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Our Community News - Home Vol. 6 No. 1 - January 7, 2006

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A Grand Yule Log Celebration

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Below: The hunt for the Yule Log. Photo by Dee Kirby

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Below: Becky Shellenberger (L) and Heather Krueger (R) were the winners. Photo by Sue Wielgopolan

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Below: Town Hall decorations included Santa, sleigh, and reindeer. Photo by Jim Kendrick

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Below: Pipers Isaac Watkins (L) and his teacher Sam Swancutt (R). Photo by Dee Kirby.

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By Dee Kirby

A warm sun shone on the annual Palmer Lake Yule Log fête, with over 100 in attendance. Attired in red or green capes, people mingled on the grounds at the Town Hall to listen to Sam Swancutt and his 12-year-old student, Isaac Watkins, play the bagpipes. The call to the hunt was sounded by trumpet player Aaron Turner. While hunters took to the trail, many folks remained in the Town Hall for singing, story telling, and a slide show.

The lucky finders of the Yule Log were Heather Krueger and Becky Schellenberger. Lifelong friends since age 5, this marked their 20th year of searching together for the log. Krueger’s mother said one year during a search, Heather sat on the log to rest but didn’t know it was the one. That disappointment was forgotten when the two women raised their cups of wassail to toast the ancient Yule celebration.

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Monument Board of Trustees, December 5: Monument Ridge annexation approved

Below: Perry Thomas describes the sketch plan during BOT hearing Dec. 5 on Monument Ridge project. Photo by Jim Kendrick

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By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 5, the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) approved the annexation of the undeveloped 30-acre Barber-Miller-Schmidt lot—now called Monument Ridge—directly across from King Soopers on Baptist Road. The board also approved several ordinances regarding close-out of the 2005 budget, the property tax mill levy for 2006, the 2006 budget, and the 2006 appropriations. Trustee Dave Mertz was absent.

Promontory Point schedule confirmed

Trustee Tim Miller noted that several attendees of the Town Hall meeting on Nov. 29 had asked that the hearings for the Promontory Pointe annexation and PD Sketch Plan be delayed for at least a month or two. He asked if the BOT could have a discussion at this meeting on how to accommodate these citizens. Town Attorney Gary Shupp said there should be no such discussion because the hearing had already been noticed and must be held on Jan. 3 as posted. Town Manager Cathy Green added the Jan. 3 hearing date had already been advertised four times.

Trustee Frank Orten noted that the board had only 60 days, per state statutes, to complete the annexation hearing process after passing a resolution on Nov. 21 stating that the landowner’s annexation request met state statute requirements. The Jan. 3 hearing date allows for a possible continuation until the Jan. 17 BOT meeting if there is a need to gather additional information or answer unexpected questions, yet still meet the 60-day decision requirement.

Miller reiterated the citizens’ desire to slow down the approval. Trustee Tommie Plank replied that those requesting the delays were opposed to the proposed development and could state their reasons to the board on Jan. 3. Trustee Gail Drumm, Mayor Byron Glenn, and Shupp each said, as Miller again pressed his point, that if there was a problem the board could continue the hearing until Jan. 17.

Senior housing proposal discussed

Monument developer Jamie Hull of Tecton Corporation asked the BOT if his company could use a lot in the Wahlborg addition for construction of a privately owned senior housing facility. The lot had been dedicated to the town by the developer at the time of annexation. Hull also renewed his previous proposal to build a complementary senior housing facility on a downtown lot that Tecton already owns.

The town’s lot is on the south side of Highway 105 in the northeast corner of the Wahlborg parcel. Tecton’s lot is on the west side of Beacon Lite by Grace Best Elementary School. Until recently, the BOT was considering building a new Police Department and courtroom building on one of these two lots.

Hull noted that he had previously proposed building a senior facility on the Tecton parcel. He encountered resistance at the Monument Planning Commission meeting on Jan. 12, 2005, due to the high number of water taps required for the 44 residential units. This parcel is an undeveloped downtown city block platted for 16 narrow residential lots. Only 16 single-family water taps are currently available from the town’s water department.

The consensus of the commissioners at that meeting a year ago—well before the new police building was proposed—was that Tecton’s parcel was better suited to commercial development due to the limited amount of usable groundwater on the parcel and the very small number of remaining available town water taps, due to Water Department production and storage limitations.

Later in 2005, Hull proposed that the new town Police Department building, as well as future public works and town staff office buildings, could be built on Tecton’s Beacon Lot parcel. However, the design and construction costs, roughly $4 million, for a lease-purchase of a new police and courtroom building at any town location were found to greatly exceed the town’s bonding capacity.

Recently, the staff has conducted negotiations with owners of four town properties that could possibly be remodeled to become a police department and courtroom facility at less cost. A ballot issue passed in November that will allow the town to reallocate up to $2.5 million in water sales tax revenue to pay for the renovation of one of these properties. The two lots Hull would like to develop for senior housing are no longer being considered as sites for a new police and courtroom building.

In November, the town’s auditor issued a revised opinion on TABOR constraints that will allow the town to use water sales tax funds previously thought to be restricted, and the board has approved construction of new water production, treatment, and storage facilities.

Hull said he could offer reduced rental rates to senior clients based on reduced land costs for the town’s Wahlborg lot, if an arrangement could be made with the board to acquire the lot at less than market value. The town has no senior housing, and elderly residents often have to move out of Monument, away from family and friends, when they need mobility assistance or regular medical care. Costs are high for senior housing facilities in Colorado Springs and Castle Rock, and those have waiting lists.

Consultant Tim Irish of Design Properties gave a presentation on a range of service options that he and Hull could offer, with two different types of private senior living facilities on the town’s Wahlborg lot and Tecton’s city block parcel. Services could range from intense medical assistance around the clock to complete independence – newly retired seniors "out playing golf every day." He showed pictures and building plans for several projects he has developed, marketed, and managed throughout the Midwest.

Irish said he was seeking guidance on what the board would want to see in the projects if trustees chose to participate through reducing the purchase cost of the Wahlborg lot to enable lower operating costs. Some or all the unit rental rates could be reduced by an amount proportional to reduced total loan costs for construction. Irish said the two projects would create about 25 new jobs, with 45 to 70 resident units in each building that could house up to 200 seniors. Irish said his buildings are typically two stories, but can be three stories with a walkout level.

Shupp said the town would have to require an enforceable long-term contract with Tecton and Design Properties that would guarantee a commitment to discounted rates.

Miller suggested that Irish make a presentation at the next Town Hall meeting in the spring. However, Glenn scheduled a public hearing for Dec. 19. Miller asked Irish to provide the town with a list of references.

Plank asked for more data on actual water use and vehicle trip rates by residents at Irish’s other properties. Irish said that these two rates are less than most people expect them to be, but acknowledged that Tecton would have to buy additional water rights for each high-density building.

Planning Commission appointments

Vince Hamm, a resident of the town for two and a half years, was unanimously appointed to fill one of the commission vacancies. Hamm served in his first meeting on Dec. 14. Appointments are renewed annually. The board also extended Alternate Planning Commissioner Lowell Morgan’s appointment indefinitely.

2006 budget

An ordinance for the town’s 2006 budget was unanimously approved after a public hearing with no citizen comment. A companion ordinance authorizing all the appropriations required to execute the seven funds comprising this budget was also unanimously approved after a public hearing with no citizen comment.

Also approved without citizen comment was a companion resolution authorizing the 2006 property tax mill levy of 5.872 mills on an assessed town valuation of $71,907,940, which will raise $422,261.

Total general revenue for 2006 is $3,357,000, while total expenditures are $3,370,665. The end-of-year general fund balance, after required unspent reserves have been deducted, will drop from $151,284 in 2005 to $96,404 in 2006. The end-of-year water fund balance will drop from $2,730,765 in 2005 to $1,522,524 in 2006.

The total appropriations and expenditures for the other five funds are both $565,745. The appropriations and expenditures in each of these five funds are exactly equal, with zero balances at the end of the year.

Office condominiums approved

The board unanimously approved an ordinance approving the Preliminary/Final PD Site Plan for the Beacon Lite Office Condominiums. The 12-unit facility will be located on the north side of Beacon Lite, between the Air Academy Credit Union at Third Street and Monument View Apartments.

Planning Services Director Tom Kassawara noted that issues raised by the fire marshall and Monument Sanitation District (MSD) had been resolved. A secondary emergency access was added on the southeast corner of the property. The fencing material around the trash dumpster location on the south edge of the parking lot, within an MSD sewer easement, was changed from concrete block and stucco to cedar. The town required the developer to add dense landscaping on all three sides to better screen the new cedar dumpster fencing as a condition of approval.

The developer also agreed to use split rail fences around the perimeter of the property to maintain the current open look next to the credit union and town post office building as a condition of approval during the hearing. The proposed privacy fence next to Monument View Apartments was not changed.

Monument Ridge Annexation/Rezoning/Sketch Plan Approved

The board unanimously passed an ordinance approving the annexation, annexation agreement, and rezoning for the Monument Ridge development on the south side of Baptist Road, directly across from the King Soopers center. There was no public comment on the annexation or rezoning. The Planning Commission had also unanimously recommended these approvals on Sept. 28.

The annexation and rezoning requests comply with the Monument and El Paso County 2000 Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plans. The zoning of the 30-acre parcel was changed from El Paso County R-4 (an obsolete type of mixed use Planned Development zoning) to Monument ‘s PD (Planned Development), which is also mixed use zoning.

The commercial portion of the parcel is 16.73 acres, and the residential area is 9.48 acres. The commercial buildings are aligned with the frontages on Baptist Road and New Struthers Road. The townhome area is in the southeast corner of the property. The residential area will be townhomes or patio homes. The other acreage will be donated as right-of-way for improvements on Baptist Road and construction of New Struthers Road.

Green’s staff report said the town "will take on very little negative costs since the development is being included in and served by the Triview Metropolitan District." However, the roads in the residential area will be private roads that can only be accessed by driving through the commercial area. None of the roads in Monument Ridge will be maintained or serviced by Triview or the town’s Public Works Department.

In the past, the homeowners associations of both Monument townhome developments that have private roads have petitioned the BOT to have Public Works take over their roads when they began to require maintenance. In each case, the BOT rejected these requests because the private roads are substandard in configuration (width and setbacks) and construction. The Monument Ridge Sketch Plan does not specify the sizes and types of roads within the development or whether they will comply with town or Triview standards.

Conditions: Green’s report recommended that four conditions be added to the annexation ordinance:

  1. AP Baptist Road, LLC must donate right-of-way and provide temporary construction access to the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) during county construction of Baptist Road improvements.

  2. The Monument Ridge property must remain a part of BRRTA and comply with BRRTA regulations as long as the Authority exists.

  3. AP Baptist Road, LLC must escrow funds to the town at the time of subdivision of the property to finance a proportional share of a full-motion traffic light on Baptist Road at Jackson Creek Crossing, based on the trip generation within the development.

  4. A signed inclusion agreement between AP Baptist Road, LLC and Triview Metropolitan District must be made an exhibit to the annexation agreement. 

    Glenn added a fifth condition to the annexation ordinance:

  5. AP Baptist Road, LLC must donate right-of-way and temporary construction access to Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PRRTA) during county construction of New Struthers Road. New Struthers Road, a county road, will be aligned with and connected to the south end of Jackson Creek Parkway (a Triview road) at the existing Baptist Road traffic light.

Glenn asked for a separate sixth condition that required participation in the Public Improvement Fees (PIF) for alternative financing of the state’s Exit 158 interchange improvements. Green said the second condition includes mandatory participation by Monument Ridge commercial businesses in all BRRTA fees related to Baptist Road improvements, including the PIF of about one-half percent. Also BRRTA will be administering the PIF rather than the town, which would complicate the wording of a separate condition.

Condition 3 controversy: Green also said that the town would support the developer’s attempts to have the county reverse its position against a traffic light and full-motion intersection on Baptist Road at Jackson Creek Crossing. Currently, there will be no traffic light at this intersection when the county widens Baptist to five lanes, using BRRTA and PRRTA funding. Left turns will only be allowed from Baptist Road onto Jackson Creek Crossing. Only right turns will be allowed from Jackson Creek Crossing onto Baptist Road, forcing motorists exiting the development at this intersection to go eastbound. Left turns will be prevented by a new median extending along Baptist from Jackson Creek Parkway to Desiree Drive.

The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners, the county’s Department of Transportation, and the county’s Major Thoroughfares Task Force all oppose the traffic light and full-motion intersection at Jackson Creek Crossing because the minimum spacing between traffic lights on major arterials in the county’s Major Transportation Corridors Plan is a half mile. Jackson Creek Crossing is roughly 900 feet east of the traffic light on Baptist Road at Jackson Creek Parkway–much less than a half mile.

Glenn voted against the traffic light and full-motion intersection at a special BRRTA meeting on Feb. 2, 2005, along with County Commissioners Wayne Williams and Dennis Hisey. Immediately after casting his "no" vote, however, Glenn said that Monument would attempt to annex Baptist Road after all of BRRTA’s and PRRTA’s improvements are completed between Leather Chaps Drive and Jackson Creek Parkway. Glenn told BRRTA that Monument would install a full-motion intersection and traffic light there after the annexation. Glenn has advocated this plan at a variety of town and county public and private meetings since voting against the light in February.

Land Planner Perry Thomas, of Thomas and Thomas, gave the developer’s presentation. In response to numerous questions, he made the following main points:

  • The residential area will be townhouses or patio homes, not apartments; there are no plans for these to be condominiums.

  • There will be no road, walkway, or steps connecting the property to the adjacent Family of Christ Church to the east because the church does not want that access. Thomas is aware of the safety concerns that were expressed at the previous Wal-Mart hearings regarding this site.

  • A discussion of traffic concerns and issues for I-25 Exit 158, Baptist Road, and New Struthers Road will be deferred until Thomas brings a Preliminary PD Site Plan to the town for review.

  • There are no PD Design Guidelines for this development yet, but they will require a common architectural theme.

Before the unanimous vote of approval on the annexation, annexation agreement, and rezoning ordinance, Shupp added a condition that approval was subject to confirmation that all advertising and posting of the hearings mentioned rezoning. Green said that Drumm’s request for a condition restricting condominiums in the residential area should be deferred to the planning phase for the plat and site plan rather than made part of the annexation ordinance.

Sketch plan unanimously approved: Green’s staff report noted that the town’s traffic consultant SEH Traffic Engineers "had expressed concern over the location of the full movement turn on Baptist Road" at Jackson Creek Crossing. The report also noted that Triview "has issues with water, which is deficient on this site, as well as questions about topography and site layout." However, Triview has included this property because of its sales tax revenue potential. Triview’s consultant, Ayres Engineering, said there were no drainage issues. The county does not oppose the sketch plan.

The Planning Commission recommended approval of the sketch plan on Sept. 28, with a 3-1 vote. Commissioner Morgan said he favored the sketch plan in principle, but voted no due to the additional traffic generated by the plan’s density, worsening congestion problems at the Baptist Road I-25 interchange.

Glenn and Drumm expressed disapproval of having a gas station next to the church. Thomas said their suggestion of moving the gas station to the corner of the lot by the intersection of Jackson Creek Parkway and Baptist Road would not work because of the difficulty accessing it. Thomas said the two hotel buildings along New Struthers Road will have 70 rooms each and will be no taller than 35 feet.

There were no citizen comments for or against the proposal during the open portion of the public hearing.

Shupp added a condition regarding compliance with posting and advertising requirements before the board unanimously approved the sketch plan.

Resolutions

The board unanimously approved a resolution to increase the number of hours of compensatory time that can be carried over from the current year to the next calendar year from 40 to 80.

The board unanimously approved a resolution to accept a state of Colorado Law Enforcement Assistance Fund grant of $9,000. The grant pays for overtime to increase DUI enforcement during 13 holidays and the whole month of December.

The board unanimously approved a resolution to publish a schedule for all BOT meetings for 2006, on the first and third Mondays of the month. Glenn proposed that the dates for the January meetings be delayed one day to Jan. 3 and Jan. 17 due to federal holidays. The other Tuesday meetings are on Feb. 21, May 2, and Sept. 5.

The board unanimously approved a resolution authorizing a payment of $20,000 to Lytle Water Solutions, Inc. for water engineering consultation and project management assistance on the Well No. 7 replacement project.

Financial issues

Treasurer Pamela Smith gave a review of the town’s long-term loan and bond debt, which Drumm had requested at the previous BOT meeting. The town’s bonding limit is $2,154,217, 3 percent of the town’s assessed valuation of $71,807,230. Bonds can be paid off after 30 days’ notice, but the whole year’s interest must be paid. Since the bond payments are made on Dec. 1, there is no advantage at this time to pay the interest for the first 11 months of 2006 early. Smith said she would review sales tax revenues this summer to determine if there would be any advantage to paying off the three smallest loans/bonds ($65,500, $73,877, and $105,000) early.

Smith reported that Auditor Kyle Logan of Swanhorst and Company, LLC will do more preliminary audit visits in 2006 to minimize the workloads and delays of the 2004 audit.

Smith also presented a listing of Payroll and Benefit fees charged for administration, which increased 12.5 percent in the 2006 budget. She noted that she would be able to gain "earnings credits" and "earnings allowances" through careful management of the four accounts that would reduce the standard fee of $18,764 to $11,250.

Staff reports

Shupp noted that the town’s two concrete batch plant lawsuits were in status conferences for setting trial dates and that he did not expect any further continuances.

Glenn asked Shupp to determine if the town’s traffic impact fee could be charged to new developments in Triview. Glenn also asked Shupp to determine if the town water fund’s enterprise status could be removed because it appears the fund may not be able to sustain itself without future tap fees as the town nears buildout.

The meeting went into executive session at 8:35 p.m. to discuss real estate negotiations. No action was taken after the executive session.

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Monument Board of Trustees, December 19: Senior facilities discussed; DeLaney, Dominowski, and Morgan receive Spirit awards

By Jim Kendrick

Jamie Hull, of Tecton Corporation, made another presentation regarding his desire to build two senior living facilities in the town of Monument at the Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting Dec. 19. The board also held a public hearing for senior citizen comments on Hull’s proposal. Mayor Byron Glenn was absent. Mayor Pro Tem Frank Orten chaired the meeting.

Spirit of Monument plaques awarded

Orten presented a 2005 Spirit of Monument award to business owner John Dominowski for his numerous contributions to the town. Dominowski has been a key contributor on the Police Building Subcommittee of the Police Advisory Committee and leads volunteer efforts at every town holiday celebration.

Planning Commissioners Ed Delaney and Lowell Morgan also were selected for this honor and received their plaques at the town staff’s Christmas dinner. Their plaques cite their "Generosity of Spirit, Dedication to Service, and Enthusiastic Support of Our Community." Nameplates for all three have also been added to the large Spirit of Monument plaque on the Pride Wall in Town Hall. The annual award was created in 2002.

Wermuth’s concerns discussed

County resident Mike Wermuth expressed his personal concerns about the Monument Planning Commission’s hearing procedures. He lives in Kingswood and has spoken in opposition of the annexation, rezoning, and development proposals for the adjacent Promontory Pointe parcel at both Planning Commission hearings and at the "Town Hall" meeting for citizens on Nov. 29.

Wermuth first read a prepared statement to the board. He asked that Kingswood citizens be allowed to rebut the developer’s rebuttal. The developer’s rebuttal immediately follows the open portion of the public hearing, during which all citizens have an opportunity to speak for and against the application. Wermuth also asked that each citizen be allowed to make a closing statement after the rebuttal as well.

Typically at government hearings, the staff and their consultants summarize the application and any issues raised during their preliminary review. Next, the applicant is given time to make a prepared presentation and respond to the staff’s report. Board members ask questions during and after the applicant’s presentation. The hearing is then opened for citizen comments, during which they can rebut the applicant’s presentation and board member comments, as well as present their own views and additional evidence not raised by the applicant, staff, or board. After the open portion of the hearing for citizen comment is closed, the applicant can answer questions raised by citizens and respond to their assertions. Board members follow up with any final questions or comments raised by the citizen’s input or the applicant’s rebuttal.

Orten said that at BOT hearings, citizen rebuttals and comments are allowed after the developer rebuts citizen comments. He added that he has never attended a Monument Planning Commission meeting because the board receives the same information from the staff and applicant as well as minutes of the commission’s hearing and staff answers to questions raised by the commissioners and citizens at that hearing. However, citizen questions, if not rebuttals or additional closing statements, are usually answered after the open portion of commission hearings is closed.

Wermuth also gave a list of materials he had requested copies of, relating to a variety of planning and zoning actions over the past 30 years as well as the recall election of a few years ago. His requests for copies are separate from the requests for copies by the Kingswood homeowners association’s attorney, Tim Schutz.

Wermuth listed the requested copies he had not yet received. His biggest concern was obtaining a copy of the 1989 annexation agreement and impact statement for the southern 39 acres of the 117-acre Vern Walters Ranch. The name "Promontory Pointe" has only been associated with the property recently. He also said he had not received copies of documentation he had requested on the BOT recall election held four years ago.

Wermuth said that Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara was abrupt to another Kingswood citizen, identified as Mrs. Wolff, when she met with staff, although Wermuth had not been present for any of the meetings or conversations. He said he and other citizens needed more time—and the requested copies—to prepare their written comments before the Dec. 29 deadline.

Kassawara, Town Manager Cathy Green, and Town Clerk Scott Meszaros took turns responding to each of his complaints. The documentation for the first annexation appears to have been lost. Current annexation paperwork would be available when it’s completed. The staff members politely but firmly disputed each of Wermuth’s negative assertions about Mrs. Wolff’s requests and treatment. Meszaros also noted that he had spent over 20 hours in the past week finding and copying documents dating back to 1978 just for Wermuth.

Senior housing proposal discussed

The purpose of this agenda item was to solicit citizen comment on Hull’s presentation to the board on Dec. 5 in which he offered reduced rates for occupants of two senior facilities he would like to build in Monument in return for a donation of a lot the town owns on the south side of Highway 105, east of Knollwood Drive. This lot was donated to the town by WED, LLC when the board approved the Wahlborg annexation in 2004.

In his opening remarks, Hull said that individuals living in senior housing use considerably less water than the town standard of one-half acre-foot per year for a single-family house. The standard multifamily house allocation is .375 acre-feet per year (25 percent less). Hull said water usage per resident falls another 25 percent in senior housing. This would allow more people to use a lot’s available groundwater, increasing the allowable density for a senior living facility.

Hull also said that following his extensive research for this project, he was completely confident that Tim Irish, president of Designed Properties, would design, build, and operate two complementary senior living facilities in Monument that the town would remain proud of into the future.

Hull asked the town for accurate information for the proposed sites and has received information from Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District as well. He asked the board to move his proposal forward as expeditiously as possible and said his attorneys would meet with Shupp to draft a letter of agreement guaranteeing reduced rates in return for reduced land costs.

Irish said he did not want to repeat the points he made during the Dec. 5 board meeting about their proposal to build two facilities, on Highway 105 and Beacon Lite Road. The buildings would contain 60 to 70 living units, ranging from 750 to 1,250 square feet with a variety of assistance services to choose from. Irish’s demographic studies show that both buildings would be filled quite readily once completed.

During public comments, Margaret French, northern El Paso County representative for the Regional Advisory Council for the Pikes Peak Agency on Aging, said affordable senior housing was as important a need as transportation, due to long waiting lists at existing regional facilities. She added that Silver Key transportation services have been reduced in Monument.

Karen Albrecht said she would like to move back from Colorado Springs to a Monument facility when one opens.

Alice Logan said she wants to stay in Monument after she can no longer take care of her home.

Chuck Roberts, missions director for the Forest Ridge Community Church, said he was "astounded" by the number of senior citizens he has to try to meet. He and French also mentioned local resident George Kruse as an example of a senior who has recently been moved to hospice in Colorado Springs. Orten and Trustee Tommie Plank noted the many contributions Kruse made to Monument.

President Steve Spry said the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce was working with three Colorado Springs hospitals–Penrose-St Francis, Memorial, and Colorado Springs Health Partners–to obtain a senior center and urgent care facility in the area. He added that the YMCA was seeking grants for their own senior facility in the building they plan to complete by mid-2007 next to Lewis-Palmer High School. He said two other people were going to complete an emergency care center by November.

Orten noted that Town Hall should become a senior center after the planned new police building is completed.

Interviews for Planning Commison postponed

The two candidates for the vacant Planning Commission position were not present. Orten said interviews would be rescheduled for the BOT meeting on Jan. 3. The board will also make three appointments for the three commissioners, whose four-year terms are expiring at that time. Orten noted that it has been difficult filling empty commission seats and thanked the former commission chairman, Lowell Morgan, for his continued regular attendance as alternate for the past year, which he said helped maintain a quorum on several occasions. Morgan will remain an alternate commissioner indefinitely.

Inspection contract approved

The board unanimously approved a resolution to accept a $600 30-page contract offered to the town by DLR Architects to evaluate buildings that have been offered to the town to be remodeled as a new police building. The dollar amount covers subcontractor time only for mechanical, electrical, heating, and air conditioning inspections as DLR is donating its professional staff time for the rest of the work. DLR has been working with the Police Building Subcommittee of the Police Advisory Committee to provide advice on all potential sites for new construction or renovation.

Stream gauge

The board unanimously approved a resolution for a $21,000 joint funding agreement with U.S. Geological Service for a stream gauge to measure Monument Creek flows below the dam at Monument Lake. The costs are $6,000 for installation and $15,000 for first-year operations and maintenance. Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District will split the cost of operations with the town. The town needs the data to be able to store water in Monument Lake. The district will use the data for effluent credits to offset the water it stores in Woodmoor Lake.

Benefits package update

The board unanimously approved a resolution to accept the updated documentation for the cafeteria plan of town employee benefits. Treasurer Pamela Smith is the plan’s Benefits Specialist and Plans Administrator. She noted that there are increases in the amount of time employees have to spend money from the plan for services and to submit receipts.

Financials

The board unanimously approved a sales tax payment of $37,842.50 for October and motor sales tax payment of $6,300.54 for September to Triview Metropolitan District. Also approved unanimously was a $212,947.77 payment to Schmidt Construction Company for road paving, curbs, and gutters. This completes paving for this year.

Smith noted that the town budget was tracking well and the board unanimously approved her financial report for October.

Reports

Kassawara’s written report for the last month noted committee meetings on buffering and screening of the Anderson substation expansion on Jackson Creek Parkway and a preliminary plat on Synthes Avenue. There was also a pre-hearing meeting on the Homeplace Ranch annexation and PD sketch plan; they may be scheduled for the March Planning Commission meeting. Wal-Mart’s BRRTA fee will be $262,585, and town land use fee will be $41,453.

Public Works Director Rich Landreth reported good construction progress on the new department building on Jefferson Street.

Chief Jake Shirk reported 204 calls for service for the month of November. He said he was pleased there were only 3 DUI arrests over the Thanksgiving holiday out of 25 stops paid for by the Law Enforcement Assistance Fund grant.

Meszaros noted the time line for the April town election. There was consensus for continuing to open two polling places, Town Hall and Creekside Middle School rather than having a mail-in process. The board briefly discussed changing to a home-rule status and a ballot issue asking for an extension of the current TABOR waiver, which would allow the town to keep excess tax revenues. Shupp noted that this ballot issue could be deferred until a later date.

Public comments

Hull asked the board again to help him move his senior living facility project forward, now that the town was no longer considering using his Beacon Lite property for new municipal buildings.

The meeting adjourned at 8:20 p.m.

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Monument Planning Commission, December 14: Lake of the Rockies plan rejected, Timbers continued

Web Site Exclusive: View Village Center at Woodmoor Filing No. 4 Preliminary Plat

Web Site Exclusive: View or download the Timbers plans

By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 14, the Monument Planning Commission approved a rezoning for St. Peter Catholic Church, a preliminary plat for Village Center at Woodmoor Filing 4, and the Final PD Site Plan for Carriage Point West, but rejected a sketch plan for Lake of the Rockies. The Preliminary Plat and Preliminary PD Site Plan for the Timbers at Monument were continued after a lengthy hearing.

For the first time in many months, seven commissioners were present, including Vince Hamm, who was appointed on Dec. 5 by the Board of Trustees (BOT).

St. Peter rezoning approved

A request from St. Peter Catholic Church to have all six of its contiguous religious, educational, and residential properties rezoned from residential (R-2) to business was unanimously approved. The two residential properties are occupied by the church’s pastors and visiting clergy.

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara noted that in the past, the church has had to ask for a "use by special review" for any expansion and that the church and school are not residential uses. The change in zoning would mean that each future expansion would no longer have to be defined as a "special use."

The town’s comprehensive plan calls for intermingled single-family residential and businesses in the downtown area. The requested business rezoning is consistent with all the commercial property to the north.

Kassawara also noted that there would be a separate hearing at a later date on the church’s request for a vacation of the existing public alley between the church and school building at First Street that extends to Lincoln Avenue. He said that this alley vacation had no relevance to the rezoning request.

Father Bob Jaeger said the church has plans for future expansion of its private parochial school, parking, parish hall, and church buildings.

There were no comments or concerns expressed by any referral agencies before the hearing. There were no comments from citizens before or during the public hearing, though there were 12 interested citizens present.

Commissioner Kathy Spence expressed concern that the rezoning would give the church a right to expand without any review from the town in the future. She noted that in the recent past, Jaeger’s request for a school building had been denied by the town because the surrounding area is residential and could not handle the additional traffic. She said Jaeger then asked for a parish education center and parking lot for adult classes only, but turned the education center into an elementary school anyway, despite the earlier denial of approval by the town. The school was later expanded to include middle school grades.

Spence also noted there have been continuing school traffic problems. The church had recently asked for special traffic ordinance waivers and restrictions as well as Police Department traffic control assistance because of the number of parents dropping off and picking up students. Spence said the surrounding area could not handle the traffic for an even larger school.

Jaeger said the Monument area is growing, creating the need for more Catholic school capacity. Spence replied that all her children had attended Catholic schools and that she was only opposed to the traffic the school generates and the way Jaeger has created and expanded the school without first receiving town approval. She asked that the church conduct a traffic study before the commissioners consider the rezoning.

Commissioner Lowell Morgan noted that any further expansions, including the school, would still require approval by the Planning Commission and the BOT. He also noted that the town could reject demolition of the church’s residential properties for any type of planned expansion.

Kassawara confirmed Morgan’s assertion. He said a traffic study is unrelated to the three criteria for considering a rezoning request and could not be made a condition of approval. Spence reiterated that the new town staff, commissioners, and trustees needed to be aware of Jaeger’s history of working around town rejections of his previous expansion proposals. She added there should be no administrative approvals for expansion by the staff without review by the Planning Commission and Board of Trustees.

The rezoning request was unanimously approved.

Village Center at Woodmoor Preliminary Plat approved

This 140-acre parcel, formerly the agricultural Wahlborg Addition, was rezoned from rural to Planned Development when it was annexed by Monument in 2004. Filing 4 is the 44-acre, 12-lot commercial portion of the development on the northwest corner of the property and has lengthy frontages along Highway 105 and Knollwood Drive. The other three filings on the parcel are residential. Construction is already under way for single-family housing on the southwest portion of the property.

Kassawara reported that he is working with the developer, Midland Development Group of St. Louis, and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to add an additional right-in/right-out access on Highway 105 between Knollwood and the main entrance to the east. This new access would improve traffic circulation on the highway and within the commercial site. He noted that CDOT opposes and has not yet approved the right-out portion of this access.

Barring significant changes to this more detailed plat for filing 4, Preliminary and Final PD Site Plans for Filing 4 that are submitted in the future could be approved by Kassawara without Planning Commission or BOT review, if they comply with the development’s existing PD Master Plan guidelines. Specific development guidelines for the property were approved by the town at the time of annexation in 2004 before Kassawara was hired. The Master Plan was created in 2005 and the guidelines were revised by Kassawara a year later.

This administrative staff review and approval process is similar to the one for all buildings being constructed in the Monument Marketplace, which has its own PD Development Guidelines. However, the Marketplace is still owned by Jackson Creek Land Company, which will lease all its buildings to tenant merchants. Wahlborg developer WED, LLC has sold the land in filing 4 since annexation, and Midland Development intends to sell some or all of the 12 individual lots created in this subdivision of the filing. The planned dispersal of ownership will make it more difficult for the town to maintain conformance with the updated annexation Master Plan and design guidelines.

Kassawara recommended two conditions of approval:

  1. Certificates of Occupancy for the filing will not be issued until all applicable access permits are obtained from CDOT for improvements to Highway 105 and all required off-site improvements are installed.

  2. Final approval of the plat is contingent upon acceptance of the updated traffic study by the town.

There were no major comments or concerns expressed by referral agencies before the hearing. There were two written comments submitted to Development Services by adjacent homeowners before the hearing. Paula Souza expressed concerns about more "toxic dust/dirt" blowing onto her property. Kim Chun wrote that there would be "more noise and traffic [in] our quiet, cozy neighborhood." There were no citizen comments during the open portion of the public hearing.

Morgan and Chairman Ed Delaney noted that the proposed commercial plat was quite different in configuration than those shown in the initial and revised PD site plans that were previously approved. The center portion of the filing is undefined and simply listed as a large single lot. In previous plans, a large single pad of 140,000 square feet was depicted within this area. The preliminary plat only shows the boundaries of 12 commercial lots.

Kassawara said that the actual pad locations would be shown on a future preliminary site plan. All the building elevations and construction materials must comply with the development’s design guidelines to receive administrative approval. Otherwise, the building proposals must be heard by the commission and BOT.

Morgan asked if the restriction of no more than two "drive-through fast-food restaurants," which Spence had received agreement on prior to annexation, should be listed on the preliminary plat. Kassawara said that constraint would be listed on the site plans for the filing and that Spence’s restriction was "etched in stone." David Reif of Midland Development Group said they would not seek a change on this fast-food restaurant restriction.

Commissioner John Kortgardner asked how parking would be arranged and how commercial lighting would be shielded from adjacent homes. Reif said each lot would have its own dedicated parking area. All lighting will be shielded from going outside the filing boundary per the design guidelines in the development’s master plan.

The plat was unanimously approved with the two conditions noted above.

Carriage Point West Preliminary Plat Approved

This Classic Homes development in Jackson Creek is located on the south side of Lyons Tail Road, just west of the existing Carriages at Jackson Creek development. Both developments are southwest of the intersection of Lyons Tail and Leather Chaps. Although they are separate developments, they will consist of the same mix of Classic patio home models.

Kassawara said there are 39 lots on 12.55 acres, a low density for patio homes. Due to the downward slope of the land and the planned excavation and grading at the boundary line between the two developments, all the new lots will be at least 22 feet lower in elevation than the adjacent lots to the east. Kassawara noted that the proposed development complies with the Regency Park Comprehensive Plan.

Although the town requires a minimum of a 60-foot right-of-way for residential streets, Triview Metropolitan District regulations only require a 50-foot right-of-way. Triview will maintain the 34-foot-wide roads. The two developments will be connected internally by Whistler Creek Court along the south side of both developments, which will also be a secondary access road for emergency vehicles.

At the start of the public hearing, Town Attorney Gary Shupp stopped Tim Miller, a Jackson Creek resident who sits on the Board of Trustees, from his attempt to be the first citizen to make a comment or to ask questions. Shupp said, "Trustee Miller, you may disqualify yourself if you speak in regard to this, when it comes before the Board."

Shupp stopped Miller from speaking because public hearings on ordinances, rezoning, plats, and site plans are quasi-judicial proceedings. Commissioners and trustees are obligated by law not to form an opinion or reach a decision about any proposal brought to the town until all hearing requirements specified in state statutes have been presented to them. Had Miller spoken for or against the project, he would have disqualified himself from participating in the hearing or voting on the proposal when it came before the BOT.

Miller withdrew from the podium without making a comment for or against the proposal after Shupp’s warning. He stayed for the remainder of this four-hour meeting.

Marvin Schreifels and another resident of Carriages at Jackson Creek who didn’t identify himself said they had paid a premium price for their lots because of their currently unrestricted view of the mountains and asked the commissioners what height the new rooftops would be. Delaney said the commissioners would deal with that issue during the next hearing on the Final PD Site Plan.

Tom Martin of Jackson Creek noted that there were no play areas or pocket parks in either of the Carriages development like the ones in Settler’s Ridge. Kassawara said that the neighborhood was too small for a pocket park according to the Triview Master Plan. Also Triview is responsible for providing a regional park. Martin said kids in his neighborhood west of Leather Chaps have to cross major arterials to get to the new Triview park. Delaney noted that this was also a site plan issue.

The preliminary plat was unanimously approved.

Carriage Point West Final PD Site Plan approved

Kassawara noted that the parcel was zoned for a density of up to 10 dwelling units per acre (PRD-10), but Classic’s site plan density was only 3.1 dwelling units per acre. The developer has voluntarily limited sod to 50 percent of each lot, with drought-resistant landscaping comprising the rest of the lots. Kassawara noted that this restriction would become a future regulation change.

Kassawara said the developer had been very cooperative by increasing rear setbacks from 37 to 45 feet for the homes adjacent to the existing Carriages development, resulting in a minimum of 60 feet of separation between abutting houses in the two areas. The developer is also providing extra landscape screening for the lots with rear exposures to Baptist Road.

Kassawara said he believed that the single cluster mailbox for all 39 homes was inadequate but that the final approval belongs to the U.S. Postal Service. He has asked the post office for a second cluster mailbox.

Kassawara also reported that the developer’s traffic analysis showed no unacceptable reductions in level of service at nearby major intersections. No additional offsite improvements are recommended beyond those already in place for traffic flow mitigation. The town’s traffic consultant will report findings on the developer’s traffic analysis in time for the BOT hearing on this site plan.

Kassawara proposed four conditions for approval by the Planning Commission:

  1. The developer must submit a copy of the Subdivision Improvement Agreement with Triview prior to the town staff scheduling a BOT hearing for site plan approval.

  2. The U.S. Postal Service must give final approval of the cluster mailbox configuration.

  3. Triview must write a letter to the town stating that streetlights will be installed according to Triview standards.

  4. The town’s traffic consultant must concur with the applicant’s traffic study conclusions and recommendations prior to a BOT hearing for site plan approval.

There were no major comments or concerns by the referral agencies prior to this hearing.

A letter to Classic, signed by the owners of five homes on the west side of Maple Creek Drive, next to the new development’s boundary, said they had paid lot premiums and asked Classic to "honor the contracts by maintaining our views of the Air Force Academy, Pikes Peak, and the mountains." A copy of the signed letter was forwarded to town staff. This letter also asked Classic for "a green belt or bike/activities path behind our homes so that we still feel a sense of open space and backyard privacy" that they have had "for close to two years."

In another letter, a Classic resident noted having paid an additional $20,000 for this unobstructed mountain view, asked if there would be trails or parks within the new site plan, and expressed concerns about traffic, glare from streetlights, and additional traffic noise. Two other letters expressed similar concerns along with a concern about a drop in property values if their views were lost.

There was one letter in favor of the site plan.

Fred Borman, of Elite Properties of America and Kyle Campbell of Classic Consulting gave the applicant’s presentation. They said the ceiling heights of the new construction would be 9 feet and truss heights about 5 feet, resulting in a roof height of about 15 feet above the main living level. The new lots’ elevations are 18 to 20 feet lower than the existing lots on the west side of Maple Creek Drive.

Spence said the previous Classic customers paid a big premium and the roof lines will still be part of their views, despite the excavation and retaining wall that will create the 18- to 20-foot lot elevation difference. She didn’t believe that the current proposal actually honors the promise the adjacent lot owners had received at the time of purchase.

Commissioner Carl Armijo noted that floor elevations in this type of home are normally about 2 to 3 feet above ground level, which would have an even greater effect on views.

Spence praised the park Classic had built in its development next to Creekside Middle School and noted the condition she had negotiated: that Triview would provide the park’s maintenance. She noted that it is very far away from the two Carriages developments. She suggested that "lot 39" be set aside as a park rather than a home lot. This lot is next to the existing Carriages development, on the corner of Lacuna Drive and Whistler Creek Drive, where Whistler Creek connects the two developments. She stated that the town should not approve another development without a place for children to play, a chronic problem in Jackson Creek developments. "It’s a moral thing to think about," she said.

Borman replied that the zoned density would produce 90 to 100 units, which would support a park, but there aren’t enough homes with children in the current design of 39 units. When Spence reiterated her position, Borman said he was not prepared to respond, other than to say that the proposal meets the Triview master plan.

During the public hearing, Martin returned to the podium and said there was no abatement shown to isolate noise from Baptist Road, which will worsen when it is widened in the next year. He said he was a realtor and his experience had shown that these homes on the southern boundary would end up being rentals and decline in value.

Kassawara said that there was no practical way to build a physical barrier to attenuate road noise. He said an 8-foot wall would not be of any real value, given the slope of the land between the road and houses, but there would be additional landscaping.

Kassawara informed Frank Yarberry that his house would be no less than 67 feet away from the new house to be built behind his.

Several citizens expressed concern about the retaining wall between the two developments and its effect on drainage. One asked that it be a stucco wall. Kassawara replied that stucco was not practical and that the retaining wall would meet all applicable standards.

During commissioner comments, Morgan said the "master plan had been in place for a long time, and basically every square foot of land down there will be developed as part of that plan." He added, "I think this premium business is a racket. This is the third time we’ve heard about that from Jackson Creek alone, and we’ve heard about that in a couple of other places" as well. "The fact is, people are being lied to." He said buyers need to be more responsible but asked Kassawara if there was anything the town could do to stop the problem. Kortgardner added that the false promises were typically verbal and would be hard to enforce.

Kassawara suggested requiring developers to provide customers with a zoning map for the entire region at the time of sale. He added that enforcement was very difficult and a workable process would be cumbersome. He advised buyers to check with the town planning staff to find out what would be developed around them before closing.

Armijo asked why Triview would take on the risk and cost of maintaining this development’s water quality pond. Kassawara said that experience had shown that homeowners associations were ineffective in maintaining infrastructure, and it would probably become an eyesore and unsafe. Triview would be responsible for maintaining all infrastructure for the foreseeable future.

Kassawara, a professional engineer, added that this was a staff issue and he would be inspecting all engineering and drainage plans and installations. He said he would not approve them if they didn’t meet town requirements as well as Triview’s. Shupp said Armijo’s suggestion to avoid responsibility for the pond by requiring creation of an HOA was not appropriate and would not preclude future legal problems for the town if the proposed HOA failed to maintain the pond.

After further discussion, Spence proposed an amendment for a Planning Commission recommendation to the BOT that the trustees consider adding a requirement for the addition of a neighborhood park within the development for safety reasons. Her amendment was unanimously approved. The amended site plan was unanimously approved with the four conditions noted above.

Lake of the Rockies Sketch Plan rejected

Landowner BK-LOR, LLC sought approval of a PD Sketch Plan for the Lake of the Rockies campground on Mitchell Avenue. The campground recently went out of business and is still zoned as Planned Commercial Development (PCD), an obsolete town designation.

The sketch plan was similar to the ones Catalano-Way Group had presented to the Planning Commission and BOT on several occasions in the recent past. Each of those plans was rejected due to density and insufficient water rights. The major difference in this proposal was that all commercial uses were deleted and replaced with houses, making the sketch plan purely residential.

Kassawara said that the hearing was about only the concept of the sketch plan, its proposed access, land use, and density; most details would be provided at a later date. He said that "access to the lake is pretty bad." This sketch plan would add a new access provided by the developer south of the current narrow dirt "lane" access along the north boundary of the campground.

The BK-LOR plan calls for 194 homes on 67.11 acres, with all but three houses built in average densities of 4 to 6 dwelling units per acre. A portion of the property, 3.1 acres, is not part of the town and will require a separate annexation process. The three large-lot houses are planned for an 8.15-acre area on the west side of Monument Dam; however, just as in the various Catalano plans, this particular area is landlocked, with no right-of-way for roads available other than through condemnation of portions of existing homeowners’ yards.

Much of the proposed open space is in areas of steep slopes or Preble’s mouse habitat below Monument Dam. Drainage would have to be divided between Monument Sanitation District and Palmer Lake Sanitation District, after inclusion by both districts, to use gravity flow to their collection lines. Otherwise, a lift station built by one of the districts or unusually deep and expensive excavations would be required to avoid some portions of the parcel not being connected.

The staff report notes that the water rights to the property have already been conveyed to town water engineer Lytle Water Solutions, LLC. The town cannot provide enough single-family water taps for the property because there has never been a full adjudication of the Denver Aquifer rights in water court. The water under the land purchased from the railroad on the east side of Mitchell Avenue has not been conveyed. After adjudication, Lytle estimates that 206 taps could be provided, but no date for their availability can be estimated. The town’s current water shortage for this project is 17 taps.

In response to letters of notification from the town, five adjacent residents were opposed to the plan. Four of them wrote multi-page letters listing what they said were detailed "histories" of "broken promises" by Ernie Biggs, owner of the "RV park" since 1993 and failures of the town to enforce agreements he had made. The four letters noted that the lake had deteriorated due to the presence of the campground and that campers had caused problems and damage to adjacent properties. Common concerns expressed were litter, dead fish abandoned by fishermen, smoldering campfires set on their private property, and erosion of their shorelines. Each of the letters said that these problems would worsen with the high density of housing proposed and that the scenic and economic value of the lake would decline even more.

Two property owners wrote that the sketch plan they had been provided did not have enough detail to form an opinion for or against it. One comment form was marked in favor, but there were no supporting comments.

Tim Seibert of NES, Inc. gave the applicant’s PowerPoint presentation for the sketch plan. It included a land suitability and visual analysis, vegetation inventory, and discussion of neighborhood compatibility, traffic issues, pending annexations, and water allocations. His presentation was similar to Kassawara’s overview—as well as to previous presentations given by Catalano-Way—though less detailed. Seibert said that the development would have a significant positive impact due to the short walking distance to the downtown business area.

The sketch plan showed that most of the homes would be built between Mitchell Avenue and the lake, with two entrances along Mitchell. Seibert also noted that part of the property was on the east side of Mitchell. The developer would contribute to building a new deceleration lane for stacking northbound traffic turning east on Second Street when the railroad crossing was closed. There would also be southbound deceleration lanes built on Mitchell at the accesses to the property.

West Oak Ridge resident Tim Schutz, whose property is adjacent to the campground, gave a lengthy presentation in opposition. He said the proposal was excessively dense, and there was no transition zone next to the larger adjacent West Oak Hills lots. The sketch plan only listed average densities, without any indication of how actual lot densities would vary across the property.

Traffic backups at Second Street would significantly worsen, he said, creating a major safety issue for access by emergency vehicles or evacuation during a natural disaster.

Schutz noted that there is no realistic estimate of when all the required water for the site would actually be available or when the trail system through the mouse habitat could realistically be approved. He said the water figures provided by Lytle changed significantly from October to December. He was also concerned that the town might pay for water rights already conveyed to the town in several previous transactions with Biggs.

Schutz also said that the plan does little to "ensure that the access to, and use of, Monument Lake is protected for all residents of Monument and surrounding communities." He expressed concern that the lake would become a private enclave for the residents of the development over time because there were not enough details in the plan to assure residents that this outcome would be prevented.

Mark Smith and Chris Turback of Shiloh Pines shared Schutz’s concerns and were also troubled by the lack of public road access for the three large lots, light pollution, and quality of construction.

Seibert rebutted each of these concerns with the same points he made in his initial presentation. He also noted that NES was still evaluating the property and no final decisions had been made. However, he acknowledged there was no access available to the three western lots. Seibert said the landowner would need to hear the views of the BOT before making anymore decisions or providing more detailed information on the sketch plan.

All the undefined water rights would be conveyed to the town at the time of annexation. He added that the new access to the lake, which the developer would provide, would be a plus rather than a potential negative.

There was a lengthy review of the problems the town had with the Catalano proposals. Several commissioners said that these problems were still unresolved in this new proposal because of the high residential densities.

Morgan said that the water numbers provided by Bruce Lytle were different than those he had presented on two previous occasions. The water problem was worse than in the previous Catalano proposals and would require the town to drill new wells and build new storage. Access to the lake was inadequate at this density. Traffic problems would be worsened on Mitchell Avenue with 72 trains per day, and residential traffic is different than campground traffic. Larger lots with more expensive houses would be a better use. There are no commercial uses proposed, despite the land’s commercial zoning and the clear intent of the town’s comprehensive plan.

Seibert replied that the NES market analysis had shown that there was little likelihood of commercial success for shops or restaurants because the site was too remote from I-25 and the major arterials in Monument and Palmer Lake to generate adequate traffic and visibility.

Kortgardner noted he had lived on the campground for a year when he first moved to Monument. He also said he likes the style of houses that are being considered, similar to those at the Villages of Monument on Old Denver Highway.

Spence said, "I’m against the density," it was "not appropriate" for the Wilson house on the north side of the dirt access lane to the lake, and "only three-quarter acres of open green space for the public by the lake is really sad." Spence made a motion recommending "denial of the plan to the BOT because the plan does not comply with the standards and criteria for approval," and it passed unanimously.

Timbers at Monument plat continued

This 73.5-acre commercial parcel is on the west side of Jackson Creek Parkway between the Monument Marketplace and Foxworth-Galbraith. Developer Mike Watt owns the Foxworth-Galbraith property, and there are two narrow, vacant 5-acre lots north of that store that are owned by different entities within the Watt family. These two parcels will become landlocked once Struthers Road north of Baptist Road is closed, unless there is an alternative access on the east through the Timbers parcel.

The Timbers parcel is being subdivided into four major commercial lots. There are some difficult drainage and mouse habitat issues that have caused several previous hearings by the commission on this parcel to be continued.

There were no major comments or concerns expressed by referral agencies before the hearing.

During the public hearing, Mike Watt said he opposed the plat because he believes there would be inadequate access for his three properties. He is in favor of Timbers and Monument Marketplace succeeding because this would be a benefit to his lots as well as to the entire town. Without this Timbers access, Watt said he would be compelled to sue CDOT or the town for the diminished value of these three properties.

There was a lengthy discussion among the commissioners, Kassawara, Watt, and Ron Murphy of Hammers Construction, Inc. in an attempt to find a solution acceptable to Watt and Murphy. Murphy asserted that the access he would provide to the two 5-acre lots was adequate, even though it was long and circuitous to the west side of the properties rather than direct and short on the east side, as Watt had requested.

At one point, Murphy asked BOT member Travis Easton—who is Murphy’s consulting engineer for the Timbers project—questions about engineering details of the plat. Easton, an employee of Nolte and Associates, expressed no opinions about the proposals and only answered Murphy’s questions of fact

After an hour of negotiations between Watt and Murphy, there was no progress toward resolution of Watt’s access problem. Delaney then recommended that the Preliminary Plat and Preliminary Site Plan hearings be continued. Murphy objected because of the costs of a one-month delay, but could not resolve his differences with Watt. Both proposals were unanimously continued.

The meeting adjourned at 10:30 p.m. The next meeting will be held on Jan. 11, at 6:30 p.m. in Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held the second Wednesday of the month.

Web Site Exclusive: View Village Center at Woodmoor Filing No. 4 Preliminary Plat

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Palmer Lake Town Council, December 1 and December 8: Nicky’s at the Villa business license and Inn at Palmer Divide liquor license approved

By Jim Kendrick

Workshop, Dec. 1: Nicky’s at the Villa license approved

Owner Nicky Serbenescu described his new restaurant and catering business, Nicky’s at the Villa, that will operate in the Villa building on Highway 105, a town landmark for 80 years. He said he was looking forward "to generating more sales tax for you," that he wanted "to be part of the neighborhood," and "I’m here to stay." He also said he would donate the sales from one night for the fire truck. Trustee Max Parker said he was glad that Serbenescu was keeping the Villa name: "It’s been here a long time."

Fire Department report

Fire Trustee Gary Coleman reported that during November the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) had responded to 22 calls in town and five mutual aid calls. The PLVFD assisted with cooking at the town’s annual chili supper, which raises money for the operations and maintenance of the mountainside star above the town.

This year the supper raised over $2,600 from about 400 attendees. The PLVFD would also assist with food preparation for the Yule Log Dinner on Dec. 6 and Hunt on Dec. 11 and with the serving of breakfast on Dec. 10 at the Palmer Lake Elementary School. Coleman said, "They’re all volunteers and do a lot of good work. I’m really proud of them."

Grader purchase proposed

Roads Trustee Parker proposed that the town purchase a new road grader with the money saved from paving town roads with the recycled asphalt that was crushed by the county’s department of transportation. The bid for the new grader, with credit for the trade-in of the town’s aging 1988 grader, was $170,000, under a municipal discounting agreement. This six-wheel-drive grader normally sells for $318,000.

Trustee Cornell said that he was concerned about the lack of funding for capital equipment in the general fund. Town Clerk Della Gray pointed out that the capital funding was in the roads budget on a different page, rather than in the general fund. Roads supervisor Bob Radosevich noted that there had been several requests for a new grader in previous years. The proposed grader is a new model with many additional capabilities that will make it more effective in maintaining the town’s many dirt roads.

The other trustees agreed with the proposal during a lengthy discussion of which specific roads might be serviced with the new grader’s additional capabilities in 2006. A final decision on the purchase was deferred until Dec. 8.

Watershed study funding cut

Bob Miner reported that federal funding had been reduced for the $3 million Fountain Creek Watershed study. Senator Wayne Allard reported that only $125,000 would be included in the 2006 budget, down from over $714,000 allocated in 2005. An additional $424,000 would be needed in 2007 to complete the study, which began in 1999, after a significant flood caused extensive damage along the full length of the creek, including substantial damage in the Town of Palmer Lake.

2006 budget distributed

Gray distributed copies of the final draft budget for 2006 for the trustees to review prior to the hearing on Dec. 8. Gray listed the changes made to reflect the actual transfers of funds between departments at the end of 2005 and previous years.

The meeting adjourned at 7:57 p.m.

Palmer Lake Liquor Licensing Authority, Dec. 8: Limited license for the Inn approved

There was a lengthy and occasionally heated discussion prior to approval (4-2) of a liquor license for the Inn at Palmer Divide as the Palmer Lake Town Council first met as the town’s Liquor Licensing Authority. Trustees Chuck Cornell and Gary Coleman, who both live next to this project, voted no, based on what they said were several changes in the proposed usage of the 27.2-acre parcel over the past several years. The partnerships and trusts that own the property have changed over time as well. One of the new owners, former Broadmoor Hotel chef Scott Godfrey, spoke for the current owners of the project. Max Parker was absent.

The approval was restricted to the interior portion of the main lodge building, which will be operated initially as a restaurant only, before the other planned buildings are completed. The main lodge building is now under construction on Highway 105, while only the foundations for the other four buildings are in place. The various owners of Mozaic LLP will have to seek a modification of the liquor license to extend liquor service to planned outdoor patio areas and upstairs decks in the main building. A liquor license modification will also be required for room service in the other buildings to be completed later; the eastern lodge building will also have a large event room.

Town Attorney Larry Gaddis said that the limits on the outdoor patio and grass serving areas for the main restaurant building were inadequately defined in Mozaic’s application. "I think you’re going to have control problems." He said the application contained no description of the indoor and outdoor serving areas for the other buildings—nor the connecting paths, landscaping, and parking lots—and could not be approved. Any areas approved at this meeting would have to be completed within a year.

Godfrey noted that the other buildings, which he called Phase II, might not be completed until February 2007, and he initially asked that the entire project be licensed with modifications sought only if the rest of the buildings were not all completed in early December 2006. Godfrey said the death of one previous owner and changes in project goals by the three entities that currently own Mozaic LLP (FJ2 LLP, The Scott Evan Godfrey Trust, and The Anne Redmond Godfrey Trust) had caused changes in the project configuration. These changes led to incomplete financing, and phased construction was necessary to allow more time to raise money for the other four buildings.

Cornell and Coleman objected to Godfrey’s proposal, saying the project had not been approved for phased completion. Cornell said this was not a bed and breakfast as initially proposed. Godfrey noted that the proposal delay and revision problems that the trustees described all occurred before he became one of the owners and that he could not comment on previous Planning Commission and Town Council reviews of the project.

The other buildings and outdoor areas were dropped from consideration at the end of the hearing at Godfrey’s request. He said he would seek the license modification for the rest of the project at the same time as the request for a certificate of occupancy for the main building, probably in February. The license for only the main building was approved 4-2, based on the condition that Godfrey provide satisfactory legal verbal descriptions and dimensioned drawings for each deck that will be licensed for liquor service.

Cornell did not comment while voting no. Afterward, he asked that the letter of opposition to the license written by his wife, Denise Cornell—who is a member of the town’s Planning Commission— and submitted to the council be made an attachment to the minutes of this meeting. The trustees all acknowledged that they had received and read her letter before the meeting. Coleman then said he voted no because the town should not be rushed into issuing a license without the full descriptions that would be required of any other applicant—particularly given principal owner Al Fritts’ continuing history of requesting approval of last-minute project changes.

Godfrey apologized for past misunderstandings with Fritts before his recent involvement in the project. Trustee Trudy Finan thanked him for his apology and said "not everybody feels the same angst towards the project" as some of the trustees.

The licensing authority meeting adjourned at 7:53 p.m.

Council Meeting, Dec. 8

The new business license for Nicky’s at the Villa was approved unanimously as a consent item, along with payment of all bills for the month of November.

Committee Reports

Coleman reported that all officers of the PLVFD were re-elected for 2006.

Cornell said he had no information to report regarding monthly water department production and expenses.

Finan reported that Police Department calls for November were down to 105 compared to 113 in 2004. There were 16 calls to assist the Sheriff’s Office and 15 calls for assistance from the Monument Police Department. The council unanimously approved a renewal of the Humane Society contract for 2006 for handling barking dog and stray animal complaints.

There was a lengthy discussion of whether to change the policy of allowing town police officers to drive their cars to and from home to improve response times when they are on-call at their residence. Gaddis noted that the policy enhances public safety by not having officers responding to calls in unmarked cars. Finan said that response times for calls outside of town were substantially improved by allowing the officers to respond directly from their homes in police cars rather than driving to Palmer Lake first in their personal cars.

Gaddis suggested that the board appoint a citizen committee to make suggestions about a written "take-home" policy and a possible ballot issue for a sales tax increase from 1 percent to up to 3 percent, to support the added costs for a 24-hour police program and to pay for additional police car maintenance or for personal auto mileage to officers called from their homes. The sales tax increase would also pay for part of the town’s fire engine debt.

Finan and Gaddis said a decision would have to be made by the council in February to implement an April ballot issue to increase the town’s sales tax. Both emphasized that there would be no change in property taxes. Gaddis was asked to prepare a draft ballot resolution for a sales tax increase. Finan said she would organize a citizen review committee to meet with Chief Dale Smith regarding the on-call policies.

Gray read a letter from Smith announcing his retirement effective July 3, 2006. His letter said this would give the town time to find a replacement and allow for an orderly transition of command. He also praised the town for providing satisfying careers for him and his staff that include extensive opportunities for rewarding professional growth. Smith is the longest serving police chief in the state, with over 30 years in this position.

Parks and Recreation Trustee Trish Flake announced the award of a U.S. Tennis Association grant of $2,500 to the town for resurfacing the tennis courts. She praised local tennis coach Kim Makower for his efforts in submitting the grant request. Gray will supervise contractor payments from the grant, and Flake will oversee the resurfacing work.

Gaddis, taking over for the absent Parker, recommended that the town put out a formal request for additional bids on a new town grader. The council also unanimously approved Gaddis’ recommendation to accept the lowest reasonable bid that meets the town’s needs. The $170,000 expenditure that was proposed at the Dec. 1 workshop would have been spent before the end of 2005. However, this amount may now be rolled over to the 2006 budget, if necessary, to allow review of any other bids that might be submitted. Other vendors declined to make competing written or verbal offers to the $170,000 bid when contacted by Radosevich in November.

Ordinances

Gaddis and the town’s consultant engineer prepared a draft ordinance that amends and clarifies the definition of disturbed areas for hillside construction restrictions. The change in language was proposed as a possible means of avoiding litigation by property owners contesting the current restrictions. However, Gaddis said the proposed change was probably not necessary. The council unanimously continued the proposed ordinance.

The council unanimously approved three "clean-up" ordinances appropriating additional money in some town funds. First, a transfer of $11,811 from the General Fund to the Police Fund paid for the new Impala originally purchased with a "loan" from the Roads and Water Funds. Second, a transfer of $26,526 from the Roads Capital Improvement Fund to the Fire Truck Fund made up for the shortfall in donations received during 2005.

The third ordinance appropriated $43,756 received for a Homeland Security Grant to the Police Fund. Also appropriated was $5,445 for the state’s contribution to the state-run police pension fund, which was matched by a $6,056 contribution from the town.

The council unanimously approved an ordinance for the 31-page 2006 budget and the mill levy calculated by the state. The total general fund revenue will be $627,073, and the total water fund revenue will be $495,930. The total mill levy will be 19.501 mills and will generate $452,765 in revenue for bond repayment and general purpose revenue, based on a town valuation of $23,766,520, up from $19,742,620 for 2005. The council also unanimously approved an ordinance appropriating funds for each of the town’s 11 major accounts for 2006.

The meeting adjourned at 8:55 p.m. The regular town council meeting scheduled for Jan. 12 was later cancelled and combined with the workshop meeting to be held Jan. 5, after OCN’s publication deadline. A report on this combined meeting will appear in the next issue of OCN.

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Forest View Acres Water District, December 7: District increases fee, approves 2006 budget

By John Heiser

At its regular monthly meeting Dec. 7, the Forest View Acres Water District (FVAWD) board of directors approved a $25 per account monthly administrative fee increase and conditionally approved the budget for 2006. Grace Best Elementary School was locked, so the meeting was moved to Arby’s restaurant. Two district residents other than board members were in attendance.

The five-person board consists of President Barbara Reed-Polatty, John Anderson, Brian Cross, Ketch Nowacki, and Eckehart Zimmermann. Reed-Polatty was absent. Cross presided.

Administrative, bookkeeping, and accounting services for the district are provided by Special District Management Services, Inc. (SDMS). Kammy Tinney, SDMS District Manager, served as facilitator and secretary at the board meeting. Attorney Paul Rufien provided legal advice.

The district has a contract water operations manager, Dan LaFontaine of Independent Water Services, who is responsible for maintaining the equipment and infrastructure and for managing all aspects of water delivery.

Background

In December 2004, the board uncovered the apparent theft of funds from the district’s bank accounts. In February, a warrant was issued for the arrest of former contract office manager Patricia Unger on charges of embezzling more than $212,000 in district funds. That amount was later increased to $315,000. Unger surrendered to authorities Feb. 16, 2005, and was released on $50,000 bond to await a preliminary hearing. Unger rejected a negotiated mediation agreement and waived a preliminary hearing on the charges. The criminal trial is scheduled to begin March 7, 2006. The felony charges Unger faces carry a potential sentence of 4 to 12 years.

The district has filed a civil suit against Unger and her husband, Dennis, to recover the missing funds and associated costs. The civil trial is scheduled to begin July 18. The district’s attorneys hired Sheri Betzer, a forensic auditor. According to information released by the board, Betzer estimated the total financial loss to the district at not less than $625,000.

May election

Cross, Nowacki, and Zimmermann must run for election in May 2006. The terms of Reed-Polatty and Anderson expire in May 2008.

The board unanimously appointed Tinney to serve as the district’s election official for the May 2006 election.

Self-nominations for the three vacant board seats may be submitted to Tinney between Feb. 1 and Feb. 27. If the district receives no more than three self-nominations, the May election will be called off on Feb. 28 and the candidates declared the winners.

District residents interested in running for the board or who have operational or management questions or comments are asked to contact SDMS at 488-2110 or (800) 741-3254.

Higgins inclusion approved

Doug Higgins has submitted a petition for inclusion in the district. Higgins’ property is about 39 acres of undeveloped land. He has agreed not to subdivide the property and has agreed to pay legal fees (estimated at $2,500), the cost of running pipe to his property, the cost to the district for performing an engineering review of his plans (estimated at $1,000), and to transfer to the district the water rights associated with his property. LaFontaine said Higgins already has rights to one tap, so no tap fee is required.

Higgins asked for a waiver of the district’s inclusion fee, which is estimated at about $117,000 for the property. Rufien noted that the inclusion fee was waived as part of last month’s approval of the inclusion of Leroy Schmidt’s similar 40-acre parcel.

Higgins noted that, unlike Schmidt, he does not need temporary service since he does not plan to connect to the system for one to two years. LaFontaine suggested Higgins plan on connecting to the planned line to be run to the Red Rock Reserve project. Red Rock Reserve was formerly known as Raspberry Ridge.

Following a public hearing during which no one spoke in favor or opposed, the board unanimously approved the application and directed Rufien to prepare the documents.

Financial report

Tinney requested that the board approve payment of claims for November totaling $13,600, which included $4,416 for LaFontaine’s services, $2,500 as partial payment to Henkle Drilling, $2,393 for electric service, $2,336 for delayed billing from Palmer Lake Sanitation covering several months, and $1,000 as partial payment to Betzer.

As of Nov. 30, the district’s debt stands at $659,857 comprised of $545,000 in bonds and $114,857 in accounts payable. The accounts payable is comprised of $58,899 owed to attorneys Petrock and Fendel, $34,242 owed to SDMS, $14,299 owed to Henkle Drilling, $4,740 owed to Betzer, and $2,678 owed to Rufien.

The balance in the enterprise fund declined from $21,377 on Jan. 1 to a debit of $4,823 on Nov. 30.

The balance in the debt service fund declined $7,606 from $2,552 on Jan. 1 to a debit of $5,054 on Nov. 30. The debt service funds pay off an $880,000 bond issued in 1995 and a $45,000 loan obtained in 2004.

The capital projects fund received $25,000 in tap fees and the proceeds of a Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) loan of $172,498 and a state health department loan of $10,000. On Nov. 30, after infrastructure expenses totaling $181,777, that fund balance stood at $26,821.

The net cash balance for all funds as of Nov. 30 was $17,366. Accounts receivable from customers stood at $422.

Tinney noted that the $17,700 debt service payment due on Dec. 1 was paid.

The financial report was unanimously accepted.

2005 budget amended

The board unanimously approved an amendment to the 2005 budget setting the following amounts:

General Fund: $205,000
Debt Service Fund: $90,260
Capital Improvement Fund: $200,000
Enterprise Fund: $175,000

2006 budget approved; $25 administrative fee increase approved

Tinney presented the proposed budget and said it needed final adjustments based on additional information to be provided by LaFontaine regarding capital improvements needed during 2006. Tinney noted that the final 2006 budget must be approved by Dec. 31 and filed with DOLA by Jan. 31. The proposed 2006 budget included the following totals:

General Fund: $109,500
Debt Service Fund: $90,741
Capital Improvement Fund: $53,000
Enterprise Fund: $270,900

Revenue from the Red Rock Reserve development was not included in the proposed budget.

Cross said the capital improvement fund as budgeted would result in about an $80,000 shortfall compared to projected expenses. He calculated that since the district serves 280 accounts, the shortfall would be about $24 per account per month.

He added that if a property tax mill levy were used to increase revenues, a ballot measure must be passed.

Tinney noted that even if the ballot measure were approved, the property tax revenue would not be received until 2007.

Rufien added that an advantage to an administrative fee increase would be that the board could adjust the fee as needed, whereas "a mill levy should be considered permanent."

Nowacki said the shortfall is due to administrative problems, so the answer should be an administrative fee increase.

Anderson said that some in the district would see it as a "smack in the face."

Nowacki replied, "Everybody knows we had this nasty event occur to us."

Nowacki’s motion to increase the administrative fee by $25 to $43 per month, seconded by Zimmermann, was unanimously approved. Tinney said a notice would be sent in January, with the fee increase to be applied with the February billing.

The board then unanimously approved the proposed 2006 budget subject to final adjustments.

Tinney noted that a phone poll would be used to obtain the final approval of the 2006 budget with adjustments for the administrative fee increase and estimated capital improvement expenses.

Billing for availability of service (AOS) to resume

The board unanimously approved retroactive billing for AOS fees due in 2004 and 2005. They decided to forgo billing for earlier years.

A request for waiver of AOS fees was denied. Rufien said he strongly encouraged the board to have a "no waiver" policy on AOS fees.

Hotshots camp inclusion tabled

LaFontaine reported that initial discussions had been held regarding inclusion of the Hotshots firefighter camp in Pike National Forest. He noted that no petition for inclusion had been submitted.

The board tabled the matter until more information is available.

LaFontaine’s contract extended

The board unanimously approved LaFontaine continuing to work on a month-to-month basis under the terms and conditions of the current contract until both sides approve his new one-year contract.

Agreement with fire authority approved

The board unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority for fire hydrant maintenance, testing, and operations. LaFontaine said the agreement imposed no additional costs on the FVAWD.

Operations report

LaFontaine reported that the district’s surface plant produced 1,601,200 gallons in November, averaging 37.1 gallons per minute over 30.0 days. The district’s well produced 620,000 gallons during 4.1 days of operation, averaging 105.8 gallons per minute.

He added that there have been no problems with freezing of the surface plant. He said the plant is obtaining water from under the ice.

LaFontaine said he completed 74 cross-connection and curb stop inspections, finding one cross-connection violation that was corrected. All bacteriological sampling and reporting requirements of the state health department were satisfactorily completed.

Meeting day changed to fourth Thursday

The board unanimously approved changing the meeting day and time to the fourth Thursday of each month at 5:30 p.m.

No executive session needed

Rufien noted that there was nothing new on the Unger and Wells Fargo situations, so no executive session to discuss legal issues was needed.

**********

The next meeting will be held Jan. 26, 5:30 p.m. Board meetings are usually held on the fourth Thursday of each month. The location varies from month to month. Those wishing to attend should check the date, time, and location by calling the district at 488-2110.

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Triview Metropolitan District, November 16: Loan for wastewater plant expansion approved

By Elizabeth Hacker

The Triview Metropolitan District board of directors held its monthly meeting on Dec. 14, at 4 p.m. This change was due to the holiday schedule and happened to be on the same day as the Monument Planning Commission. The board worked swiftly to conduct and finish business, as some of them also were attending the planning commission meeting at 6:30 p.m.

Loan status

District Manager Ron Simpson reported that the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority had approved the district’s loan request for $5 million for expansion of the Tri-Lakes wastewater treatment facility. Simpson added that there were conditions but that Triview could meet them. The board noted that only a few months ago, it didn’t appear that they would get the loan, and members praised the staff for their ongoing efforts to secure one.

Letter from Monument Mayor Byron Glenn

Mayor Glenn addressed the board and distributed a letter regarding the growing traffic problems in Monument and the lack of funding to do anything about them.

The letter stated: "We need a resolution/discussion ASAP. The Town may have no other option but to restrict new growth until a financial plan is in place or these roadways are built. Let’s get together soon to discuss."

In his letter, Glenn proposed the need for roadway improvements to accommodate the growing capacity. He suggested that Triview and the town consider imposing a traffic impact fee on new residential construction or a mill levy increase for roadway improvements to Higby, the Baptist Road/I-25 interchange, and Old Denver Highway. He added that as a contractor he did not favor impact fees but that the only other way it could be done was through a sales tax increase and that Monument would lose the ability to attract businesses if the sales tax were any higher.

Simpson noted that the roads Glenn mentioned were all county roads and that the county should participate. He added that BRRTA was established to fund the Baptist Road interchange, but the fees collected from BRRTA were not enough and that the county has not contributed the funds it pledged. He added that the county, town, and Triview should all contribute.

Mountain View Electric makes presentation

Kevin Holbrook, a key account representative from Mountain View Electric (MVE), gave a presentation that explained MVE’s rate structure and an analysis of how and at what times of the day Triview is using electricity. Holbrook explained that while MVE produces much of its electricity, during peak demands it has to purchase electricity off the grid, often at higher prices than it can charge customers.

Holbrook explained that MVE charges are based on three factors. The first is energy usage in time, or kWh (kilowatt hour), which is just over 6 cents for 1000 watts running for 1 hour. The other two factors are member demand and coincident peak demand, measured in kVA (highest energy required within each billing period for the month).

Holbrook further explained that some commercial users are power partners and hooked into a system that will alert them to peak times in 15-minute intervals so that they can avoid high demand during peak periods. He noted that Triview could also be a power partner for a minimal cost.

Simpson noted that Triview was fortunate that it did not have to pump around the clock during the summer even with the recent drought. Triview does not have the water storage necessary to pump at night and go off-line during peak hours, such as in the summer when residents irrigate their lawns. When demand is up, Triview needs to keep the tanks filled, peak time or not. Simpson noted that they try to avoid pumping water during the peak hours between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. because of the high cost of electricity but if they shut down too long during the peak, they will get complaints from the residents about low water pressure.

District Manager’s Report

Grant proposal: Simpson asked the board’s approval to proceed with a grant submittal. He reported that Town manager Cathy Green had called him about a potential source of grant funds available for a construction project and asked if Triview was interested. Simpson responded that Triview didn’t have the funds but wanted to install a security fence and a video monitoring system around the tank site for an approximate cost of $29,000. Triview’s match for the grant would be $500. The board instructed Simpson to move forward with the grant proposal.

Updating of water and design standards: Simpson reported that Triview had met with the town staff twice in the past month to discuss water and design standards, with the goal of standardizing them. In the meetings, they identified major differences between Triview’s and Monument’s standards. Simpson noted that Triview’s standards were more extensive than Monument’s but not as extensive as Colorado Springs Utilities’. He anticipated that the committee should be ready to recommend common design and water standards in March 2006.

Chuck Ritter, engineer for Nolte Associates who was contracted to update the district standards, reported that the water specifications section seemed to be the most inconsistent and that the committee will begin to address them in January.

Wal-Mart: Simpson reported that contactors for Wal-Mart intended to apply for a permit in December so that they could start moving dirt. He added that Triview was awaiting payment before the permits could be issued.

Now that there is a new agreement with Monument making the town responsible for inspections on commercial, office, and industrial installations, Triview will not be charging an inspection fee for Wal-Mart.

Monument Planning Commission: Simpson reported that the Monument Planning Commission was reviewing development plans for Carriage Point West, The Timbers, and Promontory Pointe that evening. He reported that The Timbers’ developer still has not addressed the issues Triview had presented. Simpson said the commission had approved Monument Ridge and that he is working with Green on coordinating the district’s inclusion agreement with the town’s annexation agreement in an effort to avoid overlap of services and conflicting development standards. He added that Home Place Ranch had not contacted Triview to discuss inclusion.

Parks and open space: Irrigation has been shut down for the winter except along Lyons Tail.

Computer replacement at Water Treatment Facility B: Simpson reported that the motherboard on the computer at the facility went out and that he had replaced it with a Dell computer. He added that many of the major brand-name computers are having problems with capacitors on their motherboards and Triview may have to look at purchasing lesser-known brands in the future.

Water quality detention pond at Carriage Point: Simpson reported that the detention pond in Carriage Point was built to comply with the state’s water quality standards and is different from other detention ponds in that it collects water from multiple areas. Triview doesn’t maintain detention ponds but since this one is multi-jurisdictional, Simpson suggested that Triview maintain it.

Currently, no one is maintaining it, and the residents of this area would have to form a homeowners association specifically for that purpose. The board voted to maintain the pond.

Potential inclusion of the Baptist Church Camp (BCC): In a previous board meeting, Simpson had discussed a proposal to provide services to the BCC property that would make Triview Metropolitan District competitive with the other water districts. Because Triview is a metropolitan district, its responsibility includes streets and parks in addition to water and sewer, whereas water and sewer (non-metro) districts only supply water and sanitation. The additional services make it difficult for Triview to be competitive. The board elected to further discuss this potential agreement in executive session following the regular meeting. No action was taken in the executive session.

Construction matters: Genesis Homes is gearing up for Phase 2, Filing 5 of Academy View Estates. Simpson reported that there were issues regarding a substandard road and irrigation system along Kitchener Way. He noted that if it were not taken care of, Triview would do the repairs and charge the contractor.

Simpson reported that a valve blew out along Lyons Tail Filing 5 and that an estimated 100,000-200,000 gallons of water ran down the street because the contractor had not winterized the system. He added that a meter will verify the amount of water lost and that the contractor will be charged.

Engineer’s report

Wastewater treatment facility: Ritter reported that they had reviewed five proposals submitted for the expansion of the wastewater treatment plant and selected Weaver General Construction Company of Englewood. Ritter noted that they were impressed with the extensive detail in the proposal, the extensive list of clients, and the fact that the contractor responded to every point in Triview’s request for proposal.

Stephenson asked how their price compared to the other bids. Ritter responded that Weaver’s bottom line was higher, but they included more and that their contractor profit margin of 6 percent was less than the other contractors. Simpson added that because it was an open contract, Weaver suggested ways Triview could save money and that because the contractor profit margin was set, Triview may be able to save money by cutting unnecessary elements out of the contract. Ritter added that Weaver had helped other communities save money and that they had good references from these communities.

Stephenson responded that he felt the contractor should put his pen to paper and give an exact price for the work that was to be done. Simpson responded that even though it was an open-ended contract, there were controls to prevent price gouging, which included a "price not to exceed" figure for each phase of the contract and an agreed-upon contractor 6 percent profit margin. Ritter reported that they should have a contract by the January board meeting. Stephenson asked if they had a cash flow schedule in place, to which Simpson responded that they did not.

Access road and bridge repairs: Ritter reported that Glacier Construction Company was being used for the railroad crossing and bridge repair contracts and that they should have the final schedule the following week. They anticipate it will be finished by March 15, weather permitting.

Sewer Basin Plan Update: Ritter presented the results of the Sewer Basin Plan Update to the 1996 plan by Nolte Associates. The study evaluates the future load on Triview’s sewer system if the Baptist Church Camp, Home Place Ranch, and Promontory Pointe were to annex into Monument. The scope of the study includes calculating the expected flow amounts from the proposed subdivisions and uses a model of the sewer system to evaluate its capacity to handle the additional flows.

Ritter reported that many lines would be at capacity when the subdivisions that are currently on-line were built out and that additional capacity would create bottlenecks in the system if additional lines were not installed.

Ritter presented a plan for upgrading the system to accommodate the additional load that would reduce future impacts. The line that will handle most of the additional load is proposed along Baptist Road. The board recommended that this be coordinated when Baptist Road is to be widened to reduce conflict and cost.

Stephenson suggested that there may be opportunities to save money and that Triview should take advantage of these opportunities. He questioned if this line could be added as a line item in the loan from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority for the wastewater treatment expansion.

Executive session

The meeting went into executive session at 5 p.m. to discuss an ongoing condemnation issue and negotiations with the Baptist Church Camp. No action was taken.

********

The next meeting of the Triview Metropolitan District Board will be Jan. 25, 4:30 p.m., at the district office, 174 N. Washington St., Monument. The board normally meets on the fourth Wednesday each month. For information, phone 488-6868.

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, December 13: Board to appoint interim member

By Sue Wielgopolan

The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District board of directors decided at the Dec. 13 meeting to attempt to fill the vacancy created by the recent death of board member Ron Turner, who lost his battle with cancer on Dec. 1. Turner, who was highly regarded by other members of the board and the Woodmoor staff, was elected in 2002 and served as board secretary as well as alternate member to the Joint Use Committee (JUC), which governs the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility.

An announcement of the vacancy and call for resumes of prospective candidates was announced in the Tribune. The board hopes to select an interim member at the Jan. 10 meeting. The seat will be up for election in May 2006.

Financials

In summarizing the district’s current financial status, treasurer Jim Wyss stated that the district had collected 92 percent of anticipated income, but had only spent 72 percent of the funds allocated for the year.

Many tap fees anticipated for 2005 have been deferred until 2006, as some of the larger construction projects in the district are behind schedule. However, other income, including larger-than-expected sales of excess water, helped bring actual income figures closer to this year’s estimates.

Wyss said that utilities are over budget due to the recent steep increase in fuel costs, but that payroll was under budget. In addition, several of the district’s own projects, including construction of the new warehouse and expansion of the Central Water Treatment Plant are behind schedule. Funds allocated for those projects will be rolled over into the 2006 budget.

According to Wyss, most of the district’s investments are currently in short-term investments, and therefore relatively liquid. He said that since longer-term rates have gone up, Integrity Bank would begin laddering assets after the New Year to increase yield. Steininger told the board that the district would be putting together a construction payment schedule to determine how much the district needed to keep available to meet large upcoming expenses, such as planned new wells and other construction projects.

2006 budget discussion

Steininger discussed the draft budget and changes suggested by board members that were incorporated since the November meeting.

Several factors have increased the cost of service for the district over the past year. The price of utilities has increased dramatically in the past few months, and insurance rates continue to rise. In addition, decaying water and sewer lines have increased the cost of maintenance. The yield from existing wells has dropped over time, increasing the cost of water. The board raised rates to reflect the higher cost of providing service.

An issue to which the board devoted considerable time was the present block water rate structure. Currently, residential water rates are broken into several tiers, or blocks, according to consumption, as measured in thousands of gallons. Consumers are charged the lowest rate per thousand gallons for usage up to 6,000 gallons. The next block costs slightly more for every thousand gallons between 6,000 and 12,000 gallons. Customers using over 12,000 but less than 20,000 gallons pay more per thousand gallons than lower tiers. There are nine blocks in all, and the price increases as consumption increases.

As requested by the board, all residential block water rates will be increased by about 2 percent. Utility management consultant Roger Hartman had originally proposed the increase on consumption of water up to 12,000 gallons, which would affect all customers. He recommended a smaller percentage increase on higher consumption blocks, which accounted for a small proportion of Woodmoor customers. (As noted above, rates are already higher for those consumers exceeding 6,ooo gallons per month.) But members argued that in order to make rates equitable and to encourage conservation, higher usage customers should also pay a proportional increase on additional water. Steininger noted that the deviation from the original recommendations would add an estimated $5,000 to the budget.

Hartman also suggested Woodmoor simplify its rate structure by creating fewer blocks and establishing a larger increase between blocks. The board decided to revisit Hartman’s recommendation after the New Year, and possibly incorporate changes before the start of the irrigation season.

Service fees for water and wastewater will also increase about 2 percent. Steininger pointed out that the average homeowner will actually be paying about 0.4 percent less during the year, even with the 2 percent increase on the water and sanitation bill, because the mill levy decreased by a full point.

Steininger briefly reviewed other 2006 rate changes. Water and tap fees will increase about 5 percent, but this will only affect new construction. The board also voted to increase the cost of excess water from $12,000 to $14,000 per acre-foot.

Members voted to accept the new rates. Resolution 0507, which appropriated funds and certified the mill levy, was passed later in the meeting.

Discussion of Joint Use Committee (JUC) activities

The JUC held its December meeting in the newly completed lab/administration building, which will be the new site for subsequent meetings of the committee. The JUC is composed of the executive support agent, plant superintendent, and delegates from the three entities that jointly own the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF): Woodmoor, and the Monument and Palmer Lake Sanitation Districts.

Benny Nasser, Woodmoor’s representative to the JUC, said that the committee planned to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house to mark the building’s completion in the spring after the landscaping is installed. Although major construction is essentially finished, Nasser told board members that the contractor, Access Construction, is still working on several "punch list" items.

Nasser announced that the parking lot had been paved but not striped. A disagreement among Access, asphalt company Lafarge, and contract administrator Woodmoor over the grading for the lot had threatened to delay paving, but the dispute was settled, and the asphalt laid before the onset of unfavorable weather.

Nasser told members that the total cost of the building came in at $448,104, which is about 2 percent higher than the original bid of $439,581. Minor design changes needed to accommodate existing infrastructure accounted for most of the overrun.

Nasser noted that average copper reading was again at 8 micrograms per liter (µg/l), which falls close to state limits. Even though the WWTF has been granted a temporary waiver by the state of Colorado (which raises those limits), the reading concerns Nasser, whose background is in analytical chemistry. He advised that the facility should attempt to identify the reason for the suspiciously consistent reading of 8 µg/l and the fact that copper readings are high during the same period each month.

Steininger thanked district engineer Jessie Shaffer for his contributions "over and above" expectations in completing the project. Steininger said that Shaffer had spent many additional hours working on the building, only to return to the Woodmoor office and stay after hours to complete district duties.

The JUC is currently in the process of examining other methods of facility management. The Woodmoor district had been acting as executive agent for the Tri-Lakes facility for several years. Nasser said the WWTF would eventually have separate credit cards, so that billing will be charged to the treatment plant rather than the district.

Palmer Divide Water Group (PDWG)

Steininger said that efforts to attain inclusion in the planned Southern Delivery System (SDS) pipeline continue to dominate discussions of the PDWG. Concern over declining well water supplies in the area have prompted the group to search for supplemental surface water sources and the means to deliver it. The PDWG determined in November that the only economically feasible alternative was to partner with the city of Colorado Springs and extend the pipeline, which is intended to move water from Pueblo Reservoir to the city, into northern El Paso County.

Until now, Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) has refused to consider including communities north of city boundaries in the SDS project. None of the alternatives listed for the SDS Environmental Impact Statement in a recently issued Bureau of Reclamation document include northern El Paso County.

"Unbridled growth" in the Tri-Lakes area remains a central issue with CSU. The PDWG is working through several channels to open negotiations with the city and its utility.

New billing system conversion

Office manager Hope Winkler reported that unanticipated conflicts between the district’s operating system and the new Casselle software package has delayed the transition to the new billing system. She hopes to complete the conversion by January.

Sewer lining project

The sewer lining project has been delayed due to the difficulty in obtaining PVC. Several factors have affected the availability of PVC pipe, including Hurricane Katrina, which disrupted manufacturing operations on the Gulf Coast. Steininger told the board that the pipe needed to complete the 2005 lining project is in shipment.

Member Jim Whitelaw asked how the high price of PVC would affect the project. Shaffer answered that current prices will not change the cost to the district; the contract stipulated the cost per linear foot, and adjustments should have been made by the contractor to allow for predictable price increases in PVC.

Water main breaks

Steininger reported that the Woodmoor district has experienced an unusually high number of water main breaks in the past month. Though staff expects to see more breaks during months of below-freezing temperatures, Steininger is at a loss to explain breaks in September and early October, when average temperatures are usually well above freezing. He suspects that the age of the lines in some of the older areas of the district make them particularly susceptible.

One break at the Greenland Preserve occurred when the contractor hit a main during excavation. Steininger told the board that the district lost a "substantial" amount of water before the line was repaired. In one case, three breaks occurred within a 24-hour period.

Steininger expressed appreciation for the dedication of his crew, who worked "around the clock" in some instances to repair broken lines on Caribou Circle, Harness Road, Deer Creek, Jackboot Way, Woodmoor Drive, and Top-O-the-Moor.

Whitelaw, whose home was impacted by one of the breaks, also applauded the courtesy and quick action of the respondents.

Central Water Treatment Plant (CWTP)

Steininger said that the deadline for contractor bids on the expansion of the CWTP was the following day, Dec. 14, and that a special meeting of the board would be held on Dec. 16 at 9 a.m. to award and sign the contract and issue a notice to proceed. (The contract was awarded on Dec. 16 to Velocity Constructors, Inc.)

Mike Rothberg, of engineering firm RTW, noted that the Trident unit and control valves from U.S. Filter were scheduled to be delivered by Jan. 5.

The expansion of the water treatment plant, which is located west of Lewis-Palmer Middle School on Woodmoor Drive, will enable the district to keep pace with current pumping capacity and meet the demands of new development.

New warehouse

Construction on the new warehouse continues. Steininger expects the masonry to be completed within one to two weeks, after which the rest of the steel structure and the roof sheeting will be added. Cold weather prevented installation of the flooring, so the shell of the building will be completed first. Once the shell is finished, the contractor will be able to heat the interior and pour the concrete floor.

Steininger said district staff is pleased with contractor S.J. Diller’s work so far.

Well 11

Stucco work on the building housing Well 11 is finished. Interior and trim will be completed sometime in the spring.

Subdivision update

Shaffer told the board there had been little change in the status of most developments. He updated the board on two construction projects in the district.

The Crossroads at Monument: Woodmoor signed and finalized the excess water agreement with CoReVet LLC initially discussed during the July board meeting. CoReVet purchased just under 1½ acre-feet of excess water and reserved an additional 5 acre-feet. The contractor has already constructed a large retaining wall and intends to start building in January. The development is located just east of the former BP station on Woodmoor Drive and will consist of a commercial strip mall with retail and office space, and may also contain a fast-food restaurant.

Greenland Preserve Filing 2: The force main for the lift station has been installed. Shaffer expects construction of the wet well to begin soon, followed by installation of the overflow tank and pump. The contractor will hook up the electrical and control instrumentation within the next two weeks. Greenland Preserve is located south of County Line Road and east of High Pines Drive.

Meter replacement program

Shaffer will serve as project manager for the meter replacement program, which he expects to have under way by the middle of January. He presented a timeline for the board and outlined his plans, which call for completion of the project by the end of 2006.

Woodmoor residents will be notified of the program by mail. The letter will list reasons for the change and invite customers to call in to schedule an appointment.

The district will replace 2,657 meter bodies and registers and an additional 255 registers. Recently hired technician J.D. Shivvers will install the new units.

Shaffer has set a goal of installing eight meters per day and will review progress during the first half of each quarter, to make sure the work is on schedule. Though he has selected a contractor and set aside funds in the budget to outsource work if the district falls behind, he will also offer monetary incentives as motivation to meet or exceed daily quotas and meet quarterly milestones.

Gauging station on Monument Creek

The state of Colorado recently informed the town of Monument that it will be required to install an additional U.S. Geological Survey gauging station on Monument Creek. The station, which will be located below the Monument Lake dam, will enable the state and other districts to monitor flows and measure the amount of water Monument is releasing from the lake.

The Woodmoor board had previously discussed the advantages to the district of installing the station, but had determined the project to be too expensive since other entities, including the town of Monument, were not interested in sharing the cost.

Steininger told the board that Woodmoor has informally met with Monument officials and invited them to make a cost-sharing proposal, but has not yet received a response.

Sewer modeling and backwash study

RTW Engineering is currently conducting two studies for the Woodmoor district, both of which should be complete by year’s end.

Backwashing the water treatment plant filters to remove sediment and debris requires a significant amount of water, averaging approximately ½ acre-foot per day. Over a year’s time, the total comes to more than 175 acre-feet of wasted water. The backwash study will help the district determine whether recapturing and reusing that water is economically feasible.

The sewer model incorporates current information into a computer simulation, and will help the district better predict flows and plan for future line placement and capacity.

Paul Gilbert or Mike Rothberg will attend the January board meeting to report on the firm’s findings and recommendations.

Attorney’s report

Erin Smith, attorney for the district, requested that the board officially appoint a new secretary to replace Turner, as the budget resolution must be accepted by the secretary. Nasser volunteered and was duly nominated and elected by a unanimous vote.

Smith asked that the board pass a resolution accepting district personnel policy changes incorporating a new anti-harassment policy and amending current policy to allow voluntary benefits to apply to permanent part-time employees.

Employees working more than 20 hours per week but less than 40, and classified as non-seasonal, have in the past been offered pro-rated insurance and benefits, commensurate with the number of hours worked. Benefits include sick, personal, and military leave as well as vacation time, insurance, and even limited opportunity to participate in the district’s deferred compensation plan. However, the practice had never been officially incorporated into Woodmoor’s personnel policy.

In a unanimous vote, the board approved a resolution adding the changes.

Winkler then inquired whether the district would match funds in the deferred compensation plan and whether that would begin at the first of the year.

Smith replied that the matching funds could be applied retroactively, but that she would need to draw up an agreement to be presented to the board for approval at a later date if so instructed by the Woodmoor directors. The members asked that she create the necessary paperwork.

The public portion of the meeting then ended, at 3:35 p.m., and the board went into executive session to discuss personnel matters.

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The next regular meeting of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation board of directors will take place on Jan. 10 at 1:30 p.m. at the Woodmoor office, 1845 Woodmoor Dr. Meetings are normally held the second Tuesday of the month.

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board, December 7: 2006 budget ordinances approved

By Jim Kendrick

The board of the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District held a special budget meeting to amend the district’s 2005 operating and pension budgets. The board also approved three ordinances for its 2006 operating budget, mill levy, and appropriations and also adopted the 2006 volunteer pension budget.

2006 district budget: The district’s end-of-year fund balance increases from $350,650 for 2005 to $476,353 in 2006. Total revenue is $1,647,573 and total expenses are $1,521,900. Capital projects are $250,000 and debt service is $108,000.

2006 volunteer pension budget: The pension fund’s end-of-year fund balance increases from $232,279 for 2005 to $284,979 in 2006. District contributions are $50,000 and are matched by $22,800 from the state. Investment income adds another $8,000 of interest. Total expenses for pension payments, fees, and contingency are $27,800.

2006 mill levy: The district’s property tax mill levy remains at 7.0 mills and will generate $1,476,573 based on a district assessed value of $210,919,910.

Amended 2005 budgets: This "clean-up" revised those line items that changed including final end-of-year balances for 2004 based on revenue forwarded to the district after the start of 2005 as well as variations in actual tax and interest received from the budget’s original estimates. The district’s end-of-year fund balance for 2005 increased from the initial estimate of $264,693 to $350,650. The pension fund’s end-of-year balance for 2005 decreased from the initial estimate of $232,901 to $232,279. There may be further amendments to either of these budgets if more revenue is received after Jan. 1 of this year or there were unexpected expenses after Dec. 7.

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board, December 21: District considers additional Hazmat training

By Jim Kendrick

Director Dave Cross, an airline pilot, was absent attending a pilot training course. His absence was unanimously excused.

Treasurer’s report

Administrative Assistant Ginnette Ritz noted that the budget figures through the end of November were on target. The administrative budget had 16 percent remaining because the annual life insurance payment is not made until December. A large workmen’s compensation insurance payment for the first months in 2006 will also be made in December. The report was unanimously accepted.

2006 meeting schedule

District board meetings will continue to be held on the third Wednesday of the month. Chairman Brian Ritz noted that some meeting dates will inevitably be changed, but all the changes will be properly posted. The schedule was unanimously approved and will be forwarded to the state.

Chief’s report

Chief Jeff Edwards reported that that the district made 122 runs in November, bringing the total to 1373 for the year, a 7 percent increase over 2004. The calls consisted of 42 medical, 6 traffic accident, 5 automatic alarm, 1 structure fire, 1 brush fire, 1 other fire, 1 hazardous material, 1 good intent false, 1 public assist, 1 carbon monoxide alarm, 1 fire investigation, 1 rescue, and 57 AMR ambulance calls, plus 3 mutual aid calls for structure fires. There have been no firefighter injuries this year. Edwards said they helped Black Forest with 2 structure fires and Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Authority on one. All were small.

The district participated in the Air Force Academy Fire Department’s 5-year recertification inspection. "That went well."

The district will accept a bid for firefighter physicals that will cost about $230 each. Edwards said there were two good offers. Brian Ritz asked "What if someone fails?" Edwards said the district would follow National Fire Protection Association standard procedures and added the physicals were an exceptional employee benefit for a district this small. Ritz asked that district administrative policies, procedures, and guidelines be established for the new benefit.

Edwards said that AMR is increasing their number of ambulances. The new AMR dispatching procedures would mean that Wescott’s ambulance will spend more time in the district.

Edwards is seeking help to develop a new web site. The consultant will be paid with savings from consolidating all the various cell phone contracts. Edwards tracks on-station time in the district and will report any changes resulting from the new policy.

Three captains will be attending the National Fire Academy Fire Officer I leadership module to be offered in Durango. The courses also will count for credit toward the Academy’s new Chief Officer training curriculum as well. All the officers also attended the Leadership Breakout Challenge in Breckinridge for discussions about values and expectations from "a lot of great speakers from big departments."

The Santa patrol was conducted on Dec. 17 "without a hitch" including a reindeer on top of the engine with Santa. The district received good comments and emails on the event.

All safety items have been completed to qualify for accreditation from the district’s insurance company and discounted rates.

District donates engine

The district’s old rescue engine will be donated to the Henry Volunteer Fire Department in Louisiana to help them recover from Hurricane Katrina. Eric Miller of AMR is coordinating the donation program.

Preparations for May election

The first terms of Directors Dave Cross, Dennis Feltz, and Kevin Gould are expiring in May. Ginnette Ritz will attend a class on running the election on Jan. 31. The board needs to make a final decision on seeking a waiver on term limits for directors. None of Wescott’s directors are term limited for this election. If there are more than 3 candidates or the district does have this ballot question , Wescott will again combine with Donala Water and Sanitation District in a common election site to save money, since Donala is "definitely having a ballot question."

Hazmat Training

There was a lengthy discussion about the requirements and costs for increasing the district’ qualifications for hazardous materials handling such as chemical, biological, and nerve agent hazards. Most districts are very dependent on the county’s single HAZMAT team. Edwards said that maintaining an A level certification would be very expensive, but he would like to start training for B level in the new year. Edwards will provide a list of material and training costs at the Jan. 18 meeting.

Vehicle to be junked

The board approved Edwards’ recommendation to junk the district’s Impala admin vehicle after salvaging useful parts. There is no emergency response equipment in the vehicle at this time. The vehicle will be used for emergency extraction training using the Jaws of Life equipment and power saws carried on district engines.

The meeting adjourned at 8 p.m. The next meeting will be held on Jan. 18 at Station One, 15425 Gleneagle Drive. The meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of the month.

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Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District, December 13: District to provide more than $900,000 over 5 years to match staffing grant

By John Heiser

The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Board of Directors held a meeting Dec. 13 preceding the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority board meeting. Directors Rick Barnes, Keith Duncan, John Hildebrandt, and President Charlie Pocock were present. Director John Hartling was teaching a class and arrived during the Authority meeting.

2005 budget revised

Treasurer Hildebrandt presented the revised 2005 budget. He said the revisions were based on the advice of the district’s new auditor, Kim Higgins of Gordon Hughes & Banks. He said the revisions are needed to avoid budget law violations as occurred in past years.

The revisions, totaling $560,979 in additional revenue and expenses, recognized receipt and expenditure of lease purchase loans totaling $358,475, state EMS and FEMA grants totaling $114,107, additional ambulance revenues of $45,000, and liquidation of the district’s Wachovia reserve account yielding $42,274. The grants and lease purchase loans were used to pay for engine 2211, ambulance 2284, other equipment, and the costs associated with construction of Station 2 on Roller Coaster Road.

Hildebrandt noted that the revised budget removes the $33,450 line item for Amendment 1 reserve. He reported that the auditor says the reserve is contained within the beginning and ending fund balances.

The board unanimously approved the amended 2005 budget and passed a resolution to appropriate the funds.

Proposed 2006 budget approved

Hildebrandt presented the proposed 2006 budget for the Tri-Lakes district. He noted that the district would probably need to use a line of credit to cover a cash flow shortfall at the beginning of the year until tax revenues are received starting in February.

The budget calls for total revenues and expenses of $1,995,148, which is down $15,067 from $2,010,215 in 2005.

Hildebrandt observed that the budgeted $32,972 in contingency funds is not enough considering the size of the budget, but noted that the $80,000 capital expenditure budgeted to purchase a water tender tank truck could be transferred to contingency funds if needed.

Noting that medical insurance premiums are rising by 8 to 20 percent in 2006, Hildebrandt recommended that some of the increased cost be shared with employees by increasing the employees’ co-pay for various medical services, including doctor visits and prescriptions.

After further discussion, the proposed 2006 budget was unanimously approved and the funds were appropriated. The property tax mill levy was certified at the voter-approved rate of 7 mills.

SAFER Grant matching funds total $933,574

As reported last month, the district was awarded a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant totaling $700,000 over five years, disbursed as shown in the table below.

  Federal District Total
1st 12 months 252,000 49,602 301,602
2nd 12 months 224,000 89,666 313,666
3rd 12 months 140,000 186,213 326,213
4th 12 months 84,000 255,261 339,261
5th 12 months 0 352,832 352,832
Total $700,000 $933,574 $1,633,574

The SAFER grant program is designed so the district’s share of the cost increases each year, until by the fifth year the district is bearing the entire cost of the seven additional full-time personnel.

Hildebrandt noted that the actual total cost to the district would exceed the $933,574 shown, due to promotions and pay increases and the increasing costs of fringe benefits such as medical insurance. A mill levy increase within the Tri-Lakes district may be needed to cover the costs.

Hildebrandt observed that having the additional personnel is a significant benefit to the entire northern El Paso County community.

Increased ambulance rates take effect

Pocock reported that the increased ambulance rates approved last month went into effect Dec. 1. The increases for various services range from 24 percent to 49 percent. The new rates are 27 percent to 72 percent more than the equivalent services by American Medical Response, which serves the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District.

Pocock estimated ambulance revenues in 2006 could reach $380,000, even though the approved 2006 budget includes a more conservative figure of $350,000.

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The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District board normally meets the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 25, at 7 p.m., immediately preceding the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority board meeting at Tri-Lakes district firehouse 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley).

For more information, call Chief Denboske at 481-2312 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com.

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Woodmoor/Monument Fire Fire Protection District, December 13: Amended budget needed to balance 2005 figures

By Susan Hindman

The 2005 and 2006 budgets were the main order of business at the Dec. 13 meeting of the Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District. All board members were present for the meeting, which was held earlier than usual, in order to finalize the 2006 budget by the state-required Dec. 15 deadline. No members of the community attended the meeting.

Treasurer Bob Hansen first gave the report for December. The total in the three bank accounts is $782,730. With 99.9 percent of property taxes collected, and 92.9 percent of specific ownership taxes collected, the district is 5.2 percent over budget.

"We should average $91,756 a month in expenses, whereas we’re at almost $97,000," Hansen said. "If we continue this way, we will be 5.7 percent, or $62,337, over budget [for the year]." He noted that the bulk of the deficit is from salaries, training, and uniforms for full- and part-time employees.

To compensate for the higher figures, Hansen prepared an amended budget in order to balance the numbers for the year.

"I took what we had done through October and divided it by 10," on every single line item in the budget. He multiplied that average monthly number by 12. "I changed every line item to suit that," he said. "When I did that, I came up with us being $61,885 over budget." At the end of the year, he said, "we should have $688,148 in our account."

"I think what I’ve done is sufficient to keep us from going into violation," he said.

Although he anticipated the final December numbers would fall within the amended budget, he said if they don’t, it’s possible he might have to amend them again, to remain in compliance with the law.

Hansen emphasized that preparing these budgets takes many hours—"I want people to know that I spend a lot of time doing this," he said.

2006 budget

Hansen is expecting the district to receive $1,239,658 (in property tax, specific ownership tax, and interest income) for the year—"and I’m budgeting all of that to be spent," he said. That amounts to around $103,000 a month. "The chief should be able to run the department on that per month," he said. When the beginning balance is added to the monies that will be collected, the total revenue available to the district is expected to be $1,927,619.

The mill levy, which is at 9.921 mills, will remain the same.

The 2006 budget was approved. Hansen had also prepared letters of budget certification and a budget resolution to the state for the 2006 budget, which were also approved.

Though Woodmoor’s mill levy won’t change in 2006, board members speculated about events in the coming year that could eventually change the number. Ideally, before the Woodmoor and Tri-Lakes fire districts consolidate as the fire authority, the mill levy of the two would become more equal—meaning Woodmoor’s would decrease, and Tri-Lakes’ (which stands at 7 mills) would increase. Nothing will change, however, until the Tri-Lakes mill levy is put to a vote, which may happen in May. "They need to do theirs first, then we do ours," Hansen said.

Meeting times

Noting the late hour of last month’s meeting, Board President Si Sibell said, "We want to have a cutoff time for these meetings. Ours should be 1½ hours tops." After some discussion, the board approved a motion to limit meetings to 1½ hours, barring special circumstances.

They also agreed to look into holding all their meetings prior to, rather than following, the fire authority meetings. (This was approved at the fire authority meeting that started immediately afterward.)

The meeting, which began at 7 p.m., was adjourned at 7:34 p.m.

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The next meeting of the Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District will be on Jan. 25 at 7 p.m., prior to the meeting of the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority board, at the Tri-Lakes district firehouse 1, 18650 Highway 105 (next to the bowling alley).

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Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority, December 13: Authority approves $3.2 million 2006 budget; increases employee medical co-pays

Below: The Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority board reviews the 2006 budget. Clockwise from near to far: Tri-Lakes FPD directors John Hartling, Rick Barnes, Keith Duncan, John Hildebrandt (in white shirt), and Charlie Pocock; Woodmoor/Monument FPD directors Si Sibell, Rod Wilson, Bob Hansen, Tim Miller, and Bill Ingram. Photo by John Heiser

Click on the photo to zoom in

By John Heiser

On Dec. 13, following the separate meetings of the boards of the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District and the Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District, the two boards met jointly as the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority board. All board members were present.

Merger plans

President Charlie Pocock suggested that the authority invite the attorney to the February meeting to discuss aspects of merging the two districts. Some board members said a meeting with the attorney should be postponed until a plan had been prepared. Woodmoor/Monument Treasurer Bob Hansen said, "We need to talk to the lawyer before making the plan."

Chief Robert Denboske distributed CD copies of a 41-page plan for merging the operational aspects of the two districts.

The boards postponed a decision on Pocock’s suggestion until they had reviewed Denboske’s plan.

Financial Report

Fire authority Treasurer John Hildebrandt distributed copies of a financial report covering the Tri-Lakes district and the Woodmoor/Monument district and the resulting financial status of the authority through the end of November. Some highlights:

  • The authority has received $261,474 or 92 percent of the anticipated $284,000 in specific ownership taxes for the year.

  • The districts received ambulance revenues totaling $330,937 or 111 percent of the anticipated $300,000 for the year. That is 20 percent more than budgeted levels at this point in the year. Hildebrandt credited the success to improved collection efforts by staff.

A motion to accept the financial report was unanimously approved.

Health service co-pays increased

Hildebrandt said health insurance costs stand at $208,743 in 2005 and are projected to increase 8 percent in 2006 to $225,875. He said the authority could reduce that to around $218,000, about a 5 percent increase, saving about $7,900 during 2006 by increasing some employee co-pays.

The proposed increases in the co-pay amounts included doctor’s office visits from $20 to $25, specialist visits from $40 to $50, and prescriptions from $15 to $20. He noted that the change must be coordinated with the other participants in the local group including the Town of Monument and the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District.

Woodmoor/Monument district president Si Sibell said, "It sounds like an amicable deal."

Hildebrandt’s proposed change in the co-pays was unanimously approved.

2005 budget amended

Hildebrandt distributed a revised 2005 budget and noted that the 2005 budget revisions approved at the July 27 meeting had not been filed with the state.

The board unanimously approved the revised budget, which includes the loans and grants and associated expenses as needed to avoid a repeat of prior years’ violations of budget law. The board also unanimously approved a resolution to appropriate the funds.

Hildebrandt said the revised 2005 budget would be filed with the state Department of Local Affairs.

2006 budget approved

Hildebrandt distributed copies of a proposed 2006 budget covering the Tri-Lakes district and the Woodmoor/Monument district budgets and the resulting budget for the fire authority. Some fire authority budget highlights are:

  • Total revenues and expenses are projected at $3.23 million, up $61,098 from $3.17 million in the amended 2005 budget, a 2 percent increase. The total includes $285,380 in expenses offset by $231,000 in grant funds for firefighters hired by the Tri-Lakes district under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program.

  • Salary expense is projected at $1.87 million, up $391,666 from $1.48 million in 2005, a 26 percent increase. The total includes $242,280 in salary expenses for firefighters hired by the Tri-Lakes district under the SAFER grant program and $50,000 for part-time employees, down from $93,433 in the amended 2005 budget.

  • The Tri-Lakes district’s total debt for vehicles and buildings stands at $1.74 million. The Tri-Lakes district’s principal and interest payments for 2006 are projected at $255,808, up 10.8 percent from $230,813 in the amended 2005 budget.

  • The Woodmoor/Monument district is debt free and currently has a total cash available of $782,730.

The board unanimously approved the proposed 2006 fire authority budget and passed a resolution to appropriate the funds.

Referring to difficulties covering expenses in the rapidly growing Tri-Lakes district, Hildebrandt said the district needs to consider a property tax mill levy increase. The Tri-Lakes district’s current mill levy is 7 mills, whereas the Woodmoor/Monument district’s mill levy is 9.921 mills. Increasing the Tri-Lakes district’s mill levy would require a vote of district residents.

Operational report

Based on the fire authority’s written report covering operations through the end of November:

  • The fire authority responded to 140 calls during November, bringing the total for the year to 1,463. The 140 calls consisted of 73 medical, 25 fires or fire alarms, 25 traffic accidents, 10 public assists, and 7 calls involving hazardous materials.

  • Vehicle trips totaled 2,990 in responding to the 1,463 calls for the year, with an average of 2.04 vehicles responding to each call.

  • During November, 56 people were transported to local hospitals, bringing the total for the year to 597.

  • For November, Station 1 on Highway 105 responded to 66 calls, Station 2 on Roller Coaster Road responded to 28 calls, and Station 3 on Woodmoor Drive responded to 46 calls. For the year, Station 1 responded to 654 calls, Station 2 responded to 281 calls, and Station 3 responded to 528 calls.

Meeting schedule

The board agreed to hold the individual board meetings prior to, instead of after, the meeting of the fire authority board and, barring special circumstances, to limit meetings to 1½ hours.

Executive session

The board unanimously voted to hold an executive session to discussion personnel matters.

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The Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority board holds regular monthly meetings on the fourth Wednesday following the 7 p.m. meetings of the Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor/Monument district boards at the Tri-Lakes district firehouse 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley). The next meeting will be Jan. 25.

For more information, call Chief Denboske at 481-2312 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com.

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Black Forest Fire Protection District, December 7: North substation planned

Click here or on the drawings to zoom in

Click on the drawing to zoom in

Click on the drawing to zoom in

Based on information provided by the district

On Dec. 7, the Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District took the latest step in a long-term plan to improve local fire protection. At the board’s working session, The Fennell Group, a Colorado Springs architectural firm, presented the first version of the design of Station 2. This new substation will be built at the corner of Black Forest and Hodgen Roads.

Station 2 is needed to improve response time and insurance rates. The original fire station, at the corner of Black Forest and Shoup Roads, is more than 5 road miles from homes in the far corners of the district.

In November 2001, Black Forest voters approved a tax increase to replace the single old station with two new ones: Station 1 at the corner of Teachout and Burgess Roads, and a substation somewhere in the north end of the district. By replacing one station with two, all homes in the district would be fewer than 5 road miles from a fire station.

Station 2 will house up to four vehicles. Fire Chief Dave Ury has not yet determined what apparatus will be stationed there. The current district budget does not include funds to staff Station 2 around the clock. When an emergency requires response from that station, volunteers in the north part of the district will report there from home or work. However, Ury anticipates that the department will assign temporary standby crews to that station to meet special needs. For example, a crew would spend the night during a blizzard or other large-scale emergency.

The appearance of Station 2 will be similar to Station 1, only simpler and more economical. The plans call for red brick exterior walls, although the architect will provide alternate prices for concrete block and stucco. It will be designed to survive a wildfire without firefighter protection. The inside will include an automatic sprinkler system. Energy-efficient materials and construction will be used throughout the building. The south-facing windows will capture heat in the winter, but be shaded in the summer. Solar panels have been proposed to help power a radiant heating system.

Like Station 1, the northern substation will include a backup electrical generator to keep garage doors, heating, and radios working during a power failure. Water for firefighting is already stored in a 30,000-gallon cistern on the site.

The station’s driveway will access Black Forest Road. The building is set back from Hodgen Road, because county regulations do not permit driveways within a short distance of the stop sign at the intersection. The station will not have a driveway onto Hodgen Road, because area plans call for the eventual widening of Hodgen.

The old station, at the corner of Black Forest and Shoup Roads, has remained in service. It currently houses one of the district’s two fire engines and one water tender (tank truck). This station will not be sold until Station 2 is finished.

The board of directors and Ury have received requests from several nonprofit organizations to donate the old station property to one of them. But prior to the 2001 election to pass the tax increase, the district had announced it would sell the old fire station to help fund the construction of Station 2.

"People voted for a plan that included selling the property," said Ury. "The most responsible thing we can do is use that old building to help create a new one that does the job better."

The district is encouraging comments on the design of Station 2, and will work to keep residents informed during the design process. To see the latest architect’s drawings, visit Station 1 during normal business hours or go to the department’s Web site: www.bffire.org.

The next public working session is at 7 p.m. Jan. 18 at Station 1, 11445 Teachout Road. Bring your written comments to the station or mail them to: Station Two Design Comments, Black Forest Fire Station 1, 11445 Teachout Road, Black Forest, Colorado 80908.

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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, December 9: 37 additional parcels likely subject to traffic impact fees

Below: BRRTA hearing on inclusion of 37 additional parcels. On the left are Monument Mayor Byron Glenn and County Commissioner Denis Hisey. Standing on the right is attorney Jim Hunsacker. Photo by Jim Kendrick

Click here or on the photo to zoom in

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Jim Kendrick

In a special meeting on Dec. 9, the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) evaluated 37 parcels of land for possible inclusion in order to increase the authority’s potential to collect traffic impact fees.

The BRRTA board is composed of three county commissioners (Jim Bensberg, Dennis Hisey, and Wayne Williams) and two Monument representatives (Mayor Byron Glenn and Trustee David Mertz). Bensberg and Mertz were absent.

Financial matters

District Project Manager Conner Shepherd reported that there were two BRRTA payments totaling $6,117.31 since the Nov. 4. special meeting: $2,320.81 to Grimshaw & Harring PC for legal work, and $3,796.50 to R.S. Wells LLC for management services.

Engineering report

PBS&J Project Manager Steve Sandvik and County Department of Transportation Project Manager Andre Brackin reported that all required engineering reports had been completed and that they were ready to advertise for construction bids for the widening of Baptist Road from Jackson Creek Parkway to just east of Desiree Drive. The "best value bid" will be presented to the Board of County Commissioners for approval. Construction should begin in March or April. A motion to place advertisements for bids was unanimously approved.

There are some remaining problems in the "complex permit process" due to coordination requirements with Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), the Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Also, BRRTA construction affects town, county, and state wetlands and mouse habitat. Several extensive delays have changed the previously planned sequence of construction and have incurred additional engineering and design costs.

Brackin said costs for materials and labor have also been higher and more volatile than anticipated. These increases may lead to some portions of the project being unfunded for "some period of time." He suggested that the frontage road connecting Family of Christ Church and neighboring houses to Leather Chaps Drive and additional lanes east of Gleneagle Drive might have to be dropped.

Work in mouse habitat can only be performed from November to April, which, when added to funding constraints, may also cause delays in the construction of New Struthers Road (south of Baptist Road at the end of Jackson Creek Parkway) until the end of 2006.

These complications will extend what would otherwise be about an 18 month process.

Brackin said right-of-way purchases for extending Baptist Road east of Roller Coaster Road to the intersection of Highway 83 and Hodgen Road were moving ahead satisfactorily. Additional right-of-way purchases will be required due to previously unplanned improvements that have been found to be necessary for the 1.2 miles of Hodgen Road west of Highway 83. This portion of Hodgen will connect directly to the Baptist Road extension from Roller Coaster.

There are also unexpected delays for wetlands mitigation due to recent changes in the latest FEMA flood plain map; the changes will now require BRRTA to pay a wetlands mitigation site final design fee.

An amendment to the budget to account for all these changes passed unanimously as did the engineering change order for PBS&J to perform all the new required work. An amendment to authorize a contract for not more than $5,000 for consultant work to ensure compliance with CDOT standards for a flood plain permit was also approved unanimously.

An analysis of road noise only justifies building a 1,500-foot-long acoustic wall behind the houses on the south side of Baptist Road just west of Gleneagle Drive. The cost will be about $2,700 per house. Sound measurements east of Gleneagle Drive and on the north side of Baptist did not meet any of the various complicated criteria required to justify building a sound wall now or in the future through 2025, based on projected traffic increases.

Kingswood resident James Stewart, who lives on the southwest corner of Kingswood and Baptist, said that sound measurements made on his property were taken on Nov. 22 at a time of day when there was very little traffic and trucks were not on the road due to the holiday. Sandvik said the model takes these factors into account and adjusts for peak traffic volumes.

Planning updates

Monument’s Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara reported that construction for the Wal-Mart and the Timbers at Monument commercial center on Jackson Creek Parkway would begin soon. Several new developments in Jackson Creek are also starting construction. The town has annexed the undeveloped Monument Ridge parcel, directly across Baptist Road from the King Soopers center,

Inclusions

Commissioner Wayne Williams noted that a two-thirds majority, four of five board members, was required to approve inclusions. The consensus of the board was to move forward with a public hearing on each of the properties subject to the involuntary inclusion with the three members present and allow Mertz and Bensberg to listen to the recordings before the next BRRTA meeting.

BRRTA Attorney Jim Hunsaker said he would prefer that the vote on the inclusions take place at the next public BRRTA meeting after the absent members had listened to the recording of this meeting. Williams differed, saying that the other two members could listen to the recording and pass their vote to Shepherd before the next meeting. Williams added that two "no" votes at this meeting would immediately settle the inclusion issue for any property.

Glenn suggested delaying the public hearing on inclusions for a few minutes to see if Bensberg would be able to attend or participate by cell phone.

Items from attorney

Hunsaker noted that three legal firms had submitted proposals to become the bond counsel for the proposal to finance I-25 Exit 158 with private bonds. The bond interest would be paid for by a public improvement fee (PIF), charged by all commercial properties within BRRTA, until CDOT capital funds become available to pay off the bond principal . He recommended Becker, Stone, and Beaver because of their lower rates and contingency billing policy–they would not be paid unless the bond issue is approved. The board unanimously approved this firm.

Hunsaker said there had been no progress on the one unresolved right-of-way acquisition.

The board agreed not to try to improve any portion of Higby Road, as had been proposed at past meetings, due to emerging potential shortfalls in funding for the already planned work on Baptist Road.

New fee schedule proposed

Shepherd presented a proposal for increasing BRRTA fees to meet unfunded future costs based on updated estimates of vehicle trips generated by various types of new construction in the future. He said commercial impact fee rates were originally lowered because a 0.4 percent sales tax within the authority had been planned, but the sales tax was never approved. District 38 fees were not paid as planned, though the district did make a substantial donation to BRRTA. He said development within BRRTA has occurred at a more rapid rate than planned.

Shepherd’s plan would raise an additional $10.5 million based on about 2,200 new buildings for a total of $20.9 million for all Baptist improvements. Single family home fees would increase from $500 to $952. Multi-family home fees would increase from $350 to about $660. Retail store fees per square foot would increase from $1.25 to $4.68. Convenience store fees per square foot would increase from $5.00 to $9.76.

Shepherd said the commercial rates increase reflected improved information on how much traffic retail stores really generate. Hunsaker noted again that part of the increase was to make up the lack of implementing a specific BRRTA sales tax and that there had been no increase in any impact fees since BRRTA was created 8 years ago.

The consensus of the representatives of developers in attendance was that the fee increases were too high, when all their other cost increases are taken into consideration.

They also said that much of the traffic load they might generate would be dispersed on Higby and Roller Coaster. Also the mechanism of having only fees for new construction was said to be flawed.

Williams said that new construction should pay for Baptist Road improvements, because Baptist was adequate for the load in 1997. He added that people in Monument are not paying PPRTA fees within the town and there is no significant commercial activity in the adjacent unincorporated county except for those areas being annexed by Monument.

Glenn replied that mill levies to finance the very large debt of Triview Metropolitan District were a significant burden.

Triview District Manager Ron Simpson noted that $8.5 million of the $20.9 million would be for a bridge over the railroad tracks that few people would use.

After further developer complaints, Williams noted that other proposed funding methods would require a tax initiative ballot issue, with unlikely success. He asked the developers for alternative ways to generate the $10.5 million shortfall and reminded them that the PIF would pay the interest for the private bonds that would finance construction of the new bridge over I-25.

There were no specific proposals from the developers other than suggestions to find some mechanism to spread out the new fee over time or postpone them. Williams replied that this would lead to a collection problem. Currently the BRRTA fee must be paid before a building permit is issued.

Shepherd noted that Wal-Mart was paying their impact fee within 30 days at the $1.25 per square foot rate to avoid the fee increase. He said a decision needs to be made before the fee increases have to be even higher.

Glenn noted that Wal-Mart would not agree to a large PIF. He said that if there was no resolution to this funding problem, the town would have to deny construction approvals to ensure the safety of town’s residents until the required Baptist Road improvements can be completed.

Williams asked for suggestions prior to the next BRRTA meeting on how to make the necessary increases and how to implement them. Hunsaker noted that BRRTA could bond up to $25 million but would have to create a revenue stream to pay the interest and principal.

The board unanimously approved scheduling a public hearing on the revised fee proposal at the Feb. 10 BRRTA meeting.

Inclusion hearings

The hearings on involuntary inclusions for 37 parcels lasted 3 hours. The board voted unanimously to include all the parcels. Most parcels were included with the condition that no fees would be charged until the parcel’s zoning changed or they were subdivided into lots smaller than 35 acres.

The parcels owned by Mountain View Electric Association are electrical substations. They were included with the same conditions and the additional condition that impact fees would be charged if the land were sold to a non-tax exempt entity.

Meeting schedule

The board unanimously approved a change in the regular BRRTA meeting schedule. Meetings will be now held on the second Friday of every other month in 2006 at 2:30 p.m. Meetings will alternate between the county commissioners building and Monument Town Hall.

**********

The next meeting will be at 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 10 in the third floor hearing room of the County Commissioners building, 27 E. Vermijo. For schedule information, visit http://adm.elpasoco.com/transprt/baptist_rd.asp.

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

To get more information and provide comments on the Baptist Road Improvement Project, contact: Conner Shepherd, BRRTA Project Manager, (303) 779-4525, connershepherd@cliftoncpa.com.

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Web Site Exclusive

Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education, December 17: Mill Levy Lowered by School Board

By Tommie Plank

As required by Colorado Statute, the board set the mill levy for fiscal year 2005-2006. The total mill levy assessment will be 52.746 mills, compared to 55.224 last year. The lower rate is made possible by an 18.7% increase in assessed valuation of property in the district

The Board will appoint a committee of approximately eight people to interview architectural firms for the high school project. President Jes Raintree and new member Gail Wilson will represent the Board on this committee. Superintendent Dilley will recommend members of the community to serve on the committee. The final decision on hiring an architectural firm will be made by the board of education.

Superintendent Dilley will report back to the Board in January regarding a recommendation to implement a growth and enrollment committee. He is gathering additional information on what the focus and tasks of this committee should be at this time. The board is also considering the initiation of a community-based group to study traffic in the district.

The Board heard the first reading of a policy that will change the cut-off birth date for five-year-olds entering kindergarten and six-year-olds entering first grade. The proposed new date is October 1st to coincide with October count funding. The Board will consider approval of this revision at their regular meeting in January.

Board president Jes Raintree reported that January 6, 2006, is the deadline for applications for the position of superintendent. On Saturday, January 14, the Board will conduct paper-screening of applications, and will continue the process on January 16, if needed. The Board is on track to appoint a new superintendent in early March.

Mike Laband, high school Student Council president, provided an overview of Student Council activities this first semester. They collected 39,000 bottle caps to raise $2,000 for a family; they raised $1,500 from the Homecoming Dance for victims of the Pakistan earthquake; and they raised $2,000 for the Jessica Phillips Scholarship Fund. They are restructuring their budget. Student Council now has four divisions: Student Services, Public Relations, Club Coordinating, and Community Services

Linda Williams-Blackwell, Director of Special Education Services, presented an update on the status of the district’s special education program. As the total student population increases, the percent of those receiving special services remains approximately 8.5% of the total enrollment, which is lower than the national average of 10%. As the pre-kindergarten program continues to grow, she recommended that the district include Pre-K rooms in future elementary buildings that are constructed. Vickie Mills, Transition Coordinator, discussed the Transition program which helps prepare qualified students ages 18-21 to become adult members of the community.

Superintendent Dilley announced that of the eleven District 38 school areas (8 schools plus Monument Academy, which is divided into three areas) that are rated by the Colorado Department of Education according to Colorado Standards and Assessment Program (CSAP) testing, seven are rated Excellent and four are rated High for 2004-05. There are 178 school districts in Colorado. Of those with more than 5,000 students, Lewis-Palmer (LP) is the only district with all Excellent and High ratings. LP is also the only district to have reached 62.5% of its schools rated Excellent. Mr. Dilley credited the “great students, with the best teachers, led by the best cadre of principals, central office administrators, and school board” as the district’s formula for success.

Dilley also explained that a new law requires the Colorado Commission on Higher Education to develop a list of the number of students by district and by school who have been identified as needing remediation in Colorado public colleges and universities. There is research being conducted on the need to align grades K-16 in the state. Mr. Dilley pointed to data from the web site http://highered.colorado.gov/findhighschool.asp that indicates Lewis-Palmer leads the state in medium sized schools (100-299 students going to a Colorado public college) with the fewest (14.89%) needing remediation. Boulder received the best rating in the state of large schools (>300 students), with 20.58% needing remediation. This is a new area of study that will be publicized and politicized as it progresses.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association, May 19: Choi Pankey multifamily housing project reviewed

Below: Vicinity map of the Choi Pankey project. Map provided by Chris Pollard

Click here or on the map to zoom in

Click on the map to zoom in

By Chris Pollard

Attendance at the Dec. 8 meeting was lessened because the meeting had been delayed a day by snow. The first item of business was related to the upcoming election for new board members. Jake Shirk, current chief of Monument Police, withdrew his application. This was followed by the introduction of another candidate, Brian Osterholt. He stated that he currently worked as an investigator of auto and homeowner fraud in California, Florida, and Colorado. He said that he was interested in the improvement of dirt roads, controlling traffic, and managing growth in the area where there was still a lack of infrastructure.

Board President John Ottino interjected to remind Osterholt that it is a three-year term and various other board members explained the time constraints of the various positions. Ottino asked Osterholt about his travel schedule and whether he would be available for all the meetings. Osterholt replied that in general he hired people to do his work as investigators for him. He added that he also plays drums with the Pikes Peak Highlanders but thought he could work something out about band practice.

Ottino then discussed the situation with regard to Jim Woodman taking over the remaining year of Susan Shields’ term on the board. Woodman needed another year to complete his work on making Woodmoor a "FireWise" community, but did not want to sign up for another three years.

Car warranty detailed

Kevin Nielsen, chief of Woodmoor Security, gave a detailed justification of why he wanted to add an extended warranty to the upcoming purchase of another Jeep Liberty. The cost for a four-year, 100,000-mile warranty with a $50 deductible would be about $1,700, higher than originally estimated. He felt that this would cover any significant mechanical problems that might occur throughout the life of the vehicle. The base price of the Jeep would be about $18,285. With the installation of the security equipment and lights, the total cost would be $23,600.

Meeting time change

The board then voted unanimously to change the time of the board meetings to the third Wednesday of each month, beginning in January.

Ballots papers reviewed

The board went on to discuss the layout of the ballot papers that were to be sent out to Woodmoor residents. They emphasized the need for people to sign both portions of the ballot, voting for new board members and assigning proxy voting rights, because it was necessary to get the required number of proxy votes in order to obtain a quorum for the annual meeting. Residents were reminded that the annual meeting would be held Jan. 30 at Lewis-Palmer Middle School, with sign-in beginning at 6:30 p.m. and the official meeting starting at 7 p.m.

Choi Pankey property

Camilla Mottl, executive director, gave board members an update on the purchase of what is known as the Choi Pankey property. The new purchaser will hold almost all the remaining open property around Lake Woodmoor and plans to develop this as multifamily dwelling. This includes property on both sides of the townhomes at the Cove, between the Moorwood patio homes and Peoples Bank and the area between the lake’s dam and Lewis-Palmer Elementary School. With 169 units platted for just the area known as Waterside, this will be a fairly dense development. Board members were interested in knowing who would be building these units and hoped that it would be more upscale and less dense.

Hans Post, director of Public Safety, reminded residents to keep their vehicles locked and garage doors closed, as there had been eight or so incidents in the past few months where items had been taken from open vehicles and garages.

********

The next regular board meeting will be Jan. 18, 7 p.m., at the Woodmoor Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Dr. The board normally meets on the third Wednesday each month. The annual meeting will be Jan. 30, 7 p.m., at Lewis-Palmer Elementary School. For information, phone 488-2694 or visit www.woodmoor.org.

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December Weather Wrap

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Below: December 4 - 1/2 mile east of the intersection of Highway 83 and Highway 105. Photo by Bill Kappel

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Web Site Exclusive - Below: December 3 - Near Higby Road and Roller Coaster Road. Photo by John Heiser

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By Bill Kappel

December 2005 was quite a month around the Tri-Lakes region as we saw a little bit of everything, from warm and windy conditions to record cold. Overall, the month was cooler than average, with near normal precipitation and snowfall.

The month started much as it ended, with mild and mostly sunny skies on the first two days, but this would change quickly. The first in a series of cold fronts that would usher in some of the coldest air since February 1996 rolled in on the morning of the 3rd. Plenty of snow accumulated throughout the day, with 6-10 inches piling up. Making this even more beautiful was the fact that we had light winds for most of the event, and with sunshine returning the next morning, the fresh snow was accentuated by blue skies. Temperatures also fell quickly overnight, and our first widespread subzero readings of the season greeted us on the morning of the 4th.

"Brrrr" was the word for the next week and a half. Snow that fell during the first weekend of the month kept temperatures on the cold side, with highs holding in the 20s on the 5th and 6th. Overnight lows were chilly under clear skies, dipping to the single digits below zero.

A strong push of cold Arctic air rushed in from the northern Plains during the late morning hours of the 6th as temperatures dropped from 24°F at 10:56 a.m. to 14°F at 11:00 a.m.! Temperatures continued to tumble throughout the day as the heart of the cold air spilled over the Palmer Divide. Light snow also developed, with a couple inches of fluffy snow accumulating across the area.

Cold air held its tight grip the next day, with daytime highs not reaching above zero. This set a new record low high temperature for the day; and, with clearing skies and fresh snow on the ground, temperatures plummeted that evening, reaching 15-20°F below zero by 8 p.m. Temperatures held steady through the rest of the night.

Clear skies stuck around from the 8th to the 12th, as highs slowly moderated to average and slightly above-average levels. Highs reached into the 30s and low 40s, but with the weak mid-December sun angle, the snowpack was slow to melt.

Another surge of cold air pushed in during the afternoon of the 13th, with light snowfall. Highs the next day only reached the mid-20s, and once again overnight lows dipped below zero. Temperatures continued their downward spiral for the rest of the week and into the weekend, with highs holding in the low teens Friday through Sunday. Light snow also fell, with a few fluffy inches accumulating over the weekend.

But this would prove to be our last taste of winter for the year, as temperatures moderated through New Year’s Eve under mostly clear to partly cloudy skies. A pattern change took shape on the 21st as the flow across the region changed from northerly to west/southwesterly. This change in wind direction allowed a series of mild Pacific storm systems to roll into the state. This was good news for the mountains, which continued to accumulate abundant snowfall, but for us in the Tri-Lakes region, it was a completely different story. These westerly winds and Pacific air masses meant mild temperatures and dry, downsloping winds. Therefore, no more than a trace of moisture was recorded for the rest of the year, and temperatures were above average every day, peaking with a high of 56 on New Year’s Eve.

Weather around the Tri-Lakes is never boring, and it will be exciting to see what Mother Nature has in store for 2006.

A Look Ahead

January on average sees the coldest temperatures of the year, but average precipitation is on the low side, usually less than an inch. The month generally sees numerous sunny and windy days, with quick shots of snow in between. The official monthly forecast for January 2006, produced by the Climate Prediction Center (http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/), is calling for above-normal temperatures and equal chances of above- and below-normal precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit http://users.adelphia.net/~billkappel/ClimateSummary.htm.

December 2005 Weather Statistics

Average High 36.6°
Average Low 10.7°
Highest Temperature 56° (on the 2nd, 31st )
Lowest Temperature -18° (on the 7th )
Monthly Precipitation 0.78"
Monthly Snowfall 13.5"
Season to Date Snow 48.5"
Season to Date Precip. 8.64"

Remember, weather affects all of us every day and is a very important part of life for us on the Palmer Divide. If you see a unique weather event or have a weather question, please contact us at our_community_news@hotmail.com.

Bill Kappel is the KKTV 11 News morning meteorologist and a Tri-Lakes resident.

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: 2005 Book Highlights

By the Staff at Covered Treasures Bookstore

As the New Year begins, we often reflect back on the year just past and think about accomplishments or regret things we didn’t quite get done. In the bookstore, we like to look back at favorite reads of the year before reflecting on works that enriched the year for us. Here are a few of our favorites in 2005.

Case Histories
by Kate Atkinson, $13.95

A riveting mystery (four actually) that Stephen King chose as one of his top 10 books for the year. The four unsolved crimes in this novel weigh heavily on the survivors, and a tremendous cost is exacted from the characters as they wrestle with the pain that love can sometimes inflict.

Final Solution
By Michael Chabon, $12.95

Only an artful writer like Chabon could make his main character be a squawking gray parrot. A Sherlock Holmes-type detective has retired to a small English village. He has become much of a recluse, until a mute German boy turns up in town with a gray parrot that spouts a mysterious number vocabulary. The parrot comes up missing one day, and the one-time investigator reluctantly comes out of retirement to help the boy find his beloved bird.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
By Susanna Clarke, $15.95

This novel has been touted as Harry Potter for adults. So, when you have finished reading the latest installment of Harry Potter, grab this hefty volume, settle into an easy chair and enter the era of the early 1900s in England. Travel back to a time when magic meant much and when people needed a hero, someone to defeat the nasty Napoleon.

Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen
By Julie Powell, $23.95

Have you ever dreamed of making every recipe in one of your favorite cookbooks? Julie Powell actually did it—creating every recipe from Julia Child’s Art of French Cooking. This is no small feat, considering Julie and her husband (who must be a saint!) live in a one-bedroom apartment. The kitchen is never clean for the year, and Julie describes her triumphs, mishaps, joys, and frustrations in a humorous, entertaining manner.

Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog
By John Grogan, $21.95

The picture of Marley, a yellow lab staring at you with those love-struck eyes is enough to draw any dog lover into this nonfiction title. All of us who have owned an animal can sympathize with John as he deals with the mischievous nature of Marley.

A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906
By Simon Winchester, $27.95

Those of you who enjoyed the Professor and the Madman or The Map That Changed the World will enjoy this nonfiction account of America’s famous earthquake by the same author. With all the past year’s devastations—the tsunami, hurricanes, and other earthquakes—this book feels current. It opens our eyes to the fragile place we humans occupy in the universe.

How exciting to now look forward to what reading treats 2006 may bring! We wish you a peaceful year, with lots of time to explore the wonderful world of books. Happy reading!

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High Country Highlights: January in the garden

By Woody Woodworth

There are relatively few outdoor garden projects to be done in January, so it’s a good time to turn your attention to planning for next season’s garden and landscape. Take time to read the newest seed and nursery catalogs that seem to arrive every other day. They are filled with colorful photos of the newest flowering annuals, perennials, vegetables, vines, and shrubs, some of which are not going to be available locally right away. These catalogs can inspire you to grow some of the more unusual plants, as well as more familiar ones.

Design on paper

Hopefully, you have been keeping a garden journal or notebook (or at least a partial listing of last season’s garden observations). This will help you decide what plants to replace or to plan a new project or garden bed. It is so much easier to make a sketch on paper and have the time to play with it until you have the right plants for the right places. It’s always been my mantra that it’s less painful to erase a plant selection on paper than to dig it out because it was planted in the wrong location. This is especially true when it comes to trees and shrubs.

January is one of my favorite months to appreciate the evergreens in the landscape. The blue hues of the dwarf blue Colorado spruce look magnificent when flocked by a light frost or snow or silhouetted against the setting sun. Many of the new dwarf globe spruces and weeping spruces are among the most interesting ornamental evergreens for small spaces.

If your landscape is lacking conifers for year-round interest, consider planting some. Not only will they add color and interest, but some will produce cones. If you live in a USDA Hardiness Zone 3 area with well-drained soils, consider the white pine (Pinus strobus). It’s especially handsome, with its compact growth habit and needle clusters that hide the inner branch structure. As the pine matures, it produces large, round cones with silvery tips. You can use them for winter decorations, or scoop up the windfalls in sacks during the winter and use them as mulch around the base of shrubs and specimen trees. They will help keep stray cats from using the area as a latrine. Pinecones also will keep down the weeds to a certain extent and look attractive as mulch.

Houseplant tending

Now is a good time to take inventory of your houseplants and check for any signs of stress or pest problems. Discover insect or disease problems early and you won’t be plagued by a major problem later.

One of my favorite plants of the winter season is the angel wing begonia that I bring indoors from the summer shade garden. It lifts my spirits with its brilliant green and mottled foliage, and adds interest to just about any room in the house. Although some consider it an old-fashioned plant, it’s rugged and can tolerate the drier conditions in our heated homes while providing a spot of color and surprising you with blooms every now and then.

The key to keeping this old favorite—as well as the many new hybrid begonias— happy and thriving is a humus-enriched soil that drains well yet retains moisture. Locate the plant in a bright place out of direct sun, which can scorch the leaves. If the plant begins to stretch for more light, don’t be timid about pinching it back. Place the shoots you remove in a 50/50 mix of perlite and vermiculite. You will have several new starts to add to your shade garden or to give to gardening friends.

Wishing you a happy and prosperous New Year in your garden!

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

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Northern Harrier

Below: Drawing by Elizabeth Hacker of an Northern Harrier.

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

Although some people dread winter, one reason we moved to the Palmer Divide rather than to Colorado Springs is because there’s more winter here. After a snowfall, it is so fresh and serene that I often get up early to enjoy it before it disappears. Following a recent snowfall, I strapped on my snowshoes and trekked over to the open area north of Monument Lake. Not thinking I would see any birds, I left without my binoculars, bird identification guide, and camera, which I now truly regret.

While huffing along, I happened to spot what I thought was an immature red-tailed hawk on a fence post, but as I got closer I realized it was not. This bird’s upper feathers were blue-gray (not brown), it was smaller than a red-tail, and its head features were more refined. But what struck me as odd was that red-tails roost high up on power poles but this guy was on a fence post. Because I had no idea what this bird was, I stopped to observe it. Big mistake!

By stopping, I alerted him to the fact that I had seen him. He looked at me with his pale eyes and immediately took flight. He gracefully swooped off the fence post and hovered along the ground until he reached a telephone pole, where he flew up to roost. If I had my binoculars, I could have positively identified him. But based on my observation, I believe it was a male northern harrier (Circus cyancus), more commonly known as a marsh hawk.

Habitat

As the common name "marsh hawk" suggests, this species is generally found next to wetlands in grasslands, meadows, and cultivated areas, which is similar to the landscape where I spotted him, just north of the townhomes on Monument Lake. I’ve gone back to the area several times to see if he was still around but did not see him. I suspect the bird I saw may have been a migrating male that was grounded by the snowstorm. However, on one of the days I looked for him, I observed a "convention" of crows agitated about something, so he may still be in the area.

Range

The northern harrier breeds from northern Alaska and Canada south throughout the United States and into Central America. In Colorado, it can migrate from the northern to the southern part of the state and is a year-round resident in some areas. It may even reside here all year, but I have not observed it before.

Description

The northern harrier is a slender and graceful raptor with long legs, long wings, a long tail, and a dark-hooded, owl-like face. Male northern harriers are about 30 percent smaller than females. The species’ body length ranges from 17 to 24 inches, its wingspan is from 3½ to 4½ feet, and its weight is between 12 and 18 ounces. The adult male’s feathers are slate-blue on top and white with distinctive black wing tips on the bottom. Adult females are reddish-brown above with buff-colored under feathers delineated by narrow streaks of dark brown. Immature birds are similar to the adult female but darker and more reddish. All three plumages have a conspicuous white rump patch. While most hawks rely on their vision to locate prey, the northern harrier relies on its hearing, which is enhanced by the owl-like facial disk.

Diet

The northern harrier eats small mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, and carrion. They most commonly hunt by zig-zagging low over the ground but use a variety of hunting techniques including perching, hovering, and chasing prey on foot through dense brush.

Breeding

The northern harrier breeds only in wetland habitats. The male puts on a performance of aerial acrobatics called sky dancing, consisting of dramatic "barrel rolls" over its territory. It is the only polygamous hawk in North America and will often pass food to its mates in mid-air. The female builds the nest on the ground hidden in the long marsh vegetation. Although ground nesting may attract predators, habitat loss due to mowing and bulldozing is more devastating to its population.

The northern harrier is listed as a protected species in some states but not in Colorado.

Next time I venture out after a storm, I will definitely remember to bring my binoculars!

Elizabeth Hacker is an artist and freelance writer who lives in the Tri-Lakes area. E-mail your questions and bird finds to her at OCN.

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, December 2: John Fielder at Town Hall

Below: John Fielder at the PLHS. Photo by Dee Kirby

By Dee Kirby

On Dec. 2, the Palmer Lake Historical Society hosted famed Colorado photographer John Fielder, who presented a talk and slide show that compared black-and-white photographs taken by William Henry Jackson in the 1800s to Fielder’s re-creation of the same photos that appear in his original book, Colorado 1870-2000 and in its sequel, Colorado 1870-2000 II.

Fielder told the packed crowd in the Palmer Lake Town Hall that repeat photography is an old concept that did not appeal to him initially, but when he was seeking a theme for a book to coincide with the millennium, the idea took hold. It seemed fit to present photos of the past aligned with those of the present, thus recording a pictorial account that depicts change in those locations over the span of 150 years.

When Fielder decided to "repeat" Jackson’s photos, he spent two and a half months sorting through 22,000 of Jackson’s plates, of which 10,000 were of Colorado. He edited those down to 300. He said he found all but six of the 300 locations, and half of those, lacking captions, had to be researched using topography maps, etc. To complete the project for the original book, Fielder drove 25,000 miles, backpacked 500 miles, and camped out for 50 nights.

More than a slide show promoting his books, Fielder’s presentation conveyed his great concern about preserving open spaces for future generations. He praised the foresight and resolve to put Greenland’s 22,000 acres into a conservation easement deed that says it can "never be developed."

Fielder’s devotion to the environment was best expressed when he told a budding young photographer, "I consider myself a naturalist who happens to carry a camera."

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Art Matters: Innovative art choices jazz up January

By Janet Sellers

This month, with the winding down of the busy holiday season, we can enjoy some whimsical, amusing art as a pleasant pastime. We may have some very cold weather keeping us indoors this time of year, so the warmth of humor and color should prove to be a treat to the senses. Here are my suggestions for cheering up this month:

  1. For a small space at home or work, one can change the view often and at will with small paintings. They are like little gems that add interest yet will not overpower the space.

  2. Reflecting more with less: Mirrors help create depth, and a grouping of mirrors can liven up a room and add glamour with their brightness.

  3. Serve up some smiles for playful spirits with bold, contrasting colors for some unmatched picture frames to hold black and white images.

  4. A mobile as an interior sculpture adds interest and movement to a room or entryway.

  5. Place an interesting piece of a tree branch, tree root, or driftwood as a sculptural interest on a side table or wall.

  6. Bring nature inside by hanging a new landscape painting in the family room, or the simple shapes and bright colors of fruits for the dining or breakfast rooms.

  7. Update the hall or bathroom with some bright, cheery small paintings in a grouping. You’ll enjoy the impact right away.

  8. Transform a few picture frames to go together by faux finishing them. It’s easy, and there are kits and do-it-yourself projects that take less than an hour!

  9. Put up a painting of a single, simple object such as a red apple, a red tomato, an orange, or a pear. Or play artist and place a real apple on a small tray on your table and enjoy looking at that one thing, then take out a pencil and sketch it. Voila! Your own art is created.

Around Our Community

Here are some local places for art with whimsy to enrich your first month of 2006:

Buffalo Blues

135 Second Street, Historic Downtown Monument, 235-8115

Buffalo Blues is one of our newest art galleries in town. Opened recently by the owner-artist, Sharon De Weese, the enchanting space is host not only to her large and colorful watercolor paintings, but also to a variety of innovative gifts chosen with her keen artist’s eye. Sharon and I talked at length about her studio shop, her move up to Monument from San Antonio, and her newest and very cheerful grandchild, Jake, who was on hand to marvel and enjoy all the colorful works with us. I hope you can take in the visual delights that Sharon has prepared for us all at her new shop. It reminds me of some favorite artist-owned galleries I’ve been to on holiday, but we can go anytime we’re here in town for such a treat.

Monument Branch Public Library art exhibit

Described as "Peter Max colliding with Kandinsky," nine works created by local Monument artist Jan C. Jones will be exhibited in January at the Monument Library. The show is titled, "Whimsical Worlds, Whimsical Doodles" and is filled with lighthearted abstract scenes filled with amusing geometry, color, and interesting spaces with otherworldly creatures. Youngsters and oldsters will surely chuckle as they ponder the visual stories of each whimsical doodle.

Art Classes for January

Buffalo Blues: Check in with Sharon at Buffalo Blues Gallery for her new painting classes starting at the end of January. She mentioned she would be starting classes on Tuesday evenings, beginning January 24, so give her a call and sign up! 235-8115

Monument School of Fine Arts: Weekly Studio Classes have ongoing enrollment for the winter season. Special January/February Weekend Whimsies in art on Saturdays in January (7th, 14th, 28th): painting, fanciful pets as sculpture, and watercolor sculpture (mobiles and more). Make your own zany artworks or just meet and celebrate at the impromptu Happy Hour exhibit after each class. Monument School of Fine Arts Saturday classes to be held at several satellite locations in the Tri-Lakes area, so call Janet for details: 488-8280.

National Junior Duck Stamp Program and call for artists

All students (K-12) throughout Colorado are welcome to participate in this free art and science opportunity, which is designed to teach about wetlands habitat and waterfowl conservation. Using scientific and wildlife observation principles, this program helps students communicate visually what they have learned by creating an entry to the Junior Duck Stamp art contest. This nontraditional pairing of subjects brings new interest in the sciences and arts to students throughout each state, while fostering a greater awareness and conservation ethic toward our nation’s natural resources.

The Junior Duck Stamp contest begins each fall and proceeds through spring as students submit their artwork to their state coordinator. Students at the state level are then judged in four groups according to grade level: Group I: K-3, Group II: 4-6, Group III: 7-9, and Group IV 10-12. Three first-, second-, and third-place entries are selected for each group. A "Best of Show" winning entry for Colorado is also selected by the judges from the 12 first-place winners regardless of their age group. Each state’s "Best of Show" is then submitted to the Duck Stamp Office in Washington D.C. and entered into the national contest

The first-place design from the national contest is used to create the actual Junior Duck Stamp for the following year. The Junior Duck Stamps are sold by the U.S. Postal Service for $5 per stamp. Proceeds from these sales support environmental education and provide awards and scholarships for the students, teachers, and schools that participate in the program. All entries must be postmarked by March 15. The award ceremony to honor all the state winners and schools with certificates and prizes will be held at the Arvada Center in May.

For more details on how kids, teachers, and schools in our local area can participate, contact Colorado State Coordinator Seth Beres (303) 289-0867 or visit www.fws.gov/duckstamps/junior/junior.htm. The JDS program is sponsored each year in our community by the Monument School of Fine Arts. Detailed information on the program and the annual show for the local students at the Monument Branch Public Library are available at: www.StartMyArt.com.

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Special Events and Notices

By Judy Barnes, Editor Emeritus

Although we strive for accuracy in these listings, dates or times are often changed after publication. Please double-check the time and place of any event you wish to attend by calling the info number for that event.

Treecycle 2006

It’s the season to be environmentally responsible and support your community! Turn your Christmas tree into mulch and help sustain youth sports at the same time. There are seven convenient places in Colorado Springs and El Paso County that grind the trees into mulch that is then available free of charge to any resident of El Paso County on a self-service basis, while supplies last. A suggested tax-deductible donation of $5 per tree goes to support youth sports programs throughout the county. The program will be available Jan 7-8, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the following locations:

Baptist Road Trailhead, Baptist Road and Old Denver Highway
Cottonwood Creek Park, Dublin Road and Montarbor Drive
MCI, 30th Street and Garden of the Gods
Memorial Park, Union Boulevard and Pikes Peak Avenue
Sky Sox Stadium, Barnes Road and Charlotte Parkway
Willow Springs, Highway 85/87 and Willow Springs Road
Rocky Top Resources, 1755 E. Las Vegas Street. Rocky Top will recycle trees until Jan. 31; hours of operation are Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information, call 520-7878.

Talk English! Facilitator Training

Volunteers are needed to lead informal social conversation groups for adult English language learners with intermediate or better English skills. Be a facilitator; meet the international community. Conversation groups meet at libraries for two hours once a week for 14 weeks. Call 531-6333, x2224 or x2223 to register for the training session on Jan. 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Penrose Library, 20 N. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs.

County Land Development Code released for public review

El Paso County’s Development Services Department has released a draft of the revised Land Development Code for public review.

The Land Development Code provides the zoning, subdivision, and development regulations for the county, and complements the recently adopted Engineering Criteria Manual.

This draft has been in preparation for several years, using a collaborative committee review process. The draft represents a comprehensive effort to modernize and streamline the regulations and implement the policy directions of the Board of County Commissioners and the Development Services Department.

A series of work sessions and workshops were previously held to solicit public input and identify issues and concerns. The release of the public review document is the next step of the public process for adoption of the revised code.

The public can provide input to the Planning Commission at its work session on Jan. 10, 9 a.m. or at its hearing on Jan. 31, 9 a.m. The Planning Commission meetings are held in the hearing room at the Regional Development Center, 2880 International Circle.

After the Planning Commission makes its recommendation, a schedule for Board of County Commissioners’ consideration of the draft will be released.

The draft code is online on www.elpasoco.com. Hard copies are available at the offices of the Development Services Department, 2880 International Circle, and the Board of County Commissioners, 27 E. Vermijo. Also available are the executive summary and forms to comment on the draft.

To find out more about the revised Land Development Code, contact Mark Gebhart with Development Services Department at 520-6323 or visit the county’s Web site at www.elpasoco.com and look under Current Topics.

Women’s Club accepting grant applications

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) will consider grant requests up to $10,000 to qualified organizations that provide services to residents within the geographic boundaries of Lewis-Palmer School District 38. The TLWC will be accepting applications for grants after Jan. 15.

Qualified organizations are 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, public service agencies/organizations, and public schools. Grant applications and instructions will be available on the TLWC Web site (www.tlwc.net) beginning Jan. 15. Applications are also available by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to: TLWC Grant Committee, P.O. Box 669, Monument, CO 80132. Applications are due by March 15.

The TLWC sponsors the annual Pine Forest Antique Show and Sale and the Wine and Roses wine-tasting event. Proceeds from these fundraisers benefit the Tri-Lakes community through grants. Last year $31,000 was granted to nonprofit organizations, schools, and public service organizations. In the past 29 years, $446,000 has been awarded to benefit residents in the area.

Local Music Alliance presents Second Concert

The Rocky Mountain Music Alliance (RMMA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing classical music to the area, will present its second concert of the season with a piano recital featuring six pianists with ties to internationally acclaimed concert pianist Dr. Michael Baron. The concert will be held at Forestgate Presbyterian Church, 970 Northgate Road, at 7 p.m. on Jan. 21.

Pianists taking part include Faith Lanctot, Josiah Hamil, Jo’el Smith, Darla Mote, Barbara Taylor, and Brett Wheeler. Music of Beethoven, Poulenc, Prokofieff, Brahms, and others will be performed. The concert will conclude with Baron joining Taylor in a piano duet version of George Gershwin’s "Rhapsody in Blue."

Tickets are $22 for adults and $18 for students, and are available at the door or by calling the RMMA voice mail at 487-1211. Season tickets for the remaining three concerts are $40. For additional information, call Pam Brunson, president of RMMA, at 484-0192 or e-mail rmma@adelphia.net.

Healthy Pregnancy class in Monument

A free Healthy Pregnancy class will be held on Jan. 31 and again on March 21 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Monument Branch Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr. The classes are a public service provided by Jessica Hulin, aahcc (certified Bradley Method instructor). The class is for expectant parents or those planning a pregnancy to learn about having healthy pregnancies and happy birth-days! For information, call Jessica Hulin, 201-2237, or visit jess@hulins.com

Jean Ciavonne Poetry Contest

"Poetry Splash: Words on Water" is this year’s theme for the Jean Ciavonne Poetry Contest, open to all fourth- and fifth-grade students in the Pikes Peak region. Entries must be postmarked by Feb. 11. Complete rules are available at any library. Six winners will receive $25 each, a book, and a Kennedy Center Imagination Celebration poster. Call 531-6333, x2405 for more information.

Library launches eBranch

Pikes Peak Library District’s new electronic library, eBranch, is the first virtual public library in the area and gives patrons access to eBooks and eAudios 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no late fees. Patrons can use their library cards to check out and download eAudios and eBooks directly to a computer or portable device. Patrons may check out up to three titles for up to three weeks, and at the end of the loan period, the materials will be automatically returned to the library. To access materials, visit the library’s Web site, install the free software, browse, and choose titles; then check out and download the digital titles to a PC, laptop, and supported PDAs. Patrons can listen to eAudios on personal computers and some audio devices, though iPods are not compatible with the format.

Digital books are digital versions of books in print, and include downloadable eAudios for listening and eBooks for on-screen reading. In addition to eliminating late fees, these materials can’t be lost or damaged. At the eBranch you can also find information on software downloads and link to other free eBook resources. Visit http://ebranch.ppld.org for more information.

Call for papers: Pikes Peak Regional History Symposium

Pikes Peak Library District is seeking papers for an upcoming symposium highlighting the life of soldier and explorer Zebulon Montgomery Pike. The 2006 Pikes Peak Regional History Symposium "Spare No Pains: Zebulon Pike and His 1806-1807 Expedition, A Bicentennial Symposium" will be held June 3. The deadline to submit papers for consideration is Feb. 1. Send proposals to: Chris Nicholl, Symposium Co-Chair, Pikes Peak Library District, P.O. Box 1579, Colorado Springs, CO 80901. For more information, e-mail cnicholl@ppld.org.

$500 grant presented to the Tri-Lakes Athletic Association

Steve Thompson, an 18 year resident of Monument, received the Allstate Foundation’s Agency Hands in the Community award for his commitment to volunteering. With this award comes a $500 grant to the Tri-Lakes Athletic Association—a little league and girls softball organization in Monument with over 550 kids in the program—where Thompson volunteers.

"Allstate believes that it is very important for corporations to take an active interest in the communities they serve. Allstate is proud to support such a worthwhile cause through The Allstate Foundation," said Jeff Kaufman, vice president for Allstate’s West Central Region.

Through the Agency Hands in the Community grant program, Allstate agents and personal financial representatives are recognized for outstanding commitment to community service with a $500 donation to the charitable organization where they volunteer.

Black Forest AARP Chapter wins Top Chapter Award

Below: (L to R) Lois Martin (Castle Rock Chapter), Edna Eaton (Black Forest Chapter), Laura Bauman (AARP Associate State Director), Chuck Eaton (accepting the award on behalf of the Austin Bluffs Chapter).

At the AARP state volunteer recognition award program held at the Arvada center, the Black Forest Chapter 1100 won the top chapter award and $400, the Colorado Springs Austin Bluffs Chapter won third place and $200, and Lois Martin of the Castle Rock Chapter won the Strategic Priority Award. The Black Forest AARP Chapter usually meets the 2nd Wed. each month, 11:30 a.m., Black Forest Community Church, Shoup and Black Forest Road. For information, contact Electa Beckner at 596-6787 or Chuck Eaton at 495-2443.

Sertoma collects $32,600 for Salvation Army

Mike Wicklund, Chairman of Sertoma’s Red Kettle Committee, reported that this year’s collection drive had been another big success thanks to the help of everyone in the Tri-Lakes region. "What a generous community we have. The Salvation Army is very appreciative and thankful." Wicklund also thanked King Soopers and Safeway for their "enthusiastic support and encouragement" by hosting red kettles every year of the Sertoma program.

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