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Our Community News - Home Vol. 6 No. 2 - February 4, 2006

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Piano concert a delight

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Below: An audience of 125 anxiously awaits the start of the Rocky Mountain Music Alliance’s Jan. 21 piano concert at Forestgate Presbyterian Church.

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Below: L to R: Pianists Lindsay Lohr, Josiah Hamill, Faith Lanctot, Jo’el Smith, Dr. Michael Baron, Barbara Taylor (MCTN), Brett Wheeler, and Darla Mote.

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By Jim Kendrick

The Rocky Mountain Music Alliance presented the second of its four-concert series at the Forestgate Presbyterian Church on Northgate Road on Jan. 21. Six of Dr. Michael Baron’s remarkably talented students took turns entertaining a crowd of about 125 with classical music played on an enormous grand piano provided by John Street. The acoustics and spacious comfortable seating in the church made the concert even more enjoyable.

Faith Lanctot, Jo’el Smith, Darla Mote, Lindsay Lohr, Josiah Hamill, and Brett Wheeler were the featured students. They played pieces by Bach, Brahms, Sibelius, Rachmaninoff, Poulenc, Schubert, Beethoven, and Schumann. While each delighted the audience with their virtuosity, the highlight of the evening was a duet by Lanctot and Lohr of "Chopsticks Theme and Variations" that appeared to be choreographed by Victor Borge and was punctuated by a hip check of Lanctot onto the floor by the minuscule Lohr.

The concluding duet of Gershwin’s "Rhapsody in Blue" played by Baron and Barbara Taylor, MCTN, was wonderful. Taylor is a local piano and voice instructor. Baron presents master classes and workshops across the United States and Europe.

Alliance Director Pam Brunson thanked the church, Street, and her fellow board members, Joanna Miller, Floyd Veatch, Colleen Abeyta, and Baron for their support of the series as well as sponsors Residence Inn, Pianos New & Used, the Street Family, and Bev Hemple Piano Tuning of Denver for their support.

The next concert, a solo recital by Baron is at 7 p.m. on Mar. 4 at the Forestgate Presbyterian Church on Northgate Road. The last concert is on Apr. 8 and will feature James Houlik on classical tenor sax, with accompaniment by Baron and jazz pianist Steve Barta. Additional information may be obtained at 487-1211 or rmma@adelphia.net.

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Important Baptist Road Development Hearings Feb. 6 and Feb. 10

The Monument Board of Trustees will hold hearings on the Promontory Pointe Annexation, Annexation Agreement, Rezoning, and Sketch Plan on Monday, Feb. 6, at 6:30 p.m. in the ground floor meeting area of the D-38 Headquarters Building, Second and Jefferson Streets. (Use the north door.) Info: 884-8017.

The Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) will hold a hearing on imposing a Public Improvement Fee, a temporary sales tax of 0.5 to 1.0 percent for 5 to 20 years within Authority boundaries, to privately finance Baptist Road I-25 interchange improvements.

The BRRTA meeting will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 10, in the third floor hearing room of the County Commissioners building, 27 E. Vermijo, in downtown Colorado Springs. Info: Conner Shepherd, BRRTA Project Manager, (303) 779-4525, connershepherd@cliftoncpa.com.

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Monument Board of Trustees, January 3: Highway 105 commercial plat rejected

By Jim Kendrick

The Board of Trustees (BOT) rejected the proposed re-plat for the commercial portion of the Villages at Woodmoor development at Highway 105 and Knollwood Drive, due to changes in the alignment and number of commercial buildings from the previously approved master site plan. These changes were also questioned by members of the Planning Commission.

Town Manager Cathy Green noted that the scheduled public hearing for the annexation and sketch plan for Promontory Pointe was postponed to start the public notice cycle over again. She said the last of the four required advertisements of the hearing was inadvertently published 27 days prior to Jan. 3, rather than a minimum of 30 days as required by state statutes. The board unanimously approved a new resolution to hold the rescheduled BOT public hearing on Feb. 6 in the District 38 headquarters building ("Big Red") on the southeast corner of Jefferson and Second Streets.

The trustees elected four candidates to the Planning Commission, filling all the seats for the first time in many months. Trustee Travis Easton was absent.

Public Comments

Planning Commission Chair Ed Delaney said he is willing to provide information to any trustee or staff member on his experience as the trustee who chaired the committee that drafted the home rule charter ballot issue several years ago. Town staff had been asked by Mayor Byron Glenn to analyze the option of changing from statutory town status. Home rule status may offer some financial advantages if the town does away with enterprise fund status for water operations as the town’s water system approaches buildout.

Tim Schutz, attorney for the Kingswood Property Owners Association, asked if the board wanted to hear the association’s comments on Promontory Pointe. Glenn said he would prefer that Schutz wait until Feb. 6.

Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce President Steve Spry said he wants to build a digital electronic sign, measuring 76 square feet and 23 feet high, on chamber property on the east side of Highway 105 at Third Street. He asked the board to consider a "nonprofit" waiver to the town ordinance prohibiting any form of off-site billboard advertising. The sign would provide notices of Tri-Lakes activities about 80 percent of the time and would list the names of businesses helping to pay for the costs of the sign and its operation the rest of the time. Letter sizing and timing for messages would be designed for 35 mph traffic.

Names of contributing companies would be listed for about 15 seconds each cycle. A listing would cost $125 per month. Only the company names would be listed; there would be no advertising copy. Spry said that he would receive a 50-50 co-op grant from the national chamber association and that about 100 other chambers throughout the nation have similar electronic signs. The sign is expected to have an operational life of about 20 years. The listing of company names would cease after the sign is paid for, in the first five years.

Trustee Tommie Plank asked that Spry provide a copy of his proposed guidelines for soliciting local sponsors to the town when he makes a formal application for an ordinance change. Town Manager Cathy Green said the sign meets all other town commercial sign standards.

Planning Commission filled

Four candidates were elected by the trustees to fill the vacant seat and the three seats with expiring terms. New candidates Tom Martin of Jackson Creek and Patricia Mettler of Pastimes spoke first, describing their qualifications and responding to trustee questions.

The three commissioners with expiring terms were Delaney, Larry Neddo, and Vice Chair Kathy Spence.

Plank noted that there were five candidates and only four positions to fill. Glenn suggested that the commissioners who had served for four years should not be reappointed automatically if there were new candidates available to replace them. The board decided to interview the commissioners with expiring terms.

Delaney and Spence, after noting that they hadn’t planned to make remarks, discussed their reasons for seeking reappointment and answered trustee questions. Neddo was not present at the BOT meeting. Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara noted that Neddo had attended all Commission meetings since Kassawara started work here. Town Clerk Scott Meszaros said that all the candidates were notified of this meeting. Green suggested that Neddo may have been out of town and may not have received the notification.

Delaney, Spence, Martin, and Mettler were elected by secret ballot. The four electees were immediately sworn in by Meszaros.

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Promontory Pointe

Green again noted that the agenda item for the hearings on the 117-acre Walters Ranch/Promontory Pointe parcel north of the intersection of Baptist Road and Gleneagle Drive had been canceled. The board unanimously approved a new resolution to again formally approve the applicant’s proposed sketch plan and annexation/rezoning request for consideration. The board concurred with Green’s recommendation that the public hearing for these two agenda items be held on Feb. 6.

The applicant is seeking annexation of the northern two-thirds of the parcel, approval of rezoning from rural to planned development, and approval of a sketch plan for the residential development of the entire property. The southern third of the parcel was annexed by the town 16 years ago under the name Vern Walters Ranch.

Schutz asked the board to help him obtain the zoning ordinance and annexation agreement for the previous annexation of the southern 39 acres of the Walters Ranch property, if they have not been lost. He thanked the staff for their unsuccessful efforts to date to find these documents. Glenn and Green said the county should have a copy of the annexation agreement. Schutz said that separate zoning ordinance documentation was required within 90 days of this annexation by state statutes at that time.

Schutz also asked for copies of all communications between the trustees and any representative of the developer of the site from 2005 to the present. Green said she had given him copies of her recent communications and would search her archives for older ones. She said she had also requested that each of the trustees provide her with any communication documents pertinent to Promontory Pointe to forward to Schutz. Shupp also asked the trustees to provide any pertinent documents to Green.

Glenn said that he has frequent meetings with Promontory Pointe planning consultant Terry Schooler and Duncan Bremer with regard to planning for the widening of Baptist Road. Glenn noted that Schooler is also a commissioner for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). Bremer, prior county commissioner for the region, is a local attorney who is representing the applicant. Glenn is currently chair of the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority.

Schooler and Bremer have helped coordinate the donation of adjacent Promontory Pointe land for Baptist Road right-of-way needed to widen the road near Gleneagle Drive. They have also participated in discussions led by Glenn regarding creation of the Public Improvement Fee that will finance interest payments on private bonds to fund the upgrade of the Baptist Road I-25 interchange until CDOT funds become available to pay off the bond principal.

Bremer lives on the south side of Baptist Road just west of the railroad tracks. His agricultural property will be directly affected by the BRRTA improvements to Baptist Road west of I-25, which include widening and a new bridge over the railroad tracks.

Village Center at Woodmoor

Background: Kassawara reviewed the history of the development. This parcel was originally called the Wahlborg Addition and was annexed and rezoned from county agricultural by the town at the request of local developer WED LLC in August 2004 after several Planning Commission and BOT hearings. It is located on the southeast corner of Highway 105 and Knollwood Drive.

The master site plan for the 140-acre parcel that was approved had four filings, three residential and one commercial. Some unique new residential zoning categories (R-A, R-B, R-C) were created through these documents, in part due to the very small lot sizes for single family homes in one of the residential filings. However, the new zoning categories and their definitions were never formally added to the town code.

The rezoning and master site plan documents, as well as the subsequently approved intergovernmental agreement for a metropolitan district within the parcel, were coordinated by former Town Planner Mike Davenport. He resigned shortly afterward, in December 2004. Kassawara was initially hired as the town engineer, and then took over current planning reviews from Green when she was promoted from town planner to town manager after Rick Sonnenburg resigned.

Kassawara required WED to make zoning updates and some clarifications to the master site plan in August 2005. The unique internal zoning designations were eliminated, and the entire parcel was converted to Monument’s new PD (planned development) zoning. The revisions were then approved by the BOT. Residential construction is now under way along the south end of Knollwood Drive.

Preliminary plat request: Midland Development Group of St. Louis, Mo., recently purchased the commercial portion of this development, Filing 4, from WED LLC. This filing is on the northwest corner of the parcel with frontages along the south side of Highway 105 and east side of Knollwood Drive. Midland proposed a change in the alignment and number of commercial buildings and requested corresponding minor adjustments to lot lines in its proposed preliminary plat. Kassawara said Midland’s proposed changes were minor and "very consistent" with the revised master site plan. There are no changes to the architectural design guidelines for the buildings.

Kassawara also noted he had suggested adding a right-in/right-out access between Knollwood and the originally approved access at the east end of the commercial filing on Highway 105, to improve internal vehicle circulation and reduce traffic on Knollwood. This access would be through an eliminated commercial lot. He said the additional access, 900 feet east of the Knollwood intersection, is not "essential" but would be helpful. This access was not on the submitted plat because CDOT had not yet approved it.

Plank said the plat looked very different from the plans she had seen before. Mertz said the staff would have to be careful of individual lot developers "going off on a tangent." Kassawara said that the narrow design standards for Filing 4 are similar to the tight restrictions in the architectural standards for Monument Marketplace.

Although the Planning Commission had unanimously recommended BOT approval of Midland’s preliminary plat at its meeting on Dec. 14, the commissioners who had participated in the original 2004 hearing expressed reservations about whether the proposed plat revisions were consistent with their recollection of the master site plan they had previously approved. Kassawara told the commissioners he believed the proposed building realignments were minor and sufficiently consistent with the revised master site plan. The commissioners did not have access to the master site plan to compare it to the proposed plat at the Dec. 14 hearing.

David Reif, Midland’s spokesman, said the purpose of the plat was to subdivide the individual commercial lots. All the buildings would be consistent with the previously approved architectural guidelines. No more than two drive-through fast-food restaurants would be constructed. He noted that WED was widening Highway 105 and Knollwood to provide new right turn lanes.

Reif said that he had received a letter from CDOT on Dec. 30 that denied the request for Kassawara’s proposed additional access from Highway 105, a major arterial. He said CDOT had initially indicated that it might accept a "right-in only" access, but had always opposed the "right-in/right-out only" proposal. State and county standards for major arterials restrict how close accesses and traffic lights can be to each other.

Trustee Gail Drumm asked that the Knollwood access to Filing 4 be widened to include separate outbound right and left turn lanes. The extra outbound lane would minimize stacking within the development by cars exiting the filing southbound, after Knollwood is extended to the west, past the current dead-end, to connect with Jackson Creek Parkway sometime in the future.

Reif said that the traffic study just completed by consultant LSC showed that levels of service at all accesses and adjacent road intersections would remain satisfactory with the planned improvements. The LSC study did not account for Kassawara’s proposed additional access. Reif said that the effect of the added Highway 105 access could be included in another traffic study at the time of final site plan approval for the filing, if CDOT withdraws its opposition.

There were no citizen comments during the open portion of the public hearing. There were four written citizen comments in opposition, primarily stating that their existing toxic dust problems from the current residential construction on the development would become worse with new construction on this commercial filing.

Trustee Tim Miller asked Kassawara if the plat was in the best interest of Monument. Kassawara replied that it would create useful retail space to the east side of I-25 on Highway 105 and would not harm the existing businesses in the area.

Glenn said he had a "big issue" with the plat because it was "not in conformance" with the master site plan "in my opinion." He added that the board needed "to stop it now" unless the plans are changed to follow the original intent of the board. If the board approved the proposed plat, Glenn feared that they would lose the ability to control future changes once the individual lots were sold by Midland. He said that the changes would lead to the creation of a strip mall that would be far less attractive than the original concept, lacking a "community feel" with views, open spaces, pathways, and other amenities that would be "user friendly." Glenn asked that the board see Midland’s proposed amendment to the master site plan before approving the preliminary plat to make sure they match. There was immediate consensus by the trustees.

All recent annexation and rezoning requests–except for the Wahlborg addition and the Monument Ridge development on Baptist Road opposite King Soopers–have been accompanied by concurrent approvals of final plats and final PD site plans. All these documents, as well as related subdivision improvement agreements, were typically approved in a single hearing by the Planning Commission and BOT.

Kassawara said the original design in the 2004 master site plan needed circulation improvements and had created a hidden lot at the corner of Knollwood and Highway 105. These issues required the minor changes he had approved administratively. Reif agreed with Kassawara about the flaws in the original master site plan, and said no one would occupy some of the buildings as they were originally depicted on the master site plan. Mertz said he had chaired the Planning Commission during the lengthy review in 2004 that ensured a quality commercial development that met town needs on this site. He said, "We want the original concept."

Green added that it was reasonable for the board to require Reif to submit an amended preliminary site plan for the filing concurrently with the revised preliminary plat. She advised Reif that the board typically only sees shopping center proposals, such as Monument Marketplace, where the stores are built in compliance with approved PD design guidelines and then leased to tenants by a single development owner. This is a very different concept than selling individual vacant lots to a number of business owners.

Reif said he and his co-owners in Midland had already purchased the "very expensive site" from WED after the Planning Commission had unanimously approved his plat, assuming the town agreed to his revised concept in the site plan. Glenn said WED should have disclosed the need for Reif to comply with the master site plan at closing. Reif said WED had not made that disclosure.

In most recent town annexations, developers have not closed on a property until their plat and PD site plans have been approved by the BOT.

Reif said it was better to avoid an unexpected BOT denial of the plat by withdrawing the proposed plat, when Glenn asked if he wanted to withdraw his proposal. Reif said he needed to be sure what the board was expecting before he could make another proposal and the delay would prevent him from closing any sales of the individual commercial lots. He said he had given the town a revised sketch site plan for the filing a month ago but it was not seen by the Planning Commission. Glenn said that while Reif might not be able to sell his lots right away, there would be no delay in the final approval of his development.

There was a 45-minute discussion with the trustees and Reif standing around the table examining several large pages from the original master site plan and the proposed plat. They discussed a number of technical details on the original master site plan and the proposed plat. Conversations within the group about details in the drawings made it difficult for the audience to hear what was being said and agreed to by the participants. Reif indicated that he had a better understanding of the board’s preferences.

Several options were proposed to expedite a re-hearing but they were determined to be unworkable due to procedural or advertising/posting requirements. The plat was tentatively scheduled for another hearing at the regular Planning Commission meeting in March after the staff has worked with Reif on a new plat and site plan for the filing, as well as the building elevations and landscaping plans Glenn also required of Midland. No date has been set for another BOT hearing. A motion to continue the preliminary plat proposal passed unanimously.

Revised MVEA Franchise agreement approved

The board unanimously approved an ordinance accepting a revision of Mountain View Electric Association’s rules and regulations in their franchise agreement with the town.

Resolutions

The board unanimously approved the annual resolution that again designates the two public posting places for the public notices of town meetings. They are Town Hall and the Post Office on Third Street. Meszaros said he is working on an upgrade to the town’s Web site that would allow for prompt posting of meetings and agendas as well.

The board unanimously approved the annual resolution to renew the town’s contract with the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region for animal control and pet licensing services. There was no increase in the cost of the contract, which remained at $8,500.

The board unanimously approved a resolution finding that the petition for annexation for the remainder of the Promontory Pointe parcel is in substantial compliance with state statutes. The resolution also set the public hearing "at or after 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 6 in Town Hall." Green said that the staff is also looking at changing the wording in the notices sent to adjacent landowners to say that they can review the documentation that the town has regarding a proposed development in Town Hall. The purpose of the change in wording is to not mislead citizens on what may actually be available for pick-up at various times before a hearing.

The board unanimously approved a resolution "accepting the Centura Health Employee Assistance Plan for the Town of Monument Employees effective Jan. 1, 2006." The plan will cost $45 each for 25 employees, a total of $1,575. There is no cost to the employees for using the plan.

Financial issues

Treasurer Pamela Smith suggested that the town change its policy on publishing 20 copies of the 39-page financial reports from monthly to quarterly to save money on copying costs. Smith will continue to provide the monthly summaries she has been attaching to the in-depth report of every transaction for every line item. The board unanimously approved a motion to accept her recommendation and also unanimously approved the full-detail 50-page November financial report.

Reports and updates

Town Attorney Gary Shupp said he had no items to report.

Green reviewed the completion of nearly all of the trustees’ goals for 2004 and 2005 and asked when the board wanted to hold a retreat to update them. Glenn suggested that the retreat should be held after the election in April. The other trustees agreed.

The board renewed all current appointments for town representatives to other boards: Glenn and Mertz, Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority; Glenn and Orten, Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments; Drumm, Regional Building Department.

The board unanimously approved a motion to go into executive session to discuss real estate negotiations at 8:49 p.m. No actions were taken or announcements made after the board returned to public session to adjourn.

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Monument Board of Trustees, January 17: Board approves Carriage Point West, rejects Lake of the Rockies during marathon session

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) approved a proclamation of George Kruse Day and held hearings on seven ordinances and three resolutions during a heavily attended five-hour meeting on Jan. 17.

St. Peter Church withdrew a rezoning request after a motion to deny it was narrowly defeated. The board approved a preliminary plat and final PD site plan for Carriage Pointe West. All the trustees rejected a sketch PD Plan for the Lake of the Rockies. All trustees were present.

Trustee Tim Miller asked for an update on his previous request for an overview of "issues" relating to town parks. Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara said he could show Miller where the parks are on a map after the meeting, but he was unaware of any issues. Trustee Dave Mertz gave Miller a copy of the town’s November 2003 Parks, Trails, and Open Space Master Plan, which Mertz helped develop while serving as chair of the Planning Commission.

Glenn updates BOT on Baptist Road financing

Mayor Byron Glenn gave a status report on the upgrade plans of the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA). The engineering design, review, and approval process is about 85 percent complete and should be done in early June. The current cost estimate for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) improvements for the I-25 interchange is now $16 million for engineering, construction, and a large contingency fund. This amount is dependent on donations of all needed right-of-way by affected property owners, all of whom would directly benefit from improvements.

Glenn noted that the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) has slightly lowered the priority for Exit 158 improvements because the needed road improvements between Fort Carson and the Colorado Springs Airport have become the highest priority until completion. There are no CDOT funds available for the interchange.

Despite that, Glenn said BRRTA is working with local retail merchants to voluntarily participate in a Public Improvement Fee (PIF) of ½ to 1 percent on all taxable goods they sell. The PIF revenue would go to BRRTA and pay for interest on private bonds that would finance construction of the interchange. Once PPACG makes the interchange a top priority and CDOT can give the needed funds to BRRTA to pay off the bond principal, the PIF would go away.

BRRTA has hired a marketing professional to do an absorption study and market analysis to determine how rapidly retail businesses will grow in the region and how much revenue can be generated for different PIF rates. A bond attorney has been selected to work with Piper Jaffrey, the financial services firm that would issue the bonds.

Glenn said Wal-Mart has indicated that it could not accept a PIF of more than ½ percent because it believes people would drive to the Academy Boulevard store if the fee were higher. If the study shows that the PIF needs to be over 1 percent, BRRTA will be forced to initiate a November ballot issue to create a 1 percent sales tax within its boundaries or abandon the interchange improvement plan altogether. Glenn said the BRRTA board is hoping that a PIF of 0.65 percent is enough to pay the private bond interest and that Wal-Mart will join the process once the other merchants agree to it.

Glenn used a large map to show the boundaries for the needed right-of-way donations and the new roadway. He said BRRTA is still negotiating with landowner Phoenix Bell to donate enough land in their commercial lot to the west of the Diamond Shamrock station for a short public right-of-way onto Baptist Road. This planned public right-of-way would be the only southern access for all the vacant land north of Baptist Road, between I-25 and the Santa Fe Trail.

Glenn said that once all the required right-of-way "donations are in hand" and the PIF financing is finalized by the end of March, CDOT will ask the Corps of Engineers to initiate a three-month mouse mitigation study. This study should be completed in June about the same time the engineering plans are completed. At that time, BRRTA will ask PPACG to add the Baptist Road interchange to the 2007-2012 State Transportation Improvement Plan. This listing will allow BRRTA to get a lower interest rate on the private bonds to finance the interchange improvements.

CDOT cannot fund the interchange until PPACG lists it on the State Transportation Improvement Plan. CDOT may be able to pay for the improvements by 2012 if they are listed. A CDOT payment of the principle would eliminate the interest payments for the bonds, and the PIF would go away, perhaps within five years. If there is no CDOT funding, the PIF would pay off the private bonds in 20 years.

Senior housing comments sought

Resident Chuck Roberts thanked the town for the agenda item to establish a George Kruse Day, noting that the late Kruse’s dream was the creation of senior housing within the town. Roberts, who serves in church and local charity organization programs for seniors, formally announced a public meeting in Town Hall on Jan. 26 for Tri-Lakes-area seniors to provide comments to facility designer Tim Irish on what they would like to see in senior housing.

Roberts invited the trustees to attend, to hear comments firsthand. Town Manager Cathy Green said she would post this as a public BOT meeting, so that three or more trustees could attend the meeting in accordance with state laws.

Ordinances

There was no citizen comment for or against any of these five ordinances during the public participation portion of the open hearing. The following were unanimously approved:

  • No write-in votes will be counted in the April 4 municipal election for any municipal office unless the named person had filed an affidavit of intent to be a candidate with the town clerk before the state deadline.

  • There will be an April 4 ballot question asking the voters to permit the town to collect, retain, and spend the full amount of town revenues for the next four years; "de-Brucing" has been approved by the voters every four years since 1996.

  • New procedures will provide streamlined accessibility of public records to citizens, ensuring compliance with state statutes and tracking of citizen requests so staff can improve services in the future.

  • The parking requirement for downtown businesses was eased, by counting available on-street parking within a one-block radius, shared on-site parking, and off-site parking. The changes apply within the downtown business zone only.

  • The town code regarding permit procedures was updated and fees for site development and infrastructure observation and inspection were expanded to include a refund policy and penalties for work performed without permits.

Catholic Church rezoning request withdrawn

The church requested that all its property be rezoned from residential (R-2, half-acre single family homes) to downtown business (B). The property is south of Second Street, between Jefferson and Washington Streets. A motion to deny the request was narrowly defeated, but the request was ultimately withdrawn for further revamping.

Recent expansions included construction of a large parking lot at the north end of the parcel and a parish educational facility on Washington Street. This facility was only approved for adult and youth group religious classes because of the narrow streets and lack of parking and sidewalks in the surrounding residential community. However, the church soon converted it to a parochial elementary school without notifying the town. Since then, some trustees and commissioners have been reluctant togive up any control over future expansions or new uses by the church. However, the school use was later approved by the town. The church has continued to add grades since then and plans to add more.

An alternately fascinating and frustrating discussion revealed the trustees’ inability to control the parcel if it granted the rezoning request due to the current limits of the town’s zoning ordinances. All the church’s public buildings have been approved in the R-2 zone via a "use by special review" process. The residential zoning requires the church to have any future changes in use or expansions on its property reviewed by the Planning Commission and BOT. If rezoned to business, any minor changes or expansions in the future would only be reviewed by the staff for administrative approval.

The church requested the rezoning to avoid the delays and expenses it must incur under the current zoning for any future school building expansions, even though they are a consistent use. Under R-2 zoning, the Planning Commission and BOT would also review an expansion of the church or construction of any new building.

Town code allows a change in zoning if any of these three criteria are met: The property must be rezoned to be brought into compliance with the town’s comprehensive plan, the property was previously zoned in error, or the surrounding area has experienced substantial and unexpected change.

Kassawara said the area to the north of the church’s large parking lot has become more business oriented. There has been no significant recent change in the single-family homes to the south and west or in the District 38 school buildings to the east, other than a renovation of the "Big Red" headquarters building (not an expansion or a change in use.)

Architect Brian Bucher, a parishioner, represented the church. He noted that future plans to expand the school and perhaps the church building would "focus its campus inward, away from the adjacent residential neighborhood." In a separate action, unrelated to this rezoning request, the church will ask that the alley between the education facility and church be vacated by a plat amendment in line with this campus concept. Bucher also noted that the town suggested the rezoning in 2004 when the school expansion was approved and the Planning Commission unanimously approved the rezoning request (on Dec. 14).

As in the Planning Commission hearing, no citizens spoke for or against the rezoning during the public participation portion of the hearing, even though most of the citizens at both meetings were there to support the church’s request.

Glenn asked if a traffic study had been performed for B zoning or for any future planned expansions. Bucher replied that the church’s traffic and drainage consultants said there would be no change in use and no effect on the town.

Glenn said that the church is not really a business and there is no master site plan. If the church sold the property to a commercial buyer after it was rezoned to business, the town would have no control over its future commercial development to protect the adjacent homeowners. Bucher noted that an unofficial church property master plan was given to the town about seven years ago.

Mertz noted that the "use by special review" process under the current residential zoning gives the town a way to review and control future expansion and new uses. He said that all the public buildings are actually next to homes rather than businesses and that all the vacant land near the church property would also be developed as residential, not business.

Trustee Tommie Plank, who lives next to the educational facility, asked what the church’s plans were for the three houses on the property. Bucher said small group meetings are held in two houses and the other is rented. There is no plan at this time to eliminate them or to build more houses.

Kassawara said the town has no community facility zoning that would be more applicable to a church. Church uses would be "permitted by right" with business zoning, rather than "permitted by special use" with residential zoning. He said he believes business zoning is more logical than residential for the intended use. Town Attorney Gary Shupp noted that the board could not place conditions limiting future land use or ownership if it approved a rezoning to business.

Green said that if the property stays residential, the town could place conditions on future changes "permitted by special use." On the other hand, the town could not require the church to submit a landscaping plan as a part of an expansion request if the R-2 zoning is retained, but could require a plan if rezoned to business.

Green said that the town could create community facility zoning through a new ordinance, but it would take months to draft the wording, approve the ordinance, and then hold new zoning hearings by the Planning Commission and BOT. Shupp said there was no legal requirement to write a new ordinance for a new type of zoning because churches are allowed in any zone.

Bucher offered to replat the property into a single "unified" plat if it was rezoned to business, so that selling a piece in the future would require BOT review of the required future replat request. However, the board would still not see any church expansion plans due to B zoning regardless of the unified plat. Trustee Frank Orten asked how a unified business plat would affect the three houses. Shupp said that the three homes would become pre-existing non-conforming uses if the plat were unified.

Kassawara said that if all the individual lots within the property were eliminated by Bucher’s unified replat proposal, the church still could not build a liquor or convenience store on the property under business zoning without BOT approval. He noted that there is no mention of master site plans in the business zoning ordinance.

Plank made a motion to deny the request; Mertz seconded. Plank said the members of the board have changed since the education facility was approved and some trustees have "discomfort" with what the church may want to do. Glenn supported the motion to deny approval of the rezoning, and said he didn’t want the town to be "stuck in the future. Our responsibility is to be consistent with other developers."

Trustee Gail Drumm said he was only concerned about the property being sold to a commercial developer and was grateful the town could use the church parking lot for parades and other town events.

Green suggested tabling the motion so that the church could consider seeking Planned Development (PD) rezoning with a PD master site plan for greater town control. Planning Commissioner Lowell Morgan asked if a request for PD rezoning would have to be accompanied by the PD master site plan. Green said no, but a PD master site plan would be required before any expansion or new construction would be considered by the town after PD rezoning was approved. Kassawara said a PD rezoning request would require starting the hearing process over again.

Miller asked if a new hearing would be required if the town created the suggested new zoning category called community facility zoning. Shupp said it would take at least 60 days to pass the new zoning ordinance. New hearings with the Planning Commission and BOT would be required after that.

Shupp also noted that the church could not bring back a request for business rezoning for a minimum of one year if the motion to deny business rezoning was approved. Glenn asked Bucher if he wanted to withdraw the request and seek PD zoning with a master plan. He said no.

The motion to deny the rezoning request failed by vote of (3-4). Glenn, Mertz, and Plank voted to deny. Drumm, Travis Easton, Miller, and Orten opposed the denial.

During further lengthy discussion, Drumm made a motion to table the business rezoning request; Easton seconded. During discussion on that motion, Green said that the types of zoning questions raised by the trustees are typical for churches, hospitals, and community colleges in residential zones and called the problem "institutional creep." The motion to table was later withdrawn when a date could not be agreed upon for another hearing on this proposal.

After more discussion, Glenn and Green suggested that the church withdraw the proposal, and come back with a request for one of the three following options:

  • a PD master site plan and a request for PD rezoning

  • a voluntary master plan, a request for a unified plat for all the subdivided lots, and a request for business rezoning

  • a request to rezone to a new category, community facilities or institutional zoning

Glenn also noted that the membership of the BOT might change again after the April election.

Bucher withdrew the application after noting that the church had no plan to "abandon the property and build a strip mall." He said he wanted to ensure that there was plenty of time for the church and staff to resolve all the trustees’ issues before he returns with a new rezoning request.

Carriage Point West approved

Kassawara described the Classic Homes single-family patio home community proposal. The new development will have 39 lots on 12.55 acres, a density of just over three houses per acre. There is a single entrance at the intersection of Lyons Tail Road and Lacuna Drive, adjacent to Classic’s existing Carriages at Jackson Creek development to the east. The two developments will be connected by an extension of Whistler Creek Court, which will be the secondary access for emergency vehicles. Each of the streets for internal circulation will have a 50-foot right-of-way. Kassawara recommended no conditions for the plat.

Preliminary Plat approved: Land Planner John Maynard, of NES. Inc. said Classic would offer the same product line of homes in the new development. Each lot has been designed for a specific "Carriage Park" series model. The new Classic development is also zoned PRD-10, which would have allowed Classic to build over three times as many dwelling units in both locations. Mertz praised Classic for the "laudable" low density in both developments.

Glenn asked for a condition on the plat for creation of a landscaping easement for all the rear lots facing Baptist Road, to prevent homeowners from removing the buffer to make their backyards larger. Maynard agreed to the condition, noting that the buyer profile is for purchasers who don’t want to maintain a large backyard. Maynard and Kassawara noted that these lots are deeper than the others to provide a buffer for Baptist. Due to the steep slope at the southern property line, additional screening by a fence is not possible. (At its Jan. 25 meeting, the Triview Metropolitan District board agreed to maintain the vegetation and supply irrigation.)

During the public participation portion of the plat hearing, Carriages at Jackson Creek resident Bill Weaver asked if there was a master traffic plan for Jackson Creek. Glenn said, "The Regency Park Master Plan includes a master traffic plan for the whole area." Kassawara noted that Classic’s traffic study was part of the application. It shows no degradation in the level of service at nearby major intersections due to the additional 39 homes.

The ordinance for the Preliminary Plat and landscaping easement condition passed unanimously.

Final PD Site Plan approved: Kassawara pointed out the features recommended by the staff that Classic had already agreed to.

Site visibility for property owners in the Carriages at Jackson Creek development to the east will be protected by lowering the grade of the lots on the east side of Carriage Point West. "There will be roofs" where there were fields, but they won’t block the view of the mountains "in any great amount. All the new homes will be one story."

Classic agreed to cut the area that is sod on each lot in half and install more drought-tolerant vegetation on each lot.

Classic agreed to increase the rear setbacks for all new lots adjacent to the Carriages at Jackson Creek development. There is now a minimum of 60 feet of separation between new and existing homes, much more than typical for a patio home development.

Kassawara recommended three conditions for the site plan:

  • The developer must provide a signed copy of the Subdivision Improvement Agreement with Triview Metropolitan District to the town. The town has no control over Triview agreements, but needs a copy for its records.

  • The installation of only a single cluster mailbox for deliveries for all 39 homes must be approved by the U.S. Postal Service.

  • The developer must provide a signed letter from Triview Metropolitan District stating that streetlights will be installed to Triview standards.

Kassawara said written comments other than "don’t build" included concerns about views and creation of a pocket park on one of the home lots. He said there is no active park in the development because it is designed for owners who do not usually have small children living in their homes. He added that there is a children’s park by Creekside Middle School and one in Settler’s Ridge, but there are no large parks currently being planned by Triview or Vision Development due to mouse habitat constraints. Triview may build and maintain some pocket parks in some future Jackson Creek neighborhoods. If the BOT decides to require a residential lot be dedicated as a park as a condition of approval, Kassawara asked that the condition include the phrase "subject to Triview Metropolitan District approval and agreement to maintain it."

Glenn said he was initiating a new step in the town’s hearing process by asking trustees if they had any financial interest or benefit in this development proposal. None were noted.

Maynard agreed to Kassawara’s three conditions but not to converting Lot 39 to a park. He noted he had designed the park next to Creekside Middle School and pointed out it was built in "a larger Classic development with more homes and a different buyer profile." He said that the Carriage Point West development was too small to justify an active park. Maynard noted the planned owner profile might call for a passive park in a large community, but most Carriages owners will prefer to sit on their patios rather than a nearby park bench. He said that Triview was not aware of the Planning Commission recommendation for a park on Lot 39 "until today."

Mertz again complimented Classic on the overall design of the plan, but said that there has been a problem getting parks in Jackson Creek. He said that all applicants say their development is "not big enough to justify a park." Triview and Vision Development have done nothing to develop a regional park. "I’m tired of it. It’s been a pet peeve of mine since 1999." He said it did not have to be a playground, just a park bench for people who like to walk and take a break. Mertz quoted a statement from Classic’s summary attached to the site plan that said, "Recreational opportunities are prevalent in and around the site." Mertz said to Maynard, "That really is a false statement."

Miller asked how many kids would live in the two developments. Maynard said he didn’t have that specific information.

Drumm asked how high above ground level the floor in the homes would be. Maynard said the homes would have full 10-foot basements with standard excavation depths, and they would not be "perched homes." He said that there are no water table problems on the parcel that would require a shallow foundation. Kassawara said the slope of the land would not support a raised ranch configuration.

Glenn said the slope would help avoid drainage problems except where lots 15 and 16 drain into lot 14. Kassawara said he had addressed this problem and had required an amended lot-to-lot drainage plan and a final "as-built" drainage survey, paid for by Classic. This will be a new town policy for future developments as well.

Glenn asked that Classic’s drainage plans be coordinated with BRRTA’s engineering consultant PBS&J. He noted that some people who live next to parks don’t like them.

No citizens spoke in favor or opposition. Two residents of Carriages at Jackson Creek asked questions during public participation.

Rick Mack said he had surveyed each of the 23 existing homes in his development and found that nine homeowners have children or grandchildren living with them, three other homes have teenagers, and six others have frequent visits by small children or grandchildren. Mack asked whether the views of any of the existing homes would be blocked. Kassawara said, "Not substantially."

Frank Yarberry noted that the new retaining wall on the east end of the new construction would require rerouting of his rear landscape drainage. Kassawara said he had followed up on Yarberry’s same comment at the Planning Commission hearing and had told Classic’s drainage engineer that he needed to provide a solution for Yarberry. Kassawara assured Yarberry that his drainage "will be rerouted so it works."

In rebuttal, Maynard said Classic was in favor of large ball field regional parks and that he had helped design the Jackson Creek "field of dreams" that was eliminated when the Preble’s mouse was classified as an endangered species. He said that the two Carriages developments were separate proposals because of land purchase problems, not because Classic wanted to avoid building a pocket park. Glenn said he believed people in the existing Carriages development "would be hard-pressed" to walk to a pocket park in the new development.

Drumm noted that citizen interest in maintenance of neighborhood parks or trails by HOAs in other developments have dwindled over time. This pattern of neglect resulted in citizen complaints that forced the town to take over their care.

Shupp said it would be difficult to force Classic to convert Lot 39 to a park if the area meets open-space requirements. Kassawara concurred and said that Jackson Creek and Regency Park already meet Triview’s master plan requirement for open space.

Miller made a motion for an amendment to the site plan requiring Classic to dedicate a residential lot for a park; Mertz seconded. The amendment was defeated by a vote of 2-5, with only Miller and Mertz in favor. A motion approving the ordinance for the site plan and the three conditions that Maynard had agreed to passed (5-2), with Miller and Mertz opposed.

Lake of the Rockies Sketch Plan rejected again

Glenn started the discussion by saying that the trustees would not have to vote on the plan; they could choose to only provide recommendations.

The proposed sketch plan was largely unchanged from the proposal that was unanimously rejected by the Planning Commission on Dec. 14. The commissioners were opposed primarily due to its high density and the limited amount of legally available groundwater under the parcel. They also thought the proposed new houses would increase the current isolation of the public from the lake.

Landowner BK-LOR, LLC proposes to convert the Lake of the Rockies parcel from a campground to residential by applying for a "use by special review" under the existing Planned Commercial Development zoning. Kassawara pointed out the changes in the proposal since the Planning Commission hearing.

The town’s water engineer revised his original estimate of the available water supply from 206 to 196 taps. The size of the lots immediately adjacent to the West Oak Ridge subdivision was increased, to adjust for not having as many taps. Adjacent residents of West Oak Ridge had complained about the density of the entire proposal and the lack of transition to their larger R-2 lots. Elsewhere, the densities of four to six houses per acre were unchanged.

Town water consultant Bruce Lytle of Lytle Water Solutions, LLC, reported on Jan. 6 that the total available water is now 98.2 acre-feet per year due to the change in size of the parcel; it has been increased by the addition of 3.1 acres and is now 70.1 acres. Ordinarily this would authorize 196 taps at the 0.5 acre-feet per year rate for small downtown residential lots.

However, Lytle advised the town that the three large lots proposed for the 8.15-acre lots, which are just west of the Monument Lake dam, should be allocated 1.0 acre-feet per year, twice as much as a small urban lot, so that the landowners would not exceed their use limit. This exception would reduce the maximum number of available taps to 194, if adopted.

Lytle also pointed out in his Jan. 6 letter that none of the water under the property in the Denver aquifer had ever been adjudicated in water court and could not be used by the town, further limiting the available water supply to the parcel.

Kassawara said the applicant has now proposed to provide a wider right-of-way for a boulevard from the main entrance on Mitchell Avenue. This east-west road through the center of the parcel would serve as a replacement for the existing "park lane" access to the lake along the northern fenced boundary of the campground. In the latest proposal, a second north-south road along the lake was added at the west end of the main access boulevard. Both new roads would have parking for visitors. Kassawara noted that the originally proposed ¾-acre open space at the end of this main east-west access was not reduced in size to make room for the additional roadway.

The park lane category was created as part of a lakefront property land swap that was negotiated by former mayor Betty Konarski and campground owner Ernie Biggs several years ago. This park lane is actually a dirt driveway that is still the only public access to the lake. It did not meet any existing town code roadway designation standards when created, so the park lane category was created to make it a legal access. It is narrow, with a 180-degree switchback and a sharp 90-degree turn that both preclude visibility to oncoming traffic. Kassawara said the park lane access is "putrid. It’s really bad, it’s very steep, and not graded well."

Kassawara said the increase in population near Front Street might provide a larger geographic base for downtown retail development. It might also help the town obtain a downtown commuter rail stop when the coal and freight train operations are rerouted to a new rail line to the east of town. He said the applicant believes the younger potential buyers of the more affordable homes on the north end of the Lake of the Rockies parcel would walk across the railroad tracks to Front Street stores on a sidewalk to be built by the developer. They would also commute to work on Second Street past downtown specialty shops, new restaurants, cafes, and art galleries—further increasing the potential downtown customer base.

The added 3.1 acres is located between the railroad tracks and Mitchell Avenue, just south of Second Street. It is one of the parcels that the town had originally considered purchasing from the railroad for expanding Limbach Park.

The applicant suggested that the town use it for stormwater detention and a northbound deceleration lane for Mitchell Avenue. The long deceleration right-turn lane would "stack" an increased number of northbound cars wanting to turn right onto Second Street during routine freight train passages.

There would also be new deceleration lanes on southbound Mitchell Avenue for both of the development’s accesses as well as new left-turn lanes to prevent stoppages of northbound traffic.

Kassawara listed two recommended conditions of approval for the sketch plan. He said the applicant should rezone the property to PD and concurrently submit a preliminary PD site plan. PD zoning more closely conforms to the intended downtown land use for this parcel in the town’s comprehensive plan. He also said the applicant has to provide a more detailed traffic study with the preliminary PD site plan.

Kassawara noted that there were 35 written comments: 29 against, 1 "absolutely against," 3 for, and 2 "no opinion—not enough information provided." Many of the comments against were several pages in length.

Tim Seibert of NES Inc. spoke for the applicant. He gave the same PowerPoint presentation he gave at the Planning Commission and included the updates noted by Kassawara.

Several town and county residents who live next to the property or Monument Lake spoke in opposition during a lengthy public participation period. Their complaints, often passionate, were:

  • "Who’s speaking for the lake? I can hear the money speaking."

  • No other town would allow such overwhelmingly high density that eliminates awareness and usefulness of the lake by the public rather than maintaining character and quality of the lake.

  • This is a negotiation for maximum possible density, not a plan hearing.

  • Landowner is not concerned with harm to adjacent property values of R-2 downtown neighbors or large lot neighbors in Shiloh Pines.

  • The town doesn’t recognize that the lake is rural, not urban.

  • There is no access to landlocked western lots without residential lot condemnations that make a cul-de-sac a through street.

  • Who pays for the condemnation and maintenance of the access to the town lots on the west side of the dam since they are only accessible from a county road?

  • There is no site plan, just a request to get the maximum possible number of residential water taps.

  • A major portion of the water for the development is legally unusable.

  • Laramie-Foxhills water (the bottom of the four Denver Basin aquifers) is more costly to drill for and treat as the town reaches buildout and the limit of available groundwater.

  • Lakeside property owners noted how often they had to voluntary clean up trash and dead fish by the campground and put out campfires on their property.

  • The proposed development will eliminate wildlife by and in the lake.

  • There is no connection to the Santa Fe Trail system.

  • There is no place to stack additional westbound traffic on Second Street, which already blocks Front Street during a train crossing.

  • The average number of train crossings is not a typical daily number because the tracks are so frequently closed for repairs.

  • People won’t walk from the development to downtown because none of the stores serves everyday needs (such as hardware or grocery stores).

  • Safety is compromised because large vehicles will only use Second Street to cross the railroad tracks and more cars will be stacked from the north and the south ends of Mitchell Avenue.

  • Large vehicles will not use Monument Lake Road, "a two-lane crummy county road."

  • "How can Mr. Seibert say that a lack of adequate downtown parking creates an exciting atmosphere?"

  • Trails are unusable without delisting the mouse.

  • The town should buy the property and make it a park.

In rebuttal, Seibert said he had designed successful downtown renovation plans and this plan had the right location and mix of housing to improve downtown sales tax revenues. He said he had talked to Union Pacific, and they told him there are four to six train crossings from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.

The trustees generally concurred with many of the comments in opposition, while acknowledging that the landowner had a right to develop the commercial parcel. Most would prefer that there be some commercial on the property to generate sales tax revenue. Seibert said there is not enough traffic on Mitchell Avenue to support any business on the property.

Miller said he didn’t know there was a lake there until he read the proposal because of the existing development and wondered why the board even considered the proposal after unanimous denial by the Planning Commission. Drumm said that the lake "is in a hole" and couldn’t be seen from Mitchell Avenue or downtown. It would not be visible from most of the proposed new houses on the parcel even if they were approved. Glenn said the parcel’s two accesses on Mitchell Avenue were too close together for such a major road.

After the other trustees expressed their many concerns, Glenn said he would rather not have the board vote on the proposal since only comments are required for a sketch plan.

In other matters, the board unanimously approved:

  • a resolution authorizing former mayor Betty Konarski to begin investigating the feasibility of a plan to display public art in the downtown area in conjunction with Tri-Lakes Views

  • a resolution authorizing a revised and more complete list of fees for services provided by the town during 2006

  • a proclamation declaring Jan. 28 George Kruse Day in recognition of a lifetime of service to the community, particularly for seniors as an advocate of affordable housing. Kruse passed away at the age of 94 in late December.

The board unanimously approved a new liquor license for Casa Diego’s restaurant at 1455 Cipriani Loop, in the new Tuscan Hills Center just west of Knollwood Drive. There were no citizen or trustee comments. Owners Walter and Marie Terrones said the restaurant will specialize in authentic homemade Mexican meals.

The board unanimously approved a payment of $17,500 for Task Two of the town’s Stormwater Master Plan.

The meeting adjourned after staff reports at 11:15 p.m. The next meeting of the Monument Board of Trustees will be Feb. 6 at 6:30 p.m., at the Learning Center at Lewis-Palmer Administration Building, 2nd and Jefferson. The location for this session was changed due to a large audience expected for the Promontory Pointe annexation hearing. For information, phone 884-8017.

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Monument Planning Commission, January 11: Timbers at Monument approved

Below: At the Monument Planning Commission hearing Jan. 11, Dave Hammers describes construction materials planned for the clock tower at the Timbers at Monument development. Commissioners pictured are (L to R) Vince Hamm, Tim Martin, Patricia Mettler, and Kathy Spence. Photo by Jim Kendrick

Click here or on the photo to zoom in and view or download the Timbers plans

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Planning Commission approved the revised Preliminary Plat and Preliminary PD Site Plan for the Timbers at Monument commercial and retail development on the west side of Jackson Creek Parkway, south of the Home Depot store. This was the first meeting for newly appointed commissioners Patricia Mettler and Tom Martin. Ed Delaney and Kathy Spence were unanimously re-appointed Chair and Vice Chair. Commissioner Carl Armijo was absent.

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara reviewed the commissioners’ powers and duties listed in Chapter 2.40 of the town code. Their appointments are for two years.

Kassawara noted that the commissioners perform the initial reviews of planned developments and make recommendations to the Board of Trustees (BOT) on whether to approve the plans. The commission may also recommend conditions of approval to the BOT in addition to those suggested by the town staff.

The commission may also review changes to previously approved development plans and plats that are considered by the staff to be more than minor in nature. The staff can give administrative approval to minor changes without review by the commission or the BOT.

Kassawara said that for heavily attended hearings, the commissioners may enforce a time limit of three minutes for each citizen’s comments in order to keep the public comment portion of public hearings moving and to limit redundant comments. He added that citizens are allowed to speak only once, and only during the public participation phase. There is no requirement in the town code to allow citizens to make rebuttals. He noted that a citizen had complained at a recent BOT meeting about not being able to rebut a developer’s rebuttal to citizen comments at a Planning Commission hearing.

Kassawara said the staff’s role in supporting the commissioners is to provide facts, technical judgments, and guidance on ordinances. The commissioners’ job is to make recommendation decisions, based on the facts of the proposal, town ordinances and policies, their judgment on proposed land use, density, future growth, and the ability to provide required services to the development. Evaluating design guidelines and subdivision improvement agreements, as well as plats and site plans, are also part of their responsibilities. Commissioners should deny proposals with care; property owners have a right to build on their land. Minutes of the Planning Commission hearings on each development are provided to the trustees when the BOT holds their hearing on the proposal.

Kassawara said there might be disagreements among the commissioners, but they should each speak their mind, make their own decision based on the facts, and not take differences personally. He also noted that the BOT might differ on a project as well, noting unanimous rejection of the Wahlborg re-plat on Jan. 3 after a unanimous approval by the commission on Dec. 14. He said the commission would review the revised Wahlborg plat for the commercial filing again, as well as the new site plan, in March. "The developer was not happy, but the system works."

Kassawara also pointed out that the BOT recently delegated referrals from the county to the commission. Referrals ask for the town’s comments on adjacent county development proposals.

Shupp advised the commissioners that their role in annexation and development hearings is quasi-judicial. The applicant has the burden of proof to show their plans meet public needs and comply with the town code. The developer and landowner have a legal right of rebuttal. He said that zoning reviews are legislative in nature. He urged the commissioners to avoid contact with applicants outside of the hearing process and the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Timbers at Monument

Kassawara reviewed the facts and history of the Timbers development for the new commissioners. The land is owned by two companies A.D.K. Developers, LLC of Colorado Springs and Phoenix Bell Associates of Tucson, AZ. The land planner and developer is Dave Hammers of Hammers Construction. The engineering consultant for Hammers at town hearings is Trustee Travis Easton, a civil engineer employed by Nolte Associates, Inc. of Colorado Springs.

The 73.5-acre L-shaped Timbers parcel is bounded by Monument Marketplace to the north, Jackson Creek Parkway to the east, Baptist Road to the southeast, the Watt parcel to the southwest, and Struthers Road to the west. The Timbers property "wraps around" the north and east side of the Watt parcel, the current location of Foxworth-Galbraith. The southeast portion of the parcel is unusable due to Jackson Creek drainage, a floodplain, and Preble’s mouse habitat; the unusable area is clearly depicted on the plat and site plan. Hammers added a trail to the plat between this unusable area and Timbers Boulevard in response to Vision Development’s Rick Blevins’ request at the Dec. 14 Planning Commission hearing. The trail connects Baptist Road to Lyons Tail Road and will be maintained by Hammers.

Hammers proposed to subdivide its parcel into four commercial and retail lots and build up to 352,000 square feet of space. There are four interior private road segments and accesses to Baptist Road and Jackson Creek Parkway.

Timbers Boulevard intersects Baptist Road roughly 300 feet east of Watt’s parcel, and extends north, then northwest around the northeast corner of the Watt parcel, to a circle. Another segment of Timbers Boulevard extends northeast from this circle to intersect Jackson Creek Parkway at the common boundary with the Marketplace, by Rowdao Drive. A road called Lodgepole Ridge Heights extends west from the circle. It intersects Breezy Pine View, a new road parallel to I-25 at the west end of the Timbers parcel. Breezy Pine View replaces Struthers Road within the Timbers parcel.

There will be left-turn and right-turn lanes from Jackson Creek Parkway onto Timbers Boulevard and an acceleration lane for right turns from the boulevard onto southbound Jackson Creek Parkway.

There are eight lanes planned at the intersection of Timbers Boulevard and Baptist Road, though only two lanes can connect to the existing bridge over I-25. On westbound Baptist Road, there will be a dedicated "right lane must turn right" lane between Jackson Creek Parkway and Timbers Boulevard. There will also be a "right-out only" acceleration lane from Timbers Boulevard onto westbound Baptist Road, leading directly to the right lane of the two-lane on-ramp for northbound I-25. In addition, there are three other westbound through lanes, three eastbound through lanes, plus a left-turn lane from eastbound Baptist to northbound Timbers Boulevard at this intersection. There is no traffic signal planned at this intersection because the new intersection is too close to the existing Jackson Creek Parkway traffic signal to meet county standards for a major arterial of at least a half-mile spacing.

No announcement has been made on how Baptist will be temporarily configured before the new bridge over I-25 is installed. The grade of the new bridge is 7 to 8 feet higher than the current bridge and some portion of the widening by the Timbers main entrance may have to be a temporary road. The old bridge is only two lanes wide with no left turn lane. The preliminary site plan shows two westbound and two eastbound through lanes and a westbound left turn lane leading to the old bridge.

The proposal was continued at the end of the hearing at the Dec. 14 Planning Commission meeting to give Hammers more time to resolve cross-access issues with Monument Marketplace to the north and Mike Watt’s Higby Subdivision development to the southwest.

Background: Kassawara said a condition of approval for the original Monument Marketplace master plan was to establish two internal connections with the Timbers parcel along their common boundary. The accesses would allow motorists to travel between the developments without having to use Jackson Creek Parkway. One proposed access was to be near Jackson Creek Parkway; the other just west of the Home Depot. No agreement had been reached between Timbers and the Marketplace developer, Vision Development, at the Dec. 14 hearing.

Access to the Watt parcel is currently provided by Struthers Road. However, Struthers Road north of Baptist Road will be closed when the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) reconstructs the Baptist Road exit for I-25. CDOT will eliminate the intersection of Struthers Road with its portion of Baptist Road and the existing traffic light to provide room for the new northbound on-ramp and off-ramp. Both ramps will be two lanes wide. The Timbers Boulevard intersection with Baptist Road is part of the interchange and belongs to CDOT rather than to the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA).

The portion of Struthers Road south of this eliminated intersection will be re-routed to the east by the county to connect with the intersection of Jackson Creek Parkway and Baptist Road, a part of BRRTA.

The portion of Struthers Road within the Timbers parcel will be removed and replaced by Breezy Pine View in roughly the same location. Breezy Pine View will extend north into the Marketplace just west of Home Depot as the required western cross-access.

The Watt parcel is subdivided into three lots. To prevent the Watt parcel from becoming landlocked when its access to Struthers Road is abandoned, each of its three lots must have a new access through the Timbers development.

Lot 1 is the largest lot, to the south. It is currently occupied by various buildings leased by Foxworth-Galbraith. The hardware outlet has announced that it is closing in a few months. Hammers and Watt had already agreed on construction of an east-west private access road from Timbers Boulevard to the east edge of lot 1. This new access, Gnarled Oak Drive, appears to run through three of the existing Foxworth-Galbraith buildings in the storage lot. It does not connect to the other two Watt lots, however.

The unresolved access issue on Dec. 14 was a separate access for lots 2 and 3 to the north of the hardware store. They are narrow vacant rectangular lots that extend eastward from the northwest corner of Lot 1, on Struthers Road, to the northeast corner of lot 1.

At the Dec. 14 hearing, Watt said he wanted Hammers to construct another access road from Timbers Boulevard to lots 2 and 3. Hammers said he did not want to give up this valuable commercial land or pay for a second road to the Watt parcel. He took the position that there is access from Jackson Creek Parkway or Baptist Road via Timbers Boulevard to Lodgepole Ridge Heights to Breezy Pine View. Hammers suggested that Watt use the existing segment of Struthers Road in front of his three lots to connect to the south end of Breezy Pine View in the Timbers parcel. Watt said that this method of access was too lengthy and too circuitous to be practical and would degrade the market value of his two vacant commercial lots. A lengthy attempt by the commissioners and staff to negotiate a resolution between Hammers and Watt during the Dec. 14 hearing failed and Hammers’ proposal was continued.

Preliminary Plat approved: Kassawara said the commissioners were to evaluate the development’s boundary layout, access, easements, roads, and internal circulation in reviewing the Preliminary Plat. Once the preliminary plat is approved, individual plats for each of the four subdivided lots would be brought to the Planning Commission and BOT for separate reviews and approvals. He added that there had been no comments on the plat from any referral agencies or citizens.

Kassawara recommended as a condition of approval that Hammers provide written approval from Watt for Hammers to vacate a water easement that runs east from Struthers Road just north of the full length of the northern boundary of Watt’s parcel.

Commissioner Lowell Morgan asked Hammers how the access issues had been resolved. Hammers said he had met with Rick Blevins, Development Manager for Vision Development, and resolved the flow issues for moving and widening Rowdao Drive. Hammers added that Watt had agreed to an access proposal as well.

One of the Timbers land owners, Darel Tiegs, said that he had negotiated an agreement with Watt and CDOT to synchronize their plans for temporary widening of their portion of Baptist Road, west of the bridge over Jackson Creek, and Hammers’ construction of the south end of Timbers Boulevard with BRRTA’s construction of their portion of Baptist Road, west of Jackson Creek Parkway. This agreement will save considerable time and expense during construction of the initial portion of the interchange improvement. If the interchange improvement can be expeditiously financed by private bonds through BRRTA, greater savings can be achieved.

Tiegs did not say how Watt’s access needs had been met. Watt attended the meeting and did not comment. Tiegs said the "complicated accord" would be completed by Feb. 1. Watt and Hammers had to dedicate considerable right-of-way to CDOT for the road to be widened from two to seven lanes, including land inside the existing southern Foxworth-Galbraith fence line.

Kassawara noted that Vision Development had agreed to a common access with the Marketplace by connecting Timbers Boulevard to the existing Rowdao Drive. This access would be wider than the existing roadway and become a public right-of-way, subject to review and approval by Triview Metropolitan District, as a second condition of approval. Triview would accept responsibility for its maintenance after this common access meets all inspection requirements.

Morgan asked what Watt’s new access would be and if it would be shown on the site plan. Kassawara said a second east-west access road would be built north of Gnarled Oak Drive and connect to the east end of Watt’s lot 3. Access for lot 2 was not discussed.

There were no citizen comments on the preliminary plat. The plat was unanimously approved with the two conditions noted above.

Site Plan approved: Kassawara noted that the development’s design guidelines and subdivision improvement agreements (SIA) were as important as the many pages of the site plan, because they would control the "look of the parking lots and buildings" even though no one knows what the development will look like. All on-site roadways are private roads that will be maintained by an association of the property owners. The one exception is the cross-access of Rowdao Drive intersecting Timbers Boulevard within the Monument Marketplace just west of Jackson Creek Parkway, which will be a public right-of-way.

Hammers requested that the PID (planned industrial development) portion of the property be changed to PCD (planned commercial development) to simplify their design guidelines, which establish the development’s architectural controls.

Kassawara noted that CDOT had asked in its referral comments that the revised traffic impact analysis performed by Hammers’ consultant not be approved until the updated report had been reviewed by the county’s Department of Transportation and CDOT. SEH, Inc., the town’s traffic consultant also reviews the developer’s traffic study.

Kassawara said the "water feature design" at the main entrance to the project on Baptist Road would be presented to the Planning Commission and BOT for review and approval at a later date.

Kassawara recommend 10 conditions of approval:

  1. "The applicant shall modify any details regarding layout, dimensions, etc. on the engineering plans, or on revised PD site plans via a minor amendment, as necessary to address any issues that may arise prior to the Town Staff’s final approval of the plans for this project.

  2. A detailed cost breakdown for the interim Baptist Road improvements required for this project must be provided.

  3. The rezoning request must satisfy any conditions related to an amendment to the Regency Park Zoning Map, if required.

  4. The first certificate of occupancy will not be issued for the project until all offsite improvements are completed and accepted by the Triview Metropolitan District and the town.

  5. Additional landscape buffering adjacent to project property lines and/or roadways will be required to be shown on the site plan for each individual parcel.

  6. Town Staff must approve the SIA [Subdivision Improvement Agreement] between the Timbers at Monument and Triview Metropolitan District and all its conditions.

  7. Timbers Boulevard/Rowdao Drive must be completed and open to traffic prior to issuance of the first certificate of occupancy for the project. This will include the installation of a fully warranted functioning traffic signal at the Jackson Creek Parkway intersection, when warrants permit the installation.

  8. The final traffic impact study must be approved by SEH, Inc., Town Staff, El Paso County, and CDOT.

  9. Approval is subject to final approval by the Major Thoroughfare Task Force (MTTF) of the Timbers Boulevard/Baptist Road intersection configuration. This item is scheduled to be heard by the MTTF on Jan. 20, 2006.

  10. Approval is subject to final approval of engineering plans by Staff."

Kassawara noted that the conditions did not mean that the issues had not been resolved. Rather, they are written into the agreements to provide safeguards for the town for enforcement during construction.

Kassawara said Blevins had questioned the Hammers condition that no left turns would be allowed from Timbers Boulevard onto northbound Rowdao Drive. Kassawara suggested that it was important to keep traffic between the two developments off Jackson Creek Parkway but not if safety would be compromised at this intersection.

Martin asked why there was still latitude in the design guidelines for industrial uses as a conditional use after rezoning to commercial. Kassawara said this conditional use would allow for an option to build an office warehouse building. The application for the conditional use would require hearings before the Planning Commission and BOT for approval.

Hammers pointed out that his main entrance was actually part of the CDOT interchange as well as part of BRRTA’s improvements. He is happy to participate in financing the interchange improvements with a Public Improvement Fee (PIF). No one will be able to do business with Hammers without signing an agreement to participate in the PIF.

Commissioner John Kortgarndner asked how long the private bonds might be in effect if CDOT did not pay off the principal as promised. Hammers said they could run as long as 25 to 30 years. The PIF would probably be 0.375 to 0.5 percent. Any negative effect of the PIF is minimized by all businesses participating. Hammers said some established "Mom and Pop stores" might not participate. Kassawara said that the big retailers need all the Baptist Road improvements to get enough traffic to be successful; they "tend to flock to big interchanges."

Also, the town might add a full motion light at the main entrance to Timbers on Baptist Road in the future, after annexing Baptist Road.

Commissioner Kathy Spence asked that Hammers limit the number of fast food restaurants with drive-through windows. Hammers agreed to a limit of three, but reserved the right to come back and ask the Planning Commission and BOT for a site plan modification for a fourth. He added that the layout of the development did not lend itself to many fast food locations. "I don’t like them either, but may need to build some." He also didn’t expect anyone to build a full-time day care center but asked that no restriction against them be added.

During public comments, Ann Schmidtz said that the town should not be growing so rapidly without building a medical center for seniors and families with small children.

In his rebuttal, Hammers pointed out that he intends to build an office building that could have space compatible for a medical center as well as individual offices for doctors, dentists, and chiropractors.

The commission unanimously approved the Preliminary PD Site Plan with Kassawara’s 10 conditions, and Spence’s condition on no more than three fast food restaurants with drive-through windows. Additional restaurants can only be approved by special review of the Planning Commission and BOT.

Walter’s Common Filing 2 Plot Plan Referral

The commissioners concurred on Kassawara’s proposed letter to the county planning department that listed the following staff comments on the second filing in this Pulte Homes townhome development on the north side of Higby Road just east of Lewis-Palmer High School. Pulte is proposing to build 112 additional new townhomes on 13.79 acres. Filing 1 to the west has 178 townhomes., Kassawara’s recommended comments to the county were:

  1. A traffic signal should be strongly considered for the intersection of Bowstring and Higby Roads. At a minimum, it should be operational during peak student arrival and departure hours if there is not enough traffic to warrant 24 hour operation.

  2. The town concurs on reserving an additional 20 feet of right-of-way on the north side of Higby Road for future expansion.

  3. Construction traffic should be minimized during peak student arrival and departure hours.

  4. Detailed information regarding Higby Road improvements and any new access roads must be provided to the town.

  5. More information must be provided to the town regarding potential recreation areas in both filings.

  6. More information must be provided on Cloverleaf Road’s terminus and connections to other roads.

  7. Explain how this development is compatible with the PRD-2 and PRD-4 zoned properties to the south.

  8. Additional landscaping is needed along Higby Road to buffer this development from future developments to the south.

Spence and Morgan asked Kassawara to add a request that the county require sidewalks on the north side of Higby Road and throughout the development for children walking to school.

The meeting adjourned at 8:15 p.m.

**********

Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. in Town Hall, 166 Second St. OCN has learned that the February meeting has been cancelled due to a lack of agenda items.

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Palmer Lake Town Council, January 5: $179,000 road grader purchase approved

By Jim Kendrick

The Palmer Lake Town Council held a combined workshop and regular meeting, as well as a Liquor Licensing Authority meeting on Jan. 5. All members of the council were present.

Convening as the liquor licensing authority for the town, the trustees unanimously approved four special event liquor licenses for the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts. Three licenses were for concerts: Chuck Pyle on Jan. 29, Wendy Woo on Feb. 10, and the Barlow Group on Mar. 11. One license was for the opening of a water colors and pastels show called "Wet and Dry" on Feb. 10. The meeting adjourned at 7:10 p.m.

Mayor Nikki McDonald noted that workshop meetings are typically combined with the regular meetings on the second Thursday of the month when there are not enough issues to require both sessions. For January, the regular meeting was atypically combined with the workshop on the first Thursday so that the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts special event liquor license for Jan. 29 could be processed in time for the event. Liquor Licensing Authority meetings can be held at any time but are normally held before a scheduled Town Council meeting.

Fire Trustee Gary Coleman reported that Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department Chief Phillip Beckman was in Oklahoma helping fight brush fires, and that Nora Birt and Alex Farr were helping with animal rescue in New Orleans.

Coleman also noted that Model Railroader magazine had published an advertisement 18 months ago that depicted their new model diesel locomotives appearing to pass by Ben Lomond Mountain. Coleman had written to thank the magazine for the publicity. In response the Athern Model Train Company sent $100 worth of model fire trucks to raffle off at the 2004 chili supper, which raises money for maintenance of the town star. Coleman passed around a package of four Athern Roundhouse Series HO railroad passenger cars that included one marked Palmer Lake. It is now on display at the Palmer Lake post office.

Water Trustee Chuck Cornell reported November figures for the water department had produced 4,930,131 gallons of tributary water and 78,204 gallons of non-tributary water. Three taps were sold, bringing the total to 11 taps. The town received 0.23 acre-feet of wastewater credits.

Police Trustee Trudy Finan reported December figures for the police department. There were 107 calls for service, 5 custody arrests, 28 cases, 25 traffic citations, 22 traffic and dog warnings, and 1 dog citation. Finan also reported a quiet New Year.

Parks Trustee Trish Flake reported on the parking lot in Centennial Park. There are problems with the scrub oak by Highway 105 which should be removed to provide additional parking in accordance with the town’s cityscape plan. Flake suggested putting up a public notice to offer the scrub oak by O’Malley’s Pub to citizens who might want to replant it on their property.

Flake noted that a representative of the Colorado Tennis Association would like to attend a council meeting to present the $2,500 "Adopt a Court" Grant awarded to Palmer Lake and had re-scheduled to February. Resident Kim Makower, who gives tennis lessons at the town’s courts, said it was hard to schedule the executive director’s appearances and canceling the Jan. 12 meeting had placed him in an awkward position. He suggested holding a press conference on Jan. 12 in Town Hall at 7 p.m. with the trustees in attendance. They concurred. However, a few days later the press conference was cancelled by the association and the ceremony will now be held at a future council meeting. While at the podium Makower also submitted a letter to McDonald announcing his intention to run for mayor.

Economic Development Trustee Jim Girlando said he was researching strategies for plans to bring in new business.

Roads Trustee Max Parker reported that the town had received only one bid for a new grader for $179,000 from John Deere. The town will trade in its current model. The board unanimously approved the contract.

McDonald noted that all the council positions except Coleman’s would be up for election on Apr. 4 and the only person who had expressed interest in running was Makower.

The board unanimously approved a resolution to continue posting town meeting notices at the post office, town hall, and the town office building.

The board decided to withdraw a proposed ordinance to amend the town code definition of disturbed areas for mountainside home locations pending further research.

Jeff Hulsmann, owner of O’Malley’s pub, asked the council for help in expanding parking as earlier suggested by Flake. Currently there are signs that say only parallel parking is allowed on the park side of Highway 105 in the retail area. He said the businesses need the extra spaces that would be created by clearing out some of the trees and converting to head-in parking.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:05 p.m. The next regular council meeting will be held on Feb. 9, 7 p.m., in Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. Council workshops are normally held on the first Thursday of the month and Council meetings on the second Thursday.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, January 6: Wastewater treatment plant expansion "off and running"

By Sue Wielgopolan

Donala Manager Dana Duthie announced that construction on the wastewater facility expansion was finally "off and running."

Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) expansion underway

The Operations Coordination Committee—which consists of engineers and managers from the three owners of the Upper Monument Creek Regional WWTF, Donala, and Triview and Forest Lakes Metro districts, as well as plant superintendent Mike Poeckes—selected Weaver General Construction out of Golden as the general contractor.

The expansion will be done on a "design and build" basis; prequalified contractors were given specifications and sketch plans, with the idea that the winning bidder would assist in the final phases of the design process. Duthie praised the company’s preparedness, noting that Wes Weaver, owner and head of the company, had submitted a bid book with "half the expansion already designed" prior to his presentation.

Other factors influenced the committee’s decision. In addition to having constructed other sequencing batch reactor plants, Weaver is presently working on the Rueter-Hess Reservoir project under Parker Water and Sanitation manager Frank Jaeger, who is also a respected member of the PDWG.

Jeff Burst, Weaver Construction’s job superintendent, has had 30 years of experience with the company. This experience may also prove valuable in selecting an ultraviolet disinfection process. Weaver Construction’s familiarity with some of the UV processes under consideration will provide the committee with valuable input in helping decide which system to install.

Duthie informed members that work on the access road was well under way. Asphalt for the railroad crossing was being laid that day, and the electronic gate was scheduled to arrive by Monday. However, Union Pacific stopped crews from installing the railroad crossing warning signs, which had already been fabricated, and instead insisted that the plant install signs the railroad will supply.

Glacier Construction has received the beam that will be used to reinforce the small bridge across Jackson Creek on the plant access road. The bridge will be closed to traffic on Jan. 23 and 24 while the contractor drills shafts and pours the concrete pylons. Sludge trucks will not pick up loads during those dates. Duthie expects the bridge work to be completed by mid-February.

Donala to reduce loan amount for expansion to $5 million

Duthie told the board that the Colorado Water and Power Authority (CWPA) had conditionally approved Triview Metro District’s request for a $5 million low-interest loan to cover its half of the WWTF expansion. According to Duthie, approval of the loan was based on the metro district’s projected future income and was granted with the stipulation that all other note holders would agree to subordinate their loans.

Earlier in 2005, Triview withdrew its application after the original loan request was recommended for disapproval. Donala subsequently increased its CWPA loan request to $10 million, to cover the entire cost of the expansion, and gave Triview until year’s end to find funding to cover its share.

Duthie said that district financial advisor Joe Drew would reduce Donala’s loan amount from $10 million to $5 million.

District saves $173,000 through participation in power program

Duthie announced that by participating in Mountain View Electric Association’s Power Partners program, the district had saved $173,000 in electricity costs during 2005. During periods of peak power demand, a signal is sent from Mountain View, and Donala’s computerized system takes district equipment offline and switches over to auxiliary power. Mountain View is subsequently able to avoid purchasing additional power from the grid at a premium price to cover demand spikes.

Duthie said that the district had missed one month, because Mountain View had failed to transmit the necessary signal. Participation in the program does not automatically ensure large savings. If the participating partner fails to go offline during just one peak demand period, the discount for the entire month is invalidated.

Meter replacement program

Duthie provided an update on the status of the meter replacement program. After 10 years of use, water meters begin to lose their accuracy (usually measuring low), and the batteries powering the transponders that enable the district to remotely read the meters die. Since the current system uses transponders that are no longer supported by Badger, the old units are being replaced with the newer Badger Orion system, which is an integrated unit consisting of a transponder, battery, and meter.

The changeout was started last year on townhomes in the oldest area of the district. Technicians are currently working on homes along Westchester, Gleneagle, and Latrobe, and expect to have completed replacements in all residences on those streets by irrigation season.

Duthie told the board that the district realized a 19 percent increase in revenue as compared to the same 6-month period last year for those homes affected by the change. He postulated that the increase resulted from the greater accuracy of the new meters.

The board asked whether staff should consider stepping up the rate of replacement if the 19 percent increase was representative of the return Donala could expect. Duthie replied that each new unit costs approximately $350 to purchase and install, so the changeout represents a considerable investment. He has tried to minimize costs by working out the schedule so that Donala employees are able to install the units as their time allows.

Since many homeowners are gone during the day, the district has been offering the option of scheduling appointments for after-hours on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and all day Saturday. Duthie estimated that at the present rate, the program would take approximately 2 to 3 years to complete. He is considering hiring an additional part-time technician to speed the process.

Gayle Schendzielos was named employee of the quarter in recognition of her work in creating a program that compares residential water usage before and after meter and transponder replacement. Her program compared individual townhome water consumption from May through November 2004 with the same period in 2005 after the new units had been installed. She was awarded a plaque and a gift certificate to Cunningham’s Delicatessen.

Duthie said he would use Schendzielos’ program to compare readings for 2005 and 2006 on those homes whose meters are currently in the process of being replaced, to determine if the 19 percent increase was indicative of what Donala could expect districtwide.

2006 budget

Duthie reminded board members that because the state’s special district budget deadline is Jan. 31, Donala is able to incorporate final income and expense figures for 2005 in its submission. Since the county budget had already been authorized, two new resolutions adopting the budget and authorizing funds were needed. Since final figures were not yet in, the board authorized Vice President Ed Houle to sign the budget papers for the state when they are complete.

Duthie assured members that should any unanticipated adjustments to the budget be necessary, he would convene a special meeting of the directors.

El Paso County Water Authority (EPCWA)

Duthie reported that the EPCWA held annual elections for officers at its Jan. 4 meeting. Several of last year’s officers will serve another term. Larry Bishop of Widefield will again serve as president, Betty Konarski of Monument as vice president, and Duthie as treasurer. Ann Nichols of Forest Lakes will replace Stu Loosely of Cherokee as secretary.

Members-at-large include Roy Heald of Stratmoor and Al Testa of Colorado Center. Pat Ratliff was reappointed as the Authority’s lobbyist, and Gary Barber, who received a raise, will again serve as executive agent. Members also approved the budget for 2006.

The EPCWA will be getting a Web site, which will be sponsored and funded by El Paso County as a subset of its governmental Web site.

Since the Colorado Legislature had not convened its 2006 session, there was nothing to report regarding upcoming bills.

The nine river basin roundtables, which were mandated by HB05-1177 as part of the Statewide Water Supply Initiative, have each selected two members to sit on the Interbasin Compact Committee. The committee will help draft legislation providing for the equitable division of Colorado’s water resources. Though El Paso County is represented on three roundtables and the City of Colorado Springs on one, none of these members was chosen as a delegate to the Interbasin committee.

Governor Bill Owens will appoint six additional members to the Interbasin Compact Committee. Because Colorado Springs is the second-largest municipality in the state, and El Paso the largest county, city and county officials agree that at least one of those appointees should represent the area.

Wayne Williams, District 1 County Commissioner, intends to lobby Owens to secure at least one seat at the table. Though the Authority would like to see Barber appointed, Duthie told the board an official from Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) is a more likely choice.

Barber was appointed by the city of Colorado Springs and the county to the El Paso County Stormwater Committee. The city has requested the cooperation of outlying special districts in northern communities in its stormwater program as a condition of conducting future negotiations with those communities for the Southern Delivery System (SDS), even though these districts have no jurisdiction over stormwater.

Though Duthie contends that the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments is the governing body with the power to affect change in stormwater policy in member towns and metropolitan districts, Barber’s position on the Stormwater Committee signals a willingness on the part of EPCWA members to do what they can to assist the city in its efforts.

Authority members also discussed developments concerning the Southern Delivery System pipeline. Relations between Pueblo and Colorado Springs further deteriorated recently due to yet another sewage spill into Fountain Creek. Influential Pueblo citizens have previously voiced opposition to the pipeline; increasing frustration over periodic spills and their effects on downstream residents could reduce the likelihood that Pueblo County will grant the right-of-way necessary for pipeline construction.

Other alternatives to the SDS listed in the Environmental Impact Statement could be detrimental to Tri-Lakes residents. Colorado Springs has rights to drill into the same aquifers presently used to supply northern El Paso County residents with water. Should plans to build the SDS fall through, the city could drill as many as 48 wells into Denver Basin aquifers.

The next meeting of the EPCWA will take place on Feb. 1 at 9 a.m. in the 3rd floor meeting room of the El Paso County building, 27 E. Vermijo.

Palmer Divide Water Group

The Palmer Divide Water Group (PDWG) held elections for its slate of officers at its December meeting. Duthie did not seek reelection as the group’s chairman. Real estate broker and former Monument mayor Betty Konarski was elected to the position. Phil Steininger of Woodmoor will fill dual roles as vice-chairman and treasurer, and Ron Simpson will serve as secretary.

Duthie told the board that Gary Bostrom, CSU regional projects manager, and Jerry Forte, new CEO of Colorado Springs Utilities replacing recently retired Phil Tollefson, will talk to the group about the Southern Delivery System. Duthie encouraged Donala directors to attend the meeting, scheduled for Jan. 19 at the Triview building in Monument.

The topic of limiting membership in PDWG to agencies in the Arkansas basin (regions south of the Palmer Divide) was again discussed. Originally, membership was open to water providers in the region south of the Denver metro area and north of Colorado Springs that relied on Denver basin aquifers as their primary water supply; this encompassed segments of the South Platte and Arkansas river basins. Agencies joined forces with the hope that, together, they would have a better chance of procuring future surface water sources.

At that time, Tri-Lakes area providers had no idea whether surface water opportunities would come from the Western Slope, the Arkansas, or the South Platte drainage, and welcomed all interested participants.

Last year, the PDWG decided it did not have the financial resources to represent aquifer users in such a large area, and voted to concentrate its efforts on the Tri-Lakes region. At the same time, the group indicated its willingness to become dues-paying members of a larger group encompassing the area between south Denver and Colorado Springs if another agency would step forward and assume leadership.

No such consortium materialized. Parker Water and Sanitation, which had been an influential advocate and active member of the PDWG, rejoined the group. But because Parker is located in the South Platte basin, opponents of Tri-Lakes-area efforts to obtain Arkansas water through voluntary farmland fallowing objected to the possible transfer of water from one river basin drainage to another. Fearing that such accusations could scuttle any chance the area has of securing reliable surface water sources, some members proposed limiting membership to areas in the Arkansas drainage.

Other members pointed out that viable opportunities still exist to partner with Parker in obtaining alternative surface water sources. The group eventually decided to continue its existing membership policy.

Operations update

Plans to expand Baptist Road to four lanes between Jackson Creek Parkway and Desiree Drive call for hill cuts, which will expose Donala’s water lines in two or three places. Relocation of the lines will be at the district’s expense. Duthie raised objections with El Paso County, as the district had originally placed the lines based on the county’s own plans, but no reimbursement was offered.

Duthie told the board that AmWest would be setting the pump for Well 9A that day. All parts had been delivered. Some electrical and computer control lines had yet to be installed. The well should be fully operational by the end of January.

Henkle Drilling is scheduled to begin the redrill on Well 2D on Jan. 13. Surrounding neighbors were warned that drilling would take place around the clock and would involve the use of floodlights at night. Because the operation is occurring during a time of the year when homeowners keep their windows closed, the district hopes the noise will cause only minor inconvenience. Donala informed customers it "would consider" reimbursement for hotel rooms if the drilling operation proved too disruptive for some residents.

Four contractors intend to submit bids for rehabilitation work on Well 3D, including AmWest, which has performed similar services for the district before. Donala will select the contractor around the middle of the month, and work should be complete by the end of March. (Note: AmWest was awarded the contract.)

The district has received a road-cut permit for Lariat Lane from the county. Technician Troy Vialpondo will excavate the ditch needed to install the water line, which will serve four future inclusions in the Chaparral Hills subdivision. The work schedule is weather-dependent and will be completed sometime this spring.

District experiences greatest growth since 2000

Duthie told board members that Donala experienced a 9 percent growth rate this past year, its largest since 2000. The district added 210 homes in 2005. Duthie said he budgeted for 100 more homes in 2006 and that there are only 162 lots left, not counting the Brown Ranch.

New home water and sewer tap fees have been a major source of income for the district and have allowed Donala to build a considerable cash reserve. The reserve will be tapped in the future to fund capital improvement projects.

Development update

The new Erickson building across Struthers from People’s National Bank is nearly complete. Most of the units have been sold. The building will primarily house office space, with some retail on the lower level. Donala has sent letters to the new owners informing them that all commercial users need discharge permits to hook into Donala’s lines. The permit applications carry no fee, but do help Donala determine whether effluent could contain substances that could become problematic for the WWTF, such as grease from restaurant waste or silver involved in photographic developing.

The public portion of the meeting ended at 2:23 p.m., and members went into executive session to discuss negotiation strategies and personnel matters. The next regular meeting of the Donala board will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 1:30 p.m. at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Dr.

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Triview Metropolitan District, January 25: Monument interested in district’s park plan

By Jim Kendrick

All members of the board were present. Promontory Pointe attorney Duncan Bremer also attended. District Administrator Dale Hill was absent due to illnesses.

District Manager Ron Simpson said Monument’s Director of Development Services had asked Triview for its latest parks and recreation plans. Kassawara wanted to include them in an update of the 2003 Monument Parks, Trails, and Open Space Plan that had been requested by the Board of Trustees (BOT). The town board renewed its interest in its master plan while reviewing a new residential development on Lyons Tail Road.

Simpson noted that the town had considered requiring Classic Homes to convert one of the 39 patio home lots of the new Carriage Point West development to a park that could also be used by the adjacent 23 patio homes in Classic’s Carriages at Jackson Creek development. Both developments are southwest of the intersection of Leather Chaps Drive and Lyons Tail Road.

Simpson noted that the board would have been obligating Triview to take over the irrigation and maintenance of the park without having notified the district that it needed to budget for the added expense. He said that Classic opposed the park due to the small size of the new development that is tailored for empty nesters and the fact that lots adjacent to the park would be harder to sell.

Simpson reported that the board had added a condition of approval for a 50-foot landscape easement along the southern boundary of the development for a noise buffer for nearby Baptist Road. He said the town would not accept the easement because they will not maintain it. He added that the buffer would be a nice addition since the affected Carriage Point West homes will be closer to Baptist Road than those in Carriages at Jackson Creek.

Simpson reminded the board that the town and Classic had already asked Triview to take over the water quality ponds for both of these developments. Triview agreed to maintain them because assigning maintenance of water quality ponds to homeowner associations in other town developments had not been successful. Because of that water quality pond agreement, a water tap for irrigation of the newly required landscape easement would already be available.

Simpson said the town and the district boards needed to meet again to establish procedures for better coordination on the BOT assigning tasks and costs to Triview without prior coordination and plan reviews and approvals. He noted that the town staff had also asked for higher density in the buffer. He added that erosion control would not be a problem. Classic will install the buffer and Triview will take it over after final inspection and approval.

Chairman Steve Stephenson asked Simpson to schedule a dinner meeting for the two boards in the district office building. The board unanimously approved accepting responsibility for the landscape easement after installation, inspection, and approval by Triview staff.

Simpson reported progress on coordination of intergovernmental agreements with the town for construction inspections. He said a final draft should be available for board signatures at Triview’s Feb. 22 meeting.

Several annual service contracts approved

The training period for operation of the new town street sweeper will be completed soon. Simpson said that the $275 mobilization fee the town had charged for unplanned operations had been dropped because the new sweeper can drive from the Jefferson Street Public Works Facility to Triview at the normal speed limit.

The town will provide staff support for one more quarter for Triview water production, then Triview will take over operations with its own staff.

The landscaping snow removal contract with Timberline is finalized. Simpson has asked that Timberline control the speed of their plows so that snow is not thrown great distances by the blades.

The master agreement with engineering consultant Nolte Associates and drainage consultant Ayres and Associates have also been completed.

The board unanimously approved all the annual contracts.

Promontory Pointe request

In a Jan. 20 letter to the district Bremer asked the district to allow "common driveway" curb cuts throughout the development. An exception would be made for Lyons Tail Road and the section of the extension of Gleneagle Drive from Baptist Road north to Lyons Tail. Accesses in the curb would be shared by two houses.

There was consensus from the board to create a category for the extension of Gleneagle as a Type 3 Local Collector and allow curb cuts as requested. Simpson said this new roadway category would fill the gap in available classifications between Minor Collector and Local Street Type II.

Bremer said the developer would be happy to work out the details of each of the residential accesses and the standards for Type 3 Collector with Triview when they develop their site plan.

He agreed to the addition of a bike path in the community. Simpson said that the proposal would avoid the requirement for variances at that time.

Other matters

Approval of bills, invoices, and vouchers was continued due to Hill’s absence.

The board unanimously approved the annual engagement letters with the district’s auditor and accountants and the appointment of Hill as the district’s election officer. They board also unanimously approved cancellation of the election if the number of candidates equals the number of vacant seats.

The board went into executive session at 5 p.m. to discuss a property acquisition item. The next meeting of the Triview Metropolitan District Board will be Feb. 22, 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, June 14: Hacker appointed interim member

By Sue Wielgopolan

After reviewing resumes submitted in response to notices in the Tribune and an article in Our Community News, the Woodmoor board voted unanimously at its Jan. 10 meeting to appoint Elizabeth Hacker to fill the open seat on the Board of Directors. Hacker’s qualifications include her experience as a planner for El Paso County; she has also worked with the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments.

Three of the five Woodmoor seats will be up for election this May– Hacker’s, Benny Nasser’s, and Jim Whitelaw’s. President Jim Taylor volunteered to be Woodmoor’s designated election official.

Financials

Treasurer Jim Wyss reviewed district income for 2005. As expected, tap fees were lower than originally anticipated; several of the larger contractors didn’t complete as many homes as they had hoped. Fee projections will be carried forward into the 2006 budget.

Water use fees were higher than projections, while sewer use fees were less than expected. Income from interest exceeded budget expectations. Expenses were 86 percent of budget.

Randy Rush of Integrity Bank appeared before the board at Woodmoor’s request to discuss the performance of the district’s investments, opportunities related to interest rate fluctuations, and the bank’s recommendations.

Rush said that the district should take advantage of higher interest rates by investing for longer periods of time. He recommended laddering $150,000 to $200,000 every month in investments with a maximum maturity date of two years.

Last year, average yield for the district was 4.22 percent. According to Rush, the district gained an extra $5,000 to $6,000 in interest by investing through Integrity. Rush projected that Woodmoor could gain an additional 0.6 percent next year.

President Jim Taylor asked if there would be penalties for early withdrawal should an emergency expense arise. He also wanted to know how much was needed for the two new wells planned for 2006. Rush replied that depending on the nature of the investment (treasury bond, certificate of deposit, etc.), the maturity date, and the amount that would be withdrawn early, there would probably be some penalties. However, he added that a system of continuously maturing investments should provide the district with the flexibility to handle most contingencies.

Steininger responded to Taylor’s question about the wells, saying that $1.5 million had been budgeted for drilling, piping, and infrastructure. One of the wells was to be the district’s first tap into the Laramie-Fox Hills aquifer. He said that on consultant Charlie Stanzione’s recommendation, Woodmoor staff was reexamining the practicality of drilling 2,000 feet into the Laramie-Fox Hills. Stanzione doubts that the resulting yield would be cost effective at this time.

Joint Use Committee (JUC) summary

Benny Nasser, Woodmoor’s delegate to the JUC, summarized the committee’s January meeting for the directors. The JUC consists of representatives of the three joint owners of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWTF): Woodmoor, Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and Monument Sanitation District; as well as Bill Burks, the plant superintendent, and Steininger, who acts as executive support agent.

Once again, the constancy of the monthly copper readings in the water discharged from the facility into Monument Creek prompted discussion among committee members. For the fourth month in a row, the sample contained 8 micrograms per liter (µg/l), which is parts per billion. Nasser said that as the seasons had changed and plant operations had shifted, fluctuations in the reading were expected.

The readings are important because the state has implemented more stringent standards, and current facility discharge readings approach the proposed limit for 2008. Though Colorado granted the Tri-Lakes facility a waiver raising their limits until the end of 2007 while tests are conducted on the toxicity of copper to aquatic life, a permanent change is by no means assured.

So far, tests support the TLWTF’s contention that safety of copper levels two to three times the state’s limits do not present a significant hazard to fish and other stream inhabitants. Should the state reject the proposed higher limits, the TLWTF may have to contend with the problem of increasing the amount of copper removed, a procedure that could prove complex and extremely expensive.

Nasser said the TLWTF must have confidence that test results are accurate. Bill Burks is working with a "punch list" of items that the committee hopes will help assure that the samples are not contaminated and the readings are reliable. Duplicate samples will be sent for comparison to SGS Mineral Services, the lab the plant currently uses, and Evergreen Analytical in Arvada. Samples containing a known amount of copper will also be sent to both labs to test as a way of verifying each lab’s accuracy.

According to consultant Bill Lewis, chances are good that the state will make permanent the relaxed ammonia and total nitrogen limits granted temporarily to the Tri-Lakes facility. Limits for each stream vary according to stream conditions, such as volume, flow rate, seasonal fluctuations, and specific stream chemistry.

Colorado recently tightened its ammonia and nitrogen limits on streams in the state. Lewis, who is also a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, was hired by the JUC to assess whether the higher levels of ammonia and nitrogen released in the facility’s effluent present a hazard to stream life in Monument Creek. After running data collected by facility technicians through his model, Lewis determined that the limits on Monument Creek could be safely increased with no ill effects downstream.

Lewis’ data will be submitted to the state for consideration. Because Lewis developed the protocol and process for ammonia modeling for the state of Colorado, his results are viewed as highly credible.

Nasser also reported that the tests for trace metals, which are performed twice a year, showed concentrations that were non-detectable or very low and well within state limits.

Woodmoor will continue to manage the Tri-Lakes plant during 2006 for $24,047. The amount is for administrative services only, and does not include the salaries of TLWTF technicians and Burks.

Though the new lab building is almost finished and a temporary certificate of occupancy was issued to the Tri-Lakes facility, staff has not moved in. Access Construction has not yet installed an exhaust vent in the lab that is required by state building code, and a permanent certificate of occupancy will not be issued until the work is complete. Woodmoor engineer Jessie Shaffer, who also served as manager for the project, will send a letter to Access requesting that it complete the job and warning the contractor that it is not in compliance with the contract.

Nasser told the board that the audit is underway. Reynolds, Henry and Associates will conduct the audit of the 2005 figures.

The next JUC meeting will take place on Feb. 13. The committees will discuss goals for 2006.

Water line breaks plague district

Steininger discussed impacts of the unusually high number of water main breaks that occurred during the early 2005-2006 cold weather season. During one three-week period alone, the district experienced 10 breaks and service failures.

Several breaks occurred at the junctions connecting privately owned service lines with district mains. Homeowners’ lines are tied into water mains using a "saddle" that is secured using two bands on either side of the connection. In older areas of Woodmoor, the saddle and bands are made of iron. Over time, the iron corrodes, and eventually the bands and/or the saddle fracture. The newer epoxy-coated stainless steel connections presently used by the district are more durable and resistant to damage caused by water and/or acidic soil.

Steininger noted that several other breaks might be caused by movement of the substrate surrounding the pipe. All of these occurred on PVC pipe or cast as opposed to ductile iron.

Some homeowners affected by the breaks have submitted claims against the district. Steininger said that Woodmoor’s no-fault insurance coverage would pay out a maximum of $10,000 in aggregate. One claim alone for damage to landscaping and the sprinkler system exceeded that amount. Steininger is concerned that such claims will likely increase over time as district infrastructure ages and breaks become more frequent.

Steininger said that the breaks were not a result of negligence on Woodmoor’s part. In the case of a split water line off Caribou, the water that was released followed county-designed waterways and ended up on private property, where the landscape damage occurred. He said that although the district strives to provide good customer service, covering all claims would substantially impact the budget. Steininger then asked for direction from the board on determining whether incidental damage should be covered in part or entirely by the homeowner.

Erin Smith, Woodmoor’s attorney, recommended that the board reserve the matter for executive session, during which she will give legal advice based on state law. Smith noted that although Colorado Springs does not directly cover such damage, the city does offer utility users an opportunity to buy into an insurance pool administered by the city to cover such losses.

Palmer Divide Water Group

Representatives from Colorado Springs Utilities, including Southern Delivery System project manager Gary Bostrom, have agreed to address the group at their next meeting on Jan. 19. Discussions of possible negotiations with the city of Colorado Springs for a future surface water supply were reserved for executive session.

New billing system update

The district has encountered more problems than expected while converting to its new billing program. Software provider Casselle has agreed to send a representative to the Woodmoor district to work with office staff on Jan. 31 as part of the original training agreement.

Woodmoor customers can expect a change in the appearance of their water bills this month. Billing for the month of December will include envelopes and an introductory letter explaining the new system.

Sewer lining project

After supply delays caused by Hurricane Katrina, the PVC pipes for the lining project have been delivered. Tele Environmental Systems, Inc. based in Rifle, CO, has begun installing liners on the south side of the district.

Central Water Treatment Facility

The main component of the water treatment plant expansion, the Trident filter unit, was delivered on Jan. 9. The district expects to have the new filter operational in March or April.

New warehouse and office renovation

Work on the warehouse, which is located immediately south of the Woodmoor office, is proceeding slowly but steadily. High winds and snow delayed installation of the roof sheeting and shell. Contractor S.J. Diller will finish the shell and heat the structure’s interior before pouring the concrete pads. Steininger expects the building to be complete by mid-February.

Diller has begun renovations to the interior of the Woodmoor office building.

Subdivision update

Greenland Preserve Filing 2: The subcontractor for Masterbilt has started construction on the wet well and pad site for the lift station. Woodmoor expects to have the station up and running in four to six weeks. Greenland preserve is located south of County Line Road and east of High Pines Drive.

Misty Acres: Developer Sam Schoeninger is working with El Paso County on modifications to Filing 2. Plans for the water and sewer infrastructure, which have already received Woodmoor’s approval, may be changed to bring them in line with road plans. The development, located near County Line Road east of the campground, will consist of single and multi-family homes.

Crossroads at Monument: The commercial site, which is being developed by CoReVet, LLC, is located just east of the former BP station off Woodmoor Drive. The owners plan to build a small strip mall with offices and some retail. The contractors are currently preparing the site for construction and building a retaining wall on the south side above Highway 105. The Woodmoor district is in the process of finalizing an easement agreement with the owners.

Walters Commons: Pulte Homes is installing sewer lines on both sides of Cloverleaf for Filing 2, and starting site preparation on the east side. The contractor will be installing another sewer tie-in across Higby. The development is located east of Lewis-Palmer High School on the north side of Higby Road.

MGP: Mel Plowman is preparing his property, located on the southeast corner of the intersection of I-25 and County Line Road, for sale to a builder/developer. He is requesting the maximum amount of administrative water allowed by the district for the amount of acreage he owns. Though Plowman has no definite plans for the site, he wants to ensure that any future buyer will have adequate water for their project.

KAB Pankey LLC: Several undeveloped tracts surrounding Lake Woodmoor are under contract to Cheyenne Mountain Development Company LLC. The new owner plans to move ahead with development of all 40 acres, and wants to retain the water allotment presently attached to the property, which would be sufficient to serve roughly 400 housing units (which includes single and multi-family homes) in combination with commercial space.

Steininger said Woodmoor may want to consider purchasing a small segment of land from Cheyenne Mountain Development to "square off" the district’s office/warehouse site, which presently consists of two offset lots. Though not all of the land would be suitable for building, it could prove valuable as a storage site.

Meter replacement program to start soon

Woodmoor published notices informing district customers of the meter replacement program and giving an overview of the project. Residents are asked not to call the office for appointments until they have received notice from the district, as each phase of the program will concentrate on small geographic areas.

Each resident will receive a request to call for a meter unit replacement appointment, and two more reminders should the customer fail to respond. Woodmoor recognizes that for some, having to return home during the day would represent a serious hardship. The district will offer a limited number of evening and Saturday appointments to accommodate those customers.

USGS gauging station

Woodmoor has agreed to split the cost of a United States Geological Survey (USGS) gauging station on Monument Creek with the town of Monument. The station will measure flows on Monument Creek below the dam. Monument was told by the state it must install the station as a condition of impounding water in Monument Lake. Another gauging station already in operation above the lake allows the state to monitor the volume of water flowing into the lake; the new station will enable the state to measure the amount flowing out.

Woodmoor had considered installing a station at its own expense. The ability to monitor flows on a daily (as opposed to monthly) basis would allow the district to more efficiently use its water resources, including effluent credits. The board decided that the station was too costly for Woodmoor to build and maintain alone.

The USGS constructed the gauging station. Steininger negotiated with the town of Monument to establish a cost-sharing agreement. Woodmoor will reimburse the town $3,000 for installation, and consented to pay $1,000 per year for maintenance and operations.

Engineer’s report

Mike Rothberg, consulting engineer with RTW, told the board that he was in the process of "scoping" for the district’s long-range plan update, and would meet with Woodmoor staff to discuss ideas on Jan. 24. The update will concentrate on the efficient use of Woodmoor’s water resources, including the lake as a storage facility, and effective use of effluent credits.

He told board members that if they would like to see a specific topic addressed, they should submit questions or comments to Steininger before the scoping meeting.

Rothberg also discussed the status of copper and ammonia limits. He said the state would conduct hearings on permanent copper limit changes next year; the temporary limits granted to the Tri-Lakes facility will be in effect until then. Lewis’ ammonia modeling results have been submitted. The state formally accepted the higher ammonia limits endorsed by Lewis for Monument Creek.

RTW has completed the sewer model for the district. The model will be used to assess the impacts of new developments on the current system, and compare sewer main routing alternatives to determine the most effective set-up for new lines.

Rothberg told the board that work on the backwash study had been slightly delayed due to holiday vacation time, but was nearly complete.

Attorney’s report

Smith presented the paperwork extending participation in Woodmoor’s deferred compensation plan to include eligible part-time, non-seasonal employees. Members had agreed to the idea at a previous meeting. The addition was formally approved by a unanimous vote.

At Smith’s direction, the board also made and seconded a motion accepting the proposed easement on the CoReVet property subject to final review by staff and herself.

Smith told the board that Woodmoor’s revised Rules and Regulations were nearly finished. She is updating the appendices and expects to have the final version ready for distribution at the February meeting. The loose-leaf, three-ring binder format will be easier to update. As revisions are adopted, obsolete sections can be discarded and replaced with the new version.

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation board of directors will meet Tuesday, Feb. 14 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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Palmer Divide Water Group, January 19: Growth increases pressure for water

By Sue Wielgopolan

The Palmer Divide Water Group (PDWG) and Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) met on Jan. 19 to discuss inclusion in the Southern Delivery System pipeline. The PDWG is actively seeking ways to supplement and eventually replace finite Denver Basin aquifer sources, which represent a large share of the region’s water supply. The group has determined that the pipeline may be crucial to their efforts. City utilities agreed to meet with the water group in order to establish dialogue. Previous communications consisted mainly of letters and informal discussions between individual members of the two entities.

Wayne Vanderschuere, CSU’s water supply manager, Gary Bostrom, project manager for the Southern Delivery System (SDS), and Courtney Brand, project engineer and geologist, spoke to the group to give an overview of the project and address the PDWG’s repeated requests to participate in the pipeline construction so that it may also convey the group’s anticipated future surface water supplies.

Vanderschuere informed northern El Paso County water providers that while the Southern Delivery System project was too far along in the planning and permitting process to rework, future opportunities still exist for cooperation with Colorado Springs in bringing surface water to communities north of city limits.

SDS history

In 1996, the Colorado Springs City Council approved a water resource plan intended to provide the city and fellow Southeast Conservancy District members Security and Fountain with the water needed to supply future growth through the use of existing water rights. The plan included the Southern Delivery System, a 43-mile-long pipeline extending from Pueblo Reservoir up the I-25 corridor to Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs contracted with the Bureau of Reclamation to formulate alternatives for the SDS Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and in 2003 initiated the process in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act.

"Bring your money and your water"

Vanderschuere explained to the group that as a city-owned utility, CSU must conform to policy directives from city government. The directives permit water providers to participate in the SDS project only when the following stipulations are met:

  • The agencies must supply their own water.

  • The agencies must fund a proportionate share of pipeline cost.

  • Participation must not adversely affect the city’s general fund.

  • CSU cannot engage in any activity or negotiation that would delay completion of the project.

Vanderschuere pointed out that PDWG does not currently meet the city’s criteria, as it does not have the necessary water rights or a storage facility at this time.

The Bureau of Reclamation has already identified seven options, none of which address the future needs of the Tri-Lakes area. Vanderschuere said an attempt to modify the EIS at this point could delay the process or jeopardize approval, and would therefore also be in violation of the directives.

However, he also indicated that CSU was willing to discuss inclusion after approval of the project if the PDWG is willing to work with Colorado Springs in resolving other regional issues, especially stormwater drainage.

City ties stormwater control to surface water supply

Dana Duthie, former chairman and Donala general manager, asked why Colorado Springs is tying its stormwater problem to the water supply question, as the two appear to be separate issues. Bostrom replied that supplying additional water would allow further development in northern communities, which would in turn generate additional stormwater. Eventually, the water flows into Monument Creek, where it becomes the city’s problem.

Breaks in the city’s aging sewer system have resulted in numerous spills into Fountain Creek. In response to pressure from Pueblo and other downstream communities, Colorado Springs recently formed a stormwater enterprise to deal with the problem. The funds collected through a special fee will be used to overhaul the system.

The city has requested that El Paso County and the PDWG form a similar stormwater entity to create and enforce regulations and build infrastructure north of town.

Members informed Vanderschuere, Bostrom, and Brand that only municipalities such as Monument and Palmer Lake, or metropolitan districts such as Triview, have the authority to implement regulations or use their funds for stormwater control. Those entities already have programs in place. Special water and sanitation districts, including Donala and Woodmoor, are limited by state charter and may only handle water and wastewater.

Members argued that it is unfair to require PDWG to institute a stormwater program as a condition of SDS inclusion when the water group lacks the legal authority or the financial means to do so. Though participating agencies are willing to cooperate with the city’s efforts, the problem should properly be addressed through El Paso County or the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments.

Vanderschuere said that as water supply staff, he was unaware of the limitations of the various agencies, and would carry the information back to CSU and city officials.

Rapid growth outside city still an issue

Utilities staff also cited rapid growth in the Tri-Lakes area as a concern. In the view of some city officials, development outside Colorado Springs siphons tax money away from the city. Colorado Springs is reluctant to assist in bringing more water to northern communities, thereby fueling further growth.

Duthie said that the water PDWG would bring north was intended to replace the aquifer sources that will eventually disappear, not provide a source for new development.

Pueblo and allies seek to ensure Arkansas water stays in basin

CSU representatives said Parker Water and Sanitation’s membership in the PDWG presents an obstacle to SDS negotiations. Colorado Springs does not want to risk alienating its lower Arkansas Valley partners, who want assurances before signing off on the SDS that Arkansas water will not leave the basin. Because Parker lies in the South Platte drainage, Pueblo is concerned that if the SDS is extended to include the Tri-Lakes area, Arkansas water will be shared with communities north of the Palmer Divide.

Duthie explained that without assurances of inclusion in the SDS, local water providers can’t afford to limit their options. Opportunities for future water sources could also originate in regions north or west of the Palmer Divide, and by maintaining ties with other well users outside the basin, the group is able to keep the lines of communication open.

Phil Steininger, general manager of Woodmoor, added that Frank Jaeger, Parker Water and Sanitation’s general manager, was also working to secure future surface water sources independent of the SDS. Should Jaeger prove successful in his efforts, the PDWG may be offered the opportunity to share in the arrangement.

Betty Konarski, PDWG chairperson, assured CSU that any agreements involving the SDS would be made with individual members, not the group as a whole. She also said that no reciprocal agreement had been made with Parker to pipe SDS water across the divide.

Though he could make no promises regarding inclusion, Vanderschuere stated that CSU is committed to discussing water supplies and opportunities with the PDWG.

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Forest View Acres Water District, January 26: Board accepts resignation, ponders mysterious water loss

Click here or on the photo to zoom in

Web Site Exclusive Below: US Forest Service representatives District Ranger Brent Botts and Civil Engineer Marc Staley address the Forest View Acres board seeking water service for the firefighter training camp in Pike National Forest. At the left in front is attorney Paul Rufien. Board members are (L to R) Eckehart Zimmermann, President Barbara Reed-Polatty, and Ketch Nowacki. Brian Cross was absent due to a family emergency. Photo by John Heiser

Click on the photo to zoom in

By John Heiser

At its regular monthly meeting Jan. 26, the Forest View Acres Water District (FVAWD) board of directors held preliminary discussions on providing water service to the U.S. Forest Service fire crew training facility, accepted the resignation of board member John Anderson, ratified a $25 per account monthly administrative fee increase, and pondered a mysterious 100,000 gallon water loss.

The board consists of President Barbara Reed-Polatty, Brian Cross, Ketch Nowacki, Eckehart Zimmermann, and the vacant seat formerly held by Anderson. Cross was absent due to a family emergency. Reed-Polatty 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, 2006. 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, Zimmermann, and whoever is appointed to fill Anderson’s position must run for election in May, 2006. Reed-Polatty’s term expires in May, 2008.

Self-nominations for the four board seats up for election may be submitted to Tinney between Feb. 1 and Feb. 27. If the district receives no more than four 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 can contact SDMS at (800) 741-3254 or 488-2110.

Water service to the firefighter training camp tabled

District Ranger Brent Botts and Civil Engineer Marc Staley of the U.S. Forest Service told the board the Forest Service wishes to obtain water service from the district for the firefighter training camp in Pike National Forest. They estimated that 10 to 15 people reside there year round with a peak of about 50 people during the summer. Their present well’s production has declined. They said that if the district cannot supply service then they would re-drill their present well. Staley added that connecting to the water district would mean they could add fire hydrants in the camp.

LaFontaine noted that if the parcel were included in the district, then typically the water rights associated with the property would be transferred to the district.

Noting the property is owned by the federal government, Nowacki said, "I don’t think you have authority to transfer water rights."

LaFontaine added that if the parcel were serviced under an out-of-district service agreement that problem would be avoided and service could be discontinued in the event the district found itself without sufficient water to provide the service.

District resident Richard Crocker suggested the Forest Service prepare a proposal including required water flow rates and quantities and submit it to the board.

Rufien noted that the board could enter into a contract to provide out of district service at negotiated terms.

Botts said the Forest Service must complete an agreement with the district by May.

LaFontaine offered to supply the Forest Service with any information they need to prepare a proposal.

The board tabled the matter until the Forest Service submits their proposal.

Anderson resigns

The board unanimously voted to accept Anderson’s resignation from the board. In 2004, Anderson was elected to the board to serve a four-year term. In his resignation message, Anderson noted that due to schedule conflicts he is unable to attend upcoming board meetings. He commended Reed-Polatty and Cross saying, "The two of you have worked diligently to make good things happen, and Barb, you have done an incredible amount of work pulling us up from a very difficult situation."

Rufien noted that the board has 60 days to appoint someone to fill the vacancy. He added that the position would be up for election in May.

The board unanimously approved sending a newsletter that includes a notice about the vacancy and information on the May election.

Board approves settlement with Henkle Drilling

Reed-Polatty reported that Henkle Drilling has agreed to accept approximately $4,700 as payment in full on the outstanding balance due them of $9,615 provided the district can make payment by the end of February. The board unanimously approved the proposed settlement.

Financial report

Tinney presented a list of claims paid during December totaling $25,633 that included $7,433 for insurance through the Special District Association, $8,607 for two months of LaFontaine’s services, $2,500 as partial payment to Henkle Drilling, $1,825 for electricity, $1,731 for water testing, and $1,000 as partial payment to Betzer.

As of Dec. 31, the district’s debt stood at $706,413 comprised of $585,000 in bonds and loans and $121,413 in accounts payable. The accounts payable is comprised of $59,516 owed to attorneys Petrock and Fendel, $41,145 owed to SDMS, $9,615 owed to Henkle Drilling, $3,804 owed to Betzer, and $7,333 owed to Rufien.

The net cash balance for all funds as of Dec. 31 was $25,748. Accounts receivable from customers stood at $1,833 for water service and $6,660 for availability of service fees.

Zimmermann noted that the amounts assigned to gas bills in the financial statements were excessive. After some discussion, it was concluded that some electric bills had been improperly coded as gas bills and vice versa.

The financial report was unanimously accepted.

Wilde billing dispute referred to attorney

District resident Leigh Wilde contends that due to an agreement with the Nevins family when he purchased his property he has a right to free water service.

The district contends that the agreement was with the Nevins family and terminated when the property changed hands.

Rufien was directed to research the matter and advise the board.

$25 administrative fee increase ratified

Reed-Polatty asked how the $25 figure was derived.

Tinney replied that it came from the estimated $80,000 budget shortfall for 2006.

After further discussion, the board unanimously ratified increasing the monthly administrative fee $25 from $18 per month to $43 per month.

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 the new contract.

County hearing on Red Rock Reserve final plat continued to Feb. 14

Reed-Polatty reported that the request for Red Rock Reserve final plat approval by the El Paso County Planning Commission was continued by the developer to the planning commission’s Feb. 14 meeting. She said she would inquire as to the reason for the delay.

Operations report

LaFontaine reported that the district’s surface plant produced 1.7 million gallons in December, averaging 38.5 gallons per minute over 30.7 days. The district’s well produced 209,100 gallons during 1.4 days of operation, averaging 107.1 gallons per minute. The net monthly production was 1.87 million gallons.

The total production during 2005 was 27.9 million gallons or 85.6 acre-feet.

Water sales for December totaled 1.35 million gallons.

LaFontaine calculated the net loss from the system during December was 519,090 gallons or 38.4 percent of production. This is substantially higher than in past months.

District suffers mysterious water losses

LaFontaine reported that within about seven to eight hours between Jan. 1 and Jan. 2, the water in the district’s tank dropped 10 feet. The tank is 26 feet tall. He said the drop represents about 100,000 gallons. He noted that the highest elevations in the system "ran out of water." He said that despite searching the system, no leak was found that could account for the water loss.

He said the water loss stopped so abruptly, it appeared as if "someone had turned a valve."

LaFontaine added that there are pipes in the system whose function is unknown.

Penny Nevins offered to provide maps showing the piping. Nevins added that some of the associated easements have not been filed with the county but should be.

Executive session held on legal matters

Rufien requested an executive session to advise the board on legal matters related to the Unger and Wells Fargo situations.

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The next meeting will be held Feb. 23, 5:30 p.m. at Tri-Lakes district firehouse 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley). Board meetings are usually held on the fourth Thursday of each month. Those wishing to attend should check the date, time, and location by calling the SDMS at (800) 741-3254 or 488-2110.

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board, January 18: Assessor’s error creates $350,000 shortfall

By Jim Kendrick

The El Paso County Assessor’s Office overestimated real property values in the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District by $50 million in November 2005. Wescott’s property tax rate is 7 mills and their budgeted 2006 revenue will now be $350,000 less than anticipated.

All the members of the board were present. Chief Jeff Edwards was absent due to military training.

Budget change required by County Assessor’s error

Board Chair Brian Ritz reported that the assessor’s office had called the district on Jan. 5 to acknowledge that a $50 million error was made on the assessed valuation form signed by County Assessor John Bass and sent to Wescott on Nov. 23, 2005. The mistake was reported to the assessor’s office by the utility building owner; it was not discovered by county staff.

The county’s error was caused by overestimating the value of a new public utility building in Wescott’s jurisdiction. The error in the total assessment was not apparent to Wescott due to the number of large construction projects in the industrial parks on the east side of I-25, south of Northgate Boulevard, that are part of Wescott’s rapidly growing jurisdiction. In December, Wescott submitted its mill levy certification form to the county and its 2006 budget and appropriation to the state. Each was based on the county’s erroneous valuation.

On Jan. 5, the district asked for a written explanation of the county assessor’s error so that Wescott could send a copy to the state’s Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) and the district’s auditor to explain what would otherwise appear to be a gross budgeting error for 2006. The district must also prepare and forward an amended budget for 2006 to the county and state that adjusts for the 25 percent reduction in estimated property tax revenue. In addition, Wescott was also required by the assessor’s office to re-compute and submit an amended mill levy certification form to the county that reflected the reduced revenue the county is to collect and forward to the district.

Ritz reported that someone at the assessor’s office said they had immediately notified Commissioner Wayne Williams of the error on Jan. 5, but Williams had not contacted Wescott about the incident.

The assessor’s office did not send Wescott a written explanation documenting the source and type of error it had made as requested. The only documentation sent to Wescott on Jan. 8 was an assessed valuation form with new numbers that was still dated Nov. 23 as if the Assessor’s Office had never made a mistake. The new form had no Bass signature, which means it is not a legal copy for the district’s records. The form was accompanied only by an altered copy of Wescott’s December mill levy certification form; someone in the assessor’s office had made a pen-and-ink change to the district’s assessed valuation figure. The change made the Wescott form look as if it had been submitted by Wescott in error and then "corrected" by the assessor’s office, a false impression. The assessor’s office also sent a copy of the altered Wescott mill levy certification form directly to DOLA without an explanation of the pen-and-ink change.

Ritz called the assessor’s office on Jan. 8 and told them that the two documents they had sent to Wescott were not adequate to protect the district’s legal interests, nor to prevent a loss of the district’s well-earned reputation for truthfulness and timeliness in budget submissions. He said that sending only a "slip-shod" pen-and-ink change with no written explanation to DOLA as well as to the district indicated a lack of professionalism at the assessor’s office.

Ritz handed out copies of the documents that the assessor’s office sent to the district on Jan. 12. On seeing the copy, District Treasurer Dave Cross expressed concern that the assessor’s office had made it look like they had reported him to DOLA for submitting incorrect values to Bass. (Note: The district did receive a letter from the county shortly after the board meeting that explained the error.)

Ritz asked for and received unanimous support from the board to draft a letter to DOLA and the Board of County Commissioners. He said the purpose of his letter would be to let the county know how upset the board was about Bass’s "cheesy cover-up" and to set the record straight on why Wescott had to resubmit such drastically revised budget and appropriation data to DOLA and the district auditor. Ritz will present the draft for review by the other directors at the Feb. 15 meeting.

Ritz noted for the newer board members that the assessor’s office had previously failed to delete many properties from the district’s roles when the city annexed much of the southern portion of Wescott’s district. The county then collected and forwarded property taxes to Wescott in error. The mistake was not detected until late in the year when much of the revenue had been spent before Wescott had to return the tax money to the county. Ritz noted that there was significant incorrect reporting on the problem by the Colorado Springs media at the time.

Treasurer’s report

Administrative Assistant Ginnette Ritz noted that the budget figures through the end of December were on target but still not final because some December utility bills had not been received. After these bills are paid and the final specific ownership taxes payment of $11,415 is received, a final amended budget for 2005 will be prepared and submitted to DOLA and the auditor. Expenses will not be over budget and revenue will not be under budget for 2005. The report was unanimously accepted.

Chief’s report

Captain Mike Whiting substituted for Chief Jeff Edwards. He reported that Wescott volunteer firefighter Justin Chavez would replace Jim Biskner on the paid staff. Biskner will be joining the Colorado Springs Fire Department on Feb. 10. Chavez is qualified as a Firefighter I and an emergency medical technician with an IV certification. He has completed emergency vehicle operations certification for operation of the AMR ambulance assigned to Wescott.

Whiting reported that the district made 122 runs in December, bringing the total to 1,502 for 2005, a 4 percent increase over 2004. The calls consisted of 47 medical, 6 traffic accident, 7 automatic alarm, 2 structure fire, 2 brush fire, 1 smoke, 3 good intent false, 3 public assist, 1 carbon monoxide alarm, and 60 AMR ambulance calls, plus 8 mutual aid calls for 1 traffic accident, 4 structure fires, 2 brush fires, and 1 move up to temporarily staff another district’s station while they were on a call. There were no firefighter injuries in 2005.

Wescott has received new bunker gear racks, a new all-terrain vehicle for brush and wildfire calls, and a new utility trailer for carrying the ATV. Whiting said the staff is drafting policies for firefighter training and operation of the ATV and its rescue accessories.

The safety assessment required by insurer VFIS has been completed and the district will continue to qualify for the lowest policy rates.

Whiting said that the increased number of AMR ambulances and AMR’s new dispatching procedures substantially increased the amount of time the Wescott ambulance spends in the district, as hoped for.

Board election set for May 2

The board unanimously appointed Ginnette Ritz as the district’s election official. She said self-nominations are due in Station 1 by Feb. 24. Write-in candidates can still apply by the close of business on Feb. 28 at the latest. Ads for the nominations will be posted between Feb. 1 and Feb. 16. The first terms of Directors Dave Cross, Dennis Feltz, and Kevin Gould are expiring in May.

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 three candidates, or if the district does move forward with the term limit elimination ballot issue, Wescott will again join with Donala Water and Sanitation District to share a common election site to save money. Since Donala will have a ballot question in any case, voting could possibly take place in the Donala office on Holbein Drive.

The meeting adjourned at 8 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held on Feb. 15 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, January 25: District to outsource ambulance billing; considers sale of trouble-prone ladder truck

By John Heiser

The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Board of Directors held a meeting Jan. 25 preceding the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority board meeting. All five directors, Rick Barnes, Keith Duncan, John Hartling, John Hildebrandt, and President Charlie Pocock, were present.

District ends 2005 within revised budget

Treasurer Hildebrandt reported that the district ended 2005 with total revenue of $2.03 million and total expenses of $1.99 million. The expenses are $17,669 less than projected in the revised 2005 budget adopted last month and filed with the state.

District to outsource ambulance billing tasks

Pocock noted that in June 2005 ambulance revenue was running $40,000 under budget but, thanks to changes in billing procedures and personnel, those revenues ended the year $55,000 over budget. Despite the turn-around, he said, "We ought to do the things we do best, providing medical care and putting out fires, and outsource accounting and billing."

Pocock introduced Alana Oswalt, an independent ambulance billing specialist, who presented a proposal for handling all or part of the district’s ambulance billing. Oswalt said she provides those services for other districts including Cripple Creek and Los Animas. She added, "Rural ambulance services tend to go under because of billing issues."

Oswalt said she reviewed the district’s records of 425 current claims and found a total of $157,000 associated with cases where it has been more than 180 days since the services were rendered. She said that due to insurance company procedures billing for claims over 120 days is "a lot more work."

In response to a question from Hildebrandt, Oswalt said the Cripple Creek department conducted a study of vehicle accident cases to determine the effect of the state law change from no-fault coverage to tort law. She said that, contrary to what has been reported by other groups, they found only about a 2 percent decrease in collections during the first year after the law changed.

Oswalt proposed taking over all aspects of the district’s ambulance billing and collection for a fee of $3,000 per month. She also offered lesser services at lower monthly fees.

The board approved a six-month trial project leaving the details of how Oswalt’s services are to be used to Chief Robert Denboske and Battalion Chief Max Mabrey. Barnes abstained from the vote saying he had not received any information on the topic prior to the meeting. He later added that he is bothered by the cost compared to having an employee handle it.

Pocock replied that it is hard for employees to keep up with the changes in Medicare rules.

Ladder truck to be offered for sale

Captain John Vincent reported that there are numerous issues with hydraulic and electrical systems on the Tri-Lakes district’s ladder truck purchased several years ago for $450,000. He noted that the district just spent $9,000 on repairs. He estimated the district could expect at least $3,000 per year in repair bills. He said, "This truck will always have issues."

Pocock noted that the district owes about $245,000 on the ladder truck and pays $49,739 per year on that debt. He added that the lease could be terminated only on the July 1 anniversary date.

Hildebrandt suggested the money saved if the ladder truck were sold could go toward purchase of a water tank truck to help fight fires in areas without hydrants.

In response to a question as to whether the district would need to replace the truck if it were sold, Denboske said the usual ratio is one ladder truck for each three engine companies. He added that if the Tri-Lakes district ladder truck were sold, the Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District’s ladder truck could meet local needs.

Barnes expressed concern that the ladder on the Woodmoor/Monument ladder truck is less capable than the one on the Tri-Lakes ladder truck.

Vincent replied that the Woodmoor/Monument truck’s ladder cannot handle three people on it at once but it is still adequate.

Vincent noted that the Tri-Lakes district currently does not have enough firefighters at Station 1 to staff the engine and the ladder truck. He added that the ladder truck was gone for 2½ months being repaired and was not missed.

The board directed Denboske and Vincent to pursue possible sale of the ladder truck to see how much it might bring.

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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 Feb. 22, 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 Protection District Board, January 25: District contemplates replacing fire engine

Based on notes provided by Director Bill Ingram

The Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District Board of Directors met for its regular monthly meeting Jan. 25 immediately preceding the meeting of the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority Board. Directors Bob Hansen, Bill Ingram, Rod Wilson, and President Si Sibell were present. Director Tim Miller was absent.

Treasurer Bob Hansen reported the district has $648,035 in savings and, as in past years, will use some of that to cover expenses until tax revenues begin to be received.

Captain Joe Yordt reported that after reviewing building and maintenance costs for a dedicated training facility, establishment of such a facility at this time is too expensive. He said he will continue to investigate options.

Yordt also reported that monthly utility bills at Station 3 are averaging about $1,000. He attributed the cost to an outdated boiler and single pane windows. Sibell suggested a mechanical engineer be contacted to evaluate the boiler and windows and make any further recommendations.

Yordt said the beds and carpet in the bunkroom need to be replaced and several of the other spaces need to be painted. The board asked Yordt to get bids on the proposed work.

Yordt said the Equipment Committee had met and recommended consideration of future replacement of fire engine #13. Engine #13 is a pumper prototype and is uniquely configured with one of a kind engine, transmission, and suspension. He said it has been a maintenance nightmare and there are currently issues with the transmission. The board directed Yordt to advise the Equipment Committee to research the status of engine #13 and determine the trade-in value, cost of replacement, and potential change in ISO rating if #13 is kept as a backup.

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The Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District board normally meets the fourth Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. preceding the meeting of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Rescue Authority. The next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 22 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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Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority, January 25: Seven firefighters hired under SAFER grant; board reviews first year of operation

Click here or on the photos to zoom in and view additional pictures

Below: The seven firefighters hired under the SAFER grant. They are (L to R) Carolyn Pearcy, Tony Tafoya, Chris Riggs, Mark Vanlandingham, Mike Rauenzahn, Jake Villa. Not pictured is Jody Thorpe. Photo by John Heiser

Click on the photo to zoom in

Web Site Exclusive Below: The 11 probationary members that are in the fire academy. Back row, L to R: Rodney Kelsey, Bjorne Moberg, Jamal Bagley, Marcus Matthynessens, Ilene Presworsky, Eric Chase. Front row L to R: Franz Hankins, Jonathan Tavares, Tyler Bronzan, Chris Dela Rosa, Alice Gohlke.

Click on the photo to zoom in

By John Heiser

On Jan. 25, 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 except Woodmoor/Monument director Tim Miller who had a conflicting meeting.

Seven firefighters hired

President Charlie Pocock introduced the seven new firefighters hired under a U.S Department of Homeland Security Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant. (See photo below)

The new hires are Carolyn Pearcy, Mike Rauenzahn, Chris Riggs, Tony Tafoya, Jody Thorpe, Mark Vanlandingham, and Jake Villa.

11 new volunteers in training

Captain Joe Yordt introduced 11 volunteers who are participating in an in-house training program two to three nights a week. That training will complete in June.

The volunteers are Jamal Bagley, Tyler Bronzan, Eric Chase, Chris Dela Rosa, Alice Gohlke, Franz Hankins, Rodney Kelsey, Marcus Matthynessens, Bjorne Moberg, Ilene Presworsky, and Jonathan Traveres.

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 fire authority through the end of December. Some highlights:

  • The authority has received the anticipated $284,542 in specific ownership taxes for the year.

  • The authority received ambulance revenues totaling $355,017 or 119 percent of the anticipated $300,000 for the year.

  • Total revenue for the year was $3.15 million. Total expenses were $3.13 million. Both districts ended the year with expenses about $18,000 less than projected in their amended budgets.

A motion to accept the financial report was unanimously approved.

Operational report

Battalion Chief Bryan Jack and Chief Robert Denboske presented an end of year operational report. Some of the highlights:

  • The fire authority responded to 154 calls during December, bringing the total for the year to 1,617. The 154 calls consisted of 80 medical, 20 fires or fire alarms, 32 traffic accidents, 16 public assists, and 6 calls involving hazardous materials.

  • Vehicle trips totaled 3,324 in responding to the 1,617 calls for the year, with an average of 2.04 vehicles responding to each call.

  • During December, 61 people were transported to local hospitals, bringing the total for the year to 658.

  • For December, Station 1 on Highway 105 responded to 72 calls, Station 2 on Roller Coaster Road responded to 30 calls, and Station 3 on Woodmoor Drive responded to 52 calls. For the year, Station 1 responded to 726 calls, Station 2 responded to 311 calls, and Station 3 responded to 580 calls.

  • The authority has a goal to respond to calls for service in eight minutes or less 90 percent of the time. District 1, served by Station 1, reached the goal six of the twelve months and ended the year with an overall average of responding in eight minutes or less 87 percent of the time. District 2, which covers a large geographic area served by Station 2, reached the goal one of the twelve months and ended the year with an overall average of responding in eight minutes or less 76 percent of the time. District 3, served by Station 3, reached the goal four of the twelve months and ended the year with an overall average of responding in eight minutes or less 86 percent of the time.

  • Staffing over the past six months has been maintained at four firefighters/EMTs per shift at Stations 1 and 3 and three firefighters/EMTs per shift at Station 2. The positions of assistant chief and fire marshal have been eliminated and those responsibilities have been distributed to line level officers. That freed funds for one floating firefighter/EMT per shift. Across the fire authority, a total of 12 firefighters/EMTs per shift is being maintained. There has been a minimum of one paramedic per station per shift.

  • 70 of the 83 operational staff are currently state certified at Fire Fighter I, Fire Fighter II, or Fire Officer I. Of the 83 operational staff, 75 hold state EMT certifications. When the 11 volunteers currently in training complete that training in June and receive Fire Fighter 1 certification, 98 percent of the operational staff will be state certified.

Officer election postponed

The board unanimously approved retaining the present board officers and postponing election of board officers until after the May election.

Meeting schedule

The board unanimously approved holding meetings on the fourth Wednesday of each month. The meetings for November and December were tentatively rescheduled for Nov. 15 and Dec. 13.

Executive session

The board unanimously voted to hold an executive session to discuss personnel matters and negotiations.

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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 district board and Woodmoor/Monument district board at the Tri-Lakes district firehouse 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley). The next meeting will be Feb. 22. For more information, call Chief Denboske at 481-2312 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com.

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Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education, January 19: Board adopts school calendars

By Tommie Plank

The board approved calendars for the 2006-07 and 2007-08 school years. The major change is that the entire week of Thanksgiving will be vacation days for district students and staff. Also, Columbus Day has been eliminated as a school holiday. Students will begin classes next fall on August 17, and end on May 23, 2007.

The board changed the cutoff date for five-year-old children entering kindergarten and six-year-old children entering first grade. Effective fall, 2006, children must be five years old and six years old by October 1st to enter kindergarten or first grade, respectively; the old cut-off date was September 15th

In an update on the search for a new district superintendent, the board reported that they have conducted a paper screening of applications received from 22 initial candidates, and the field has been narrowed to nine. After the search consultants have completed reference checks, the board will select candidates for the first round of interviews. They plan to name a new superintendent in March.

Eight architectural firms responded to the District’s call for proposals to assist the board in planning for a second high school. Five interviews with responding firms have been conducted, and reference checks are nearly complete. The board stated that they intend to seek community and faculty input in the design of the new high school.

Carl Hurst of Siemens Building Technologies presented a report of the savings the district has experienced over the past year while on the Siemens Energy Savings Program. The district currently has a net savings of $137,002 since implementing the energy savings program three years ago. Hurst also presented the district with a Sylvania Ecologic Certification award because at least 75 percent of the district’s lighting products are environmentally friendly.

Tim Mayberry of Johnson, Holscher and Company reviewed highlights of the audit they conducted of the district’s finances for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2005. The board acknowledged receipt of the audit, but no action was taken.

Donna Wood, Director of Communications, discussed a new communication plan to coordinate some of the larger initiatives and issues in the district, such as growth study, land acquisition, bond campaign, and superintendent search. She plans to form a communications review committee made up of representatives of twelve groups of people to meet once or twice a year and to hold a summer meeting of a sounding board to assist in improving district communications.

Dr. Keith Jacobus reported on the processes for filling three administrative positions: Prairie Winds Elementary School Principal Dr. Ida Leibert, Executive Director of Special Programs and Services Linda Williams-Blackwell, and Chief Financial Officer Joe Subialka will all be retiring at the end of this school year. Applications are currently being accepted for all three positions

Parents Sue Huismann and Cathy Wilcox received commendation certificates for their work on improvement of the Palmer Lake Elementary School playground as well as their continued support of the school by volunteering in classrooms and their involvement with the Parent-Teacher Organization and the Building Accountability Advisory Committee.

The next meeting of the Board of Education will be Feb. 16, 7 p.m., in the Learning Center of the Lewis-Palmer Administration Building, 2nd and Jefferson Streets, Monument. The Board normally meets the 3rd Thursday each month. For information, call 488-4700.

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County Planning Commission, November 19: Commission reviews Land Development Code revisions

By Steve Sery

There were four meetings of the El Paso County Planning Commission in January. The meetings Jan. 17 and 24 dealt with regular business. The only item scheduled involving the Tri-Lakes area was the final plat for Red Rock Reserve. This was continued at the applicant’s request to the Feb. 14 meeting.

The January 10 and 31 meetings dealt with the draft revised Land Development Code for El Paso County. The Land Development Code establishes the standards for development in the county including zoning and what is allowed by zone. This revision effort has been underway for about four years with a committee made up of representatives from developers, home owner associations, planning commission, Development Services Department, Black Forest Land Use Committee, and others–a broad representation of those who will be impacted by any changes in the Code. The Jan. 10 meeting was a work session for the planning commission and interested public. There was no one from the public in attendance.

The Jan. 31 meeting was to be a final review of the Code, again with public input. The expected outcome was to be a recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners for approval or disapproval. Between Jan. 10 and 31, comments were received from planning commission, Development Services Department, and the public. There was good representation at this meeting by the Black Forest Land Use Committee, Protect Our Wells, and other individuals with specific concerns or suggested changes.

The Code is being reviewed by the County Attorney’s Office and outside legal counsel. Since their review was not complete, the meeting was continued to Feb. 14 when their additional input will be presented as well as any additional input from the public. There is concern by some that the process is being pushed too fast and that more time should be given for review. It was decided to continue with the Feb. 14 meeting with the possibility that further continuance may be necessary. For anyone interested in attending the next meeting, the hearing on the Code will begin no earlier than 1 p.m. on Feb. 14 at 2880 International Circle (off Union Blvd and Printers Parkway). To verify the meeting time, phone 520-6300.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board, January 18: Residents express concerns about townhome development

By Chris Pollard

Lorna and Bill Souther, residents close to the proposed town home development adjacent to Woodmoor Lake, asked several questions about the proposal. Ottino responded that he didn’t think construction would begin until late 2006 or early 2007. He thought that the density was rather on the high side and would like the developer to make it more upscale and less dense. He said that the WIA does have new rules in place for such developments and has better experience over how to handle them based on the association’s negotiations with Pulte Homes regarding the Walters Commons town-home development. Elizabeth Miller, Director of the architectural control committee (ACC), said that she had only seen a sketch plan so far and more details would need to be provided. Whether some of the area designated for housing east of the Cove was in a flood plain was not clear. Ottino added that the land had already been zoned for this type of construction so little change was possible.

He noted that he had met with John McCarty of El Paso County Department of Transportation (EPCDOT), and Wayne Williams, County Commissioner, at a breakfast meeting and had invited Williams to be present at the end of the annual meeting January 30. Ottino was concerned that with Monument annexing more land, local housing density was increasing over what it would be if the land had remained under county control.

Bill Souther said he was concerned that the trees between his property and the proposed development were being cut down for fire safety reasons whereas if the construction went ahead he would prefer them to remain as screening.

WIA Insurance Package

Dave Reitan of Six and Geving Insurance gave an informational presentation on WIA’s insurance package and then took questions from board members. One asked if there would be any reduction in insurance rates for the association if Woodmoor Public Safety were to carry Tasers rather than guns, but there was no definitive answer. Alan McMullen, Director of Open Space, asked if the addition of dog runs, where dogs would be allowed to run loose in a controlled area, would result in any increase. The insurer’s representative said that he didn’t think this would be a problem. Board President John Ottino also questioned whether a proposed temporary ice skating area would be a problem and again the representative thought that this would be acceptable.

SB-100 Homeowner Association, State Rules

Ottino said that there were some concerns with SB-100 related to the operation of the WIA. While largely in compliance with the state, a few WIA rules regarding flags and signs might have to be changed to reflect the new state rules. The new state bill also adds extra requirements when a house is sold to make sure that buyers are aware of the association rules and that the house being sold is in conformance with the covenants. The rules also require that WIA homeowners have education available to them on what is contained within the WIA rules. Homeowners, for example, have the right to address the board prior to any vote.

Approved roofing and fence materials

Miller proposed to the board that Atlas StormMaster LM roofing material, in its 50-year warranty version, be added to the list of approved materials. Several houses had been given approval to use this as a test and now the ACC was satisfied with the results. Ottino asked if the 50-year requirement could be reduced to 40 years but Miller replied that the ACC members felt it was necessary to specify the extra durability implicit in the warranty. In general the longer warranty material had more depth and "shading." Not all roof colors were allowed. In addition, a proposal was made to allow a natural round pole-style fencing of treated pine instead of just split rail. The board voted to approve both types of material.

New Woodmoor Public Safety Jeep purchase

Kevin Nielsen, Chief of Woodmoor Public Safety, requested permission to order a new Jeep Liberty to replace the Dodge Intrepid, as had been planned. The Jeep would be bought at substantial discount through the state for $18,250. After some discussion by board members on alternative replacement policies, the majority voted to approve the purchase.

Stop signs in South Woodmoor

Ottino gave an update on his proposal for adding stop signs in South Woodmoor. EPCDOT had done an engineering study for placing three extra stop signs and had found no reason for them to be added. John McCarty from EPCDOT did, however, say that if there was a resolution passed by the community to add the stop signs and this would then be further presented to the County Commissioners for approval and approved by them, then it would be possible to add the signs.

McMullen asked about the status of the proposed third entrance to the Lewis-Palmer High School on Jackson Creek Parkway. Board member Bill Walters said that he had heard the entrance would be built and several members felt that this might help reduce traffic through the area to the east. With concerns about the effectiveness of these measures it was suggested that Nielsen use the speed trailer to measure the traffic flows and speeds before and after the modifications. Ottino proposed that these stop signs be approved by the board and added as an extra ballot item at the annual meeting with residents being informed through e-mail. Again, the majority of the board approved the proposal.

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The next meeting of the WIA board will be Feb. 15, 7 p.m., in the Woodmoor Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Dr. The board now meets the third Wednesday each month. For more information, phone 488-2694 or visit www.woodmoor.org.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Annual Meeting, January 30: WIA elects board members, approves ancillary buildings

By Chris Pollard

Over 130 residents were present for the WIA Annual General Meeting Jan. 30 at Lewis-Palmer Middle School. First order of business was for John Ottino, outgoing President of the WIA, to award plaques of commendation to Cub Scout Pack 117 and the St. Mathias Episcopal Church Youth Group for their extensive ongoing efforts in maintaining the roadsides in a couple of areas of Woodmoor.

Ottino thanked a number of homeowners for their outstanding Christmas light displays. He also thanked participants in the "Adopt a Neighborhood" program. He then announced that Bill Nealon had won the Vincent Elorie award for outstanding citizenship and service to Woodmoor. Nealon has been giving extensive help to the forestry program, the office staff, and Woodmoor Public Safety for over 27 years.

Elections

George McFadden, secretary of the board, explained the procedure for voting in the elections for board members and then allowed each candidate a few minutes to speak. The only deviation from previous remarks by the candidates in WIA board meetings was from candidate Philip LeBeau, who asked for a common sense approach to board decision making in the future and suggested that the cost of supporting Woodmoor public safety could be reduced by placing more reliance on support from the El Paso County Sheriff’s department. He thought that the Woodmoor Public Safety could still be used for vacation safety checks.

Ottino answered questions from residents on the issue of ancillary buildings, cited as a solution to resolve parking space for some residents. The measure proposed allowing one ancillary building up to 530 sq. ft. that would not be in addition to any other outbuildings. Residents were concerned whether such buildings could be placed in front of the residence and whether they would be required to match the original construction. Another was concerned as to how roofs could be made to match if the original house had shake roofs. Another was concerned for houses around the golf course which really do not have a "rear" to put an extra building in. Ottino responded by saying that there would need to be special consideration to resolve some difficult issues and that for some people the extra garage space could only be attained by putting an addition on the main residence.

Ottino addressed his proposal to add stop signs in South Woodmoor. He said people were making shortcuts through South Woodmoor because of changes due to new developments. The county roads department was restricted in what it could do because of budget constraints. Ironically, though there had been enforcement work by the Sheriff’s department, all of the tickets were issued in North Woodmoor. In data gathered from some roads, vehicles were being driven at over 60 mph in places where the limit is 25 mph. The roads department was adamantly opposed to speed bumps or humps, and suggestions for closing roads had not gone well. The only opportunity left for speed control was the addition of stop signs. In response to questions, Ottino noted that so far the District 38 School Board had not been responsive to the suggestion of penalizing or warning students for speeding near the high school. Another resident asked for more enforcement from the Sheriff’s office in that area.

The election results were as follows:

  • Motion to allow ancillary buildings up to 530 sq. ft. approved; 338 votes for, 129 against.

  • Motion to approve the addition of stop signs in South Woodmoor approved; 100 votes for, 17 against.

  • Board members elected were Terry Holmes, Brian Osterholt, and Bill Walters.

Annual reports

Ottino reviewed the highlights of the year–the town meeting, progress on combating mountain pine beetle infestations, some progress on traffic issues, design standards for multi-family housing, and working with NEPCO. He also commented on the unresolved challenges of the conservation easement for the Walters property and proposed developments in and around Woodmoor. For the multi-family units proposed adjacent to Lake Woodmoor he noted that the density was slated to be around nine units per acre but said that within El Paso County development rules the density could be much higher.

The Pulte development in South Woodmoor was proceeding well and the status of the adjacent Walters property had recently been updated by the announcement that there was a verbal promise and signed letter of intent to proceed with the conservation easement, the Walters wanted it left as open space. The Misty Acres development had started construction but had been limited to only 10 units until access onto Monument Hill Road is resolved.

Betty Hutchinson gave the annual Treasurers Report, with the only item of concern being the maintenance costs of the Woodmoor Barn over the next few years.

Jim Woodman, Director of Forestry, gave his annual report covering the progress of mountain pine beetle control and the wildfire fuels reduction plan. One new reminder was that residents again needed permission to cut down any trees over 6 inches in diameter, a rule that was temporarily suspended for certain trees after the Hayman Fire. The issue of residents refusing to remove infested trees had been resolved by making it part of the covenant control system with warnings and potential fines.

In the wildfire fuels reduction plan Woodman expected to be working with local and state authorities, local fire departments, and also neighboring homeowners associations to identify the priority of areas for fuels reduction. He reminded residents that there was still grant money available until June 30, 2006 for their own fuels reduction projects.

Hans Post, Director of Public Safety, noted the continued low crime statistics for Woodmoor, road improvements made in cooperation with El Paso County Department of Transportation, and the addition of an eighth officer to the staff. He added that there were a total of nearly 1,600 calls for service, a slight increase over last year, but those that fell into the category of criminal activity had dropped by 47 percent to only 87 calls. The number of vacations check had risen to nearly 14,000. Challenges for the future include handling the increased traffic density from future developments, providing a better information system for residents on the WIA website, and expanding services to neighboring communities.

Elizabeth Miller noted in her report for the Architectural Control Committee (ACC) that new home construction was down markedly to only18 homes and only 57 lots remained, which were owned by non-residents. She was pleased that there was a new design standard for multi-family homes and the ACC had been able to add some new alternatives for siding, fencing, and decks.

Alan McMullen, in his report on common areas, noted that he had achieved some major improvements in the condition of the larger ponds through weed reduction and the addition of fish to control weeds and mosquito larvae. He had changed the common area mowing schedule in order to reduce noxious weeds and improve native species, at the same time attempting to minimize the use of spraying. He was pleased with the Great American Clean-Up event response but disappointed with volunteer response for other events. He was still looking for more common area volunteers and wanted to organize a community flea market later in the year. He was eager for other volunteers to come forward to make more use of the community center.

Commissioner Williams

Wayne Williams, County Commissioner, then made some comments related to issues affecting Woodmoor. He noted the success in getting money to start the COSMIX road-widening program in Colorado Springs and said it would be necessary to do more to improve the larger roads and major corridors in the area. He was trying to have more success in getting developers to contribute to building and improving local roads but was also concerned about developers getting their parcels annexed into the Town of Monument or Colorado Springs, which could allow a higher density of construction than if they had remained in the County.

Williams said he had put forward a local water board manager to act as a representative for the County in discussions on future planning with regard to renewable water supplies in the area.

He said he had managed to convince the other commissioners to put in a sand and gravel facility for the snow plows at Baptist Road and I-25 so trucks don’t have to go so far to replenish their supplies. He noted the improvements made at the junction of Furrow Road and Highway 105 but added that he was still trying to resolve the road improvements issues at Baptist Road.

In the following question and answer session he reminded residents that even if the Walters family did not proceed with the conservation easement and sold the property for development, there would still be a County and public review process required before development could proceed.

He also noted that the County was trying to improve snow plow coverage. When only one driver who knew the area was involved things went well, but in a heavy storm when additional plows were called in, more could be done to improve the order in which roads arre plowed.

At a brief meeting Feb. 1, the WIA board of directors made the following elections and appointments:

President of the Board - Hans Post
Vice President - Bill Walters
Director of Covenant Control - George McFadden
Director of Public Safety - Brian Osterholt
Secretary - Terry Holmes

All other positions remain unchanged from the previous year.

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2005 Tri-Lakes Weather Summary

By Bill Kappel

Colorado is a state of extremes in the world of weather, and 2005 proved to be no different. Temperatures and precipitation varied widely throughout the state, but the good news is the high country got back on track with above-normal snowfall to start and end the year.

Here along the Palmer Divide, precipitation was above normal for the year, and temperatures were slightly below average. Precipitation for the year totaled over 20 inches for most of us, with spring snows and heavy summer downpours providing the majority of this. There was the usual wide range of temperatures, with the mercury topping out at 99°F on July 21 and dipping to a bone-chilling –18°F on Dec. 7. (See Weather summary on the facing page)

Top Weather Events of 2005

April Blizzards

Springtime means snow in Colorado, and April 2005 didn’t disappoint, as not one, but two blizzards blasted the Front Range. The first developed during the early morning hours of the 5th. Whiteout conditions were common, with 8-12 inches of snow accumulating and blowing around as winds gusted out of the north over 70 mph in spots. Many travelers became stranded, especially along Highway 83 near High Forest Ranch, and power was lost in many communities.

The second blizzard began to take shape on the evening of the 9th, and by early the next morning, it was raging throughout the area. Snow and wind continued all day Sunday into early Monday, shutting down travel and piling up tremendous amounts of snow. Most areas on the Palmer Divide received 18-30 inches of wind-blown snow and, even better, well over 2 inches of liquid equivalent moisture.

June Hail

Severe storms developed rapidly during the afternoon of June 21 and rolled slowly down the I-25 corridor through the center and east side of Colorado Springs. This thunderstorm complex caused extensive flooding and hail damage and claimed several lives.

Here in the Tri-Lakes area, flash floods and hail pounded Jackson Creek Parkway, closing the road until the floodwaters receded in the northbound lanes. New construction in the area only made matters worse, as the flash flood raced across the bare ground and overtopped several erosion control barriers.

In Colorado Springs, streets were turned into rivers around the Citadel Mall and hail piled up like snowdrifts, stranding travelers. What a great way to start the first day of summer!

July Record Heat

Moisture quickly became a distant memory in July as a strong area of high pressure was building out of the desert Southwest. Highs soared into the 90s almost every day from the 7th to the end of the month. The temperatures topped out at 99°F on July 21. This was quite a contrast from the summer of 2004, which turned out to be one of the coldest and wettest on record.

Early October Snow

An area of low pressure intensified during the afternoon of Oct. 9. As the storm deepened over the southeast plains of Colorado, cold air was drawn down the Front Range. Precipitation continued to intensify and quickly turned to snow during the evening, especially in northern El Paso County. Winds also increased, and soon blizzard conditions were felt across the region. Snow piled up in a hurry, as roads became nearly impassable by late that night.

The snow continued to fall and blow around through all of the 10th as well, snapping trees and stressing residents. Many places around the Tri-Lakes area received 18-24 inches of wet snow and 2-3 inches of moisture.

November Windstorm

Windy conditions began early on the morning of Nov. 3, as winds gusted over 80 mph at times near the Air Force Academy. Several residents in the region lost large ponderosa pines in the strong gusts, and dust and debris made traveling hazardous. These wind speeds are equivalent to a category 1 hurricane. However, because we live at high altitude, the air is much less dense and the amount of air actually blowing around at 80 mph doesn’t have the same damaging effects.

December Arctic Chill

The coldest air in almost 10 years invaded the Front Range during the second week of December. Record highs and lows were set on the 7th and 8th. The high temperature in our area reached only –2°F on the afternoon of the 7th, setting a new record low high for the date—then plummeted that night to –18°F, also setting a new record. Below-normal temperatures with periods of snow continued off and on for the next week and a half, bringing a nice Christmas feel to the Front Range.

So what can we expect from Mother Nature for 2006? Well, just about everything, which makes the life of this meteorologist always exciting.

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January Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

Temperatures were warmer than normal for the month and precipitation was below normal. But don’t get too concerned, as January is typically one of the driest months of the year. It is more important for us to have a cool, snowy spring. The other good news this month is the above normal snow piling up in the high country. We have been warm and dry because the flow through the region has been predominantly from the northwest. This brings abundant Pacific moisture to the mountains, but this moisture does not make it off the high country. Instead we get drying; sinking air and intrusions of cold Arctic air are few and far between.

The warm and dry weather that ended 2005 continued into the new year as highs remained above average for the first week of 2006. We did see a brief reminder that snow can fall this time of the year as a few flurries fluttered to the ground on the 3rd and 4th, but the bigger story was the warmth. Highs soared into the 50s and low 60s on the 6th and 7th, breaking several record highs across the region. The warmth was put into even more extreme contrast when compared to the records on the cold side that were felt the first half of December.

Quiet and dry weather continued for the second week of January. Monday the 9th was the coolest day of the week as a quick-moving front brought a shot of colder air to the region, at least for one day. A few snow showers popped up during the late morning hours as well, but nothing more than a dusting fell, as highs struggled into the upper 30s. At least we got a reminder that 60s are not normal in January. Temperatures jumped back into the 50s for Tuesday and Wednesday under mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies. Another Pacific cool front moved through the region during the middle of the week knocking highs back into the 40s with a few flurries flying on the afternoon of the 12th. Another mild airmass rode into the region on a ridge of high pressure for the weekend, with highs reaching record levels on the 14th as we soared into the upper 50s and low 60s.

Finally some wintry weather made an appearance around the Tri-Lakes. Monday, Jan. 16th started off with light snow with 2-4 inches accumulating just in time for the morning commute. Cold air continued to spill in throughout the afternoon on gusty north winds. As skies cleared that night, temperatures tumbled, reaching below zero by that evening. But this was short lived, as next day saw scattered clouds and warmer temperatures as highs reached back into the 40s. The next cold front rolled in on the morning of the 18th, with snow beginning to fall during the morning and picking up during the day. A good 4-6 inches fell throughout the region, snarling traffic that afternoon and the next morning. Skies cleared on Friday and with plenty of fresh snow around, it was a beautiful day across the region. The weekend remained seasonably cool with mainly clear skies illuminating the snow. Temperatures stayed in the 30s on Saturday and cooled to the 20s for highs on Sunday.

The month ended on the quiet side with seasonal to slightly above average temperatures and dry conditions, until a weak cold front and a few snow showers developed on the last day of the month. Expect more moisture to begin to move back into the region over the next couple of months as we head into our snowiest months of the year from late winter to the middle of spring. Don’t put those snow shovels away just yet.

A Look Ahead

February is often a transition month for the Tri-Lakes as we move from dry and windy conditions in January towards the snowy and unsettled conditions of March. Precipitation is still on the low side overall, with average high temperatures rising through the 30s. It can get very cold in February with Arctic air making strong pushes into the region. However, days begin to get a little longer, which leads to some sunny days. February of 2005 was right around normal temperature-wise, but saw very little snowfall, with only 2-3 inches accumulating during the month. The official monthly forecast for February 2006, produced by the Climate Prediction Center (http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/), is calling for equal chances of normal temperatures and precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit http://users.adelphia.net/~billkappel/ClimateSummary.htm

January 2006 Weather Statistics

Average High 44.1°
Average Low 16.8°
Highest Temperature 60° on the 7th, 14th
Lowest Temperature -4° on the 16th
Monthly Precipitation 0.53"
Monthly Snowfall 9.1"
Season to Date Snow 56.9"
Season to Date Precip. 12.82"

For more detailed weather information and Climatology of the Palmer Divide and Tri-Lakes region, please visit Bill Kappel’s Weather Web page at http://users.adelphia.net/~billkappel/Weather.htm.

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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Letters to Our Community

State of the Town of Monument

Happy New Year to all! The year 2006 is here, and the State of the Town of Monument is well! We have had a lot of positive changes in 2005, including the creation of a great Town administration. We have been very fortunate in finding top level professional individuals who have come to be a part of this great community and to lead our current outstanding Town staff. High quality individuals like Town Manager Cathy Green, Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara, Police Chief Jacob Shirk, Public Works Director Rich Landreth, Town Treasurer Pam Smith and our latest addition, Town Clerk Scott Meszaros, have the talent and vision to lead Monument into the next decade and beyond.

The Highway 105 interchange was completed, as well as our new Historic Downtown Monument sign at State Highway 105 and Second Street. The Town again received an un-qualified audit for our 2004 financials, and our financial and economic status is better than ever. We look forward to 2006 with the planned openings of major retailers such as Wal-Mart, and Kohl’s. We are also eagerly awaiting the opening of Chili’s.

All of you have given the Town the go ahead to find and purchase a police facility that will enable our department to grow as needed for the next two decades. We have the option to purchase one of two buildings up for sale in the Historic Downtown area, which will not only accommodate the needs of our Police Department, but will enable us to move the town administration staff as well, enabling the current Town Hall facility to be utilized as a Community and Senior Center.

Because of Monument’s character and charm, we will continue to grow, and we, as a Town Board, are working hard to accommodate the new growth while emphasizing the needs of the community and our desire to maintain a high quality of life. We are working on ways to expand and improve our transportation system, our water system, parks and trails. We are hopeful that the Baptist Road widening improvements and the Baptist Road/I-25 Interchange will soon be under construction. We are working on ways to improve Higby Road, Old Denver Highway and extend Mitchell Avenue to State Highway 105. We have begun the long awaited Storm Drainage Master Plan which will provide us with a course for the planning, design and construction of infrastructure improvements in the Historic Downtown area. We have spent over a million dollars on upgrading the Town’s water system, and we are working with the Palmer Divide Water Group to find renewable water sources. In 2006 we plan on upgrading our park and trail infrastructure as well.

Our voice is being heard in Colorado, and the doors to the future well being of Monument are being opened.

Mayor Byron J. Glenn

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Love is in the air

By The Staff at Covered Treasures

February is a month of love. Aren’t we surrounded by reminders–hearts, flowers, and chocolate everywhere! This February we are focusing on books about love, but not the typical Valentine’s Day love.

The titles reviewed here will strengthen your love for life. Choose one or all these titles and be ready to laugh, cry, and fall in love (maybe all over again).

Tuesdays with Morrie: an old man, a young man, and life’s greatest lesson
By Mitch Albom, $12.95/$19.95

A 1997 runaway bestseller, this little memoir deserves a second go ‘round. With its lessons on love, work, community, family, aging, forgiveness, and death, it is a gift.

Diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), Morrie Schwartz, a beloved Brandeis University professor, made a profound decision: he would not wither up and disappear. The class met on Tuesdays, the subject was life, and the class was "taught" by the author’s former professor as he lay dying. This book is a review of the 14 Tuesdays where Mitch and Morrie met to discuss a list of topics of concern to Mitch. Each chapter may touch you in unexpectedly moving ways. For example, you may question your daily actions and promise to change the way you view life and death. In one chapter titled "Death" Morrie states, "Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live." Clearly, this book is a ‘new’ classic and a new love story.

The History of Love
By Nicole Krauss, $13.95

In a tribute to the strength of the human spirit, the extraordinary nature of language and the yearning for connection, this remarkable novel blends the threads of two disparate lives as they move along a path toward one another.

Meet Leo, an old man who has lived life by escaping in his writing, who now craves to be acknowledged in the world every day: "All I want is not to die on a day that I went unseen." And teenager Alma Singer who wrestles with her own grief for her adored, deceased father and her distant, beautiful mother who cannot recover from the loss of a beloved husband.

Don’t be misled; with an old man waiting for death and a mother who has given up on life, this is not a tale of woe, but one of hope. Beautifully written, with exquisite sensitivity and compassion, The History of Love will open your heart, fill you with the bright light of understanding, and leave you enriched for the experience.

The Art of the Spark
By Mary Zalmanek, $16.95

Mary is accomplished with two degrees–her MBA and, more importantly perhaps, her RA (Romantic Adventurer). This book is perfect for re-igniting the spark of love in a relationship. Ideally, this is a book to share with your partner but can be used by one person in the relationship. Each chapter is filled with adventures by couples that have kept the spark alive. After each story, the reader is invited to ‘rate’ the story’s interest level. The stories are intended to spark personal romantic possibilities. Visualizing the "love pyramid" is a good way to begin; for example, the bottom level is loving gestures that you do daily, the middle level is dates (ideal is one a month) and the apex is an annual adventure. How do you rate? This fun book will have you laughing and, maybe, blushing but will get you thinking and hopefully jumping to (re)ignite the candle of romance!

The Year of Magical Thinking
By Joan Didion, $23.95

Remember, this is a review of non-traditional Valentine’s Day reading because that is the only way we could include this title for this season. Didion, celebrated novelist and renowned personal essayist, returns to the latter genre with this gripping memoir of the year following her husband’s death. Didion says that this is a book about "death, about illness, about probability and luck, about good fortune and bad, about marriage, and children and memory, about grief, about the ways in which people do and do not deal with the fact that life ends, about the shallowness of sanity, about life, itself." The concise description of this book in Didion’s words says much about her style of writing and thinking–taut and acutely perceptive. In this, at times searing but always moving, recounting of her husband’s death ("Because we were both writers and both worked at home, our days were filled with the sound of each other’s voices.") and life-threatening illness of her beloved daughter, one is transported by love–even in its absence.

Ah love…it is the food of writing. It makes the world go round, life worth getting up for, and often good books, great. In all its guises it can delight as well as devastate. Where would we be without it? Loved any good books lately? Hopefully, one of these fit that bill.

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High Country Highlights: Windowsill Herb Gardening

By Woody Woodworth

An indoor kitchen herb garden will add interest to your meals and color to your windowsills—and help satisfy that urge to garden during the cold, wintry months ahead.

Some easy-to-grow annual herbs that can be transplanted to your garden next spring include basil, dill, oregano, chives, coriander, and anise. Most culinary herbs require at least five hours of sun per day. You can use a sunny window, provided the reflected heat is not too intense.

If you don’t have a window with direct sunlight, put your pots of herbs in a spot with plenty of light, then move them into the sun for a few hours whenever possible. You must also consider temperature and humidity. Most herbs need daytime temperatures of 68° to 70°F and 30 to 50 percent humidity. To increase humidity, place a dish of water near the plants.

If you want to sow seeds, use a potting mix of vermiculite or equal parts peat moss, garden loam, and coarse sand. Sow the seeds according to the package directions, but no deeper than two times the diameter of the seed. After planting, soak the bottom of the container in a pan of water until the surface is wet. Or spray with a mister until well-watered. Place each container inside a plastic bag to create a "greenhouse," leaving the top slightly open to allow some air and moisture to escape. Set in a fairly warm location (65° to 75°F) out of direct sunlight until seeds germinate.

Germination should start in two to three weeks. At that time, remove the plastic and move the container to a cooler area (60° to 70°F) where it will receive good light but not direct sun. Gradually increase the amount of sunlight by moving plants every few days. Turn for even exposure to sunlight. Continue to water, but don’t overdo it or the plants may rot.

Thin your herbs when the seedlings have two sets of true leaves. If you started herbs in flats, this is the time to transplant them to individual pots. Use a top-grade potting soil mixed with about 50 percent sand. Transplant herbs in a small container to allow them to root and grow. Any 3- or 4-inch container will do, as long as it has good drainage, but the best containers are clay.

The easiest way to grow herbs is to buy them already started. Usually, potted herbs are available from your garden center in a 4-inch pot. They are generally hardened off from the greenhouse and ready to be transplanted into clay pots. Plant one herb in a 6-inch pot, two in an 8-inch pot, and limit three to a 12-inch pot. Plants need air to move around them, so don’t crowd them. Healthy plants fight off insect and fungus problems naturally, but misting regularly helps keep indoor pests at bay.

Potted herbs need little fertilizer but will respond to some. Use a soluble fertilizer such as 5-10-10, and apply at half strength, based on label directions. Overfertilized herbs often have a poorer flavor than those grown at a more moderate rate. One exception to this rule is basil. It likes fertilizer along with regular watering.

Remember that herbs like to be watered, but need to drain well. We usually kill our indoor herbs by overwatering them, causing the roots to rot. Clay pots help draw the water away from the roots and help to dry the soil. Be sure to drain excess water from any saucers. To keep plants producing lushly, frequently pinch the top leaves.

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

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, January 19: Potluck evening success despite snow

Photos by Dee Kirby

Below Morgan Meyer models 1890s-style outfit made by her mother, Mary. 

Below: Donna Arndt's sculpture of "Dizzy the Dog,"

Below: The Palmer Lake Historical Society celebrates 50th anniversary.

By Dee Kirby

What should have been a big bash at the annual potluck and membership drive, held by the Palmer Lake Historical Society on Jan. 19, was iced by snow that stalled traffic in Colorado Springs and kept folks at home. Those who braved the weather enjoyed great food and an occasion to visit. Unfortunately, the guest speaker, local historian and filmmaker Jim Sawatzki, and The Castle Rock Band had to cancel their appearances. But Rogers Davis, director of the Lucretia Vaile Museum, stepped forward to discuss the history of the black and white photos that hang in the Town Hall.

Virgil Watkins shared a fact about the Palmer Lake Depot. When it came up for sale, he proposed to have the town purchase it. For some reason, his proposal was denied. Instead, the Depot sold to an individual for $100. It was moved to Fairplay, where it now stands. It still bears the moniker, Palmer Lake.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the society, Davis said that the society hopes to have local artist Donna Arndt make a life-size sculpture of "Dizzy the Dog," who played a role in helping to build the Star on the mountain. In what could be the start of public arts in the park, Dizzy will be placed in Village Green Park, where kids can pet or sit on him and have their pictures taken. "We just have to see if we can put it together," said Davis.

Local high school freshman Morgan Meyer modeled an 1890s-style outfit made by her mother, Mary, to promote a fashion show planned for June 25 in honor of the Lucretia Vaile Museum’s 25th anniversary in their current location beneath the Palmer Lake Library. The show will feature vintage clothing from 1860 to 1950. The committee is seeking loans, donations, or people to model their clothing. Somewhere out there must be a poodle skirt, flapper dress, hoops, an 1895 blouse with leg o’ mutton sleeves, and stuff long forgotten, folded in a trunk.

To contribute, contact Mary Meyer at 487-1030 or Phyllis Bonser at 481-9245.

Mark your calendar for the PLHS meeting on Feb. 16 at 7 p.m., when Mark Maloney comes to the Town Hall to talk about "The Fascinating World of Specialty Walking Sticks."

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Merlin Falcon

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

Falcons are a family of raptors that includes 39 fast-flying birds with long, narrow, pointed wings that allow them to fly and dive at extremely high speeds. Peregrine falcons are the fastest birds on earth and have reached diving speeds of up to 200 mph. The bony peg in the center of their nostrils on the upper beak is thought to deflect airflow to allow them to breath during their high-speed flight. Female falcons are larger than males. Falcons do not build their own nest. Depending on the species, they will lay eggs on a bare cliff ledge or recycle a nest of another bird.

Historically, humans have trained falcons to deliver messages and hunt for food. These birds of prey have long toes with sharp, curved talons. Falcons use their feet for grasping prey in midair or to knock prey out of the air. Once their prey is caught, falcons will quickly kill it by breaking its neck with their toothlike, curved beak. Unlike hawks, falcons rarely hunt from a perch and consume only live prey.

Falcons commonly found in Colorado include the American kestrel, merlin, prairie, and peregrine. Gyrfalcons, mascot of the Air Force Academy, also appear infrequently. In the winter, I watch for migratory raptors that frequent the Palmer Divide but often fly north in the spring to breed.

In the December issue of OCN, I reported on the American kestrel, the smallest falcon, which is here all year and is often seen perching on utility wires. It is easily distinguishable by the bold patterns on its head, referred to by birders as a double moustache. The remainder of this column will be devoted to the merlin and the next few months will focus on other birds of prey that frequent this area.

Similar to the kestrel, but less common, the merlin (Falco columbarius) was at one time referred to as the pigeon hawk, perhaps because it hunts pigeons or possibly because it looks a bit like a pigeon. In the sport of falconry during the Middle Ages, because of its small stature, the merlin was flown by the ladies of the court to hunt skylarks.

The merlin is a fast, agile, and aggressive hunter of small birds and mammals and large insects. Juvenile merlins learn to hunt by chasing down dragonflies and grasshoppers. The merlin’s flight speed while flapping is 30-40 mph, faster than the peregrine falcon.

As falcons go, the merlin is the most aggressive and reportedly will chase larger raptors, including hawks and eagles, from its territory. Considering the merlin has a body length of 10-13 inches, a wingspan of 20-26 inches, and weighs 5-8½ ounces, its boldness is remarkable.

Hunting: Some birders refer to the merlin as "a bird on a mission" because of the way it darts to its target. The merlin generally hunts in open grassland and can be seen perched on fenced pastures along Highway 83 near Castlewood Canyon State Park. This no-nonsense raptor will scan an area by flying about 3 feet above the ground. When prey is spotted, the merlin will quickly dart to it and pluck it from the ground or out of the air. It often surprises its prey by coming on it from behind a hedgerow and overpowering it with a great burst of speed. While merlins can catch two birds at once, their hunting success rate is only about 20 to 25 percent. They store leftover cache but will not eat carrion.

Identification: The more colorful male has a blue-gray back and orange-tinted underparts, while the female and immature birds are a dull brown above and whitish spotted with brown below. American merlin subspecies range from pale in the central states to nearly black in the Pacific Northwest. Unlike most other species of falcons, it does not have the distinct facial lines or "moustaches."

Courtship and breeding: The male performs aerial displays to attract a female to his defended territory. He delivers food to her and may locate an abandoned crow’s nest for her to nest in. The merlin first breeds between 1 and 3 years of age and is monogamous during the nesting season. The female incubates a clutch of 2 to 5 elliptical-shaped eggs that are light brown in color. The eggs hatch in 28 to 32 days. She leaves the nest only to accept food from her mate, for a short break, or to defend the nest from predators.

Some individuals, generally adult males, do not leave their breeding territories in the winter, while females and juveniles tend to migrate south.

Although some falcon species are listed on the world’s endangered species list, the merlin is not. It has proven to be an adaptable species. In many areas, the numbers of raptors are increasing, thanks to efforts by many individuals, governments, and raptor centers committed to providing habitat and recovering threatened raptor populations. The Rocky Mountain Raptor Program is located in Fort Collins (970-297-4181, or www.rmrp.org) and offers tours; I’m told it is set up to work with scouting organizations.

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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Art Matters: Local Artists in the Global Village

Below: Airing linen by Kathleen Murray. The Monument Branch Library is hosting an exhibit of Murray’s works.

Below: Assisi by Kathleen Murray.

By Janet Sellers

The library is one of my favorite venues to write about because of the tremendous value and response to art exhibits there. Every month, at least 18,000 people visit the Monument Branch Library and view the varied art exhibits, available to us seven days a week. This is a superb opportunity for our community of patrons, artists, and collectors.

In February, Monument Branch Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr., will feature paintings by Kathleen Murray in an exhibit called "The Heart of Italy." The show consists of watercolors from Murray’s trip to Tuscany and Umbria last October.

Murray said she was intrigued by the myriad textures and colors there. She took numerous bus tours and day trips, and came home with over a thousand photos of her travels and memories of the journey. "I tried to capture the antiquated streets, alleys, windows, doors, rooftops, and walled cities that have been in existence since before Christ was born," she said.

While most of the 15 watercolors on exhibit are large 15-by-22-inch paintings, there are also some intimate watercolors about 8-by-10 inches in size.

Art Openings and Exhibits for February

TLCA: Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) will offer an exquisite collection of contemporary works inspired by the New Testament Book of Revelations in its upcoming show "Revelations," featuring the artwork of B. Woolsey Benschneider. After an award-winning exhibit through the American Academy of Design, at the request of the Tiffany Foundation, Benschneider began a series of liturgical paintings based on the last book of the New Testament. TLCA will feature several original pieces and a series of smaller giclée prints.

The opening reception is Feb. 10, 5:30 to 8 p.m., in the Lucy Owens Gallery at TLCA. The reception is free, and the show runs through March 17. Concurrently, TLCA will host a reception for its "Wet and Dry" Art Show in the main gallery, featuring watercolor, pastel, and pencil. This show also runs through March 17. TLCA is located in the historic Kaiser-Frazer building, 304 W. Highway 105, in Palmer Lake.

Monument Branch Library special exhibit for February: Underground Railroad sampler quilt pieced and hand quilted by Ruby Hamilton. Pick up your key to the secret messages in the quilt; each image has a story and important mission of communication used in the underground railroad. There’s more to this amazing story in quilted pictures, so be sure to take a good look at our history on the wall for all to see. Classes and Events
Monument School of Fine Arts (MSFA):

  • Ongoing Saturday workshops: Whimsical Art, Photo Van Gogh, & Amazingly easy color field paintings. Saturdays, 10 a.m. to noon, or 1-3 outdoors if warm enough (10-15 students max.)

  • Ongoing weekly studio classes every Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday are also open for enrollment. Call Janet for details at 488-8280.

  • Beginning sign-ups for Summer Art Camps, June Movie Camp and August Movie Camp. Ages 5-9 and 10-17 for movie camp cast and crews; grades k-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12 for Annual Summer Art Studio, Art Camp, and Art Hike classes. For details: www.startmyart.com or call Janet at 488-8280

  • Mail Call ArtFest for Troops and Valentines for Vets and Troops - Join MSFA for our annual Valentine ArtFest to support our troops, past, present, active, wounded. Monument Branch Library entrance area, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr., Feb. 11, 1-4 p.m. or call and we’ll set up a time with your group, church, scouts, etc. to help you make it a great mail call for our troops. You can also get involved in "Mail Call" by sending us cards and letters of support addressed to "Dear Troops" with your contact information (address and e-mail) and we will forward to the troops on our list. "Mail Call" is the highlight of every soldier’s day and even though most troops have access to e-mail, it is only for a limited time and used mostly for family. Receiving "real" letters and cards brightens the troops’ day.
    Can’t make it to the library dates? Well, you can do your own mail call for the troops and send to: 4 The Troops - Mail Call c/o The American Legion Post 280 179 N. Vinedo Avenue Pasadena, CA 91107 Tell the troops about yourself (without telling them personal problems), keep it positive, write about your hometown, hobbies, your job/school, how you and your hometown support the troops, ask them questions about their own hobbies, sports, hometown and such. Remember be supportive as they need to be reminded Americans care. Feel free to include a patriotic picture. Or visit: http://www.4thetroops.net

Janet Sellers, an artist and educator, promotes community enrichment in the arts through classes, events, and a free monthly newsletter. Contact Janet at: artsalons@mac.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.

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.

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Jackson Creek HOA Annual Meeting

‘The Homestead at Jackson Creek Homeowners Association will hold its annual meeting Feb. 15, 7 p.m., at Creekside Middle School common area, 1330 Creekside Dr., Monument. For more information contact Sue Pepin at Board@HomesteadHOA.org.

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Gleneagle Women’s Club’s Dinner Dance and Concert

The neighborhood is invited to a fancy dress evening of cocktails, gourmet food, music, dancing, party favors, and door prizes. The event will be Feb. 17 at the USAF Academy Officers’ Club. The social hour and cash bar begin at 6 p.m., with dinner at 7 p.m. The cost is $35 a person. After dinner, Rampart High School’s Concert Jazz Band, which won best in the state, will play music for listening and dancing. RSVP by Feb. 13 by mail with the first and last names of all guests, meal choice (filet mignon, rocky mountain trout, or pasta primavera), and a check to Syble/Roger Karafft, 15049 La Jolla Place, Colorado Spring, CO 80921. For information, call Mary Kay Jones, 488-0653.

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Children’s Chess Tournament

The Kilmer Elementary School Chess Club is sponsoring a free chess tournament on Feb. 25. The tournament is open to all children grades K through 5, including home-schoolers. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and the first round starts at 9 a.m. There will be four rounds and the tournament should be over by 1 p.m. Parents are invited to remain at the tournament or they can return to the school near the end of the tournament. Chess sets will be provided, but children should bring their own snacks. Kilmer Elementary School, 4285 Walker Rd., is about 1½ miles east of Highway 83. For more information, contact chess club coach Steve Waldmann at 488-9887 or huskerco@adelphia.net.

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Sheriffs of Colorado Scholarship Program

Sheriff Terry Maketa announced that County Sheriffs of Colorado, Inc. (CSOC), the state Sheriffs’ Association, will award a $500 scholarship to a deserving El Paso County student this spring. In addition, this year a recipient will be selected from among the winners to receive the $1,000 Eugene/Becky Battles Scholarship. Announcements and application packages have been mailed to secondary schools and institutions of higher learning throughout the county. Applications are also available at the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Law Enforcement Bureau, located at 101 W. Costilla Street, Colorado Springs.

One scholarship will be awarded in over thirty Colorado counties this year. Applications will be reviewed by a local citizens’ committee, and a selection will be made on the basis of ability, merit, character, sincerity, and career purpose.

Any permanent resident of El Paso County enrolled in, or applying to, a vocational training program or institution of higher learning in Colorado as a full or part-time student is eligible to apply. There are no restrictions as to the course of study or training which may be pursued, and, of course, no restrictions are placed upon applicants by reason of race, creed, age, sex, or national origin.

For more information, contact your local high school or college; County Sheriffs of Colorado; or Jackie Doughty, Administrative Assistant to the Sheriff of El Paso County, at 520-7204. Completed applications must be returned by Feb. 28, 2006 to Jackie Doughty, 101 W. Costilla Street, Colorado Springs, CO, 80903.

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Tri-Lakes Women’s Club accepting grant requests

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

Qualified organizations are 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, public service agencies/organizations, and public schools. Grant applications and instructions are available on the TLWC web site, www.tlwc.net. Applications are also available by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to: TLWC - Grant Committee, P.O. Box 669, Monument, CO 80132.

The TLWC sponsors the annual Pine Forest Antique Show and Sale and Wine and Roses, a wine tasting event. Proceeds from these fundraisers benefit the Tri-Lakes community through this grant process. Last year $31,000 was granted to non-profit organizations, schools, and public service organizations. In the past 29 years $446,000 was awarded to benefit residents within the boundaries of School District 38.

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Library launches eBranch

eBranch, Pikes Peak Library District’s new electronic library, 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 website, 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.

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