 25 mills, unless the bondholder has to fund operations and maintenance for the district—in which case the cap would be adjusted upward to compensate for the Gallagher reductions in assessed values.

The $15 million in new Phase G bonds will carry a mill levy cap of 54 mills that will be adjusted to compensate for future Gallagher reductions.

Blevins identified the following as not included in the list of allowed uses for the Phase G bond proceeds:

  • Additional water tank

  • Reuse system except the pipes under the roads

  • Expansion of the Waste Water Treatment Facility (WWTF)

Director Steve Stephenson objected to elimination of money for the WWTF. In particular, he said $200,000 for designing the expansion to the plant should be included.

Blevins replied, "We don’t know where we are going with it."

Simpson said, "I am more concerned with tank 2." He said that storage capacity is tight right now and cited concerns about capacity for fire flow during summertime peak demand.

Blevins insisted the additional tank is not needed right now. He said that if additional needs arise, the existing bondholder could provide funding at an interest rate of about 7 percent. He noted that the $4.47 million would pay off bonds that are at a rate of more than 12 percent.

Stephenson made a motion for approval of the revised mill levy cap agreement. The motion passed unanimously.

WWTF expansion

The WWTF is jointly owned by the Triview district, the Donala Water and Sanitation district that serves Gleneagle, and the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District that currently does not have any users. Simpson reported that Dana Duthie, manager of the Donala district, wants to start design of a plant expansion in January 2004. Simpson said Duthie has calculated Donala’s share of the expansion cost at $1.88 million and Triview’s share at $2.1 million. Simpson said that Donala is proposing to provide all the funding; however, the interest rate to be charged for Triview’s share has not yet been determined.

Engineer for the district, Chuck Ritter with Nolte Associates, said the WWTF is predicted to reach 95 percent of maximum capacity in the third quarter of 2006. He said that allowing 14 months for construction means construction must start in 2005.

Simpson said that one issue is that Donala wants to use engineering consultant GMS on the project. He said this would be done without a request for proposals, which would not be fair to Nolte. Ritter noted that when the plant was built, two engineering firms were involved.

Stephenson asked, "What is the source of funds for our share?" Simpson replied, "I don’t know." Susemihl said, "The developer is going to have to put it up."

Simpson said he would discuss the matter with Duthie and develop recommendations for the budget discussions that start with the September board meeting.

Other business

Parkway Design: Blevins reported that three bids have been received for construction of Jackson Creek Parkway from Baptist Road north to Higby Road. The $441,000 bid from R.E. Monks construction was unanimously approved, subject to obtaining Phase G funding.

Drainage structures: Blevins reported that bids for construction of drainage structures came in higher than anticipated. He said he was going to work with the bidders or rebid the project to see if the costs can be reduced.

Marketplace sewer: Ritter reported that a meeting was held with the El Paso County Department of Transportation regarding the disruption of Baptist Road to install the sewer line to serve the Marketplace site. He said the Colorado Department of Transportation will also be involved due to the environmental assessment project for the interchange and Baptist Road redesign.

Mouse issues: Ritter reported that 49 comments were received from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the habitat conservation plan covering the sewer interceptor west of I-25 and the railroad crossing to access the WWTF. One comment called for the district to obtain a letter of credit to guarantee construction funds. A cultural resource inventory to look for archeological sites may also be required. Noting that the Wal-Mart proposal has run into mouse-related issues, Simpson said, "The rules are being changed in the middle of the process. Someone is getting to them, and I don’t like it."

Well A4: Simpson reported that two bids were received to drill Arapahoe aquifer well A4, needed for the Marketplace project. The cost is to be paid from the Phase G bonds. The board unanimously approved the bid by Hinkle for $175,291.

Plan Review Fees: A request from Dale Hill, administrator for the district, to raise the plan review fee charged by the district from $200 to $350 per lot was unanimously approved by the board.

Manager’s expenditure limit: The board unanimously approved increasing Simpson’s authorization limit to $5,000.

May election: Three four-year positions on the board will be elected in May 2004. Kathy Walters and Gary Walters, who are term limited, and Steve Stephenson currently occupy the three positions. Stephenson suggested the district conduct the election by mail ballot. He cited the 68 percent response to the Heights at Jackson Creek homeowners’ association mail ballot. Susemihl noted that if the number of candidates equals the number of offices, no election will be needed. Further discussion of this topic was deferred to development of the 2004 budget.

Marketplace groundbreaking: Blevins said the groundbreaking ceremony will be Sept. 19. The time has not yet been set.

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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 Sept. 24. For further information, contact the Triview Metropolitan District at 488-6868.

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Palmer Lake Town Council meeting Aug. 14

By Judy Barnes

Committee Reports

Trustee Cindy Allen, Parks and Recreation: The town has sprayed the poison ivy in Glen Park, but it hasn’t been effective in lessening growth. Allen thanked Les Kregar for donating and posting warning signs stating "leaves of three, let me be." The restrooms in Glen Park have been closed due to vandalism. Jason Little and Julie Lokken have been chipping branches from the park. The public is invited to take mulch from the park or from the town maintenance shop; to arrange pick-up of mulch, call the town office, 481-2953.

Trustee Chuck Cornell, Water: The A-2 (Arapahoe) Well Filter Plant is expected to be completed in late December or January 2004. Palmer Lake is still out of priority for the reservoir, so the Denver well has been pumping to supplement the filter plant. The reservoir is down 1½ feet. Cornell urged residents to watch their water usage.

Trustee Randy Jones, Roads: The town had applied magnesium chloride dust suppressant to 7 miles of roadways, with another application scheduled for the near future.

Trustee Eddie Kinney, Police: Total police calls were down by 64 from last year.

Trustee Susan Miner, Community and Economic Development–Buildings: Miner will put together a business plan for the development of Centennial Park and will send out requests for proposals. The town will have a booth at the upcoming Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce business expo, planned for Sept. 16, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Pinecrest Event Center.

Trustee Scott Russell, Fire: Tri-Lakes Cruisers donated $2,000 to the Palmer Lake Fire Engine Fund. Russell thanked the club and local resident and business owner George Reese.

Mayor Nikki McDonald, Mayor’s report: Dr. Dave Jones donated $150 to the fire engine fund. Bella Panini will donate 5 percent of each total food bill to the fire engine fund upon presentation of special coupons. The coupons are available at the town office or from the volunteer firefighters. The second annual Casino Night fire engine fundraiser will be held on Oct. 31 at Pinecrest Event Center.

Public Input

McDonald invited people to attend the Visioning Committee meeting on the last Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. in Town Hall. Miner asked for a volunteer to represent the town at the Tri-Lakes Views committee meetings on the first Thursday of the month at 7 p.m.

Planning commission applicants Sharon Solheim and Vic Brown were introduced and unanimously approved.

Judith Harrington appeared, referencing a letter submitted to the council regarding the status of the water level in Palmer Lake. She was concerned that there was no mention of the condition of the lake in any town minutes. McDonald explained that although the subject had not been discussed at public meetings, the council was aware of the problem, and the town’s water attorney was currently researching to see what actions might be available to the town. Allen noted that there was $10,000 in the Lake Maintenance Fund that could possibly be used. Jones mentioned a chemical, perhaps calcium, that could be put into the lake to prevent seepage by sealing the bottom of the lake. Sue Buell, Dale Platt, and Jack Majors also addressed the board with questions and possible solutions. Some of their questions and the responses from the council and the town’s attorney, Larry Gaddis, follow:

  • Can existing wells or reservoirs contribute water to stabilize the lake’s level?
    "Yes, but since the town has no rights to store water in the lake, any water put into the lake would be at the expense of the water available for residents’ use."

  • Are lottery funds or other grant monies available to help with the situation?
    "Conservation Trust money cannot be used for water issues. Grants are available, but whether the situation fits the criteria would need to be investigated. As to purchasing water rights, such rights would be very junior and might not be feasible or useable for this situation."

  • Could the spring feeding the lake be located to see if it could be reopened?
    "The spring’s location is known, but it could have dried up due to the drought. The files regarding past studies will be examined to see if there is information on the nature of the spring."

  • Could a well be drilled at the north end of the lake to take water from under the lake and put it into the lake? "The water attorney will address this question."

McDonald thanked the group for coming and assured them, "Everybody on the council is as concerned about the lake as you are."

Business licenses

MGP Landscaping, Inc. Glen Price and Marguerite Pond changed the existing business from a sole proprietorship, in business since 1997. They do landscape design and installation, including sprinkler systems, rock walls, and plantings. Cynthia White will provide aesthetic skin care at An Escape Day Spa in the West End Center. Tina Richter will provide massage therapy there, also.

Santa Fe Ridge dirt pile

Jim Fitzgerald addressed the issue of the dirt pile on his property and reviewed the history of his dealings with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). When he first submitted his plan to Palmer Lake’s planning commission, CDOT did not require an acceleration/deceleration lane; later, CDOT changed the requirements to include such a lane. Putting in a lane on the southwest side of Highway 105 would require a large earthen berm or a retaining wall. Fitzgerald requested the town send a letter to CDOT asking for reclassification of that stretch of Highway 105 from NRA to NRB, which would lower the speed limit, significantly reducing the engineering required for an accel/decel lane. Gaddis raised the question of what the change in level of service supplied by the state would be if the reclassification occurred. A motion by Kinney giving Fitzgerald 60 days to move the dirt pile or the town would do it at his expense failed, 4-3. A motion directing town staff to write a letter to CDOT and to follow up weekly with CDOT carried unanimously. Fitzgerald will return to the September council workshop.

Ordinances

Unpaid bills: The council unanimously passed an ordinance authorizing the town clerk to utilize the county treasurer to collect unpaid bills, such as water bills. The county would include the amount due with tax statements. Failure to pay the bill would result in the property being put up for auction.

Banner ordinance: Jeff Hulsmann, owner of The Villa Bistro and O’Malley’s, addressed the council in regard to temporary advertising banners, stating that even though they would increase business, they wouldn’t enhance the image of the town. The council voted 4-3 against the ordinance that would have allowed such banners.

Back-lit signs: The council unanimously passed an ordinance allowing back-lit signs during business hours in a business district with a speed limit over 35 mph.

Election issues: The council voted unanimously to authorize the county election department to handle issues for the November ballot.

  • Ballot Issue No. l: Retain excess 2002 fiscal year revenue. The council voted 5-2 to approve the issue as written, with the addition of the actual figures from the auditor. The issue specifies that the funds will be used for capital improvement projects for buildings, fire, parks, police, and roads; and to establish a reserve fund for matching grants.

  • Ballot Issue No. 2: Retain excess 2003 fiscal year revenue. The issue is worded like No. 1 and was approved 6-1.

  • Ballot Issue No. 3: Occupation tax on the provisions of lodging within the Town of Palmer Lake. The council unanimously approved a "bed tax" of $2 per day commencing July 1, 2004.

The council went into executive session for personnel issues at 10:25 p.m. The meeting adjourned at 11:05 p.m.

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Palmer Lake Planning Commission Workshop and Meeting

By Judy Barnes

Workshop, Aug. 13

Update on the Inn at Palmer Divide: Al Fritts said the group that agreed to fund the inn went bankrupt and only the concrete work was completed. Fritts suggested two alternative projects. One was to sell the property; the other was to put another project, such as an assisted living facility, on the same site and concrete footprint. Local banks are more interested in funding assisted living than lodging, Fritts said. Such a facility would have minimal impact on the community but would not provide revenue to the town, as the inn’s restaurant would have done. The previously proposed guest rooms could become assisted living rooms. The 15 guesthouse rooms could become independent living apartments. This project would reduce the amount of parking required, and the proposed pool and tennis courts would be reconsidered.

Digby Crofts–Request for a minor subdivision/vacate and replat at 711 Sunridge Circle, by Lindsay W. Ray: Surveyor Bill Baker appeared, noting that the current lot descriptions were vague, missing pertinent details and apparently taken from the assessor’s descriptions, not survey data.

Sundance Ridge–Request for a minor subdivision/vacate and replat at Milton & Highland Streets, by Tim Shank: This replat takes four lots down to three. Adjoining property owner Vic Brown expressed concerns about numerous issues, including drainage and erosion.

Planning commission vacancies: Two candidates, Sharon Solheim and Vic Brown, introduced themselves to the commission. They were asked to appear at the next town council meeting.

Meeting, Aug. 20

Public input: Judith Harrington addressed the commission about her concerns over the low water level in the lake and about preserving and enhancing the lake. She would like to form a committee to pursue possibilities for preserving the lake. Commissioner Denise Hammond noted that since the lake is the only one this side of the Western Slope that is naturally fed, there might be state money available to support lake maintenance. Chairman John Cressman remarked, "You have great ideas, except that the town budget may not be able to support this project." Harrington said she was told at the town council meeting that the lake maintenance fund had approximately $10,000. The commissioners asked to be kept informed on what Harrington’s committee finds out.

Other agenda items: The following were unanimously approved: a request by Fusion Xtreme Gaming for a sign permit; Digby Crofts minor subdivision vacate and replat; and Sundance Ridge minor subdivision vacate and replat.

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Donald Wescott FPD board meeting Aug. 20

By Jim Kendrick

The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) board meeting was held at Station 2 with all board members and attorney Peter Obernesser present. After an extensive policy renewal presentation by property/liability provider VFIS, the board discussed its regret and concern over recent actions taken by the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District (TLFPD) board. The Wescott board members said that by accepting another petition for inclusion from a group of Black Forest residents in the area designated for the November DWFPD ballot, the Tri-Lakes board has deliberately deepened the ongoing merger controversy.

Discussion

Earl McFarland of VFIS presented a 35-minute risk management review to the DWFPD board. The review emphasized the wide variety of risk associated with emergency situations and actions taken by fire departments. Discussion items included liability for ride-along volunteer interns and students, commandeered vehicles and boats, and new homeland security equipment. McFarland said the 5 percent VFIS premium rise for the next policy year is below industry average and well below increases in employee benefit insurance nation-wide. An inventory of equipment valued at over $2,000 is being conducted for the auditor and VFIS.

Dennis Feltz gave the treasurer’s report, which was accepted unanimously, with all aspects of the budget "looking good."

Obernesser reported that the final legal documentation for the inclusion ballot issue affecting the area of Black Forest between Hodgen Road and County Line Road will be ready by Sept. 1. The deadline for all county ballot issues is Sept. 10.

Chief Bill Sheldon distributed a map showing the most recent group of 18 properties in the ballot area that have petitioned TLFPD for inclusion. President Bill Lowes observed that Tri-Lakes had not called or written a response to DWFPD’s protest letter of July 10 regarding TLFPD’s acceptance of the first petition for inclusion. (The TLFPD board accepted this petition on July 11, after Brian Ritz presented the protest letter to the Tri-Lakes board.) Lowes said he saw no reason to attend the Tri-Lakes board meeting on Aug. 21 or to write another protest letter about the second inclusion petition. Ritz disagreed, arguing that the DWFPD board had to attend that meeting and make its disdain for their action known in writing. Sheldon said confusion caused to dispatchers will increase due to the worsening fire district patchwork that Tri-Lakes is deliberately creating for all the homeowners in that uncovered area. He said, "Somewhere, this kind of thing needs to end."

ISO Ratings

Sheldon proposed the DWFPD board send a letter to homeowners about the facts of the issue. He said several homeowners in each of the four regional fire districts do not realize they are paying taxes to a district that does not have a fire station within five road miles of their home, while a neighboring fire district actually has a station within five road miles of them.

As an example, he said DWFPD station 3 in Gleneagle is only two miles from Fox Run, but homeowners there are actually part of the TLFPD district, whose station is much more than five road miles away. Because of this, their insurance bills double. (Typically, homes within five road miles, with a hydrant within 1,000 feet, are rated ISO class 6, with half the insurance bill of those homes rated ISO class 10–no hydrant and more than five road miles. Ratings vary in between, depending on road and hydrant distances.) In addition, he said many homeowners do not know which fire district they are in and confuse being within five road miles of the fire station with being within five minutes of response time or within five radial miles.

The proposed TLFPD Roller Coaster station is further than five road miles from many houses in the Black Forest inclusion ballot area. Sheldon believes citizens may not fully understand the economic ramifications of their vote in November or the plans DWFPD has for building a new station in that area that would ensure better insurance rates than TLFPD inclusion would provide. Sheldon also said that the "five-minute" response time discussed in different forums by various departments is confusing and misleading to taxpayers. He wants taxpayers to make informed decisions about mill levies and inclusion.

Sheldon said the region’s fire districts should merge and realign their collective assets in a manner that gives the best coverage for each taxpayer dollar. He said proper alignment of existing and future resources, with all four region districts merged, would ensure at least 90 percent of residents in the four districts would be within five road miles; that percentage is currently much lower. Feltz expressed concern that petitions were being signed by people who were not in the petitioners’ districts or who were confused about what the petitions actually advocate.

Automatic Mutual Aid with TLFPD

Sheldon expressed concerns about continuing automatic mutual aid with Tri-Lakes. Automatic mutual aid is an agreement among the region’s North End Group chiefs to answer requests for assistance from area districts without being dispatched. He said an example of why DWFPD is concerned was an Aug. 5 house fire in Jackson Creek. This subdivision falls in the Tri-Lakes district, but Wescott’s Gleneagle station is closer and so they were also dispatched simultaneously under the automatic mutual aid program. The Tri-Lakes crews arrived to join the Wescott crews, but the Tri-Lakes personnel appeared to be unfamiliar with all their equipment. Later, Tri-Lakes’ Assistant Chief Ron Thompson, serving as safety officer, was reluctant to take command of the scene in his district, a traditional transfer. Wescott’s Assistant Chief Vinny Burns said his crew had to force Thompson’s crew to take command by physically leaving first. "He would have let us stay out there all night long for fire watch, even though it was their district."

The board then discussed taking back the two pumper trucks DWFPD lent to TLFPD about three months ago. Sheldon said this might be necessary to try to convince them to improve their training, as they pledged to do when they were readmitted "with conditions" to the North End Group mutual aid pact six months ago. Sheldon said that since then, no Tri-Lakes representative has attended a North End Group meeting. "They haven’t lived up to their end of the bargain," he said. "We can’t discuss things with them when they’re not there." Sheldon said taxpayers need to know that other districts are providing much more of the protection for Tri-Lakes taxpayers than they should have to. Other board members said withdrawing mutual aid and taking back the trucks immediately might not be the best course at this time. Ritz observed that Tri-Lake’s early withdrawal from the Joint Working Group has not helped.

Sheldon added that if the merger was in effect and the four districts were working together, DWFPD would logically cover Jackson Creek and there would be no need for a new station near the Marketplace. The joint $30,000 fire district study called for a new fire station further east than the Roller Coaster station and would be a better taxpayer value.

Lowes asked the press in attendance to take note that the DWFPD board has never before made any statement for or against the Roller Coaster station. He added, "The (Tri-Lakes) board has never voted on the merger because they have never showed up." Ritz then asked the board to vote on these issues.

The board decided to defer a decision on publishing a letter to homeowners. Lowes and Sheldon volunteered to present another letter of protest at the TLFPD board meeting the next evening. The board also decided to wait until the outcome of the next North End Group meeting regarding continuing the automatic mutual aid pact with Tri-Lakes before deciding the fate of their two loaned trucks.

In concluding the meeting, Sheldon then noted that the new $35,000 brush truck upgrade was just about complete and that he plans to sell the district’s old brush truck for $3,000. The board unanimously approved the sale.

The public portion of the meeting closed at 8:20 p.m.; the board then went into executive session with its attorney.

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Tri-Lakes FPD board meeting Aug. 21

By John Heiser

At its meeting Aug. 21, the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District board of directors approved petitions to include a half-dozen parcels east of Highway 83, despite objections from representatives of the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District. Other items covered included potential merger talks between the Tri-Lakes and Wescott districts, status of the efforts to have the county reconsider expansion of the station on Roller Coaster Road, and interest by some Monument business owners in switching from the Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District to the Tri-Lakes district. Tri-Lakes district director Rick Barnes was absent.

Hearing on petitions for inclusion

Wescott district board chairman Bill Lowes spoke against the inclusion of the additional parcels into the Tri-Lakes district and delivered a letter citing specific objections.

The letter noted, "[The proposed inclusions] further the possibility of piecemeal inclusion of territory by different fire protection districts in this area. It presents problems and confusion in dispatch and response, delay and potential damage to life and property. It also raises the unwise issue of double taxation to this area."

The letter requested that the Tri-Lakes board delay action on the petitions until after the Nov. 4 election decides the proposed inclusion of the petitioners’ property into the Wescott district. The letter added, "Should you go forward, your Board would further erode any trust and confidence that Donald Wescott Fire Protection District may have in your District and diminish any hope or expectation for cooperative efforts between our Districts in the future."

Charlie Pocock, president of the Tri-Lakes board, said, "We did not solicit any request for inclusion." He later said, "We have members [of our department] who live out there, and they may have talked with their neighbors."

Pocock said to the Wescott representatives, "You may think I am one of your enemies, but I pushed for a resolution supporting your mill levy increase and I pushed for inclusion of Wescott in the merger joint working group meetings."

Pocock reported that legal advice received by the Tri-Lakes district recommended accepting and processing the petitions even though the Wescott inclusion election had already been scheduled. He noted that the judge who set the election could set aside the inclusions by the Tri-Lakes district. Pocock added, "Our first loyalty is to the citizens of Colorado."

Wescott district chief Bill Sheldon replied, "If the election goes against us, then it is your project and you can do what you can with it. If I were in your seat, I would sit on the petitions until the election is done and then go from there."

Pocock noted, "We are doing you a favor. These are likely no votes."

Despite the objections raised by the Wescott district, Tri-Lakes district director and treasurer John Hildebrandt made a motion to approve the inclusions. The motion passed unanimously.

District merger talks

During the discussion on the inclusions, the issue of restarting the stalled district merger talks was addressed.

The Wescott district representatives said they had not been notified that the Tri-Lakes district had adopted the following resolution on April 24, 2003 (carried in the May issue of OCN):

"The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Board [of Directors] authorizes and encourages the development of a working relationship with the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, possibly leading to a ‘Fire Authority.’ The Board further directs discontinuation of merger discussions with the Town of Palmer Lake and Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District until the working relationship with the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District is firmly established."

Pocock recommended that as a basis for setting the agenda for meetings between the two districts, the Wescott and Tri-Lakes districts each pick two or three key subjects and give a 10-minute presentation, followed by a question and answer period. He said, "Within a week, let’s set a date when we can sit down and set the agenda for continuing meetings."

Sheldon said, "We have lost a lot of time. This stalemate has to end. The possibilities are great." Lowes added, "We have to be assured we will have full participation [from the Tri-Lakes district]."

After the vote on the inclusions, Sheldon said, "Your actions here tonight haven’t really helped the situation."

Chief’s Report

Chief Robert Denboske reported that during July, the district responded to 108 calls, bringing the total for the year to 663. Of the July calls, 41 were medical, 31 fire, 21 traffic accidents, 11 public assists, and 4 hazardous materials; 22 people were transported to area hospitals. Total department personnel stands at 74.

Denboske noted that during two hours on Aug. 5, the district responded to 10 calls, including traffic accidents, wildland fires, structure fires, and medical emergencies. He said, "We got resources to everything in a reasonable amount of time."

The chief reported that volunteers have collected 2,767 signatures on petitions requesting that the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners reconsider their decision to require a full subdivision application for the expansion of Tri-Lakes station 2 at Roller Coaster Road and Highway 105. He said the petitions are to be presented to the county commissioners within a few weeks.

Pocock added that the district has a letter from Great Divide Water Company agreeing that the district can use water from the well adjacent to station 2 as long as there is a fire station there. He also reported that the county health department approved the septic system. He said that if the county commissioners do not agree to reconsider the requested subdivision exemption, then the district would pay the $3,300 subdivision fee and file the required subdivision documents.

EMS Report

Ron Thompson, assistant chief and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) coordinator, said the district will resume teaching CPR classes to the public in October.

Thompson displayed the ice and cold-water rescue equipment purchased with a $2,700 grant from the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club.

He reported that firefighter Morgan Cudney is the first person in the state to be certified as intermediate Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) under the new curriculum.

Business owners interested in inclusion

Monument business owners John Dominowski, Steve Marks, and Jeremy Diggins spoke and distributed copies of a letter to the Tri-Lakes board inquiring about possible exclusion from the Woodmoor-Monument district and inclusion into the Tri-Lakes district. They cited dissatisfaction with the Woodmoor-Monument district’s handling of their complaint about business inspections, what they termed "the cover up of the serious alcohol allegation," better ambulance services, and improved response without the I-25 barrier.

Pocock said switching would be difficult but not impossible. He said if the Woodmoor-Monument district refuses to exclude them, they must "go to district court and prove that switching districts is the best thing for you as citizens."

Hildebrandt said, "We don’t want to get in the middle of a battle." Dominowski replied, "We struggled with this. We don’t want to put you in the middle."

The meeting ended with an executive session to discuss personnel matters.

**********

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 Sept. 18. For more information, call Chief Denboske at 481-2312.

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Woodmoor-Monument FPD board meeting Aug. 18

By Jim Kendrick

The Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District (WMFPD) Board met at 8 a.m. on Aug. 18 to conduct an hour-long executive session on a personnel matter. The open public session at 9 a.m. began with the announced outcomes of two investigations regarding Fire Marshal Robert Blake, followed by the regular monthly meeting. All board members were present, as were several Monument business owners.

Board member Bob Harvey had been asked to conduct an investigation into complaints by more than 30 Monument business owners about the way Blake conducted recent fire inspections. Shortly after this request, Harvey was promoted to captain in the Colorado Springs Fire Department, which necessitated an extended out-of-town trip. Because of this, he was unable to finish the investigation as planned by Aug. 18, so he gave an interim report only. He said that he had only met with John Dominowski, the petition group’s principal representative. His preliminary review of the related inspections indicated that the violations were not out of line and were fairly minor. He said he expected there would be easy cures for owners’ concerns since he felt the real issues were differences of personality, varying acceptance of the evolving fire code, and a need to change the way the message about violations was delivered. He said he planned to visit with all the remaining petitioners and would have a final report at the next board meeting.

Harvey said he planned to recommend a board of appeals for business owners seeking variances, like the ones in Denver and Colorado Springs that deal with historic businesses. He said this new variance board would perform a common-sense review by lay people of the overall situation considering insurance and construction in addition to national fire code requirements, with a member from the WMFPD board as an ex officio member. He said members of the proposed Woodmoor-Monument variance board should have a broad view of how codes are applied throughout the region and the relationship between the code, life safety, and real world engineering. He said a fire inspector typically inspects only from the perspective of life safety. Fire marshals are often divorced from engineering aspects and only very large fire departments can have a technical section to consider engineering issues. Harvey said he would urge all business owners in Monument to contact this new variance board right away if there was a concern, so they could involve Regional Building to help interpret fire code ordinances.

Several times, Harvey and Board President Bob Browning emphatically stated that fire marshals do not shut down businesses. They simply record apparent code violations and then Regional Building determines the proper disposition of the findings. An inspector may tell an owner the range of possible outcomes, including worst case, if requested to do so, but nothing more. Harvey noted that WMFPD had the lowest incident rate of owner referrals and inquiries in the county.

John Dominowski and Steve Marks expressed concern that more progress had not been made but understood Harvey’s scheduling conflict. They agreed to wait for the next meeting for a full report. Tom Conroy assured them their concerns will be addressed. Marks replied that he would continue to come to board meetings and not allow his concerns to be pushed under the table. Dominowski said he would have concerns about a variance board, noting that Chief Youtsey and Blake sit at a board meeting in a building with several obvious code violations like chipped tile and missing signs. Marks noted that the station door does not open outward as mandated and that the board room had more people in the room than the code allowed, though there was no sign stating the maximum occupancy. Browning responded that they cannot just ignore code violations and not write them up. An extended discussion followed concerning issues such as the difficulty of keeping up with the constant changes in the code and the probability that different inspectors would always find new and different infractions. Browning said he would expect a variance board to agree with the owners 60 to 75 percent of the time. Dominowski expressed skepticism.

Following this, Jim Wyss and Jeremy Diggns added their separate concerns. Wyss said he was having serious difficulty starting a new business in his building because a new change in crawl space sprinkler system requirements had added 20 percent to the cost of his building, a near-prohibitive expense. He said he expected the startup process to extend another two or three months, on top of the four months already spent, before he could earn any money. Harvey repeatedly assured the business owners that a variance board would provide a sound method for resolving issues for owners of old buildings through reasonable grandfathered variances. Dominowski volunteered to be on the variance board. Harvey said they needed to work on policies and procedures to ensure impartiality and objectivity.

Browning concluded the discussion with an announcement regarding the board’s investigation into the claim that Blake smelled of alcohol during an inspection on May 29 during duty hours. He said, "Nothing has been found during our investigation to indicate that Fire Marshal Blake has broken any laws or violated any district regulations or policies in relation to these allegations. The matter is closed at this time." The board has purchased a Breathalyzer to test any member accused of violating the zero tolerance policy; the Breathalyzer threshold will be 0.02 percent for an immediate blood test.

The board returned to routine business with the chief’s report:

  • Legal fees for the pension investigation for a deceased member with no heirs have resulted in slightly higher-than-expected expenses.

  • All multidistrict merger/consolidation expenses have been invoiced.

  • Analysis of a new 800-megahertz alerting system continues, but Youtsey prefers the simpler, cheaper VHF system endorsed by all the North End Chiefs on Aug. 14.

  • Kaiser Permanente has chosen to discontinue providing health plan coverage; Aetna will provide the best alternative, in partnership with Monument town employees. Rates increased 10.3 percent ($6,000 overrun), while district revenue increased at only 6 to 7 percent, requiring a fresh look at next year’s budget proposal, to be discussed at the next meeting.

  • Med-Tronic donated an $800 automatic defibrillator to the district on Aug. 15.

  • No district merger issues will be on the ballot this year as the deadline has passed.

  • Tom Conroy asked about the lightning strike fatality on the Woodmoor Pines golf course Aug. 5. The victim, Robert Adkisson, was not discovered until roughly 20 minutes after the incident since everyone had left the course. There were approximately 13 other calls ongoing at the time (5:57 p.m.) of this particular cell phone report. A scorecard for the golf course will be obtained so that a responding vehicle will have a better idea of where to go in the event of another emergency on the course.

The next meeting is on Sept. 22 at 8 a.m.

On Aug. 25, Fire Marshal Raymond Blake resigned from the WMFPD. No reasons were given by Blake or the WMFPD.

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Pikes Peak Wildfire Protection Partners Aug. 14

By Jim Kendrick

The Pikes Peak Wildfire Protection Partners met at the Palmer Lake Town Hall at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 14, with 22 members in attendance. This is a regional fire department partnership that extends beyond the Tri-Lakes area and El Paso County.

President Raymond Blake of Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District presided.

Woodmoor/Monument Fire Chief David Youtsey gave the treasurer’s report, noting that the separate grant account had been closed and combined with the operational account. The president and secretary signed signature cards so others could pay bills in Youtsey’s absence. He noted that a CPA in Castle Rock was filing their IRS report, and he would have some results at the next meeting.

Haley Rich of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office reported that after four months, their request for a $30,000 federal grant is being held up by the Division of Wildlife (DOW). Four other divisions recommended approval of the grant. The chipper is to be used to mulch dead trees and slash, leaving the mulch at the curb. The DOW wants the chipper to be washed down with a disinfectant to control weeds. There was universal disbelief at this requirement. Chippers had never been paid for by a federal grant, so this has become a long learning process, Rich noted. Palmer Lake Assistant Chief Julie Lokken said attempts to wash down the interior would hopelessly foul the chipper. Other members reported on the success of their organizations’ chipping programs. Rich suggested that members may wish to use the slogan "Mind in the Gutters" to help people remember to clean out debris in their rain gutters, downspouts, and roof valleys that could serve as wildfire fuel.

Cathy Prudhomme of the Colorado Springs Fire Department passed out drafts of the new wildfire pamphlet. Several members had suggestions on revised wording for a new pamphlet. The variety of perspectives they bring, due to differing organizational emphases, led to a discussion on how to limit and focus recommended procedures to those most appropriate to this particular handout. A final draft should be ready for next month’s meeting. Kinko’s provided Youtsey with a pre-printing invoice for the pamphlet so grant money to pay for printing could be secured before the grant expired. Prudhomme will also coordinate a letter signed by Gov. Owens announcing state Wildfire Prevention Day.

Ella Johnson of El Paso County Forestry received an engraved flagstone mantel clock from the group in recognition of her long service in maintaining the organization’s historical files. Karen Bergethon of the U.S. Forestry Service described Johnson’s long service to the community.

The meeting adjourned at 2:30 p.m. The next meeting is at the Monument Fire Center Class Room at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 11.

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Springs wastewater link too expensive for Donala

By Judy Barnes

The Upper Monument wastewater treatment plant is shared by three special districts in the Tri-Lakes area: Triview Metropolitan District, Forest Lakes Metropolitan District, and Donala Water and Sanitation District. The ultimate design capacity of the plant, with expansion planned in phases, will be 3.2 million gallons. The current capacity of the plant is 875,000 gallons per day. According to Dana Duthie, manager of Donala, the plant now handles around 550,000 gallons per day–slightly under 63 percent of the current capacity. The Donala district contributes about 70 percent of that flow. The next expansion phase will up the capacity to around 1.6 million gallons per day, duplicating the current technology used by the plant. The final expansion could be 20 years from now, said Duthie.

In accordance with Environmental Protection Agency policy, the State of Colorado requires that an expansion be designed when a plant reaches 80 percent of capacity. At 90 percent capacity, construction of the expansion must begin. Duthie said that 100 percent of current capacity of the Upper Monument plant is expected to be reached in late 2005 or early 2006. "It’s a pipe dream to wait for 80 percent capacity before designing an expansion," said Duthie. "To get through the site application procedures alone takes six months."

Expansion of the plant is problematic, however, as it is surrounded by land designated by the federal government as habitat of the endangered Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse. This means that expansion must stay within the fenced area around the plant, which ultimately could be significantly more expensive. Meanwhile, growth continues in the areas served by the Upper Monument plant.

In 1999, Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) did a wastewater utilities study up to the year 2040. They considered the feasibility of building an interceptor (where all collection lines merge) to collect the wastewater from the northern part of El Paso County outside the city limits. According to Duthie, as a result of the study, CSU decided to build the Northern Reclamation Plant, a new wastewater treatment plant on Monument Creek, south of Garden of the Gods Road.

As an alternate way of financing the new plant, Duthie said, about a year and a half ago CSU came to the three districts of Upper Monument. Only Donala, the southernmost of the three, was interested, as it would only be economically advantageous for them to hook into Colorado Springs’ new plant. Donala currently serves 2,200 customers in Gleneagle and Fox Ridge Run, mostly residential with a few businesses and the Gleneagle Golf Club. A total build-out of 2,900 customers, possibly including some industry, will comprise the district. Donala would contribute up to 700,000 gallons of the plant’s daily capacity of 20 million gallons when the Northern Reclamation plant comes on line in 2005.

"The cost [of participating with CSU], about $4 million, was in the long run cheaper than expanding our own plant," said Duthie. "But [in 2002] their city council voted down Donala’s participation as a partner because of their concern about fueling growth outside their city limits," he explained.

Because the costs were still attractive to Donala, Duthie pursued status as an out-of-city customer for wastewater services. He made his presentation to the Colorado Springs City Council on July 16, 2003. However, as an out-of-city customer, Duthie faced a different rate structure: 150 percent of what an in-city customer pays. "With an 83 percent rate increase forecast over the next five years, the cost would be $7.5 million; $7.5 million for participation in the Colorado Springs project is prohibitive, and we aren’t pursuing it further," said Duthie.

According to Monument Sanitation District Manager Mike Wicklund, Section 208 of the 1972 Federal Clean Water Act requires that states must have a plan to meet water quality issues. Colorado’s 208 plan says that whenever a new plant is designed, the possibility of consolidating should be examined, thereby eliminating one of the plants. The spirit of the 208 plan is to consolidate wastewater plants whenever feasible, which was what CSU appeared to be doing when it approached the districts using the Upper Monument plant. Since the new CSU interceptor will be within a close distance of Donala’s interceptor, it would make economic sense for Donala to consolidate with the Colorado Springs plant.

"In the state’s review of a permit for a wastewater facility, they’re supposed to consider the 208 plan, looking at several factors including environmental factors and the geographic and financial feasibility of combining wastewater plants. If expansion of the Upper Monument Plant is not environmentally, geographically, or financially feasible, then both Upper Monument and Colorado Springs Utilities should be getting together. The state and any review committees should be examining feasibility of consolidation," said Wicklund. "However, the 208 plan sets recommendations, not requirements."

Wicklund continued: "Combining Donala’s wastewater collection system with Colorado Springs Utilities seems to be a political issue, because the decisions don’t seem to be in the spirit of the 208 plan, which aims to eliminate the number of plants along a tributary if possible. When the water quality management committees and the state review facility designs and permit applications, they’re to consider what’s in the 208 plan. Is the plant designed to a large enough capacity to handle the waste of a nearby small district? The design capacity should be able to handle a smaller neighboring community. If it isn’t sufficient, it’s recommended that the two entities work together to build a plant of sufficient capacity. $7.5 seems an excessive amount for the flow capacity that would be added to the CSU plant by Donala.

"The Colorado Springs City Council expressed concerns about everybody hooking into CSU, expressing concerns about once you start this, where do you stop? But the combining of wastewater systems is precisely the goal of the state’s 208 plan. The fear of future growth as a result of Donala’s participation with CSU’s new plant is unfounded because the Donala Water and Sanitation District already exists. The design plan of the new CSU facility would include any present and future effluent from Donala. Colorado Springs Utilities could deny any future entities from using their wastewater system because those entities would not have been included in the original design capacity."

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Lewis-Palmer Board of Education meeting Aug. 21

By Tommie Plank

Prior to convening the 7 p.m. meeting, the Board of Education and administrators toured the new transportation facility under construction to the south of the current bus barn. The project is slightly behind schedule due to delays caused by rain in May and June, but is expected to be completed before December. The new facility will provide six bays for working on buses, a bus washing bay, spaces for dispatch, offices, and a larger meeting room for the drivers and staff. The old facility will be converted into additional space for the grounds and maintenance department.

Commendations were presented to transportation department employees David Vance and Lois Krohn for their outstanding job of running the State Commercial Drivers’ Licensing Academy in District 38. In a recently conducted audit, the district received high marks from the state for this activity.

Maryann Wiggs, Marie Revak, and Jackie Duhon also received commendations for their part in organizing and facilitating the Summer Institute. These summer classes for teachers have come to be very highly regarded throughout the state.

The board adopted goals for 2003-2004 in three major areas:

  1. Refine and publish a Best Practices Manual for school board members

  2. Detail and implement a plan for processing high school growth issues

  3. Provide leadership and oversight into development of the Professional Learning Community concept

The board approved five areas on which District Accountability will focus:

  1. Assist the board with the dissemination of information about Professional Learning Communities

  2. Assist with formulation of "collective commitments" to support the Professional Learning Community concept

  3. Assist with the study of how the high school growth issue aligns with the Professional Learning Community concept

  4. Continue the school improvement/accreditation plan cycle

  5. Host and facilitate a Meet the Candidates night for school board candidates Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. at Creekside Middle School

The board approved new policies and revisions of current policies regarding students, personnel, and finance. The first reading of a policy on financial administration was approved. A possible revision to the policy concerning the process of receiving citizens’ comments at board meetings was also discussed. Both policies will be on the agenda for further discussion and possible approval at the September meeting.

Because of the extensive renovations under way at the Administration Building, several standing meetings normally held there will be moved to other locations. District Accountability meetings will be held at Lewis-Palmer Middle School until the construction project is complete. The first meeting of the 2003-04 school year will be on Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. School board meetings will be moved to Grace Best Elementary School and will be on the third Thursday of each month, beginning at 7 p.m.

School Board Candidates

Candidates who have turned in petitions to run for the three director districts in the Nov. 4 election are: District 2, Lou Ann Dekleva and Steve Corder; District 4, Jes Raintree (unopposed); and District 5, Steve Plank, D.J. McCormack, and Glen Harris.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Aug. meeting

View Plans for Walters' Multifamily Buildings

By Chris Pollard

At its August meeting, the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) received the formal application from developer Ray Marshall for the proposed development in South Woodmoor. The application listed Pulte Homes as the builder, with a proposed start date of April 2004 and a completion date of June 2007.

Several improvements had been made since the initial concept was presented at a Monument town meeting. One access road, originally shown feeding into Leggins Way, has now been replaced with one going into Bowstring Road. For screening, the developer is now proposing upwards of 4,000 trees and shrubs, to be planted mainly around the outside of the area involved.

Previously, the drawings of the houses had been shown with the incorrect finishes and rooflines. These have been upgraded (some examples are shown in the accompanying photographs). The developer is proposing a mix of fiber-cement siding and cultured stone for the sides of the buildings and tried to break up the rooflines and walls so the multiple units were less "blocklike."

The area between the proposed development and the rest of South Woodmoor is now almost certain to become a conservation easement and remain in its current natural state.

There was some confusion in one of the maps: A larger area of the development seemed to be devoted to irrigated bluegrass rather than drought-tolerant grasses. It was thought that perhaps this had been reversed by mistake, but no representatives were present to clarify this.

As far as deviations from requirements for development, only two major issues are still open. WIA restricts cut and fill, and the drawings show a need to increase this in a few small areas. County rules require more parking spaces than proposed, but an appeal is being made to the Board of Adjustment to restrict the area of asphalt used. In addition, the developer is trying to minimize the amount of street lighting relative to county rules by attempting to have the porch lighting counted as part of the illumination scheme.

The next step is for the WIA Architectural Control Committee (ACC) to review these plans for conformance to WIA standards before approval by the WIA; following approval, plans will be submitted to the El Paso County Planning Commission. The ACC will probably review these plans at its Sept. 9 meeting.

View Plans for Walters' Multifamily Buildings

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Planning commission votes for Flying Horse Ranch Aug. 7

By Jim Kendrick

On Aug. 7, the Colorado Springs Planning Commission unanimously approved annexation of the proposed Flying Horse Ranch (FHR) project, Classic Home’s FHR master plan, and city agricultural zoning for the entire parcel. City Council will consider the project at its Oct. 14 and 28 meetings. The property is the undeveloped rangeland immediately west of Highway 83, between Northgate Road on the north and the Rampart campus of Pikes Peak Community College on the south. Its western boundary abuts a number of existing previously annexed city developments east of the interstate.

Approval of all three measures ensures that Classic will be able to avoid the more restrictive water, density, and buffer limitations of the county’s Tri-Lakes Master Plan and Black Forest Preservation Plan. Many members of the planning commission stated in their summarizing remarks that the city was far better equipped than the county to control and regulate high-density development. They added that the city would provide better services to the currently proposed 3,975 dwelling units, 56-acre K-12 school campus for District 20, and several commercial and industrial subdivisions. The city’s master plan objective to facilitate future high-density annexation aligns with Classic’s proposed urban density for this parcel. The county master plans call for far less density and entirely different density distributions and buffering in this area.

Although the meeting started at 8:30 a.m., the FHR hearing did not begin until 10 hours later, at 6:50 p.m. Classic was given nearly two hours to present arguments for its FHR master plan, which offers the city a net revenue surplus of $4.7 million in the first 10 years, $4 million in cash for road and bridge construction, and all water rights for the 1,565-acre parcel. Affected neighboring citizens were limited to three minutes each to express their numerous concerns about Classic’s recently modified master plan. More than half the citizens opposing the proposal were not able to speak to the commissioners, as discussion was curtailed to give Classic time for rebuttal.

Discussion

Bob Tegler of the city planning staff was first to speak, giving an overview of the staff’s conclusions. Some of the major conclusions were the following:

  • If the FHR parcel is not annexed, the impact on Classic would be a county restriction to 5-acre lots, as well as no revenue for the city.

  • The county’s requirements for visual buffers and density boundaries are more constraining than the city’s. Hillside views and vegetation should be preserved where practical.

  • The city would benefit from the economic base within FHR as more long term-jobs would be created under city rules. Annexation would also result in more short-term construction jobs due to the city permitting a far higher building density.

  • The city would provide adequate potable water and drainage.

  • The city will ensure that Highway 83 is eventually widened to four lanes all the way to the north entrance of FHR. If annexed, Classic will provide $2 million for the bridge over Squirrel Creek plus an additional $2 million highway impact fee for improvements to the Powers and/or Interquest exits on I-25.

  • Classic will donate a Northgate fire station, an electric substation, and a groundwater irrigation system. [Donald Wescott Fire Protection District currently provides fire service. The city would take over this duty.]

  • FHR would not subject adjacent county property and existing urban subdivisions to excessive traffic.

  • Classic decided not to build an interchange in the center of the project for the Powers Boulevard extension, so the master plan has been revised. A majority of the previously planned office/industrial areas adjacent to Abert Estates are now to be village areas. (These are higher density residential areas with "granny flats," alleys, and village green pocket parks.)

  • Buffers and trails are only notional for now and have to be designed and rechecked as construction continues.

  • Colorado Springs Utilities and the city’s engineering department both assessed the master plan, at its current level of preliminary definition, as adequate.

  • No traffic study has been completed; hence there are no comments from the respective CDOT, city, or county traffic offices.

  • The undeveloped rangeland is currently zoned R-R-3 by the county, with special districts still to be determined. Classic requires low tax rate city agricultural zoning as a condition for accepting city annexation.

Doug Stemple, Classic’s CEO, introduced the FHR Master Plan presentation. He said it would be a national model for community education and a signature legacy project for Classic. John Maynard, a spokesman for Classic’s urban planning consultant NES, then gave the master plan presentation. Some of the major points in Maynard’s 95-minute presentation were:

  • Classic opposed any portion of Powers Boulevard in FHR but was overruled at every level of government.

  • Classic limited the number of access roads to Highway 83 to two and accepted the city and county requirement to straighten Northgate Road from I-25 to Highway 83. The existing eastbound portion of Northgate Road east of Voyager that veers uphill to the north, around steep Smith Creek drainage, then turns back east to the intersection with Roller Coaster and ends at Highway 83 will remain, but be renamed. The donated $2 million bridge, on the west end of the new straightened Northgate Road, will cross this presently avoided Smith Creek steep drainage area.

  • The 80 acres of Classic-owned parks will result in an average of 250 dwellings/park.

  • District 20 will begin building a middle school on its 56-acre campus immediately; an elementary school will be built shortly after that, followed by the high school. The new District 20 campus lies between the old and new Northgate Road segments, southwest of the Roller Coaster-Northgate intersection.

  • There will be five new traffic lights on the new Northgate Road to Highway 83 and two new traffic lights on 83.

  • 77 acres of mouse habitat will be given to the city as open space, with all other parks owned and maintained by Classic–a nonstandard arrangement.

  • Housing densities range from 2 dwellings/acre by the golf course to 10 dwellings/acre in the villages.

  • The heaviest commercial areas–originally across Highway 83 from Abert Estates–are now southwest of the new District 20 campus, south of old Northgate Road.

  • Classic will buy back water, from the donated water rights for the parcel, for Classic-owned parks, schools, entrances, and the golf course. (The golf course will need about 1.5 million gallons per day initially and may taper to about 750,000 gallons/day once all plant life matures.)

  • FHR conforms to city plans for high density urban development and the 2002 land-use map for city utilities.

Each of the planning commissioners commended Classic for the master plan and its high density. Maynard lamented that the lack of knowledge about Powers’ grading prevented him from answering Commissioner Wignall’s questions about utility crossings for the D-20 school acreage. Stemple reiterated the effects of the lack of access to Powers, without mentioning that Classic had chosen not to build access to it.

Stemple then lamented that Classic was being forced to donate 100 acres to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), worth roughly $10 million, which will be used for snowplow and sand storage. He asked the city to work with CDOT to share the existing five-acre sand storage site on Highway 83, south of Shoup, so Classic could recover this 100 acres and build more houses, which would in turn generate more city taxes. He said the city would not allow Classic to build such a "hideous" facility within FHR, so they should not let CDOT build it either.

Other comments

Jim Stanford, of District 20, endorsed the new school campus as a national model.

John Campbell, a developer who lives on the 150-acre parcel just north of Abert Estates on Highway 83, requested that Classic coordinate with CDOT to have the new Northgate-Highway 83 traffic light operational the day the new road is opened. He said he anticipates there will be many cars entering his property in error and that a left turn south on Highway 83 from his driveway will be nearly impossible. He also requested screening the commercial buildings at the Northgate-Highway 83 intersection, questioning the slides of the entrance that showed no buildings.

Casey Jones, a fourth-generation Black Forest resident, listed her concerns as water, fire, traffic, crime, and pollution. Her Dawson aquifer well has dropped 3 feet in the last 10 years, and she feels FHR will make the water problem much worse. There is a reason the county requires 5-acre lots in this area, she said, and the city should not allow 10 dwellings/acre. She added that the county land at the FHR boundary averages one house per 8 acres, while FHR averages four houses/acre at the boundary, violating all three master plan density transition requirements. She said there was not adequate fire protection now or planned and that the proposed District 20 schools would be filled to capacity long before the majority of FHR dwellings are built. She finished by saying that most of the donated "park" was so rugged that it was not walkable. She said she did not blame Classic for donating unbuildable land, but said the credit taken for parks was undeserved.

Fred Herman, of Northgate Road across from the proposed FHR industrial area, said this use was in blatant conflict with county master plans and the city’s 2020 land use plan. He asked for no more than the same consideration given to Abert Estates residents for required density transition and buffering. He said he had attempted to talk to Tegler but Tegler’s response was, "I don’t have to talk to you." Ken Rowberg, director of county planning, told Herman the city had chosen to ignore similar objections from the county. Rowberg’s letter in the FHR proposal says the city buffered its own residents at the expense of county residents. Herman was interrupted before his concluding remarks. He distributed copies of his letter to the commissioners, but no member reviewed it.

Julie Haverluk observed that there is no insurance against the golf course leading to dry wells for all adjacent county residents. She stated that all the drawings show heavy tree plantings and nearly universal sod installations throughout the project. While they may be attractive, they are in places not open to the public. She expressed doubts Classic and/or the city would not come back later in the process and rescind the pledge to draw water from only the lowest two available aquifers. Adjacent county wells use the upper two aquifers.

Judy von Ahlefeldt said that the widening of Highway 83 would not start for many years, as evidenced by the current repaving of the highway’s old alignment near Shoup Road, which will eventually be removed. She also said the traffic study was completed two weeks prior to this meeting and had as yet been withheld from the public. She stated there should be full water use disclosure throughout all construction.

Iman House, an attorney, said his primary concerns were the vagueness of the wording on protection of ridgelines and vegetation and the likelihood of destruction of the most valuable aspects of the parcel. He suggested the city create a visual overlay district for FHR as strong as the one they just approved for the Pioneers Museum.

Meteorologist Bruce Varger said the current dry period and planned FHR overuse of Highway 83 would create an "instant L.A." and that everyone knows golf courses are not naturally occurring phenomena along the Front Range.

Richard Marciniak said the commissioners should hold Classic to its claim—and get it in writing—that only the bottom two aquifers would be tapped. He said he would prefer the city make this aquifer constraint a mandatory condition of further development, to protect neighboring wells from drying up.

Armand Boudreau said he had saved for 30 years to buy a rural retirement home on Northgate Road, and now it has turned out to be the worst decision of his life because the FHR industrial zone will be across the street—in complete violation of every city and county master plan.

Classic’s Rebuttal

John Maynard reminded the commissioners that no one who had spoken in opposition was a city resident and that Northgate Road and Highway 83 were the only density breaks the city had to provide to county residents regardless of any master plans, per the guidance from the city council. "This is just the way it’s done in annexation. This is a textbook application of land suitability."

Stemple reminded the commissioners that they would be getting a revenue surplus of $4.7 million in the first 10 years and far more in later years, that $4 million in cash was being provided for roads, and that every bit of the property’s water rights were being given to the city.

Commissioner comments included:

  • Johnson: "The urban/rural interface requirement is not applicable here because of the city-county border."

  • Winkler: "The visual overlay ruling only applies downtown. Also there will be so much land disturbance due to road building that preservation of ridgelines and vegetation is not our concern. We can’t deny the reality of urban growth."

  • Wignall: "The slope and vegetation require high-density near the county’s five-acre lots. You live in a beautiful area. I wish I could afford it. I have faith in Classic."

  • Johnson: "The county would let Classic use Dawson aquifer water, but we won’t."

  • Murphy: "We know Classic and NES better than anyone else. They are responsible urban developers."

  • Snider: "We’re charged with the long-term annexation by the city. We’ve given the county as much as we need to."

  • Cunningham: "The golf course will have great grasses and will not be lined with houses. This is a large parcel of very buildable dirt."

  • Obering: "Colorado cannot afford to continue to build 5-10-acre lot developments. We need affordable high-density housing."

Stemple said that no traffic study had been done since October, due to lack of city comments on when and how Highway 83 would be improved. The regional Major Thoroughfare Task Force had determined that Highway 83, Northgate Road, and Interquest Parkway would be four lanes not later than 2020, to relieve congestion. Classic is paying $2 million for Smith Creek Bridge over the new Northgate Road. He said Classic’s ability to give the city all these benefits depends on high urban densities. Otherwise, Stemple said, "We’ll have to stop construction on the project."

Before voting unanimously to approve all three agenda items at 9:45 p.m., several commissioners again praised Classic, saying the reality of growth cannot be denied nor can the city’s long, successful relationship with this developer.

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Letters to Our Community

Determan responds

This letter is in response to your article "Palmer Lake Town Council Combined Workshop and Meeting," which appeared in the August issue of Our Community News.

It was erroneously reported that during the planning commission deliberations, I acknowledged that I had run an illegal day care operation. I would like to emphatically state that I did not acknowledge doing anything illegal and do not run an illegal day care. In reality, what occurred during those deliberations was that I read the day care regulations directly to the planning commission because they had questioned how I was able to provide day care without a license. The simple fact is this: Colorado does not require a day care license for providers who care for the children of a single family. It wasn’t mentioned in the article, but in the past I have been licensed in both Denver and El Paso Counties, which included my current residence in Palmer Lake. Since I now provide only occasional child care to a single family, I am not required to hold a Colorado day care license.

Wendy Determan

Apology

Determan did state at a planning commission workshop that she was running a day care. As her letter makes clear, we should have termed her business "an unlicensed day care" rather than "an illegal day care." OCN apologizes for the error. - Editor

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Wal-Mart vs. The Environment

This letter is in response to the article in your newspaper, "County Planning Commission Hearing on WalMart," dated Aug. 2, 2003.

There are a lot of strong feelings about the potential of the new Baptist Road Wal-Mart Supercenter. Some of the concerns seem to be:

  1. We don’t need the Supercenter in this location.

  2. The Supercenter will create excessive light and trash pollution.

  3. The Supercenter will cause major traffic congestion for the Exit 158 overpass/interchange area and Baptist Road.

My wife and I have an additional concern that is detailed in [the fifth paragraph in] your article. In summary, it states that all runoff from rainwater and petroleum from the lube facility, the gas station, and vehicles in the parking lot would be carried into the detention area by storm water, and this in turn will eventually end up in Jackson Creek and the associated wetlands.

If we read this paragraph correctly, the county is willingly going to allow WalMart to pollute a delicate and sensitive wetland area. This pollution will eventually find its way into our underground aquifer and drinking water, not to mention what it will do to the area wildlife.

Surely the "powers that be" aren’t really willing to allow this type of pollution. It seems to us that this type of pollution is or should be listed as "criminal activity." Surely this is not the way for WalMart to become a good corporate citizen of the Colorado Springs/Monument area. We, as well as, I’m sure, other concerned citizens, would certainly appreciate an explanation/clarification from the county or someone about the points raised before the application is approved and before we face another corporate travesty.

John and Becky Barnes

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Giveaway Management

The Town of Monument Board of Trustees is at it again by attempting to give away $2 million to developers by contributing to the construction of Jackson Creek Parkway south of Higby Road. Two years ago, the board adopted Traffic Impact Fees so developers would pay their fair share of those impacts caused by their new development. However, the attorney for Triview Metropolitan District objected to these fees when applied to that area of the town within the Triview boundaries (locally known as Jackson Creek). The proviso agreed to at that time would be that the town would not be financially responsible for building any roads within the Triview district and that this district would contribute 50 percent of all road construction costs for Jackson Creek Parkway north to Higby. Apparently, Triview wants to give developers a free ride by not having them pay their fair share of costs for traffic impact and storm drainage, as well as water and sewer.

Triview has run up an enormous debt without a vote of the residents of their district. This debt has been increasing at a rate of $5 million a year. However, this year the district’s board of directors wants to increase it an addition $12 million-plus to pay for this parkway after the developer refused to do it, according to those rules that apply in the rest of the town of Monument. So why is the town considering giving away its water fund money to a district that has reneged on paying its half of the costs for constructing the parkway?

These impact fees should be uniformly applied to all development in the town. The Monument Board of Trustees should not be contributing to the costs of roads serving Triview as long as Triview does not want the developers to pay their fair share of costs for the impact of their planned developments on the entire community.

Leon Tenney

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Travelin’ Time

We all want to enjoy the outdoors. Many people come here for that very lifestyle. Some wander away and then return because what we have here is so good. It is a great place to live, work, and play. Recently a man said to me, "I lived here in the early ‘70s and have only been back for a couple of years. It hasn’t changed much, except 400,000 more people are on the same highways."

Homes, highways, the overcrowded tension—even outbreaks of more violence and carnage on the heavily traveled highways and the roads… . To escape that, we tend to go toward the hills so close at hand. It’s our great escape—except on Sundays when it’s time to come back and we run afoul of the I-70 parking lot. Transportation is not as carefree as it once was.

Americans and automobiles are our symbol of freedom and expression, as well as our mobility, power, and recreation. Cars are full of tense and tightly wound people with too much to do to be even remotely considerate of others. There are those who drink, drug, or just plain old daydream while driving; there are those who think they are out there on the NASCAR circuit. It’s very busy!

What I’m seeing is a local and international trend to bypass, ignore, or not really use alternative transportation. Simple and easy construction of light rail could alleviate huge traffic and freight transportation needs. More and better planned public transportation fits the needs of the workforce. More planned communities that are closer together create less need for longer travel to get services and goods. Alternatives like good bike paths and lanes create less highway and city traffic stress.

Our state is playing catch-up way too late with the highways. Increasing traffic has created obsolescence before completion of projects! If state or federal government agencies had to compete with the business world for projects, their flaws would put them out of business in a hurry. Yet real changes seem to be not closer, but farther away.

I love this area. I’ve lived most all my life here in the Tri-Lakes area. I’d truly like to see progress. Face it: We are not so little any more, and growth is inevitable. With that growth must come lots of changes. Let’s do it right and leave behind a legacy of long-lasting improvements that outshine our present times and can be pointed at by other areas as models of good growth.

In front of your phone book are the names, numbers, and addresses of all government servants and officials whom we chose to serve our communities and state or federal bodies. Contact them with ideas that promote positive and well-thought-out plans to make it a better place to live. As Chief Joseph said, "We didn’t inherit the land from our ancestors, we are borrowing it from our children."

Tim Watkins

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The last Concert in the Park...for this year

View photos from the Concert in the Park, Aug. 6

By Judy Barnes

Monument’s Fourth of July parade and street fair might be the town’s biggest summer party, but it was not the only one. There were five more, on Thursday evenings in July and August, featuring live music downtown at Limbach Park. This summer was the third year of free concerts in the park, presented by the Historic Monument Merchants Association (HMMA). The concerts have become hugely successful, attracting up to 500 people each time. Performers this year included Joe Bohler, Roadside Jody & Friends, Chuck Pyle, Gordon Burt, the County Line Ramblers, Dan Kirchner, Groove Society, CD Woods, and Jody Adams with Gypsy Heart.

The HMMA plans to install a permanent band shell at Limbach Park, which they hope to begin by next summer. The estimated cost is $20,000, half of which has already been raised. At each concert, mouthwatering barbecue was provided by the Coffee Cup Café staff, with help from Serteen volunteers. Jeremy Diggins, owner of the Coffee Cup, donated all proceeds, $500-$600 per week, to the HMMA for the band shell fund. Diggins also donated the proceeds from the July 3rd Barbecue Supper. In addition, Si and Dorothy Sibell donated the proceeds from their July 3rd Kids Karnival and Barn Dance. Members of HMMA took turns serving soft drinks and homemade baked goods at the concerts, which also raised money for the band shell fund. Also, a hat was passed for donations from the audience for the musicians as well as the band shell.

Meanwhile, performers at the summer concerts have been using a temporary stage, built by Kelly McGuire a few years ago. For each concert, he and Si Sibell towed the stage to the park and back, and Kelly made the stage ready for use each time.

If you missed the concerts this year, be sure to watch for them next summer. They are great fun for the whole family, and you’re sure to see people you know there.

View photos from the Concert in the Park, Aug. 6

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Who won the prize?

By Judith Pettibone

Winning a major literary award has to be the supreme brass ring for any writer. There are countless prizes—some big, some small. However, being able to have a tag line on the cover of a book, as the winner or even as a nominee of any prize, is certainly coveted and translates into prestige and increased sales for an author.

The most illustrious American prize for fiction is the Pulitzer, founded by the famed journalist-publisher of the early 20th century, Joseph Pulitzer. By being the first to call for the training of journalists at the university level, he had a major influence on the publishing industry. He left a lasting impact on the world of ideas when he endowed Columbia University with $2 million to establish a school of journalism and reward the creative world.

One-quarter of the endowment was to be used to create a prize that celebrates excellence in journalism, literature, drama, and public service by the press. The board was given flexibility in determining what the categories would be as time passed. Currently, there are 21 prizes in a variety of categories, with each winner receiving $7,500 and the public service prizewinner receiving a gold medallion.

Last year’s Pikes Peak Read selection was the beloved To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It won the Pulitzer in 1960. A number of our readers reported that this was their first Pulitzer novel. However, many have read Pulitzer Prize winners without knowing it. Over time, the prize designation becomes less emphasized as books go on to become modern classics.

Here are some familiar past titles, all Pulitzers and all worth reading or rereading: Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener (1948); The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk (1952); The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (1953); Advise and Consent by Allen Drury (1960); The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron (1968); Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner (1972); The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (1975); The Color Purple by Alice Walker (1983); and Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (1986).

More recently, the Pulitzer selections include two that have been local and national best-sellers as well as frequent book club selections:

The Hours by Michael Cunningham (1999): Adapted into a much-lauded film starring Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman, this is the thought-provoking tale of three women of different times whose lives become hauntingly intertwined.

Empire Falls by Richard Russo (2000) is the compelling tale of a small New Hampshire mill town as it and its residents evolve. Russo is a graceful and insightful storyteller who imbues his tale with humor and heartache.

For more information on the Pulitzer Prize, see www.pulitzer.org.

Since 1968, one of the world’s most well regarded awards has come from the United Kingdom. Recently renamed the Booker Man Prize, it is colloquially known as the Booker. This prize is sponsored by the Man Group and administered by the National Book League. It is awarded each October to the best full-length novel written by a citizen of the UK, the Commonwealth, Eire, Pakistan or South Africa. Publishers may submit two selections, and in addition, the judges may call for specific books to be submitted, often from small presses. This prize can make an instant best-seller for an obscure publisher and author.

Here are several recent Booker award winners:

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel (2002) is, according to the Los Angeles Times, "a story to make you believe in the soul-searching power of fiction." This is the adventure of Pi, a young Hindu/Christian/Moslem man who escapes from a shipwreck on a raft with his family’s zoo animals. Soon, just Pi and the tiger are left. And therein lies the tale.

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (2000) is a Canadian family saga one reviewer suggests could be titled "The Fall of the House of Chase." Publisher’s Weekly calls it a novel replete with "family secrets, sibling rivalry, political chicanery and social unrest, promises and betrayals, loss and regret and memory and learning." Yikes! Perhaps only in the hands of the often-brilliant Margaret Atwood could all those disparate themes be tackled so successfully.

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (1992) was successfully adapted into the Oscar-winning film of the same name. This complex tale of the interwoven lives of four war-torn souls in a post-World War II Italian villa-cum-hospital is well worth reading, especially if you loved the movie. Ondaatje is known for his "luminous and stately prose."

For more information on the Booker Man Prize, see www.booker.com.

Certainly there are not enough prizes for all the terrific books written each year. And some would say that all prizewinners are not wonderful. As always, we readers determine any book’s ultimate fate. However, winning a major literary prize may make you want to take just a bit more notice of any given book.

Until next month, good reading!

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Reflections: Missing Them

By Judith Pettibone

Leon Uris died this summer. I won’t ever forget him, for it was with his Trinity that my husband and I began our nearly 30 years of reading aloud to one another.

Didn’t you feel sad when you heard about James Herriot’s death? My then quite young daughter said it all: "Oh, no, Mom, no more stories!" I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news about Dr. Seuss. My eyes filled, and I thought, "no new Seussian words or rhymes or characters." When Wallace Stegner died, I was rereading his wonderful novel, Angle of Repose. Again, I thought, no more elegant descriptions or exquisitely crafted characters. Who, now, will spin the ultimate adventure to describe Hong Kong post-1999 if not James Clavell? And whatever will we do without Roald Dahl?

One of the most difficult parts of losing someone close is that there will be no new memories. The mental photo album ends. When we lose public figures, the loss is similar. We miss those who touch us deeply. I remember thinking when Jim Hensen died that we had lost a major force for good. In the same way, it is sad to exist in the world without Ella Fitzgerald. But perhaps because I adore the well-written word, I always feel especially moved by the death of a favorite author.

Helping me understand these losses a bit better came via a letter from Garrison Keillor to, well, all of us. He wrote a piece for an Internet group interested in promoting reading to children. His electronic assignment was to answer two questions. One, What is your favorite book? His answer? The one he is currently reading. What an open-minded man.

The second question asked why reading was important to him. And his answer was simple, yet powerful. He started out by saying that reading connected him more closely to other people than is usually possible in daily life. He said that authors pour out their deepest thoughts to readers, who, as they respond, pour out their feelings as well. He said, "Reading E.B. White or John Cheever or Laura Ingalls Wilder, I feel intensely and emotionally close to them. They become sort of best friends with me and of course with thousands of other people." He said we need this closeness. It helps us connect to the history of our tribe and to figure out who we are.

But my favorite part of his letter had to do with how authors feel about their readers. He said, "Good authors love their readers, and the reader feels that love—you feel the author guiding you through the story, making sure it is clear to you, taking care to keep you entertained, and it is a wonderful feeling."

Indeed it is, Mr. Keillor. In your inimitable way, you have explained, so simply, why I feel such a loss when one of my personal storytellers dies. I have lost a friend, and I am right to feel diminished. We are lucky though, with these friends, to have tangible memories we can continue to visit and revisit—perhaps, in the end, creating new memories out of old familiar words. And after reading your letter, I think we are all lucky to have someone like you, continuing to take good care of us.

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Safe Computing

By John Heiser

Just about every day, there is news of a new computer virus or hacker attack on some major computer network or other. It has gotten to the point that some people are giving up on the computer revolution. But there are things you can do to protect your computer short of unplugging it and stashing it in the closet. Let’s look at each of the major threats – infection, break-in and user error – and highlight some of the things you can do to protect yourself.

Infection

Infection covers viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and the like. These are programs written to damage the data and programs on your computer and spread themselves to other computers. They may be designed to lie dormant for months or years before being activated. The amount of damage done by infectious programs ranges from a little message that pops up on the screen to erasing the entire contents of your hard drive, scrambling the code in your basic input-output system (BIOS) chip, or trying to cripple the Internet. Norton anti-virus currently lists 64,973 infectious programs. The number is growing every day.

Why would anyone go to all the effort of building an infectious program? No doubt the reasons are the same as the reasons some people bash mailboxes with baseball bats, spray graffiti, or steal cars: A callous disregard for other people’s rights and a need to feel superior. Sometimes that is coupled with the intent to steal valuables such as credit card or social security numbers.

So what can you do about it? Buy and use an anti-virus program. A couple good ones are Norton Anti-Virus and McAfee VirusScan. They list for about $50 but are often available for less. Whichever anti-virus program you choose, keep it up-to-date. Norton and McAfee publish new virus signature files every few days. Check frequently. Download and install the latest. Norton Anti-Virus includes a live update feature that will notify you and install the update as soon as it is available.

For information on the latest infectious programs, check the Norton at www.symantec.com/avcenter and the McAfee web site at http://us.mcafee.com/virusInfo

Break-In

The Internet is a wonderful tool for people to connect with one another and exchange information. The problem comes when someone on the other end of your Internet connection is intent on vandalism or worse. The same connection you use to visit far-away web sites can be used to snoop around in your computer. To see how vulnerable your computer is, visit Gibson Research (www.grc.com) and click on ShieldsUp! and then run the tests for "file sharing" and "common ports." You may be shocked to discover just how vulnerable you are.

The Gibson Research site has extensive instructions on how to make your Internet connection more secure. One essential tool is a software or hardware firewall that monitors every interaction over your Internet connection looking for and blocking nefarious activity. Software firewalls are available from various companies including Norton and McAfee. There is a good quality free one: Zone Alarm (www.zonelabs.com). Gibson Research offers advice on firewalls at http://grc.com/su-firewalls.htm. One of the single most important things you can do to prevent break-in: Install a firewall.

User Error

Just as the most dangerous part of a car is "the nut that holds the steering wheel," each of us is a major menace to our computing security. We forget to save the report we just finished. We add a new piece of hardware or software without backing up the current configuration and discover to our horror the system no longer works. This is the hardest problem to fix. Most of us need to develop some new habits.

  • As you are composing a document, save your work to disk every few minutes. Every hour or so, change the file name, perhaps by adding a version code (a, b, c, etc.). That way, if the latest version of the file is unreadable, you can revert to the prior version and reenter the latest changes.

  • Save a copy of the Windows registry before making changes to the configuration of your system. Norton Utilities and a variety of other programs on the market can automatically back up essential files. This advice is just as important to follow before installing the anti-virus and firewall software described above. Note that some users have reported serious problems resulting from installing some versions of Zone Alarm.

  • Back up your data to external media. This can be as simple as saving a copy of important files on floppy disk, CD, or Zip disk or as elaborate as a daily full back up of all files to magnetic tape or external hard drive. Develop a system for doing back ups and stick to it. Think about what you would do if your hard disk drive crashed tomorrow and was unbootable. That same precaution will be invaluable if a virus makes it past your anti-virus program and reformats your hard drive.

So, here is your ounce of prevention:

Install an anti-virus program and keep it up to date.

Install a hardware or software firewall.

Back up your data.

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Light Pollution, Part II: Light Trespass

By Chris Rasmussen

It was a one-night affair. Turning in for bed, I switched off the light on my night table, ready to join those already in slumber. But did the light actually go off? Looking across the room, I saw a fairly bright glow on the wall, outlined in the shape of the high, unshaded window. I took a brochure from the table, went to a point between that window and the wall, held up the brochure in the beam of light, and I could easily read the brochure. This light was coming from a neighbor’s driveway some 200 feet away!

Shortly before this incident, I had encountered the term that describes this situation: light trespass. Light trespass takes place when artificial light illuminates an adjoining property—whether it be the exterior of the house next door, across the street, or even two or three streets over—or an interior wall or ceiling. This situation is very common and can become a cause of neighborhood strife.

But there is little excuse for letting bad lighting come between neighbors. I told my neighbor about it the next day. He immediately understood what had happened—sheer inadvertence in leaving the light on all night—and that particular light has not been seen in my bedroom since.

The unwanted beaming of light between neighboring properties and buildings arises from two main causes: essentially bare, unshielded, overly bright light fixtures on the outside of, or on poles around, our houses and commercial, governmental, and school buildings; and from such light fixtures being turned on unnecessarily.

It is easy to spot the kinds of light fixtures responsible for light trespass: bare floodlights above garages, under eaves, or over backyard patios and decks; and decorative wall-mounted fixtures, which are essentially clear glass boxes housing bare bulbs, that surround front doors and garages. Imagine a straight line from those bare bulbs to the windows of houses next door or across the street and you understand the path that trespassing light follows.

One reason put forth for all this lighting is security—some residents feel more secure when exterior lights are burning all night. However, there are studies that show the opposite effect is often achieved with such glaring, shadow-creating lighting. Some houses in my neighborhood often have from two to six bright and essentially bare exterior lights burning until late at night, or all night. But across the street from them, you’ll also see the entire front yards and exterior walls of houses illuminated like a prison yard. That light continues on through the windows into these houses, lighting up interior walls. Often large areas of all those yards and house exteriors remain hidden in dark shadows, reducing security rather than enhancing it. Those shadowed areas can cloak prowlers, while the overly bright glare from the bare bulbs prevents onlookers from otherwise noticing any suspicious activity.

There are a number of situations around the Tri-Lakes area in which trespassing light emanates from commercial, governmental, and school buildings. These are pretty easy to spot. A couple of essentially bare-bulb, bright white, wall-mounted fixtures on a local elementary school surrounded by houses spray an all-night glare onto those homes. The intense yellow glow beaming from tall parking lot light poles at a Monument motel (whose light fixtures are aimed horizontally rather than downward) washes the motel and everything around it in a golden glare. Visible for miles even from above, these parking lot lights may be the most prominent single source of light pollution and light trespass in the Tri-Lakes area.

Incidents of light trespass are best moderated through education, public awareness, and neighborly discussions—not by arguments, lawsuits, or complaining to the authorities or homeowners associations. Nasty confrontations disturb neighborhood life and have, in a few documented instances, resulted in aggressive, even violent, actions. The remedies are usually simple and inexpensive, and require only practical actions that would inconvenience no one, preserve the peace, and keep light away from where it doesn’t belong.

So what can you do to reduce or eliminate light trespass in your neighborhood? Are your exterior lights among the trespassing culprits? It’s simple to figure out. Turn on those lights you typically switch on at night and then walk around your house—go into the street or down your driveway or to the rear lot line and look at your house and the lights. Follow the light to houses next door, across the street, or two streets over. Are any of those houses washed in light from your bulbs? How many windows of neighboring houses are in direct line with the lights beaming from your house and property? Look at the lights on neighboring houses and properties—which ones beam directly onto the exterior of your house or through your windows? Does the lighting around your house and those of your neighbors attract the eye or cause you to look away because of the bright glare? Answering these questions will help you find the source of light trespass. Talk about this with your neighbors; ask them to come out at night and survey the lights around their houses and in the neighborhood. Make this a group effort if at all possible.

So now that you know about it, what to do? The solutions are easy. The simplest one is to turn off the lights. Install motion sensor fixtures so the lights will come on only when something or someone moves nearby. Or, if you must have lights on all night, replace the bare bulb fixtures with shielding cutoff lamps that will keep the light within the confines of your property. For virtually all outside fixtures, focus the light on where it’s needed. Downsize the bulbs you use—40 or 60 watts will probably do the job, with much less glare. And why burn four lamps when one will suffice—and perhaps work wonders on your electric bill? Giving just a bit more consideration to the lighting around your house and in your neighborhood can result in a more attractive and safer place in which to live.

The next and final article of this series will look at costs associated with exterior lighting and will identify resources you can access for information and suggestions—useful for residents as well as organizations, government entities, homeowners associations, and business owners and managers in the Tri-Lakes area. Let us work to keep the stars in our skies and the lights out of our eyes.

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Teen summer reading program wins national award

The Pikes Peak Library District’s (PPLD) 2002 Teen Summer Reading program "Xtreme" was selected as one of 25 winners in the American Library Association’s Excellence in Library Service to Young Adults Recognition Project. The success of the teen program was attributed to "appealing prizes and the popularity of the trading cards," according to Susi Bonato, member of the library’s Teen Services Team. The cards were illustrated by an Xtremely talented teen artist, Zane Lyon, and featured Xtreme animé-style characters who represented genres of books (e.g. fantasy, adventure, mystery, romance, science fiction, etc.).

More than 4,100 teens participated in Fourteeners, the teen program, which focused on Colorado’s highest mountains. For a new program called Beyond Fourteeners, they continued to read in order to raise money for El Paso County Search and Rescue. ENT Federal Credit Union and PPLD staff donated $1 for each extra book that teens read. Search and Rescue received $1,153 through their efforts.

More than 24,000 children participated in the children’s 2003 Summer Reading Program, called Book Packing: Adventures in Reading. More than 200 teen volunteers helped make the children’s program a success; many of those volunteers helped with Reading Buddies, a program to provide individual encouragement for young readers.

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Monument Hill Sertoma helps provide "hearing dog"

In 1989, Signe Esposito, a hearing-impaired Pueblo woman, was presented with a hearing dog donated by the Monument Hill Sertoma Club. The dog, Max, recently died. Two Pueblo Sertoma clubs, Mesa and Sunrisers, collaborated with Monument Hill Sertoma Club and the Church of Ascension and the Holy Trinity to raise the funds to provide for another dog.

On Sept. 8, Freckles, a cattle dog mix, will move to Pueblo to live with Esposito.

Freckles was selected from a local animal shelter and trained in sound response by International Hearing Dog, Inc., located in Henderson, Colorado. He is one of more than 900 animal shelter dogs trained by this nonprofit organization since it was formed in 1979. All of these dogs are provided free of charge to deaf or hard-of-hearing recipients. It costs $5,000 to train and place each dog; this is funded through donations from individuals, service clubs, foundation grants, and fund-raising activities.

Freckles will alert Esposito to many sounds in her home such as the telephone, a knock at the door, a doorbell, alarm clock, and smoke alarm. Freckles will accompany her to work and when she goes out, in order to alert her to people walking up from behind and to other important sounds. Freckles will also provide companionship and security. 

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The Society Page: Society calls at the Estemere

View photos of the Estemere Mansion

By Leon Tenney

The Palmer Lake Historical Society held its annual fund-raiser and social at Estemere mansion on Aug. 23 at the generous hospitality of Roger and Kim Ward, the current owners of this Victorian mansion, located in the heart of historic Palmer Lake. Those of you who missed this grand occasion missed out on music, eats, and a wonderful tour. Including the Wards, the volunteer tour guides included Cheryl Ward, Barbara Roeming, Teresa Barnes, Natalie Jackson, and Cindy Swancutt. The Monument Hill Brass Quintet, bagpipe player Sam Swancutt, and singer/guitarist Gretchen Wagner provided music throughout the day. The quintet consisted of Ted Bauman on tuba, Mike Mozingo on trombone, Lisa Smith on French horn, Dan Bell and Craig Kettles on trumpets. They played a medley of old favorites through a storm and well into the afternoon. Jim Sawatzki, the local Oscar-nominated video historian, answered history-related questions in the chapel.

More than 250 folks got a tour of Estemere mansion. What a great tour it was, and what a restoration effort, that involved extensive research. The Wards wanted as much authentic furniture as possible. There are more than a dozen stained-glass masterpieces. Two of the ceilings have paintings. The old conservatory domed ceiling will have a scene at twilight and a painted constellation. Among the rooms restored on the first level are the sitting room, the parlor, the dining room, the kitchen, the music room, and the billiard room. Four bedrooms, two baths, and a sewing room are on the second floor.

There are more than seven levels in this mansion. When originally built, Estemere was considered innovative for its day, with walk-in closets and fire escape chains in all the bedrooms. The original owner lived for a time in England and copied a floor plan from the house in which he stayed; this included a widow’s walk, even though Palmer Lake is not on the seacoast. Dr. Thompson, a dentist, began building the mansion prior to 1887, then went bankrupt and disappeared in 1890. Over the next 100 years, the numerous owners kept adding onto and modernizing it. The Wards had to decide which period to restore each room to. For instance, Kim chose the 1920s as the historical period for the kitchen. The Wards clearly have put much love into restoring this favorite historic landmark in Palmer Lake. Thank you.

Many of the old Society regulars were present, including Sam DeFelice, Virgil Watkins and wife Jodie, and Carla Ryan. On Sat., Sep. 13 at 10 a.m., the Society tours someplace to the south known locally as the Broadmoor. This historical tour with Mrs. Spencer Penrose is open to members only due to limited space. For information and reservations, phone Society President Sam DeFelice at 481-8623. See you all then.

View photos of the Estemere Mansion

Correction

In the calender and special events sections of the August issue it was erroneously reported that noted photographer John Fielder would attend the Estemere tour. Fielder was unable to attend due to a photo shoot. We apologize for the error.

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Special Events and Notices

Black Forest Slash-Mulch Site open until Sept. 14

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 p.m.-7:30 p.m. on Thursdays and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, through Sept. 14. Mulch is available Saturdays only, 8 a.m.-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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First Annual Artists Show

This free show of works in various media is at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, 304 Highway 105, and will run through Sept. 18. Artists include members, instructors, students, and studio artists. For information, call 481-0475.

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Library Channel airs local programs

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 Sept.19, 20, and 21 at 1, 3, 5, 7, and 11 p.m. "Tri-Lakes Today" normally airs the third weekend of each month. "Voices of Cripple Creek," a film by local historian Jim Sawatzki, will air Sept. 11 at 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11 p.m.

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New businesswomen’s group forming

If you are a woman entrepreneur, a woman in business, or a woman ready to begin her own business, Women Empowering Women in Life, WE WIL, is an exciting new business/social networking group ready to assist you along your path. The first meeting is Sept. 15, at 6:30 p.m. For information, call Kathleen Frosch at 4884089.

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Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce Business Expo

This year’s business expo, "Expose Your Business," will be held Sept. 16, from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Pinecrest Event Center in Palmer Lake. Come meet the local business community and have fun! For information, call 481-3282.

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Household Chemical Waste Collection

El Paso County’s Solid Waste Management department will be holding a household chemical waste collection at Penrose Equestrian Center. The collection, originally scheduled for Sept. 5-7, has been rescheduled for Sept. 19-21. The first collection on Sept. 19, 1 to 3:30 p.m., is for seniors 55 and older only. The second collection, which is open for everyone, will be on Sept. 20, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. All containers must be closed and labeled with the contents. There will also be a free usable paint giveaway program on Sept. 21, 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon. For information, call 520-6409.

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Free prostate cancer screening

Prostate Awareness Week is Sept. 14-20. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men, but if detected early, the 5-year survival rate for patients is 100 percent. A free community prostate screening will be held in Colorado Springs on Sept. 20 from 8 to 11:30 a.m. at the Community Health Center, 2840 International Circle. The screening includes a digital rectal exam and a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. Men age 50 and older and who have no history of prostate cancer, and men who are 40 and older and who are African American or have a family history of prostate cancer are eligible. Registration is required. To register for an appointment, call 776-5555.

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Railroad Festival

The Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring the 3rd Annual Railroad Festival, featuring a model train showSept. 27, at three locations, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The cost is $3, with children under 5 free. A hobo lunch will be available, and there will be door prizes. At Palmer Lake Town Hall, 54 Valley Crescent, there will be working model train displays set up by Slim Rail from Colorado Springs. At Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, 304 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake, a railroad art show is planned and the Pikes Peak division of the National Model Railroad Association will have a swap meet and model train display. At the Western Museum of Mining and Industry in Gleneagle, 1025 E. Northgate Road, the Rocky Mountain G-Scaler’s will operate their garden gauge model railroads. Real steam engines will operate from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. In addition, the Rock House Ice Cream in Palmer Lake is having a train coloring contest for children. Stop by to pick up a picture to color; you could win a free ice cream! For more information, call 481-3282.

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Easter Seals Antique Show and Sale

Sertoma is sponsoring the Easter Seals of Southern Colorado’s Antique Show and Sale at Creekside Middle School, 1330 Creekside Drive, on Sept. 27 and 28. The show will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. that Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. that Sunday. The cost is $5 at the door, or $4 in advance. Proceeds benefit Easter Seals programs and services in the region. For information, call 574-9002.

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Craft show coming in October

Creative Crafters’ Showcase is holding its annual Craft Show featuring more than 100 crafters, Oct. 11, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Oct. 12, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Lewis-Palmer High School on Higby Road in Monument. Admission is $3. Take I-25 to exit 158, follow the signs. For information, call 488-3046.

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Annual Fall Festival in Downtown Monument

Monument’s third annual fall festival is coming Oct. 11 and will feature hayrides, prizes, contests, and more. Watch for details in the October issue of OCN.

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55 Alive Program Coming to Monument

On Oct. 21 and 22, the Monument Police Department will sponsor the eighthour AARP 55 Alive Driver Safety Program for Monument residents at the Town Hall from noon to 4 p.m. both days. You must attend both days to complete the course. The $10 cost includes all class materials and workbooks. Learn defensive driving tech­niques, new traffic laws and rules of the road, and how to safely adjust driving to com­pensate for agerelated changes in vision, hearing, and reaction time. Class size is limited to 30. Call Chief Joe Kissell at the police department, 4813253, to register.

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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, call 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. Call Linda Pankratz, 481-3108.

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Lions Club forming

A Lions Club chapter is being formed in the Tri-Lakes area. The Lions Club is a nonprofit service organization of volunteers who provide services for their community 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. For information, call Ralph or Karyl Thies at 488-1201.

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Volleyball Leagues Starting at Soc n’ Roll for Youth and Adults

The Nike Thundercats Volleyball Club—a local volleyball club that competes in Rocky Mountain region tournaments and qualifiers for nationals in the 14-18-year-old divisions—is offering a variety of volleyball opportunities at Soc n’ Roll in Monument.

  • Four competitive youth volleyball clinics for players between the ages of 14 and 18 are planned Oct. 25, 9-11 a.m.; Oct. 27, 6-8 p.m.; Nov. 1, 8-10 a.m., and Nov. 3, 6-8 p.m. Costs for the clinics are $10 per session or $30 for all. Tryouts for the teams will be Nov. 1 and 9. Details can be found at www.Thundercatsvbc.com or at Soc n’ Roll.

  • Younger players, ages 11-14, can be part of the Nike Thundercats inner squad. These non-travel teams will practice on Mondays and Thursdays, beginning Dec. 1, under the direction of coach Greg Ramakulas. Players will get 63 hours of play, two Thundercats shirts, clinics, and inner squad match play. Tryouts are Nov. 1, 10 a.m.-noon.

  • Boys and girls ages 9-14 are invited to be part of a seven-week session of skills, drills, and games on Mondays from Sept. 8 to Oct. 20, from 6 to 8 p.m. The $80 fee includes T-shirt, referee fees, and coaching.

  • For ages 14 and up, the Adult Volleyball League begins Sept. 8 for competitive and recreational four-person volleyball. Play is on Monday nights, 8-10 p.m. Bring your team for $200 plus $48 referee fees, paid in advance, or $70 for an individual player (including referee fees). Registration deadline is Sept. 1. Contact Soc ‘n Roll, 487-8572.

The Thundercats are sponsored by Nike and were previously based out of the Colorado Springs School. They have recently moved their home base to Soc n’ Roll. Check out the club’s Web site for details at www.thundercatsvbc.com.

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Monument wins award for dam

(Excerpted by permission from the Town of Monument Newsletter, September 2003)

The Association of State Dam Officials (ASDSO) has awarded the town of Monument, along with El Paso County and Boyle Engineering, the 2003 National Rehabilitation Project of the Year Award for the Rehabilitation of Monument Lake Dam. The award will be presented at the ASDSO annual Conference Awards Banquet on Sept. 9 in Minneapolis. Boyle Engineering will accept the award on behalf of the town and county.

The award recognizes a unique remedial design that advances the stateoftheart in the field of dam safety and exemplifies the high profes­sional engineering standards that dam safety requires. The project must demonstrate any or all of the following: 1) re­sourcefulness in planning and in the solution of design problems, 2) pioneering in the use of materials and methods, 3) innovations in construction or operations, and 4) a high degree of reliability in operation, consistent with accepted practices in the field of dam safety engineer­ing.

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Libraries receive Firewise books

View a photo of the presentation of the Firewise books

The Monument and Palmer Lake libraries each received a copy of the book, Firewise Communities: Where We Live, How We Live by Randall Ismay; a third copy will be kept at the Woodmoor-Monument fire station.

The books were donated to the community by the FireWise project through a grant from the National Fire Protection Association.

The book profiles communities across the country that have met FireWise criteria, such as thinning of trees, and shows through photographs how we need not give up the beauty of our surroundings in order to protect our homes from wildfire.

One of the communities featured in the book is Perry Park in Douglas County, which has received national recognition and awards for wildfire mitigation efforts.

For more information on being fire-wise, visit www.firewise.org.

View a photo of the presentation of the Firewise books

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