Home  About  Advertise  Archive  Calendar  Contact  Help  Links  Maps  Subscribe  Topics  Updates
Our Community News - Home Vol. 6 No. 4 - April 1, 2006

 Any word  All words   Help
Category:     Results per page:     Sort by date

Prior Up Next

Contents:

the PDF file. This is a 14.9 Mbyte file and will take about 86 minutes to download at 28.8. To view and print the file, you will need to download and install the free Acrobat Reader Program.

Return to the top of the page

Concerns raised about potential high school on Wissler property

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

Below: An overflow crowd attended the Lewis-Palmer School Board meeting March 16. Board President Jes Raintree is standing. Board members and Superintendent David Dilley are seated at the right. Photo by John Heiser

Click on the photos to zoom in and view additional photos

Click on the photos to zoom in and view additional photos

Below Chris Mikulas, chair of the Save Wissler Ranch group says to the school board, "We want to work with you."

Click on the photos to zoom in and view additional photos

Below: After the ice hockey approval: Bill Anonsen, his son Colin, and School Board President Jes Raintree.

Click on the photos to zoom in and view additional photos

By John Heiser

An overflow crowd estimated at more than 300 people attended the Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board meeting March 16. Many came to protest the potential construction of a high school on a 60-acre portion of Marie Wissler’s 814-acre ranch near Furrow Road and King’s Deer Point. A smaller group came to persuade the school board to add ice hockey and girls’ field hockey to the Lewis-Palmer High School sports program. The board approved the additional sports to loud applause, defended its efforts to acquire the high school site, and did not rule out the use of its power of eminent domain to force Wissler to sell the land.

The hockey and high school site discussions came more than two hours into the meeting. School Board President Jes Raintree responded to objections that the items were placed late in the agenda by saying the board needed to address a number of other topics. Those other topics included:

  • Student Recognition: Lewis-Palmer Middle School students Karin Bainer and Ryan Miller performed a comedy duet, "The DMV Tyrant," and Creekside Middle School student Aly Archuleta performed a solo, "I Can Still Be Me," from their forensics program.

  • Lewis-Palmer High School Student Council report: Mike Laband and Addison Potter reported on Student Council activities. Mike noted that a bottle cap collection had raised $1,950 for a student who is recovering from an automobile accident, Student Council elections will be held in April, and their Constitution has been revised. Addison Potter, son of Dan Potter who spoke later regarding the high school site, announced that discussions of a second high school resulted in a unanimous vote by the Student Council that something needs to be done soon and that the Wissler Ranch property is best suited for a second high school. In supporting the use of eminent domain to acquire the land, he said, "Community needs must prevail over potential impacts."

  • Realignment of Higby Road: Monument Mayor Byron Glenn discussed plans to realign Higby Road so that west of Fairplay it will curve south of its current alignment. The town is working with the Home Place Ranch developer and the Triview Metropolitan District to make the road improvements. This effort will be coordinated with the traffic engineer and the town planner and will include input from the YMCA.

  • Response to Intervention (RTI) Report: Principals, staff, and students from Prairie Winds Elementary School and Lewis-Palmer Middle School described how RTI helps meet the learning needs of individual students. They noted that rather than waiting for learning disabilities to result in educational failures, RTI uses a team effort focusing on prevention and early intervention.

  • Appointment of new executive director of Special Programs and Services: Dr. Laura Douglas was unanimously approved as the new special services executive director. She is currently director of Special Education in the Cherry Creek School District. Douglas succeeds Linda Williams-Blackwell, who introduced Douglas and praised her experience and abilities.

  • Extension of administrators’ contracts: Upon Superintendent David Dilley’s recommendation, the Board approved extension of 13 administrators’ contracts for the 2006-07 school year including Ted Belteau, executive director, Administration and Community Services; Maryann Wiggs, executive director, Learning Services; Ray Blanch, executive director, Assessment, Research and Technology; Dr. Marie Revak, director of Professional Learning; and Dr. Keith Jacobus, executive director, Personnel Services.

  • Request of Monument Academy to add grade 12: The Board unanimously approved the addition of grade 12 at Monument Academy for the 2006-07 school year. Michael AuClaire, middle/high school principal, said they are expecting accreditation to be completed in June.

  •  Approval of traffic study: The Board unanimously approved an agreement with Felsburg, Holt & Ullevig to provide a traffic study of Jackson Creek Parkway and Higby Road, including a review of traffic flow on the Lewis-Palmer High School property. This study will be done partially in coordination with the YMCA.

Lewis-Palmer High School ice hockey and girls’ field hockey approved

Seann O’Connor made a presentation highlighting the plans and costs for the two new sports. He estimated the expenses for girls’ field hockey including transportation, coaches, equipment, and officials at $13,550 for the first year and $10,550 per year thereafter. For the ice hockey program, O’Connor estimated the expenses including transportation, equipment, game management, coaches, and rental of ice rink practice time at Soc N’ Roll at $17,730 for the first year and $15,130 per year thereafter. He noted that these amounts assume substantial fundraising by parents and other hockey supporters in the community.

Raintree added that four previous school boards discussed adding ice hockey without making a decision.

In response to a question from Board Treasurer Gail Wilson about whether alcohol and smoking would be allowed at events at Soc N’ Roll, Ray Marshall, one of the owners of Soc N’ Roll, said it would be restricted as part of the agreement with the school. Marshall also agreed to set aside team practice time from 4 to 7 p.m.

O’Connor added that the players’ behavior would be governed by a code of conduct.

District resident Bill Anonsen spoke in favor of the proposal. He said offering ice hockey would add value to the high school experience. In response to a question from Wilson, he said participation would be open to girls and that girls participate on other ice hockey teams.

The board voted unanimously to approve the addition of the two sports for the 2006-07 school year subject to management oversight by the school administration.

Board keeps open Wissler property options

Denny Hill and David Porter of Strategic Resources West presented the results of a growth study conducted by the district with representatives of El Paso County, local water and sanitation districts, and the towns of Monument and Palmer Lake. The study projected build-out of the area in 25-50 years. Some of its conclusions (all figures include the Monument Charter Academy):

  • The district will need space for an additional 3,090 elementary school students beyond the present 2,091 (2004-05). That translates to an additional six to seven elementary schools.

  • The district will need space for an additional 1,056 middle school students beyond the present 1,459 (2004-05), so a third middle school will be needed.

  • The district will need space for an additional 2,050 high school students beyond the present 1,806 (2004-05) so a second high school will be needed.

  • Total K-through-12 enrollment could grow from the present 5,356 to as much as 12,840.

  • With careful management, the district has the capacity for a few years at the elementary and middle school levels.

  • Lewis-Palmer High School enrollment is already above its program capacity.

  • A bond issue will be needed in November 2006 to fund construction.

Hill added that much of the anticipated growth is concentrated along the I-25 corridor. He said growth in the eastern part of the district will be constrained by the lack of water and sewer districts. He said, "The county is currently not interested in rezoning [that area] to higher density."

Hill noted that the criteria for a second high school site include 60 acres or more, availability of nearby water and sewer services, adequate access and roadways, and manageable site slopes. He noted that the district owns a 78-acre site at Highway 83 and Walker Road. The district reportedly purchased that land from the Younger family about 20 years ago for more than $700,000. Hill said that the water and sewer service at the nearby Walden development is not adequate to serve a high school but is sufficient to serve a middle school. He added that access to the site would be limited to using Walker Road, and if a high school were constructed there it could produce a dangerous situation at the intersection of Highway 83 and Walker Road.

Real estate consultant Dale Wheeler reviewed his efforts for the board since 1997 to find suitable land for a second high school. He said that of the many properties considered, the Wissler property is the only one that best meets the criteria.

Speaking as part of the district’s presentation, King’s Deer developer and resident Dan Potter characterized opposition to the Wissler site as "anti-growth and anti-eminent domain." He said the district’s Highway 83 site is not centrally located, and connecting to the Walden utilities would cost $1.5 million. Although he said he does not agree with the Supreme Court’s decision favoring use of eminent domain in the widely publicized New London case, Potter said he supports use of eminent domain in obtaining the Wissler property. Potter displayed a professionally prepared sign saying "Save the Children. Condemn Wissler Ranch." He later said that the sign was a joke. In response to suggestions that obtaining the property through eminent domain would be a protracted process, Potter said, "The district could have possession in a few months." The background for Potter’s remarks includes the county’s use of eminent domain to extend Milam Road north of Shoup Road through Black Forest Regional Park to connect to Potter’s Cathedral Pines development.

Board member Stephen Plank explained the requirement to maintain privacy of contract negotiations. He said that in the negotiations with the Wissler family, Dilley was acting at the direction of the Board.

Plank added that the school district has the power of eminent domain under state statute to obtain land inside the district through condemnation, but it must be based on fairness and equity and that the property owner would receive fair market value for the land.

Dilley, remarking on the outrage over eminent domain, said, "Where is outrage about overcrowding in our high school?" He reported on the sequence of events during the negotiations with the Wissler family and added, "I never heard ‘No means no.’" He finished his presentation by saying, "I am not one bit ashamed of anything I said or wrote."

Raintree added that the goal is to open the second high school by the 2008-09 school year. She said, "There is a child behind every decision I make." She urged district residents to participate through the building accountability and district accountability committees.

The Board heard comments from 23 residents who expressed their opinions about the need for a second high school, where it should be located, and how the property should or should not be obtained. Some of those comments:

  • Glenn Lodwig urged the board to concentrate on solutions that a majority of voters will support so the needed bond issue ballot measure will pass.

  • Jessica Kagarise, a student at Lewis-Palmer High School, said Addison Potter’s presentation regarding the views of the Student Council is not representative of the student body. She said that in one day, she obtained more than 100 signatures on a petition opposing use of eminent domain to obtain the Wissler property.

  • Shannon Doyle characterized eminent domain as "taking property that doesn’t belong to you." He said its use must be held to an incredibly high standard and that using it because it is cheaper is not an acceptable justification. He added, "If the district is seen as being a bully, that is not the right message for our kids. Mrs. Wissler has said it is not for sale. We need to look elsewhere."

  • Sonny Williams said the Wissler property is the wrong location because it is not centrally located and would pose a hazard to the students who attend Prairie Winds Elementary School. He added that the site at Highway 83 and Walker Road is at the intersection of major arterials, which would be safer for the students. Referring to the greater cost to develop that site, he said, "Tell us how much more. It’s yours."

  • Don MacIver said eminent domain in this situation should only be used to resolve the price, not to compel an unwilling seller. He questioned the site criteria used, saying a high school should not be located in a residential area. He added that since most of the residential lots near the Wissler site are already developed, that is not where the growth will occur. He reported that Phil Steininger, manager of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation district, told him that the district is not obligated and has not committed to serve the Wissler site.

  • Larry Lawrence, a civil engineer, said the Wissler site is not acceptable from a traffic standpoint and objected that an engineering study of the site had not been done. Raintree replied that the board is limited in how much they can spend without a bond issue.

  • Chris Mikulas, chair of the Save Wissler Ranch group, said to the board, "We want to work with you. We want to make sure a mistake isn’t made here. You owe it to this community to explore other options so this isn’t held up."

  • Terry Rust, representing the Wissler family, confirmed Dilley’s account of the sequence of the events during the negotiations and then asked the board, "Will you take it or not?" Raintree replied that the board has three ways to acquire land: donation, purchase, or condemnation. She did not rule out use of condemnation.

  • Pam Howard, a Lewis-Palmer High School teacher, commended the board for its efforts and stressed the urgency of creating a second high school.

  • Chris Pollard noted that if the family wants to block the use of eminent domain, they could put a conservation easement on the land. He added that the need for a second high school was not created by the school board but resulted from town and county rezoning.

Raintree thanked the attendees and announced that the meeting was entering executive session to discuss negotiations regarding the Monument Charter Academy.

**********

The Lewis-Palmer District 38 Board of Education normally meets on the third Thursday of each month at the Learning Center of the Lewis-Palmer Administration Building, Second and Jefferson. The next meeting is April 20. The district’s Web site is at www.lewispalmer.org.

Return to the top of the page

Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, March 10: Wal-Mart refuses to participate in public improvement fee

Below: Map showing Monument town boundaries (lined area) and BRRTA boundaries (darker areas). The darkest portions are parcels recently included in BRRTA. Photo by Mike Wicklund

Click here or on the map to zoom in

Click on the map to zoom in

By Jim Kendrick

Wal-Mart spokesman Mike Ciletti confirmed his previous press conference statement that the Monument Marketplace Wal-Mart would not voluntarily participate in a proposed Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) public improvement fee (PIF) to privately finance improvements to the Baptist Road I-25 interchange. Without Wal-Mart participation, there is insufficient projected PIF revenue from the other retail stores within BRRTA to pay the interest on the authority’s proposed highway construction bonds. BRRTA will now seek a 1 percent sales tax ballot initiative in the November election. County Commissioner Jim Bensberg was absent.

Financial matters

The board unanimously approved all seven invoices that had been submitted since the last meeting Feb. 10. There were two payments totaling $5,692.46 to Grimshaw and Harring for legal services and condemnation litigation, two payments totaling $10,605.59 to R.S. Wells LLC for district management, two payments totaling $11,225.30 for a market analysis and absorption study for the PIF, and a payment of $1,200 to BKD LLP for accounting services.

District Manager Denise Denslow of R.S. Wells asked if the board wanted to seek another exemption for an independent audit. District Attorney Jim Hunsaker said the audit would cost about $3,500. State law allows special districts to file for annual exemptions if their annual expenditures are under $500,000, and BRRTA has gotten an exemption each year since it was created in 1997. Triview Metropolitan District Manager Ron Simpson said, "We have recommended an audit every year because of the way the funds are collected, where they are collected, and how they are managed." Denslow suggested a separate audit for all collections made since 1997.

The board unanimously approved an independent audit for 2005. Denslow said she would solicit audit proposals. The board also unanimously approved having J.W. Simmons perform a separate audit of all impact fees collected since BRRTA was created.

Engineering Report

El Paso County Department of Transportation Project Manager Andre Brackin reported that a single bid proposal had been issued to increase construction efficiency for widening Baptist Road and building Struthers Road south of the intersection of Jackson Creek Parkway and Baptist Road.

Work on Baptist Road should start by the end of April, but not until late November for Struthers Road due to Preble’s mouse hibernation restrictions. Both portions are covered by the single construction contract, even though BRRTA and Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) are responsible for Baptist, while the county and PPRTA are responsible for Struthers Road. Some Struthers Road work must be concluded by April 30, the end of the "mouse hibernation" construction window, which increases that portion of the cost. Curb, gutter, and paving will be done after April 30 because those jobs won’t disturb the mouse habitat.

Brackin said the contract proposal consisted of five bid schedules. Six bids were submitted. The county uses the best-value bid process. The low bid was $10,173,995 from Rocky Mountain Materials and Asphalt, which he said also appeared to be the best value. The highest bid was $11,649,000.

The five schedules and their costs in the lowest bid were:

  1. Widening Baptist Road to seven lanes between the I-25 ramps and Jackson Creek Parkway; $235,979. Brackin noted that part of this improvement will be financed by funds escrowed by Vision Development as a condition of approval for the Monument Marketplace Home Depot’s certificate of occupancy. However, the town let the Home Depot open in July 2004 without any improvements to Baptist Road when no agreement with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could be reached regarding mouse habitat adjacent to the Baptist Road bridge over Jackson Creek. The bridge over I-25 will remain two lanes wide because it is owned by the state rather than BRRTA.

  2. Widening Baptist Road to four lanes east of Jackson Creek Parkway to Tari Drive; $6,647,417.

  3. Frontage road work from Family of Christ Church to Leather Chaps Drive; $101,188.

  4. Struthers road construction (6,000 feet) between the Struthers Ranch development and Baptist Road; $3,039,561.

  5. A noise wall on the south side of Baptist Road between Gleneagle Drive and Desiree Drive; $149,850.

Brackin said BRRTA’s engineering costs were about $940,000 and property acquisition costs were about $575,000. All costs were in line with the county’s estimates.

Brackin asked the board for guidance on which of the bid schedules to initiate. The total PPRTA funding that will be available for Baptist Road improvements is $6,944,000 compared to the cost for Baptist Road improvements of $7,134,434, a shortfall of $190,434. PPRTA money available for Struthers Road construction is $2.5 million compared to the cost of $3,039,561, a shortfall of $539,561.

Hunsaker said that PPRTA had paid $900,000 of BRRTA’s costs for engineering and land acquisition, further limiting the funds available for BRRTA’s four bid schedules. BRRTA must reimburse PPRTA for those "cash advances" at some point. BRRTA’s cash balance is currently about $430,000. The Wal-Mart traffic impact fee was about $260,000. Hunsaker added that BRRTA will increase traffic impact fees April 14 and collect more fees as more stores and houses are built.

Brackin suggested options for cost-cutting including elimination of widening east of Leather Chaps or Gleneagle Drive and not building landscaping, curbs, gutters, and sewers on Struthers Road. Brackin added that the cost for the extra left turn lanes that were added at the Jackson Creek Crossing intersection, between Leather Chaps Drive and Jackson Creek Parkway, was not anticipated in the original PPRTA funding. Monument Mayor Byron Glenn noted that the adjacent landowners had agreed to pay for the cost of a traffic signal at that intersection, if one is installed, as a condition of approval for their developments. Brackin said his department would have a formal proposal for project cuts and change orders April 14.

Monument Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara said the Wal-Mart would open in October, Kohl’s construction would begin by the end of March, and Promontory Pointe had been annexed.

Legal issues

Hunsaker reported that all inclusion documents have been signed and were being recorded by the county. A hearing date has not been set for the one condemnation required for right-of-way. The BRRTA appraisal of the land is $39,000, and the appraisal cost is $5,000. Hammers Construction will present its costs at the April 14 meeting for its part in coordinating the engineering and design of the new access on Baptist Road.

Public Improvement Fee

Chip King of King and Associates presented his draft market analysis for future economic development for the Tri-Lakes region and potential revenue production for the proposed PIF within BRRTA. Retail square footage will expand from 220,000 square feet to 1.6 million square feet in the next eight years, about 150,000 square feet per year. Monument is in the top three areas of the county for retail growth. The commercial areas studied were Monument Marketplace, Jackson Creek Market Village, Monument Ridge, Jackson Creek Commerce Center, Timbers at Monument, and Village Center at Woodmoor. For a half-cent PIF, King said BRRTA revenue would grow from $503,000 in 2006 to $2,046,000 in 2013, then more gradually to $2,282,000 in 2026. However, these figures assumed Wal-Mart participation, which will not occur.

Mike Ciletti told the board that Wal-Mart would not voluntarily impose a PIF on its customers. "Wal-Mart does not and should not have the right to decide to collect a fee," he said. Glenn noted that Wal-Mart had agreed to collect a 3 percent fee at the county’s hearings when the company was seeking approval for the Baptist Road location. Ciletti replied that the county and Triview Metropolitan District would have been imposing the fee as a condition of approval for the Baptist Road location, not Wal-Mart. He added that Wal-Mart would be happy to collect a sales tax, if one was approved by the voters as a ballot initiative. Glenn told Ciletti, "You’re supposed to be a good community neighbor" and Wal-Mart’s refusal to participate "will cause a fatality" due to severe backups on the Exit 158 off-ramps. Ciletti said there was still no written documentation for the PIF or the sales tax and cautioned Glenn to control his statements on the public record to his company.

There was a lengthy discussion with a representative of BRRTA’s financial advisor, Piper-Jaffrey, about how to finance the I-25 interchange project with tax money instead of the PIF. They discussed what level of sales tax could gain approval, how long the bonds would have to be based on various sales tax rates, and whether the tax should apply to BRRTA, the town of Monument, or both. There was some consensus that the tax should apply only to BRRTA to have a chance of passing. Also, they favored a tax rate that’s high enough to shorten the bond term from 20 years to perhaps as little as 10 years.

County Commissioner Wayne Williams noted that there would be no CDOT funding available for interchange construction until 2010 at the earliest and perhaps no earlier than 2019.

Jackson Creek resident Steve Myer said the public had been badly misled on how Referendum C and TABOR overrides would help improve state roads and that great care must be taken in crafting the sales tax ballot question to avoid voter rejection.

Downtown resident Mike Wicklund said some blame rested with the town for approving too much residential development, particularly through inappropriate annexation decisions that would actually harm the town’s financial future because they lacked any potential for sales tax revenue to pay long-term infrastructure maintenance costs. Noting that Promontory Pointe annexation on Baptist Road is purely residential, he said, "The town seems to be pushing more growth along a road that’s inadequate." Home Place Ranch and Classic’s Baptist Camp annexation requests–now called Sanctuary Point–will also be entirely residential. He continued, "That road’s been bad a long time. I think our local elected officials should look at what it is they’re approving. Why are they annexing property at high density when we might not get a bridge until 2019?" He urged that the bid schedules for widening Baptist Road be executed immediately.

Wicklund asked Williams and other local leaders to intercede with Gov. Bill Owens to move the Baptist Road interchange project higher on CDOT’s priority list. Williams replied, "I wish it were as simple as, ‘Go tell the government we need this.’ " He said the demand for road improvements has and will continue to exceed the state’s budget. "Unfortunately, what happened in this state for about 24 years is we operated on the theory that if we don’t build any more roads, there won’t be any growth. That was a bad theory." The method for financing the private bonds for early improvement of the Baptist Road I-25 interchange was unanimously tabled.

In an interview after the meeting, Wicklund said he disagreed with Williams. "Wayne Williams is our elected official to government. It’s irresponsible if he doesn’t go to the state for the money needed to improve a dangerous situation for his constituents in this county." Wicklund added, "One of the reasons I attended the meeting was to ‘go tell the government we need this’."

County Commissioner Dennis Hisey said that stopping annexations and growth would not solve BRRTA’s immediate need for traffic impact fees to pay its debt to PPRTA. Hunsaker assured the board that the PPRTA payments for BRRTA invoices were legal and appropriate. A motion to pay PPRTA $69,621.33 passed unanimously.

Williams said that a new financing plan by Piper-Jaffrey using sales tax revenue to pay the interest on the construction bonds until CDOT funds were available to pay off the principal would have to be in place before a ballot issue for a 1-cent sales tax within BRRTA could be proposed and approved for the November election. Piper-Jaffrey will not be paid for its work on the PIF under the terms of its contract with BRRTA.

Williams said BRRTA representatives would have to present the new plan to CDOT at a meeting scheduled for April 12. He suggested that the ballot issue proposal needed to be ready for consideration at the May meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 4:35 p.m. The next scheduled BRRTA meeting will be held at 2:30 p.m. April 14 at the county office building, 27 E. Vermijo in downtown Colorado Springs.

Return to the top of the page

Baptist and Struthers Road construction contract awarded

By Jim Kendrick

The Board of County Commissioners announced Mar. 30 that a construction contract had been awarded to Rocky Mountain Asphalt, Inc. for widening two miles of Baptist Road to four lanes. The contract also includes new construction of four lanes that will connect the existing four-lane portion of Struthers Road, north of Northgate Road, to the intersection of Baptist and Jackson Creek Parkway.

The approved contract total is $10,703,996. The Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) portion is $9,408,000. Approximately $500,000 will come from the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA). The rest will be provided through agreements with developers building nearby projects within Monument. This total amount does not include the costs for right-of-way purchases using PPRTA, BRRTA, and El Paso County funds.

As Baptist Road is widened, incidental construction will also occur on Leather Chaps, Gleneagle, Kingswood and Desiree Drives. Struthers Road will become a four-lane urban minor arterial connecting Baptist and Northgate Roads. The existing two-lane Struthers frontage road adjacent to I-25 on both sides of Baptist Road will be abandoned.

Construction is expected to begin in April at the intersection of Baptist Road and Jackson Creek Parkway. This first phase will move east to approximately Tari Drive.

"El Paso County has been working to obtain funding for improvements to these roads for nearly a decade. Three years ago, these improvements were listed as top priorities by the citizens on our Highway Advisory Commission and by the Board of County Commissioners. They are county projects, but we are fortunate to have funds available through the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority to get these roads improved and built to accommodate the current and future needs of the residents," said Commissioner Wayne Williams.

Return to the top of the page

Palmer Lake Town Council Workshop, March 2: Adjacent property owner trustees fight Fritts’ subdivision

By Jim Kendrick

At the Palmer Lake Town Council Workshop Trustees Gary Coleman and Chuck Cornell angrily denounced Rancho Irecema Subdivision developer Al Fritts and his request to subdivide the 27-acre Inn at Palmer Divide lot into two roughly equal size lots. Fritts said he was making the request for a plat amendment in response to a suggestion by the Small Business Administration and his bank.

The council also discussed three new business license requests, town construction of a parking lot opposite O’Malley’s Pub, a name change for Frontier Lane to Circle Road, and two requests for downtown vacations and replats. Trustee Trudy Finan was absent.

Tri-Lakes Senior Issues Forum April 29

Chuck Roberts of the Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership announced his organization and the Pikes Peak Area Agency on Aging would host the Tri-Lakes Senior Forum from 8 a.m. to noon April 29 at Lewis-Palmer Middle School. The forum is designed for senior citizens in the area to identify issues that are and are not being addressed and for area senior services providers to discuss what they can offer to seniors as well as to seek better coordination of their efforts. A comprehensive report containing forum results and recommendations will be compiled and distributed by the sponsors to local government and community leaders and other interested parties. Roberts invited the trustees and staff to endorse, promote, and attend the forum. He also asked that fliers and posters be displayed at Town Hall. Mayor Nikki McDonald endorsed the forum for the council. Trustee Trish Flake said she would lead the town’s efforts to promote the forum.

The council unanimously approved Tim Tracey’s request for renewal of the town’s annual agreement with the Palmer Lake Sports Riders for moto-cross biking activities at its park on County Line Road. The club’s annual fee to the town is $180.

The council unanimously approved three new business licenses as consent calendar items for the March 9 regular council meeting. Each owner was present to respond to any questions from trustees:

  • Circle B Farm and Ranch Supply, LLC: Owner Loren Burlage said he will sell shaving, feed, and panels for farm animals on his rural property at 500 W. Highway 105. The retail sales location may change if he can negotiate a suitable lot.

  • European Craftsmanship: Owner Bernard Bouard at 314 Columbine Road said he is opening a handyman and carpentry services business and has 38 years of experience.

  • McDonald Enterprises: Owner Nikki McDonald is providing outsourced catering services for meals prepared at the Staff of Life building (formerly Dagney’s) on Second Street in Monument, then delivered to Historic Pinecrest in Palmer Lake.

Burlage and Bouard were excused from attendance at the March 9 meeting. Cornell chaired the meeting while McDonald recused herself to answer questions about her new business license. The same procedure was followed at the regular meeting.

Bass vacation and replat

Deanna Bass was represented by Trustee Coleman, who operates a surveying company. Bass owns lots 16 and 17 at Hoover Lane and Truman Avenue in Section E of Cherry Hills. Bass also owns the irregularly shaped Glen Park Block 44 Lot 16 on the northwest corner of her Cherry Hills lot 16. Bass was asking that 75 percent of the platted area for a future access road to her Glen Park lot be vacated, with the rest of the right-of-way converted to an electric utility easement. This replat would allow the other two narrow lots to be widened to allow construction that could more easily comply with the town’s side setback restrictions. Actual width for the two replatted lots would increase from 43 to 50 feet. There were no objections from the other trustees and Bass’ request was placed on the consent calendar for March 9.

Elliot’s Corner vacation and replat

Tom Day, Jeff Houchin, and Carrie Block asked that the platted west end of Clio Avenue and north end of El Moro Avenue be vacated behind the five replatted Elliot’s Corner lots with frontages on Corso and Buena Vista avenues. These sections of platted roadway were never built. The owners had installed a sewer line and discovered an abandoned water line to a demolished house within this platted roadway. Town Clerk Della Gray suggested that the documentation for the sewer easement and abandoned water line be reviewed by Town Attorney Larry Gaddis. The owners were asked to return March 9 in case any other questions were raised.

Tree removal in Centennial Park

The council discussed elimination of one cottonwood and several scrub oak trees along the east side of State Highway 105, between O’Malley’s Pub and the Depot Restaurant. The town had marked the trees and posted notices of the removal plan. Clearing of the trees and construction of the parking lot is part of the town’s 2001 Cityscape Plan. This new lot will eliminate the long-ignored state requirement for parallel parking on the east side of the highway, allow parked cars to be moved off the side of the highway, and make that stretch of roadway more user-friendly for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Rock House owner Jeannine Engel asked how big the parking lot would be and if it would look nice. Roads Supervisor Bob Radosevich said the gravel lot would extend from Pie Corner to Primrose Street and grow to the east over time as more fill dirt becomes available to extend the graded parking plateau. New landscaping and shade trees will be added as a visual screen between the cars and the highway. He added that he would seek a CDOT grant to improve the lot. Flake said new trees would be planted in the lot on Arbor Day. Lighting will be evaluated in the future.

Burlage asked if the gravel would be the final grading material. Radosevich noted that crushed asphalt shavings could be added over time if and when any become available from state and county road improvement projects, and if the town can afford to have the material delivered by truck to the park. Permanent asphalt paving is too expensive for the foreseeable future.

Road name change postponed

Roads Trustee Max Parker reported that certified letters had been sent to the four property owners who would be affected by a street name change from Frontier Lane to Circle Road. Only homeowner George Winnick had responded, asking that the change be delayed a year while he tries to sell his house. He said all the paperwork and advertising he had already paid for would have to be changed. Parker said he would make an appointment to meet with Winnick to discuss the issue. The item was continued by consensus.

Inn at Palmer Divide conflict continues

Web Site Exclusive: Below: Main building will be finished before three bedroom buildings as construction proceeds at Inn at Palmer Divide.

Background: Developer Al Fritts has encountered a number of difficulties while developing the Rancho Irecema Subdivision, located between State Highway 105 and the railroad tracks, south of downtown Palmer Lake. Before development, the subdivision was zoned R1E, rural estate (2.5-acre minimum.) The current town zoning for the subdivision is Planned Unit Development (PUD).

Town approvals of the Mission Training International (MTI) development and the adjacent Inn at Palmer Divide projects have been difficult and controversial for Fritts. While he has eventually gained approval for several of his requested amendments to the plat, site plan, and PUD agreement with the town for both properties over the past seven years, each approval has typically taken several months with a majority rather than a unanimous vote by the Planning Commission and the Town Council.

Amendments considered prior to the subdivision request on March 2 were:

  • Extension of the existing town water main to the nearby Santa Fe Subdivision to the north in front of the Coleman property along the northeast side of State Highway 105 to the MTI lot. Trees that had grown in the state’s right-of-way in front of the Coleman home and had helped screen his house from noise and dust were removed during installation of the town water main extension. State regulations do not require the Colorado Department of Transportation to replace trees that grow in its rights-of-way.

  • A tap from this water main extension for a fire protection line to supply pressure for an MTI sprinkler system. The two lines were considered a potential health problem by some officials due to the stagnant water within them. The required periodic flushing of the two lines was also considered to be wasteful, even though the town could claim the flushed water as a Monument Creek stream credit for town well augmentation requirements. The water main extension as well as the MTI water tap and fire protection line were approved in August 2001, but the council denied any future domestic use even though MTI is within 400 feet of the new main. Fritts had not asked for town domestic water from the fire protection line tap, however. After the installation of the lines, the town has occasionally used the flushed water to wet down the town’s dirt roads for dust suppression.

  • Further extension of the MTI fire protection line to supply pressure to a sprinkler system for the adjacent Inn buildings was requested in October 2002. Town officials considered this to also be a potential health problem and a threat to overall system pressure due to limited town well production during the drought. The request was eventually withdrawn in May 2003. Fritts was required to install cisterns in lieu of the proposed extension of the MTI fire protection line.

  • Increase in the proposed size of the bed and breakfast from 24 to 39 rooms due to the request of project lenders in September 2003. Lenders believed an Inn with a restaurant, bar, and reception room would be a more viable project.

  • Change in the proposed purpose of the Inn, in October 2003, to a seniors assisted living facility. This change was suggested by local bankers after Fritts’ financial backers for the Inn were bankrupted. Denise Cornell asked that the state determine if the assisted living option would be viable and complained that ambulances and helicopters would be coming to lot 4 at all hours.

  • A change back to the original purpose of developing an Inn after alternative financing was obtained in September 2004.

  • Waiver for the width and thickness of the sign at the Inn’s entrance on Highway 105, which was approved in October 2005; the area of the sign is under the 100-square-foot maximum, however.

  • Granting of a liquor license for the main restaurant, bar, and reception room building before all four of the bedroom buildings are completed. The request was denied in December 2005 until more complete plans for this building’s decks and patios could be provided to the town. The proposal would allow some income to be generated while the other buildings were being completed. The last residential building is scheduled to be completed within a few months of completion of the main building. Coleman and Cornell asserted this was a major change to phased construction rather than a normal sequence of completion for a multi-unit development.

Adjacent property owners Chuck and Denise Cornell and Gary Coleman have been fighting each Fritts proposal, citing issues concerning the well, town water tap, traffic congestion and noise, potential helicopter noise, light pollution, and drainage. The Cornells live directly across State Highway 105 from the MTI and Inn at Palmer Divide developments. Coleman lives next to the MTI lot, on the northwest side. The Inn is adjacent to MTI to the southeast. These three neighbors have requested additional reviews of his various proposals by the state and county, as well as the town’s Planning Commission or Board of Adjustment before council decisions on each proposal. They have said that all of Fritts’ proposals were major changes under the PUD zoning ordinances, resulting in months of delay during each public hearing cycle.

Initially Coleman and the Cornells did not hold public office and opposed all of the proposals for Fritts’ subdivision as adjacent property owners. Chuck Cornell was elected as a trustee four years ago. Denise Cornell has been a Planning Commissioner for about two years. Coleman was a Planning Commissioner before being elected a trustee two years ago. As town officials they have continued to oppose Fritts’ requests and have asked for additional reviews and delays of each.

Town Attorneys Larry Gaddis and Jim Kin have not given a legal opinion on whether the Cornells and Coleman should be required to recuse themselves because of their direct financial involvement as adjacent property owners.

Subdivision amendment proposal: In his letter of Dec. 14, 2005, to the town, Fritts requested that the PUD plat and agreement for the Inn be amended by a subdivision into two roughly triangular lots. Nothing could be built on the vacant 13-acre lot without review and approval by the Planning Commission and Town Council under the unchanged PUD zoning.

All the approved Inn buildings and exterior facilities would be constructed on the proposed 14.12-acre lot, to include the existing approved access road and highway sign. The five Inn buildings are planned to be completed this year without any proposed changes.

The currently approved location for the detention pond for the entire 27 acres lies entirely within the proposed 13-acre lot south of the existing access road to the Inn, just behind the existing berm along the highway. If the proposed 13-acre lot were to be developed in the future, its primary access would have to intersect the Inn’s driveway, since the state would allow no additional curb cuts along Highway 105 between the closely spaced MTI access and Red Rock Ranch Road. If developed, the lot’s primary access would have to run through the currently approved detention pond location. Regrading of the lot to reposition the detention pond would be a major change requiring both Planning Commission and Town Council public hearings.

The replat proposal was reviewed by the Palmer Lake Planning Commission at its workshop Feb. 8, then narrowly approved (3-2) at its regular meeting Feb. 15, after Commissioner Denise Cornell’s motion to disapprove the replat failed (2-3). A condition of the majority approval was that the Town Council would "receive more information on the detention pond, access to the divided parcel, easements for detention pond and sewer line along with water availability for the divided parcel." The commissioners also discussed whether the proposed replat into two lots should be delayed until Fritts actually needed an additional financing option.

Discussion: Fritts said the subdivision of Lot 4 into two lots was suggested by both the SBA and Fritts’ long-term lender. It would allow the developer to obtain clear separate title to the 13-acre lot so that it would not become collateral for the SBA loan or the bank’s permanent financing. The separated 13-acre lot would provide a potential secondary source of future capital to better ensure the viability of the Inn project if financing difficulties are encountered. No changes to the previously approved plat or any of the numerous site plan drawings, other than adding a line to divide the parcel into two separate lots, have been proposed.

Chuck Cornell interrupted Fritts’ presentation to say there had been a procedural error at the Planning Commission. "I’m sure of it, Nikki, I am absolutely sure that you cannot have two motions on the same thing on the same night – a procedural error. We need to have legal representation at those meetings. This is more than one occasion that things have gone wrong there at the Planning Commission." McDonald replied that there is no such rule.

Fritts noted that Kin had said at the Planning Commission Workshop on Feb. 8 that "there was no legal reason why this request should not be approved." The trustees were hesitant to move forward because of Cornell’s claim, however, even though McDonald concurred with Fritts and said there was no change to the proposed development master plan other than a line for the subdivision into lots on a drawing. She agreed with Fritts that it was not a major change to the PUD master plan and reminded the trustees that the proposal had been narrowly approved by the Planning Commission.

Coleman said Fritts would not need to replat unless he had plans to sell the lot, "That’s what it appears to be to me." Cornell said, "Any reasonable person would make that assumption." Fritts said, "We don’t know exactly what we’re going to do with that property." He reiterated that the reason "for subdividing is to give us flexibility in making sure we are successful" in completing the Inn. He offered to provide copies of the letter from the SBA and the letter from the bank’s representative recommending the subdivision at the regular council meeting on March 9. Cornell replied that he should do so.

Fritts added that he had told the Planning Commission that 12 to 14 people have approached him to buy the 13-acre lot, but he had made no decision to sell it. Even if the lot were sold, the new owners of that lot would have to gain approval under the current PUD agreement from the town for any development plans.

Coleman said the lot would have no legal access and Fritts should have to create a special water district for the Rancho Irecema Subdivision, as well as provide a plan for road and infrastructure maintenance for the 13-acre lot. Coleman said CDOT did not approve the access on Highway 105 for Fritts’ proposed additional use and was not aware that Lot 4 "would be cut in half." He complained that Fritts would "take out the few remaining trees that the people of Palmer Lake enjoy when they drive by."

Fritts replied that a primary access could be provided from the existing Inn access road, and a secondary access could be provided from the Inn at the rear of the two lots though neither access was being requested at this time. He said the MTI well has more than enough adjudicated water production capacity (40 acre-feet per year) for the entire Rancho Irecema development. All other required utilities are already available within the development as well.

Noting again that he owned a surveying business, Coleman added that he would "be laughed out of the room" if he submitted a plat to Colorado Springs or the county like the one Fritts had proposed. Cornell said, "This needs to go back to the Planning Commission."

McDonald reiterated that "Kin did say that we have no legal recourse to deny" Fritts’ subdivision request and that the master plan could be changed after a future review of any new development proposal by the town. Parker suggested getting Kin’s or Gaddis’s legal advice before the hearing March 9.

Fritts read aloud the town ordinance’s list of conditions that define what constitutes a major change in a PUD master plan and showed, one by one, that none applies to his request.

Referring to eliminating the 13-acre portion of Lot 4 from collateralization, Coleman said, "You can do that by writing a legal description. I’ve done it many times. I’ve seen it done many times." Fritts replied, "I’m not asking for that" because he wanted clearly separated title to each of the two proposed lots. Cornell said, "You’re just trying to do an end-around so you can get a piece of property up for sale. We know what your little game is here, guy."

McDonald noted that if the new lot were sold in the future, the council would still review any proposals by the new owner under the existing PUD agreement. She told Fritts she didn’t want to see the Inn fail due to lack of financial leverage, but also felt that any proposal for townhomes or patio homes on the 13-acre lots "would be atrocious." Cornell said, "If you had a good business plan, this wouldn’t even be a question. This has been a questionable plan from day one." Coleman added, "For years and years we’ve been told this would all be built at once" and now it’s a subdivided phased project that has to have a new master plan approved prior to replat. Fritts said the construction would be completed in October, about four weeks behind schedule.

After further heated arguments between McDonald, Coleman, and Cornell, the mayor abruptly concluded the discussion after saying the council needed legal advice on this matter before the regular council meeting March 9. When Coleman and Cornell attempted to continue their arguments with her, she abruptly adjourned the workshop meeting at 8:15 p.m.

Return to the top of the page

Palmer Lake Town Council Meeting, March 9: Fritts’ subdivision request continued

By Jim Kendrick

After a replay of the arguments made at the March 2 Palmer Lake Town Council Workshop about dividing the 27-acre Inn at Palmer Divide lot into two parts, Al Fritts’ request for a subdivision was continued until next month. Trustee Jim Girlando was absent.

Palmer Lake Liquor Licensing Authority

The council met first as the Palmer Lake Liquor Licensing Authority and approved three temporary liquor licenses for:

  • Gleneagle Sertoma Club Wine Tasting at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, 304 Highway 105, at 7 p.m. on April 7. Sherry Edwards noted that $4,400 was raised last year for Tri-Lakes Cares and other local charities.

  • Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce silent auction and dinner event at Historic Pinecrest, 106 Pinecrest Way, at 6 p.m. on April 8, requested by Connie Hankins.

  • Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, 304 Highway 105, for a musical event at 7 p.m. on April 8, requested by Dennis Phillips.

Phillips also asked for a single temporary "arts license" for the center for the whole year to cover all the one-day musical events and art show openings. The town ordinance restricts the number of temporary licenses for one organization to 10 per year, but the center has musical events each month. The arts license would only apply to specific events, not for year-round bar operations. Town Attorney Larry Gaddis noted that the arts license would technically allow the center to have a concert every night of the year. Phillips said the center would continue to have only one or two events per month. After further discussion, the trustees agreed to waive the community survey normally required for an arts license application

Palmer Lake Town Council meeting

Consent items approved after discussion: Parks and Recreation Trustee Trish Flake asked about gaps in the listing of check numbers on the "Payment of Bills Report." Town Clerk Della Gray noted that there were some voided checks and two sets of payroll checks for town staff that she had not listed. She added that payroll checks are prepared by Town Water Clerk Tara Berreth using a separate module of the town’s financial software. They are not payments made by the town clerk and are not reviewed or approved by the council.

Gaddis said the council would only be approving the specific bill payments on Gray’s list. He added that Flake could review the payroll records at the town offices.

Gray said she would coordinate with Berreth and make a note in future lists of bill payment checks that specifies which check numbers were voided or used for payroll. Mayor Nikki McDonald noted that the auditor checks the town’s records and has not found any problems.

The council unanimously approved the following consent items: the council minutes for Feb. 9; payment of bills; new business licenses for Circle B Farm & Ranch Supply, LLC and European Craftsmanship; and a renewal of the annual contract for Palmer Lake Sports Riders Club to rent the town park on County Line Road. McDonald momentarily recused herself on the consent item for her new business license for McDonald Enterprises, a catering business, which was also approved.

(See Workshop article for more discussion of the consent items.)

Committee reports

Fire Trustee Gary Coleman reported 20 Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) calls in February: seven fire, seven medical, three wildland, one traffic accident, one public contact, and one other; eight of these were mutual aid. Coleman also reported that Chief Phillip Beckman had led six volunteers on a very serious all-night structure fire in Black Forest on a Friday night, and then returned, without sleep, to the station to conduct training all day.

The Colorado State Forest Service inspected its tender engine that is on permanent lease to PLVFD and said they were pleased with the quality of maintenance provided by the firefighters.

Coleman also read the monthly reminder to place house numbers where they can be seen from the road and use colors that contrast with the background. While smoke may help firefighters find structure fires even if no house numbers are visible, most PLVFD dispatches are medical calls. When Highway 105 resident Marilyn Burlage asked for more information about home address signs, Coleman noted that the primary problem area is the heavily wooded Glen district, where many houses can’t be seen from the street. He advised that the house number be posted right next to the driveway.

Water Trustee Chuck Cornell reported that a software glitch had resulted in double billing for February and advised town water customers that they didn’t need to pay twice to maintain their good credit standing. Anyone who has paid twice will receive a credit for the overpayment.

Tributary water consumption for February was 3,004,350 gallons. No well water was supplied, therefore there were no wastewater credits. No water taps have been sold since November.

Police Trustee Trudy Finan reported February’s statistics: 102 calls for service, one custody arrest, 13 cases, 38 traffic citations, 23 traffic/dog warnings, and four dog citations. There were 17 calls supporting the Monument Police Department and 18 calls supporting other county and town departments.

Ads for the police chief position have been published. Chief Dale Smith will retire July 1. The goal is to have the new chief start work by June 1 and work with Smith for one month.

The trustees approved the new job description for the chief’s position. Finan said that the chief’s job is a "working police position," where the chief is expected to be out in the community, rather than a desk job.

Finan also reported that Officer Nikki Tezak would return to duty March 14 after recovering from a knee injury she sustained during a mutual aid pursuit Jan. 12. The fugitive hit her with his car before he was shot and arrested by another officer.

Chuck Roberts of the Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership repeated the announcement he made March 2 about his organization and the Pikes Peak Area Agency on Aging hosting the Tri-Lakes Senior Forum 8 a.m. to noon April 29 at Lewis-Palmer Middle School.

Darryl Lundquist and Rogers Davis of the Palmer Lake Historical Society announced that their organization would be donating a statue to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the society, the 25th anniversary of the Vaile Museum, and the volunteer spirit of public service among town residents who built the town star in 1935, under the leadership of Bert Sloan and B.E. Jack.

The bronze statue of Sloan’s helpful dog, "Dizzy Dean," by local artist Donna Arndt will be displayed in front of Town Hall. Dizzy carried tools and supplies from one group of volunteers to another in a small pack Sloan made for him.

Davis asked the council to support the effort by providing a base for the statue and a plaque describing the efforts of Sloan, Jack, and "Dizzy Dean." Roads Supervisor Bob Radosevich summarized Davis’ request saying, "We need a rock?" Parker agreed to help coordinate the acquisition of this "rock" and plaque for the council.

Parks and Recreation Trustee Flake noted that the Fit for Fun exercise classes (yoga and belly-dancing) Tuesday and Wednesday mornings in Town Hall have been successful and still cost only $7 for each session. Parker asked Flake to make sure the presenters had Palmer Lake business licenses.

Flake reminded the trustees of the Easter egg hunt at 10:30 a.m. April 15 at Town Hall. It’s being organized by Eileen Facinelli. The fishing derby will be held June 3. Chuck Pyle will perform at the Columbine Festival on June 10.

McDonald announced that there would be seven candidates for five trustee seats and two candidates for mayor in the Apr. 4 election. She is not running for re-election. Coleman has completed only two years of his four-year term. The candidates for mayor are Kim Makower and Max Parker. Running for trustee are Richard Allen, Carol DeBlois, Kay DeBlois, Trudy Finan, Trish Flake, Jim Girlando, and Susan Miner.

McDonald also spoke about the half-cent sales tax ballot issues. She said that the police and fire departments have been "under-budgeted for as long as I’ve lived in this town," and the town "won’t ever be able to fund the departments the way they need to be." Finan said that if the two tax initiatives were approved, both departments might be able to provide 24-hour coverage.

Awake the Lake committee member Jeff Hulsmann asked if the town’s insurance policy could cover the fishing derby. Gaddis said the town policy should cover the event.

Hulsmann noted that engraved pavers for the memorial park at Palmer Lake are being sold for $75 each to raise money for the town’s officially sanctioned Awake the Lake committee. He also announced the sale of red, white, and blue wrist bands as a new fund-raising device for the annual fireworks display.

Hulsmann asked for permission for committee volunteers to stuff notices for these fund-raisers in town water bills and it was granted unanimously. A motion to purchase a paver for the council also passed unanimously.

Tree removal on Highway 105 approved

The council held the third and final open hearing on removing a cottonwood and some scrub oak trees on the east side of State Highway 105 in Centennial Park for a town parking lot. No one opposed the tree removal at any of the three hearings. It was unanimously approved.

Flake said the new lot is called for in the town’s cityscape plan, a part of the town’s 2001 comprehensive plan. Resident Bill Fisher suggested that the grade of the new parking lot be lowered 4 feet so it would not impede motorists’ views of the lake, that the lot be screened with landscaping, and that a sidewalk also be installed along Highway 105 to create a safe and appealing pedestrian zone. Lowering the lot might require less dirt work, making it cheaper and easier. He also asked about handicapped access.

Roads Supervisor Bob Radosevich said the streetscape plan didn’t call for lowering the grade, but it could be part of the project. McDonald replied that former Parks Trustee Cindy Allen was also concerned about handicapped access. Flake asked Fisher to volunteer for a citizens’ committee to review the design of the parking lot; he agreed to participate.

Frontier Lane name change tabled again

Parker noted that he had not yet met with property owner George Winnick, who had asked that the proposed name change to Circle Road be postponed until he can sell his house. Parker’s motion to table the issue until he meets with Winnick passed unanimously.

Parallel parking on Highway 105

Finan reported that Radosevich and Smith had met with CDOT to request a change in the prohibition of angle or perpendicular parking. She said CDOT Transportation Director Bob Torres had not completed his internal review of the town’s request to determine if angle parking would be safe and equitable for all the businesses on the highway. There will be no CDOT hearing on the town’s request. Finan added that removing or changing the existing parallel parking signs or eliminating parking across the highway from O’Malley’s pub is a state decision. "It’s not our land, our road, or our signs."

Vacation and replat on Hoover Lane approved

Coleman, representing owner Dee Bass, gave a presentation similar to the one he gave at the Mar. 2 workshop. The access road to one of Bass’ three lots has never been built by the town. Bass asked that she be able to combine the three lots and vacated access road into two 50-foot-wide lots to make it easier to meet side setback requirements for constructing two houses. (See workshop article for the details.)

April Wolfe said she had recently purchased the two adjacent lots to the south. She said she thought Bass’ lots were too narrow for construction of two houses, according to the neighborhood’s covenants. Wolfe asked for information about the town’s role in reviewing Bass’ request. Gaddis said the town’s only role is to determine that the Bass request meets the town’s zoning law, not covenant enforcement. After a discussion by Coleman and Gray informing Wolf of the details of the Bass proposal, Gaddis gave Wolfe his copy of Coleman’s plat drawings for her reference.

Gray asked for a condition to the vacation ordinance for the vacated town access roadway. She asked that the ordinance be amended with documentation that 25 percent of the town’s vacated access road would become the new electrical utility easement. Two separate motions for the amended ordinance vacating the town’s access road and for the replat of Bass’ lots passed unanimously. Coleman recused himself from the votes.

Vacation and replat of Elliott’s Corner subdivision approved

Gray and Gaddis noted that the vacation of Clio Avenue to enlarge the rear portions of the five replatted Elliott’s Corner lots would be granted to Tom Day, Jeff Houchin, and Carrie Block on the condition that they agree to convey a town easement for utilities in a portion of the vacated roadway. The three owners approved the easement, which won’t interfere with proposed construction on the five lots. The council unanimously approved a resolution allowing McDonald to sign a deed that conveyed the town’s roadway. The ordinances vacating Clio Avenue with the easement condition and approving the amended replat showing the new easement were unanimously approved. (See workshop article for more details.)

Request for Subdivision of the Inn at Palmer Divide continued again

Discussion: Developer Al Fritts requested a subdivision amendment for the 27-acre Inn at Palmer Divide property. The Inn would be on a 14.12-acre lot. A separate 13-acre vacant lot would be created to the south. He reiterated his position that the proposed subdivision was being asked for only at the request of the Small Business Administration (SBA) and his long-term lender.

Fritts said there were no changes in the request he had presented at the March 2 workshop, or additional requests.

McDonald asked Gaddis if the town could require a condition of approval that Fritts build the detention pond before the Inn is completed. Gaddis said the condition was not necessary because the pond would have to be completed and inspected before a certificate of occupancy would be issued. Fritts said his consultant engineer was preparing revised drawings for a relocated drainage pond, and he would provide the update to the town as soon as they are completed.

Finan, who was absent at the March 2 hearing, asked Fritts to explain his plans for the 13-acre lot. Fritts said the "goal is not to develop or sell it" but to "keep our options open for the success of the current project." He passed out copies of the SBA and bank letters that Cornell had requested March 2.

Coleman reiterated the arguments he had made against the subdivision replat March 2, saying only a change in the legal description would be required. He then said that "the town was not ready to create a new building site," that Fritts would probably sell it to a non-profit entity, which would prevent the town from being able to gain any real estate or sales tax revenue, and that the town should know who would be buying the lot before the town approved a replat. He said that Fritts should have provided a master plan "a long time ago," that no plan for lighting or landscaping had been reviewed by the council, and that more information was required regarding lighting and water plans before the council could make a decision.

Fritts read the letter of Dec. 16 from his bank, Banker’s Commercial Mortgage. The bank’s letter also requested the subdivision and replat that had previously been requested in the SBA’s letter of Dec. 13. The bank’s letter asked that the recommended subdivision be completed before the SBA provides a second loan on the Inn.

Fritts said the landscaping and lighting plans, as well as the deceleration lane required by CDOT, had already been approved as part of the original PUD master plan for the Inn, and the master plan had not been changed since then. He noted that there were two potential accesses to the proposed 13-acre lot–one from the main driveway to the Inn and another from the roadway at the rear of the Inn, both of which are already part of the approved PUD master plan. A CDOT review was unneccessary because the 13 acres would remain vacant, Fritts said. The Inn has purchased the rights to 40 acre-feet of water per year from the Mission Training International (MTI) well. Fritts added that there has been no request to change the PUD zoning, which would require a new owner to propose any development for review and approval by the town’s Planning Commission and Town Council.

Cornell said the town had never received a lighting plan. Fritts said the lighting plan had already been approved and the lighting for the Inn was being installed in accordance with that town-approved plan. Cornell listed the history of the site’s development including all the changes Fritts had requested. After that, Cornell said, "This is all about zoning and has been all along; this thing started as a residential lot. This man came along and decided he needed to put a business in there and ever since then it has morphed into a monster that never, ever stops. The PUD was for the town to get control of this project, and if you read this timeline he just keeps coming back for more and more and more. The promise given to every resident in that area was this would be just a bed and breakfast, a small project with a lot of open space, and that open space just keeps going away and going away and going away." Cornell added that if the subdivision grant is requested, "You’re giving him the right to sell off the land to anyone who comes along with the money, and I believe there’s already somebody out there with the money. This has gone far enough." He concluded, "If he doesn’t have the financing to finish it, let someone else come along who can do it. I say let it die."

Coleman added a comment on CDOT reviews: "We were led to believe that everyone would come into MTI on buses" but the parking lot is overcrowded on the weekends and people park illegally on the access road. He said the town had already granted enough of Fritts’ requests over the past five years and shouldn’t permit the replat without more information. "Tell us who your buyer is and then we’ll consider the situation." Coleman said the proposed subdivision requires Fritts to submit a completely new set of drawings.

Fritts said the original proposal was a 25-room conference center he had described as a bed and breakfast to indicate that breakfast would be served to the guests. Three guest houses were added to the main Inn building in an expansion to 39 rooms as the sole change from the original proposal in 1999 as a condition of obtaining financing. Fritts said the town has already received every supporting document needed for the construction that is under way.

Fritts’ attorney Ken Gray said there were no plans to sell the 13-acre parcel to either a profit or nonprofit entity and that Cornell’s and Coleman’s claims were pure speculation and not a matter the council could consider as a condition for the requested subdivision.

The town would lose no oversight over the new lot–or the Inn–if either is sold, Ken Gray said. He called Cornell’s demands for future development plans for the vacant lot a "Catch-22" and said there are no concerns about CDOT, water, hillside, drainage, lighting, or zoning for the council to evaluate because there are no plans to develop or sell the 13-acre lot. He reminded Cornell and Coleman that Fritts had not thought of the subdivision on his own but that it had been requested by the SBA. Coleman said the SBA took too long to request the change.

McDonald asked why the issue had come up after construction had re-started. Ken Gray said construction loans were obtained before final long-term lending negotiations were initiated a few months ago. Final costs had to be determined before arranging a mortgage. Cornell said, "I’ve never heard of such a thing."

Ken Gray reiterated that short-term construction and long-term mortgage lenders have different interests and timelines, and Fritts was working for long-term financial viability as requested by his bank and the SBA.

Fritts noted that Town Attorney Jim Kin had said at the Planning Commission Workshop Feb. 8 that the town could cite no legal reason to refuse his request for subdivision. Fritts also said the town would have no say if he chose to sell the 13-acre lot because it is private property.

Gaddis concurred and said it is up to any potential buyer of a PUD lot to know what the master plan for the lot requires before buying it. "There is no change in the development master plan if you draw this line," Gaddis said, referring to the proposed lot line that would split the 27-acre lot.

Ken Gray said that all the issues being raised by Coleman and Cornell were pure conjecture because there is no plan to sell the land. Cornell said, "That is pure conjecture on your part" because Fritts had "come to the town and told the town that they have to do whatever he wants because he’s already bought it. I know how that scenario plays out." Ken Gray replied that Fritts was not telling the town what to do.

Coleman said that an entrance road to the vacant lot would be an illegal cul-de-sac longer than 500 feet. Fritts said it would not be a cul-de-sac because any new access road would connect with the Inn access road at the front and the rear of the property to make a loop road with dual accesses for both proposed lots.

Former Planning Commissioner Jan Bristol asked that the council "take another look at that lighting approval." She said she thought some lights should have been at ground level rather than on 14-foot poles, but could not recall what had actually been approved. Regarding Fritts’ landscaping plan, she said, "We approved something."

Bristol also said, "I do believe that lenders get nervous when they’re lending money with a lot of open land." She added, "I don’t know why we couldn’t talk to the SBA and explain to them that because of the nature of the PUD the land has to stay intact in a 27-acre parcel."

Bristol asked if the Inn’s detention pond would be moved. Fritts had indicated at the March 2 workshop meeting that the primary access to the vacant lot would be through the area where the detention pond for the entire 27-acre lot had been originally planned. He said that he was studying where the pond could be relocated, if necessary.

Bristol said she didn’t know whether an amendment to the PUD was required before the town would permit the sale of the 13-acre lot. She added that if the vacant lot were sold, "It would compromise the standard of living out here."

Ken Gray said, "There is no secret buyer" and the town can enforce the master plan and all the restrictions that already apply to the entire parcel. Coleman said, "The Planning Commission vote was only 3-2, and one of the parties that voted for it is on the sanitation board, and would actually make money if the lot was subdivided."

After further lengthy discussion among the trustees, Cornell reiterated that the SBA could be satisfied without a subdivision of the 27-acre parcel. Fritts said Cornell was attempting to deny him the financial leverage he, the bank, and the SBA needed to help the Inn project succeed.

Parker said he didn’t think he had enough information to make a decision and that other commissioners had not reviewed the master plan or site plan documents. Fritts and Ken Gray replied that they had provided all the information sought by the Planning Commission, and all the project documentation was in the town office building for trustee review. Ken Gray said, "If the lending wasn’t in play, we wouldn’t be here" and that Fritts should not be required to get a transportation plan or negotiate easements for an access road, water, and drainage utilities for the 13-acre vacant lot because he had no intention to develop it at this time.

Cornell interrupted Ken Gray to say, "Are you saying that the Small Business Administration should not be satisfied by just writing a legal description?" As Fritts tried to respond, Cornell interrupted again and Fritts said, "If you would let me respond to your question?" He then said that the legal description proposal would not give him clear title to the 13-acre lot. The subdivision proposal "increases the flexibility to get a loan against it" in order to create capital. He added, "I’m not going to stand up here and tell you I wouldn’t sell it either, if we needed to." Cornell replied, "Given your track record, I’m going to guarantee you’ll sell it, probably within six months." Coleman said a legal description would only prevent Fritts from getting a building permit and not affect his clear title to the vacant lot.

Flake said she didn’t understand what the Planning Commission had asked the council to consider and Finan said she didn’t know enough about the proposal or the law to make a decision. Ken Gray said the strong personal emotions of some trustees should not cloud the sole issue Fritts was presenting: His request for a subdivision. Gaddis said the council would only be making a simple majority vote on whether to allow the line to be added to the plat and the master plan. He added that the council could also "table the request if the board does not feel it has received enough information."

Parker made a motion to continue the issue, and it passed unanimously. Fritts and Ken Gray asked what information Parker would need to have before the April 13 council meeting. Parker said he was not prepared to answer that question and could not tell them what he needed until the next regular council meeting.

Fritts offered to provide the location and easements and a copy of the engineering report for the detention pond when they are ready. He said an easement for the sewer line for the two lots could be created. Della Gray confirmed that all the issues that had been raised as never having been resolved had actually been reviewed and approved by the town and were already included in the PUD master plan documents that the trustees could review in her office.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:30 p.m. The next council workshop meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 6 in Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. Council workshops are normally held on the first Thursday of the month. The next regular council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. April 13 in Town Hall. Regular council meetings are normally held on the second Thursday of the month.

Return to the top of the page

Palmer Lake Ballot Issue, April 4 Election

Issue no. 1
Retainage of excess 2006 fiscal year revenue

Shall the Town of Palmer Lake, Colorado, be authorized to collect, retain and expend the full amount of revenues generated from all sources during fiscal year 2006 to include non-federal grants and to be spent as a voter approved revenue change for purposes including, but not limited, to the maintenance of buildings, to improve parking, road maintenance and to develop water supplies, not withstanding any state restrictions on any fiscal year spending including the restrictions of Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution and 29-1-301(1)(a), C.R.S.?

Issue no. 2
Retainage of excess 2007 fiscal year revenue

Shall the Town of Palmer Lake, Colorado, be authorized to collect, retain and expend the full amount of revenues generated from all sources during fiscal year 2007 to include non-federal grants and to be spent as a voter approved revenue change for purposes including, but not limited, to the maintenance of buildings, to improve parking, road maintenance and to develop water supplies, not withstanding any state restrictions on any fiscal year spending including the restrictions of Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution and 29-1-301(1)(a), C.R.S.?

Issue no. 3
Retainage of excess 2008 to 2011 fiscal year revenue

Shall the Town of Palmer Lake, Colorado, be authorized to collect, retain and expend the full amount of revenues generated from all sources during fiscal years 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 to include non-federal grants and to be spent as a voter approved revenue change for purposes including, not limited, to the maintenance of buildings, to improve parking, road maintenance and to develop water supplies, not withstanding any state restrictions on any fiscal year spending including the restrictions of Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution and 29-1-301(1)(a), C.R.S.?

Issue no. 4
Sales tax increase

Shall the Town of Palmer Lake, Colorado’s sales taxes be increased by approximately $75,000 annually, increasing sales taxes from 2% to 2.5%, commencing 2007 and concluding 2017, for exclusive use for essential police services to include, but not limited to, the hiring of an additional full-time officer and by whatever additional amounts are raised thereafter, from that .5% sales tax, to be spent as a voter approved revenue change and an exception to the limits which would otherwise apply, including the restrictions of Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution and 29-1-301(1)(a), C.R.S. and without limiting or affecting the collection or expending of any other revenue?

Issue no. 5
Sales tax increase

Shall the Town of Palmer Lake, Colorado’s sales taxes be increased by approximately $75,000 annually, increasing sales taxes from 2% to 2.5%, with the understanding that if issue #4 is successful the increase in sales taxes would be from 2.5% to 3%, commencing 2007 and concluding 2017, for exclusive use for essential fire services to include, but not limited to, the payment of debt and the hiring of personnel and by whatever additional amounts are raised thereafter, from that .5% sales tax, to be spent as a voter approved revenue change and an exception to the limits which would otherwise apply, including the restrictions of Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution and 29-1-301(1)(a), C.R.S. and without limiting or affecting the collection or expending of any other revenue?

Issue no. 6
Term limits

Shall the limits on the term of office of mayor and town council for the Town of Palmer Lake, as set by Article XVIII, Section 11 of the Colorado Constitution, be eliminated?

Return to the top of the page

Palmer Lake Candidate Statements, April 4 Election

Below: Front Row (left to right): Trudy Finan, Trish Flake, Kim Makower, Jim Girlando, and Richard Allen. Back Row: Carol DeBlois, Susan Miner, Kay DeBlois, and Max Parker. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

Compiled by Jim Kendrick

There are nine candidates running for six positions on the town council, mayor and five trustee slots. Only Fire Trustee Gary Coleman is not up for election this year.

OCN has asked each candidate to respond to two questions in 300 words or less.

1. What in your background would help you as trustee?

2. What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the town and what would you propose the town should do to deal with them?

The answers provided are listed, in alphabetical order.

Candidates for Mayor

Kim Makower

  1. My years as a geologist have given me the experience to answer the question of "Why did our lake dry up?" I’ve attended numerous meetings about water issues and tried to make a difference in the decision-making process. My involvement with the Colorado Foundation for Water Education has opened some doors and given me contacts with policy-makers in Denver. I am an active volunteer in the community as a tennis instructor and a contributor to the Awake the Lake Committee. My experience as a real estate agent gives me insight into land use and development issues. And I am a cancer survivor, so I have learned how to make enormous adjustments in my life. I’ve learned compassion, and I’ve become a better person. My work experience with Fortune 100 companies down to a business of one has taught me financial responsibility and accountability that will benefit the citizens of Palmer Lake.

  2. It is difficult for people to come to endless public meetings. If elected mayor, I would transform our mode of citizen communication by enhancing our Web site and notification procedures. I would like to make it nearly impossible for the average citizen to be unaware of upcoming issues.

Our water rates are among the highest in Colorado. In February, TOPL (the Town of Palmer Lake) imposed a 40-50 percent increase in fees to the average water customer while giving an 80 percent decrease to the heaviest users. I would advocate rectifying this inequity as soon as is practical. I would call a meeting of the citizens’ Water Committee, which has not met with a quorum since fall 2004. I would urge them to consider an updated version of "option 3" from the IUG consultant’s analysis. This option lowers the basic rate and has a higher usage rate, while raising the same total revenue.

Max Parker

  1. One of my qualifications is that I have been a trustee on the council for the past two years. In that capacity I have served as roads commissioner. I have been involved in several decisions that I see as crucial to the town’s future.

    I am also a Senior Systems Engineer working for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). In this capacity I work in the planning, coordination, implementation, and sustainment of large projects. By virtue of the fact that I get involved in every aspect of the project, I am able to get a perspective of how different parts or phases of a project affect the success of the overall objective.

  2. Water remains our number one issue. We have successfully survived the drought as it is so far, but there will be challenges in the years to come. I believe we need to come up with a long- term strategy that fits in with a larger effort on the part of the state to provide a viable and secure water production strategy.

    The most immediate issue facing us is the replacement of Marshal Dale Smith. Dale has been with us for so long that it might be hard to remember anyone else in that position. We need to find a successor that will provide the same leadership, professionalism and sense of community that Dale has brought to us for so long. As the challenges facing the town grow, we need to ensure that the Police Department remains as one of the cornerstones of our support to the citizens.

Candidates for Trustee

Richard Allen

  1. I had the pleasure of serving and gaining experience as a Palmer Lake Trustee for three years during the mid-1990s. I have maintained an active interest in the welfare of our town and our community. I understand the importance of realistic planning and compromise without sacrificing the core values of our town. I believe the best approach to town governance is a friendly spirit of cooperation with our citizens while remaining steadfast in making inevitable hard decisions. I enjoy working with others to achieve long- and short-range goals and objectives. I also believe honesty and integrity are prerequisites to service on the board.

  2. Like most Palmer Lake citizens, I consider population growth to be one of the most challenging issues we face. I think growth is inevitable and the key to accommodating growth is to ensure that it is controlled. That is easy to say but very difficult to do. There should be a clear understanding of current zoning laws and a working knowledge about our infrastructure capabilities. It will take planning for the future, revenue increases, enlightened budgeting, a vision for the future, and a realistic comprehensive plan working in unison to address future demands that will be placed on the town.

    Our second most challenging issue is one that is always present; allocating town resources. It is easy to manage excesses but extremely difficult to manage shortages. To my memory Palmer Lake has never had the luxury of excess budget revenues. To deal with this constant condition we must have innovative thinking on how to broaden and diversify our tax base. We must prioritize, maximize advance planning and minimize reaction, compromise when necessary and never lose sight of the necessity for collective efficiency when allocating available resources.

Carol DeBlois

  1. I am a good listener and team player, I’m non-biased, enjoy volunteering for a number of organizations (Fireworks Committee, Jaycees, school functions), and I can handle many responsibilities at one time.

  2. I believe the two greatest issues facing the Town of Palmer Lake are:

    a) The Lake – The lake is the heart of our town, it’s how we came about our name! We should work with El Paso County and do all we can to make the most of our park and keep this landmark beautiful.

    b) Fire Department – The volunteer Fire Department is not funded by the town. Passing the .5 percent sales tax initiative would allow the Fire Department access to the funds it needs without getting into town monies.

Kay DeBlois

  1. I am currently working as an Office Manager for Nationwide Floor and Window Coverings in Castle Rock. I am honest, a good listener, and open minded.

  2. Of course the water issue. We as a community need to find a way to conserve our natural sources.

    Revenue, we need to look at ways to bring business into town without destroying its natural beauty and appeal.

Trish Flake

  1. I have volunteered in a variety of roles, many of which will assist in the position of trustee. Having served on a multitude of school district advisory boards, I have gained useful experience with short- and long-term strategic planning. This experience will be especially helpful with efforts to update our comprehensive plan. Most importantly, my experience as the Parks and Recreation trustee has afforded me a knowledge of our town government and procedure. As a current trustee, I am up-to-date on the current issues and obstacles facing our town.

  2. The state of our lake is a strife that will need to be addressed continuously until a resolution of water retention or a reasonable means for regular replenishment is achieved. The Board should continue to endorse the efforts of the town-sanctioned Awake the Lake committee. They have pooled resources and made great strides towards permanent remedies. The Lake is such a prominent issue because its existence provides both emotional and economic benefits to all of us.

    Finally, with a minimal number of water taps left for sale, the Board will need to find new ways to generate revenue needed to maintain sufficient reserve funds in the Capital Improvement Fund for emergencies. As trustee, I would like to implement programs through the Parks and Recreation Department which generate revenue. I would also like to see the town go out and look for businesses to bring to town. We should seek businesses that would recycle money back into the community.

Trudy Finan

  1. I care about this town. I feel that caring about this town is the most important background a council member needs.

  2. There are several issues facing the town: water, budget, roads. The key to dealing with these issues and others is community input. The Town Council needs community input. There are very few people who make it to the council meetings and it is so important for us to hear from the community. We need to hear their opinions so when it comes to making a decision on these issues, we can take what the town thinks into consideration. It really does make a difference.

Jim Girlando

  1. I have a strong aptitude for finances and am taking accounting classes at UCCS in preparation to becoming a CPA. As a small town with minimal development, Palmer Lake has a limited revenue stream. I believe my background will be helpful in maximizing the use of the town’s financial resources for the maximum benefit for the town’s citizens. In my leadership position at my church and my over 20 years of consultative selling, I am used to working in teams to collaboratively come up with creative solutions to complex problems. I have the ability to logically and methodically work through an issue, putting aside non-essential data and working toward the best possible solution available.

  2. I believe the two main issues facing the town are the limited revenue that I mentioned in the answer to the first question and the development of the town and the lake. For the first issue we need to find new revenue streams and save on expenses without having a negative impact on the citizens of Palmer Lake. This is something that I think needs to be explored with citizen involvement. New ideas can be uncovered and creative solutions can be found if we approach things with open minds and the common desire to find a solution. Both this issue and the second are current and ongoing issues that require long-term solutions. We need to work toward a master plan for both the town center and the lake area to make them both attractive and useful to Palmer Lake citizens and visitors. We need to work with other government agencies, our local business owners, and concerned citizens to develop and implement these plans.

Susan Miner

  1. In addition to serving a previous term as Economic Development Trustee for the town, I have served on the boards of the Tri-Lakes Chamber, the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, the Tri-Lakes Networking Team and the fire district consolidation committee. Each experience afforded me longstanding relationships in the community, relationships that are vital to Palmer Lake.

  2. The long-term issues of maintaining our roads, water, and recreational facilities all take a great deal of money. Because we are so close to being built out and because there is a limit to how much you can tax residents, we need to find creative ways to keep ourselves financially viable. I believe the answer is in a stronger economic business base. 

    As Monument grows to meet the needs of convenience, Palmer Lake remains a haven of charm and leisure. People come to enjoy our wonderful restaurants and to gather at the lake. We need that kind of activity every day of the week; families on bicycles, paddle boats on the lake, games in the park, and hikers anxious for a hearty meal. Harried people from Denver and Colorado Springs should think of Palmer Lake as a destination taking the train out of the city to enjoy a day of leisure, spend some money, and then go home knowing that they are welcome to come back and spend some more! Review of the Comprehensive Plan indicated that the town residents were in favor of some type of tourism. It is very important that Palmer Lake residents take control of their future now to decide what kind of activities, how people come, and where they spend so we can keep the town we came here for while adding the funds we need to maintain our quality of life.

Return to the top of the page

Monument Board of Trustees, March 6: Officer Degenkolbe awarded Distinguished Service Medal

Below: Monument Police Chief Jake Shirk (right) presents Distinguished Service Medal to Officer Kevin Degenkolbe at the March 6 Board of Trustees meeting. Photo by Jim Kendrick

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

Click on the photo to zoom in and view additional photos

By Jim Kendrick

It was a night filled with pride and recognition for Monument Police Officer Kevin Degenkolbe and his family for a job well done. Chief Jake Shirk presented the Distinguished Service Medal, second only to the Medal of Honor, to Degenkolbe. With nearly the entire department staff in attendance, Shirk read the dramatic account of the night that started with the dispatch, "Shots fired!" It was a standing-room-only crowd in Town Hall.

Town Manager Cathy Green announced that the election for four trustee positions had been canceled. All members of the Board of Trustees (BOT) and department heads attended.

Distinguished Service Medal presentation

Officer Mark Sweatt’s nomination for Degenkolbe’s award noted that on the afternoon of Feb. 15, 2005, Officer Kevin Degenkolbe and Sweatt responded to a shots-fired call. Degenkolbe took the report from victim James Bond that the suspect, Larry Bailey, had shot his TV with a handgun after threatening to shoot Bond. Bailey then placed the gun to his head and said, "It’s the only way." Degenkolbe took command of the scene, ordering Bailey to put down the gun. Bailey started to point the gun toward Degenkolbe, who kept shouting commands for Bailey to drop the weapon. Bailey complied with his instruction and placed the weapon back into the residence. Further investigation revealed Bailey earlier had strangled his hybrid wolf to death.

Degenkolbe "placed himself in a position where he could have been killed or seriously injured, disregarded his own safety for that of his fellow Officers. His exceptional bravery ended the incident with no loss of life or serious bodily injury."

Shirk presented Degenkolbe with a medal, a citation, and a blue pin to wear on his uniform.

A reception followed the presentation.

Senior housing proposal

Green reviewed the previous proposals by Jamie Hull, of Tecton Corp., and Tim Irish, of Design Properties, to build two senior service facilities at a town-owned parcel in the Villages of Woodmoor and Tecton’s vacant property on Beacon Lite Highway, south of the Herb Garden Bistro restaurant.

Hull said 2 acres of the town’s parcel on Highway 105 are covered with surface springs and water. Gravity flow sewer lines for the town’s lot would require an easement across the adjacent, privately-owned lot to the west. The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District is willing to sell excess water for the lot; the water rights for the town’s lot have already been transferred to Woodmoor as part of the planned development agreement because the town’s lot had been planned to be part of the open space dedication. Woodmoor’s regulations do not permit a donation or significant discount for the purchased water rights.

Hull suggested an urgent-care facility for the town’s lot in partnership with service provider Peak Vista. Irish said several levels of medical service would be available. Hull asked the town to draft a land transfer contract to Tecton, which would return the value of the land, "dollar-for-dollar," in reduced unit rental fees for up to 20 percent of the individual living units at both facilities, for under $1,000 per month. Comparable services in the area start at $2,800 per month. If the subsidy were spread out to all the proposed living units, it would only amount to about $42 per unit.

Ordinances

The board unanimously continued the public hearing on an ordinance for a contract with Mountain View Electric Association. The board unanimously approved an ordinance restricting future residential installations of grass. Bluegrass is now restricted to a maximum of "33 percent of a lot’s pervious area," while drought-tolerant fescues can be installed on up to "50 percent of a lot’s pervious area."

The board unanimously approved Shirk’s proposed resolution to adopt the National Incident Management System (NIMS) as the standard of practice during emergency response in order to remain eligible for federal preparedness grants. NIMS has also been adopted by the region’s fire and rescue departments.

Financial Issues

The board unanimously approved Treasurer Pamela Smith’s request for two expenditures over $5,000:

  • $34,341.55 to Intellichoice for purchase, installation, and training for system administrators Mary Ellen Burk and Miriam Hudson, and maintenance of the eForce Records Management System for the Police Department.

  • $11,538.90 to Boscoe Constructors Inc. for work done on wells 3 and 9 of the water treatment plant.

Smith reported that the audit for 2005 was proceeding smoothly. The deadline for submission to the state is June 30. The new Caselle municipal software training will be completed and the system should be in operation in April. The transition to the town’s new phone system went smoothly "with no adverse events or problems."

Staff reports

Town Attorney Gary Shupp reported that the Transit Mix concrete batch plant lawsuit has been scheduled for trial in November.

Shirk reported that his department was initiating a program of liquor license compliance checks to ensure that no liquor is being sold to individuals 18-20 years old. Town Clerk Scott Meszaros said there are currently 19 licensees in Monument, and two applications for new licenses are being processed. Orten asked Shirk to send the licensees a letter notifying them of the program. Shirk agreed and said there is no indication that any of the 19 licensees are selling to minors.

Election canceled

Mayor Byron Glenn announced that Trustee Frank Orten would not be running for re-election. Trustee Tim Miller thanked Orten for his service for the board. Green announced that there would be no town election on April 4 due to four candidates running for the four open trustee seats. Trustee Travis Easton, Tommie Plank, and Tim Miller have been elected by acclamation. Steve Samuels will replace Orten. Meszaros said he would present the formal resolution for cancellation at the next board meeting.

Easton thanked Shirk for his department’s participation in the funeral services for slain Colorado Springs Police Officer Jensen.

The meeting adjourned at 7:47 p.m.

Return to the top of the page

Monument Board of Trustees, March 20: Baptist Interchange options discussed

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Board of Trustees unanimously approved renewals of liquor licenses for the Broiler Room and Herb Garden Bistro Garden. Town Manager Cathy Green gave a presentation on town growth issues.

Baptist Interchange Options

Mayor Byron Glenn said the town had two options for improving the Baptist Road/I-25 interchange.

The first alternative is a voluntary public improvement fee (PIF). Wal-Mart has refused to voluntarily participate in the proposed PIF that the other retail businesses within the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) had agreed upon as a way to privately finance road improvements.

Glenn said he and Green will meet with state Department of Transportation (CDOT) officials to see if the agency could pay for the interchange. Glenn said "the county is still trying to persuade Wal-Mart to participate in the PIF."

The other alternative is for BRRTA to pursue a November ballot issue for a 1-cent sales tax. The proposed tax would apply only to retail businesses within BRRTA and Monument. The revenue is needed to pay the interest on private construction bonds for early expansion of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange, with CDOT eventually paying off the bond principal when funds become available to pay for the interchange’s construction costs. If CDOT funding never becomes available, the proposed temporary sales tax would pay off the bond principal, perhaps within as few as 10 years. The current proposal is for the sales tax to expire after the bond principal for the interchange improvement is paid off.

Glenn noted that the BRRTA tax could be proposed because Monument chose not to participate in the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority’s 1-cent sales tax. He added that the town was still having problems with the county for not becoming part of PPRTA. Glenn said he would send a letter from the town to the PPRTA board "saying that we had good reasons not to, and there’s a couple county roads you guys haven’t put a dollar into that we’re improving, such as Higby, and I’m sure we’ll have Old Denver [Highway]. The county’s currently designing improvements for County Line Road, bypassing us altogether."

Glenn noted that the developers of Home Place Ranch, Promontory Pointe, and Sanctuary Point (the former Baptist Camp) had agreed to establish a road improvement special district that will impose a new 7-mill tax levy for each house that they build in these three annexations. This mill levy will be in addition to the mill levy for the Triview Metropolitan District. The new road district’s tax revenue will be used to:

  • Build Point Ranch Road, which is the extension of Gleneagle Drive,

  • Widen Higby Road from Point Ranch Road to Jackson Creek Parkway,

  • Widen Jackson Creek Parkway from Higby Road to State Highway 105 by the improved I-25 Exit 161.

Glenn said, "This would create new improved roads to a new improved interchange. Hopefully the gridlock will be split between the two and we can get this interchange fixed. The interchange is a problem now; it’s not because of any annexations. It’s always been a problem. We just have to find a way to fund it quickly." He added that the growth issues could be discussed at the trustees’ retreat.

Glenn said he had attended one of the seniors’ luncheons at Town Hall. Their top concerns were a seniors center, senior housing, medical services, public transportation, and the installation date for the traffic light at Knollwood and State Highway 105. Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara said CDOT would not install all the required improvements, including the traffic light, at that intersection until after the town had improved the plat and site plan for the commercial portion of the Villages at Woodmoor development at the southeast corner of this intersection. This will take about six months.

Glenn asked if the town could provide a traffic light at Highway 105 and Beacon Lite Road that would be synchronized with the new Highway 105 light for the Safeway. Glenn asked Kassawara to apply again for financial support for the light.

Trustee Tim Miller asked how the town could get involved in the Lewis-Palmer School District 38 controversy over purchasing or condemning Wissler Ranch for a second high school. Glenn said, "We don’t. It’s their board’s call."

Public comments

Kingswood resident Mike Wermuth complimented Monument Chief Jake Shirk and Officers Rob Stewart and Mark Owens for their "very professional, very cordial" assistance and control of the District 38 meeting, after the district "underestimated how strongly people felt about the issue." He also apologized to Tom Kassawara for remarks he had made that were in error at a previous meeting.

MVEA ordinance continued again

Green reported that she had still not received a copy of the franchise fee contract from Mountain View Electric Association. The ordinance for the contract was unanimously continued.

Election canceled

The board approved a resolution declaring that the April 4 town election was canceled due to only four candidates running for the four open trustee seats. The resolution also declares that incumbent Trustees Travis Easton, Tommie Plank, and Tim Miller, along with candidate Steve Samuels, have been elected by acclamation. Samuels will replace Trustee Frank Orten, who did not seek re-election. Plank volunteered to take the two-year term; the others’ terms are four years.

Plank read a written statement regarding the election:

"It has come to my attention that a telephone call was received at Town Hall protesting the cancellation of the Board of Trustees election. This person had planned to campaign against me because she claimed I am ‘anti-Catholic.’ This is the second time I’ve been made aware of someone making this claim and I wanted to clear the air and set the record straight. Not only is this statement untrue for me, to the best of my knowledge it’s untrue for any of the Board of Trustee members. These are personal attacks that are unjustified and offensive. I consider them to be slanderous."

Car show resolution approved

The board unanimously approved a resolution approving Dick Cissell’s request for street closures for the annual Tri-Lakes Cruisers Car Show, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, June 11. Second Street will be closed between Jefferson and Front Streets. Front Street will be closed between Second and Third Streets. Cissell said all proceeds from the show will again go to Tri-Lakes Cares. He expects 150 to 200 cars to be on display.

Staff reports

Town Attorney Gary Shupp reported that depositions had been canceled for the Transit Mix concrete batch plant case against the town. They will be rescheduled. "As of today, I got about a 50-page motion to reconsider a motion to dismiss. We’ll see how that goes. We’re still scheduled for a November trial date."

Shupp noted that oral arguments are scheduled for June for the District 38 lawsuit against the town and Vision Development. D-38 is suing Monument for not requiring the Jackson Creek developer to dedicate land on the south side of Higby Road, opposite Lewis-Palmer High School, in addition to 10 acres of land adjacent to the west side of Creekside Middle School that Vision Development has already donated to D-38. The school district lawsuit also claims that the donation of the land next to the middle school does not satisfy the dedication requirement because Vision Development took a tax credit for it, and that Vision still owes the district the other parcel of land.

Trustee Dave Mertz complimented Kassawara for requiring Kohl’s to follow the Monument Marketplace PD Design Guidelines for its new building.

Kassawara said he had to contact landscaping contractors regarding the new town ordinance restricting the amount of grass that can be installed in new construction. He will also ask homeowner associations to amend their covenants to match the new restriction.

Public Works Director Rich Landreth said he was scheduling a meeting for public comment on plans for the town’s parks. The Well 2 repair should be completed in early April. Negotiations with Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District are underway regarding the district’s objections to the town’s water storage rights in Monument Lake.

Landreth also said CDOT had denied permit approval for redrilling of town Well 7, because the drilling rig would temporarily intrude very slightly into a CDOT right-of-way. Landreth was surprised by their denial. The CDOT response said the town should drill horizontally, but he noted that this would not be allowed. Landreth said the equipment would never interfere with road maintenance. He and Green had scheduled a meeting with CDOT to resolve this issue, but the delay will prevent the work from being completed for this year’s peak water demand season.

February police reports:

  • Shirk reported that the first new "black-and-white" vehicle would be available by the end of March.

  • There were 60 cases compared to 58 in February 2005.

  • Training Sgt. Steve Burk reported that several members of the department took a total of 84 hours of training in terrorist acts, crisis intervention, SWAT, and computer systems.

  • Senior Court Clerk Mary Ellen Burk reported 36 arraignments, two trials, and eight juvenile cases in municipal court.

  •  Records Clerk Gloria McGough reported that she had created a database for the town’s registered sex offender program; there are six registered offenders in town.

Green reviewed the discussions during her presentation on town growth issues to NEPCO on March 18. Highlights included:

  • Green believes that county growth has surrounded the town and grown in an inward direction toward Monument as much as annexation has spread the town’s boundaries.

  • Representatives of several homeowner associations questioned the town’s consideration of county and Tri-Lakes region comprehensive plans showing that proposed annexations would remain rural if left in the county. She said urbanization of county land is typical of growth nationwide.

  • The town’s comprehensive plan should be changed if annexations in the urban growth area can no longer be supported by town residents.

  • The town needs to discuss near-, intermediate-, and long-term water issues in more detail.

  • Low-density housing draws on different aquifers than urbanized housing.

  • Roads "should be built" before annexations are developed, but there is not enough tax revenue to achieve this because most households pay only $38 to $50 per year for road taxes.

  • TABOR and Gallagher amendments force extreme town reliance on sales tax revenue for services, more than many people realize.

  • If annexation stops, the retail industry would grow in the county outside Monument and draw sales tax revenue away from the town.

  • The town has no control over D-38 expansion issues.

  • The concept of requiring transition between differing density developments as a zoning issue is a very recent phenomenon, quite different from allowing a noxious use such as a meat-packing plant in a residential area.

  • Creation of substantial amounts of open space above the minimum specified in town ordinances will result in clustering of high densities in other areas of a development; average density statistics may be deceptive as a result.

  • Architectural controls should be written to avoid "a sea of rooftops."

  • It is inconsistent for owners of $700,000 houses to complain about $500,000 houses that might be built next to them, then complain that there is no low-cost housing in Monument.

The meeting moved into executive session at 7:30 p.m. for discussion of real estate negotiations.

**********

The next meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. April 3 at Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Monday of the month.

Return to the top of the page

Monument Planning Commission, March 8: Home Place Ranch annexation approved

By Jim Kendrick

A standing-room-only crowd was on hand again in Town Hall for yet another annexation hearing, this time for Home Place Ranch on Higby Road between Jackson Creek and Higby Estates. The commissioners also approved the Final Planned Development (PD) Site Plan for the Colorado Juniors Volleyball building at Mitchell and Arnold Avenues.

Town Manager Cathy Green noted that this was the first time all seven commissioners had attended a meeting in years, and though Alternate Commissioner Lowell Morgan would participate in the hearings, he would not vote.

Colorado Juniors Volleyball site plan approved

Lt. Col. Judy Peer of the non-profit Colorado Juniors Volleyball Club sought approval for construction of a 15,800-square-foot indoor volleyball facility for girls 14 to 18 years old. The facility will be built by Ennis Construction in the Planned Industrial Development (PID) zone at the southwest corner of Monument, between Mitchell Avenue and the railroad tracks. A total of 118 members of the club have won college athletic scholarships worth over $7 million. The new facility will enable the club to increase the number of teams from seven to 12, adding 50 participants per year.

Assistant Planner Natalie Ebaugh reported that, despite limited funds, the club has upgraded the building’s steel architecture with stucco veneer, columns, and stone accents. Landscaping that uses a minimum of groundwater was added next to Mitchell Avenue as a visual buffer. Increased traffic is expected only during off-peak hours, from 7 to 9:30 p.m.

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara recommended approval of the site plan. "We think it’s a good project for the town."

Access Construction owner Dale Ennis said, "We’ve worked very hard to get the building looking as good as we can."

Five written comments in favor of the proposal were submitted to town staff. There was also one "no opinion" comment from Charles and Mary Bay who live across Mitchell Avenue from the proposed building site. The Bays asked about the drainage of rainwater from the new facility and others that might be built north of the volleyball club. Kassawara assured them that the drainage plans he approves will contain well-designed rainwater detention ponds on the adjacent sites that will prevent any problems for them.

Several parents of club members spoke in favor of the club and its contribution to their children’s development. The final PD site plan was unanimously approved.

Home Place Ranch annexation and rezoning

Web Site Exclusive: Below: HPR LLC spokespersons Josh Rowland (left) assists traffic engineer Jeff Hodsdon (right) of LSC Transportation Consultants answer questions on the Home Place Ranch PD Sketch Plan (990 new homes).

Home Place Ranch is a 431-acre development of the former Sally Beck ranch property on the south side of Higby Road. Developer HPR LLC is seeking annexation to the town and proposes to develop the property as a complete single-family-home community. The town and developer have agreed to change the zoning to PD upon annexation. While the HPR presentation called for 1,019 homes on the sketch plan, only 990 homes were proposed on the slides.

Home Place Ranch is bounded on the west by the new Remington Hills Development on the north loop of Leather Chaps Drive in Jackson Creek, to the southwest by the Homestead development in Jackson Creek, and to the south by the vacant Promontory Pointe parcel, all in Monument. The property is bounded to the east by Higby Estates in the county.

Annual county property taxes for 2004 for the rural parcel were $1,011.59 on an assessed value for land and improvements of $13,720.

Water issues: The developer’s written submission for the project includes a study from HPR’s water consultant, Wm. Curtis Wells & Co., which reported that all four Denver Basin aquifers could produce about 915 acre-feet per year based on the town’s 100-year aquifer life requirement. Production under the county’s 300-year requirement would be only 305 acre-feet per year, which would limit the development to only 760 single family homes. This is well below the 990 units HPR proposed.

In a separate water report, James Culichia of the consulting firm of Felt, Monson, Culichia, LLC, recommended reduction of the county estimate to a maximum of 710 homes for 305 acre-feet per year, unless restrictions for uses outside the homes are imposed. He questioned whether there was enough water available for roughly 1,000 houses using the town’s 100-year standard. Culichia also reported that average Jackson Creek consumption observed by Triview Metropolitan District is 0.68 acre-feet per year. He noted that District Manager Ron Simpson "believes that it is primarily due to new lawn irrigation demands being three to four times higher in the summer months. Assuming that Triview would give credit for all 305 acre-feet, Culichia offered three options:

  • "At 0.5 acre-feet per year per unit, you could get 610 units."

  • "At 0.33 acre-feet per year per unit, you could get 924 units."

  • "With 0.3 acre-feet per year per unit, you could get 1,016 units."

The transportation study performed for the developer by Jeff Hodsdon of LSC Transportation Consultants, Inc. was based on 875 single-family houses and predicted 8,374 trips would be generated on an average weekday. During the morning peak, 6:30 to 8:30, 166 vehicles would enter the development and 490 vehicles would exit. During the evening peak, 4:30 to 6:30, 560 vehicles would enter the site and 324 would exit.

The LSC report noted that sight-distance problems would limit the possible intersection locations for the two additional HPR access roads that will intersect Higby Road besides Gleneagle Drive. Because Higby is a county minor arterial, spacing requirements between existing adjacent Higby Road intersections and the three proposed for Home Place Ranch are a further restriction. Mouse habitat and extensive on-site drainage restrictions also complicate this problem.

The expected traffic volume at the Gleneagle Drive and Higby intersection may require a traffic signal. A traffic signal is already planned for the Gleneagle Drive and Baptist Road intersection.

Green reported that all required utilities are available to the parcel. More than one-sixth of its boundaries, 35.5 percent, are contiguous with the town. The town’s comprehensive plan includes Home Place Ranch in Priority Area 1, the Monument urban growth area. This designation applies to "land considered appropriate for annexation and development, and does not present problems which are associated with sprawl." Triview Metropolitan District has agreed to include the HPR parcel upon annexation.

Green reported that the proposal meets the county’s 2000 Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan, which recognizes that there will be some Monument expansion that converts adjacent areas to "more contemporary, suburban standards rather than the rural standards promoted by the county."

The HPR proposal also contains 4.3 miles of trails in accordance with the Tri-Lakes comprehensive plan.

Green also reported: "Staff has no objection to this annexation."

Kassawara said that HPR LLC, Landco (the developer of Promontory Pointe), and Classic Homes (the developer of Sanctuary Point) had agreed to form a road improvement district for the extension of Gleneagle Drive to Higby Road, and widening of Higby Road from the Gleneagle extension west to Jackson Creek Parkway, and widening of Jackson Creek Boulevard to four lanes from Higby Road north to Highway 105. Kassawara noted, "This is the first time I’ve seen this level of cooperation, particularly since Promontory Pointe is not contiguous with Higby." He added that Promontory Pointe would contribute to traffic on Higby via the extension of Gleneagle Drive,

This extension of Gleneagle Drive will be called Ranch Point Road within Promontory Pointe and Home Place Ranch. The name change will apply only to the section within the town, however. The intersection of Higby and Ranch Point Roads will align with the future southward extension of Furrow Road in accordance with the county’s Major Transportation Corridors Plan. Furrow Road and Gleneagle Drive are in the county.

HPR, LLC spokesperson Linda Sweetman-King gave a PowerPoint presentation on the annexation that was very similar to the items noted in Green’s staff report.

Public comments: Pat Pivarnik and Jim Vickers of Higby Estates opposed the annexations for these reasons:

  • The developer is seeking annexation to avoid the low rural densities with lot sizes no less than 2.5 acres specified in the county’s Tri-Lakes plan.

  • Leaving the development in the county would reduce the need for utility and infrastructure services.

  • The county has done nothing and will do nothing to improve Higby Road east of Home Place Ranch, making it more dangerous as the traffic load increases substantially with 990 new homes.

  • There are no plans proposed by HPR to improve safety and congestion during arrival/departure times at Lewis-Palmer High School.

Commissioner comments: Alternate Planning Commissioner Dr. Lowell Morgan opposed the annexation. Morgan said it is well-known that a purely residential development is a money-loser for annexation by the town. The cost of maintaining the infrastructure of a residential development exceeds all the property tax revenue available. Yet the town staff and Board of Trustees have made plans to annex three large high-density developments: Home Place Ranch, the all-ready annexed Promontory Pointe, and Sanctuary Point.

Morgan said the Home Place Ranch traffic would add traffic to Jackson Creek Parkway and the overtaxed two-lane bridge over I-25. However, none of the road district funds would be used to add the additional Jackson Creek Parkway lanes between Monument Marketplace and Higby Road. No funding source has been identified for these unbuilt lanes. The recent $15 million Triview bond issue funds are already spent and Triview’s debt has grown beyond $40 million, a huge burden on every property owner in that district.

Morgan said that adding about 1,000 Home Place Ranch houses will add about 600 grade-school children, which would require about 1.5 D-38 elementary schools. Only a single elementary school is being proposed to be built in the center of the Home Place Ranch development. No plan for middle or high school student attendance was discussed.

Green responded to two of Morgan’s three objections. She said the proposed road improvement district would improve Higby Road and the town would then annex the portion between Ranch Point Drive and Jackson Creek Parkway. She acknowledged that the previously proposed community retail stores on the Home Place Ranch would have been preferable, but annexation would discourage the building of more county wells and septic tanks next to the town, a plus. If the county controlled the parcel’s development, a higher density might be allowed, she said

Sweetman-King added that the three developers would commission a new joint traffic study after the road improvement special district was created and these developers had met with the county’s Major Thoroughfares Task Force to discuss the Gleneagle Drive extension and Higby Road improvements.

Commissioner Kathy Spence expressed concern that little was known about the actual site plan and that the town would lose most, if not all, of its leverage with the developer after annexation was approved. Green disagreed, saying there would be several opportunities for further negotiation on the annexation agreement, the PD design guidelines, and the PD site plan. Other issues will be decided by Triview Metro District rather than the town staff, but coordination between the two is increasing, she said.

Spence said the town was trying to make this area a better place and couldn’t rely on the county to do so based on the extremely high density that the county had allowed for the townhouse development on Higby Road right next to Lewis-Palmer High School. She also said the county had set up modular low-income housing with no garages or other improvements. Spence then said, "We’re a group that cares about this community rather than a very large region of the county."

The proposals for annexation and rezoning to PD were approved unanimously.

Home Place Ranch Sketch PD Plan hearing

Sweetman-King noted the types of acreage in the proposal: 262 acres of residential, 145 acres of open space, 14 acres of right-of-way, and 10 acres for a D-38 elementary school. The residential area is clustered in differing densities and types of houses around the open space for parks, trails, floodplain, and potential mouse habitat. Densities listed for each section of the development were gross/average densities rather than actual densities of residential lots. The open space is larger than required for PD zoning, 33 percent compared with the 20 percent minimum.

Hodsdon said there would be "just over 9,000 trips per day within the development." The morning and afternoon two-hour peaks would each comprise about 10 percent of this total. The development would add 2,600 trips to the future total of 10,000 trips per day on Higby west of Home Place Ranch at buildout. He said current Higby traffic is 1,500 trips per day. The development would add 4,300 trips per day to the total of 9,500 daily trips that Ranch Point Road would add to the Baptist Road traffic count. Sweetman-King added that a new joint traffic study with Triview would be initiated for Higby Road to account for the proposed road district improvements.

Hodsdon said the spacing for all the development’s intersections on Ranch Point and Higby Roads conforms to county standards for minor arterials. The Higby right-of-way would be 100 feet wide with dedicated left-turn lanes, medians and acceleration/deceleration lanes. Ranch Point Road would have no curb cuts, and the right-of-way would be 80 feet wide, compared to the 50-foot right-of-way previously proposed for this road in Promontory Pointe. There was a lengthy discussion regarding the configuration of each intersection in the project, bike lanes, and trail locations. The actual design of the road improvements will be decided by Triview and the county, and then reviewed by the town staff and traffic consultant.

Sweetman-King said HPR LLC had scheduled community meetings with all the adjacent homeowner associations. She explained in detail how HPR had adjusted lot lines, lot sizes, and setbacks to closely match those of existing adjacent homes and that the models of houses would be completely mixed to avoid a "cookie-cutter appearance." She also explained how trails would connect with the overall trail plans for the region and that Triview’s wells tap lower aquifers than the private wells of neighboring county developments.

Public comments: Some of the citizen complaints expressed during public comment included:

  • Triview’s current debt makes its financial position precarious and the need to maintain all this new infrastructure would greatly worsen problems.

  • Monument has no control over anything in Triview, and claims that the town will take over in 15 to 25 years when Triview’s debt is paid off are not credible.

  • The only positive financial impact for Monument is Triview has to pay for all infrastructure upkeep until the district is dissolved.

  • There are 300 homes proposed for 75 acres next to Homestead, a 50 percent higher density, and a change from the previous HPR proposal of 269 homes on 89 acres, considerably less dense.

  • New HPR homes will not be of comparable value, reducing the current value of existing adjacent homes.

  • Proposed homeowner association maintenance of development easements is doomed to fail, because homeowners will build play areas and sheds in them.

  • The regional park in the development was reduced from 25 to 16 acres.

  • Elimination of the 7-Eleven retail center eliminates sales tax revenue.

Commissioner comments: Spence said much of the town’s open space is not usable by the citizens because of floodplains and mouse habitat. HPR could not say what fraction of the open space would be usable by residents.

Green said she agreed that the name Ranch Point Road would be confusing to everyone and, "If you don’t like the density, say so." Green added that significant overgrading was a compromise that was required to keep the high percentage of open space. Demanding less density and matching lot sizes on the perimeter of the development would also reduce the amount of open space. Kassawara concurred with Green and both asked for specific recommendations and concerns rather than general concerns.

Morgan said he liked the plan except for the density being too high and that it is premature for the existing roads. He said the town has no plan for improving Baptist, Higby, Jackson Creek Parkway, and the Baptist Road interchange. "A widened Higby will still feed into two-lane roads." Several commissioners agreed.

Green said there was a difference between gross density being too high and the lot sizes being too small. There was consensus that the lot sizes were too small.

Chairman Ed Delaney asked for a motion of approval or disapproval. When none was made, he closed the hearing.

Promontory Pointe Map Amendment

Landco’s representatives presented a map amendment that formally asked for a rezoning of the parcel. A condition of annexation requires Landco to seek PD rezoning from county RR-3 (5-acre lots) to Monument PD zoning within 90 days of its Feb. 6 annexation. Review by the Planning Commission is the first step to meeting that condition. Green reported, "When annexing land into a municipality, a Town has no formal obligation to continue the zone district previously used in the County."

Landco’s spokesman Terry Schooler said the developer had agreed that Ranch Point Road would have no curb cuts.

Kingswood resident Dick Wolf complimented Landco for addressing nearly all the adjacent Kingswood owners’ concerns. He gave a copy of the written agreement signed by the residents and Landco to Green.

The motion to approve the rezoning to PD passed unanimously..

Referral approved

The commissioners approved by consensus Kassawara’s referral letter to the county regarding a T-Mobile Stealth Monopine cellular phone antenna to be built at 18945 Pebble Beach Way.

Commissioner John Kortgardner asked town staff to investigate the town’s buffer area behind the Monument Rock office park on Synthes Avenue. He said that the screening berm that the developer had promised to build had been taken down and that all the dirt had been spread on the town’s land to the rear of the development. Green said she would look into it and she would be asking that the town be authorized to hire a code inspector. Kassawara said now that the certificate of occupancy has been issued, the town has no control over the berm.

The meeting adjourned at 10 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held April 12 at 6:30 p.m. in Town Hall, 166 Second Street. Meetings are normally held the second Wednesday of the month.

Return to the top of the page

Donala Water and Sanitation District May 2 election and ballot question

By Jim Kendrick

Designated Election Official Jackie Sipes has announced that the Donala Water and Sanitation District’s election will be held May 2 at the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Fire Station at 15415 Gleneagle Drive near the Baptist Road intersection. Only three candidates are running for the three open seats on the board: Richard L. Durham, incumbent Director Dennis R. Daugherty, and Timothy G. Murphy. Board President Charlie Coble and Secretary Don Pearson are stepping down. Vice President Ed Houle and Director Dale Schendzielos have completed two years of their four-year terms.

Ballot Question

Shall Donala Water and Sanitation District taxes be increased $810,000 annually in 2007 and by whatever additional amounts are raised annually thereafter by continuing to collect but not increasing the current tax rate of 12.810 mills levied by the district for payment of debt service (which was authorized by district voters in 1993 for general obligation bonds currently scheduled to be paid in full in 2007); and

Shall such tax revenues be used for the purpose of acquiring and constructing improvements to the district’s water and wastewater systems including but not limited to, acquisition, expansion, construction and improvements of the wastewater treatment plant, water storage facilities, water wells, water pump system maintenance equipment, and operation expenses incurred in the delivery of water and wastewater services; and

Shall the district be authorized to adjust the mil levy rate authorized by this question from time to time so long as it never exceeds 12.180 mills; and

Shall the proceeds of such taxes and the district’s operational mill levy of 3,486 mills, any investment income therefrom, and all other district revenue be collected and spent without limitation or condition, as a voter-approved revenue change under Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution, and as a voter-approved mill levy under C.R.S. 29-1-302(2)(B)?

Return to the top of the page

Forest View Acres Water District, March 23: Residents object to $25 per month fee increase

By John Heiser

At its regular monthly meeting March 23, the Forest View Acres Water District (FVAWD) board of directors heard from residents objecting to the $25 administrative fee approved by the board in December and ratified by the board in January.

Dan LaFontaine of Independent Water Services, the district’s contract water operations manager, reported that two leaks causing a combined loss of an estimated 65 gallons per minute were repaired in early March after a loss of 3.11 million gallons in February. The district has been losing large amounts of water since January.

The board consists of President Barbara Reed-Polatty, Brian Cross, Ketch Nowacki, and Eckehart Zimmermann. The vacancy created when John Anderson resigned in January has not been filled. All board members were present. Reed-Polatty presided.

Administrative, bookkeeping, and accounting services for the district are provided by Special District Management Services Inc. (SDMS). Deborah McCoy, president of SDMS, served as facilitator and secretary at the board meeting. She introduced Lisa Johnson, the SDMS district manager who will succeed Kammy Tinney. Tinney resigned due to personal health issues. District residents who have operational or management questions or comments are urged to contact SDMS at (800) 741-3254 or 488-2110.

Attorney Paul Rufien provided legal advice.

LaFontaine is responsible for maintaining equipment and infrastructure and for managing all aspects of water delivery.

Background

In December 2004, the board uncovered an 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 suspicion 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. The criminal trial has been rescheduled to begin April 18, 2006. The felony charges Unger faces carry a potential sentence of four 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 in August. 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 canceled

McCoy reported that the May election was canceled Feb. 28 because the district received only four applicants for the four open board positions. The new board of directors will consist of Rich Crocker, Nowacki, Reed-Polatty, Jeff Walker, and Zimmermann.

Nowacki expressed concern that the district is out of compliance with Colorado statutes that require board vacancies to be filled within 60 days. He proposed that the board make an appointment to fill the vacancy until the May meeting when the new board takes office.

Rufien noted that the only concern would be that the county could step in and appoint someone if the position were to remain vacant, but he said that would not happen. He added, "You are not out of compliance. It may be a spirit-of-the-law issue."

McCoy noted that there would be costs to prepare documentation for an appointment.

Nowacki’s motion to make an appointment failed, with the other three board members opposed.

Legal questions resulting from the missing funds

In response to questions from the audience about the liability of current and former board members for the missing funds, Rufien said, "For board members as individuals to be liable would require proof of intent to defraud the district." He later added that they would have to have gained financially.

As to suing the board as a whole for breach of fiduciary duty, Rufien said a high burden of proof is required. He added that district residents would wind up paying the substantial costs of defending the board. Further, Rufien said that since damage awards would be limited to each individual’s loss, to make financial sense "it would have to be a class-action lawsuit."

Rufien noted that based on the documentation he has seen, the criminal case points to "where the responsibility lies." He added that the case will produce an enormous amount of information for the district’s civil suit and that a not-guilty verdict would "point fingers elsewhere."

Responding to questions about the district’s insurance coverage, Reed-Polatty said the district did not have crime coverage.

Replying to a question as to whether the district could file for bankruptcy, Rufien said it would be difficult because it would have to be shown that adding 100 mills of property taxes would not be sufficient to cover the bills.

Referring to Rich Crocker and Jeff Walker rejoining the board in May, district resident Judy Michali said, "Having past board members on the board doesn’t give me a whole lot of confidence." She vowed to be more involved in district matters and encouraged others to do the same.

McCoy noted that the board now gets monthly copies of bank statements, lists of checks written, and financial statements. She said, "They didn’t get that before."

Comments on $25-per-month administrative fee increase

District resident Ted Hatzenbuhler objected to his monthly water bill of $90 for two people.

In a letter to the board, George Gaertner said, "I think the service charge on this bill is outrageous!"

Kelvin Delaney’s letter to the board said that adding $25 to the service charges is unfair to the consumer. He said that instead the fee for water should have been increased so the consumer could control their cost by controlling the amount of water used.

McCoy reported that some residents are withholding the $25 additional service fee. Reed-Polatty said those who do not pay their bill in full could have their service disconnected in accordance with the district’s rules and regulations.

Cross said, "We understand your frustration. We are members of the district and have to pay the fee." He later added, "You have a right to be angry. I agree that it is outrageous but we are trying to balance the budget."

Zimmermann said the $25 fee increase is needed to cover operational expenses, including the costs for SDMS and Rufien. He added, "We are hoping to collect something from the Unger case."

Nowacki added, "We were robbed. We’re hurting badly. Nobody else is going to pay for it."

Hatzenbuhler asked why the district is not using a mill levy to raise the additional money so residents could have an income tax deduction.

McCoy replied that, unlike the administrative fee, a property tax mill levy must be approved by a vote of district residents. She said an election could be held in November 2006, the new property taxes would apply in 2007, and the district would receive the funds in 2008. She estimated that holding an election would cost the district $8,000 to $9,000. McCoy added that she had recommended that the district seek a mill levy but that the present board is split on that recommendation.

Zimmermann said one of the objections to a mill levy is that it would likely be applied indefinitely.

Financial matters

McCoy presented a list of claims paid through March 23 totaling $14,571 that included $4,369 for LaFontaine’s services, $2,796 paid to the Palmer Lake Sanitation District, $2,670 for electricity, and $2,255 as final payment to Betzer.

The net cash balance for all funds as of Feb. 28 was $23,587.

The total for accounts payable as of March 8 was $124,046. That included $59,957 due attorneys Petrock and Fendel, $51,950 due SDMS, and $9,216 due Rufien.

Wilde billing dispute

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 for up to 15,000 gallons per month.

Rufien said that based on his research the agreement was with the Nevins family and does not apply to Wilde.

As of March 17, the outstanding balance for water to the Wilde property from January 2005 was $827.

McCoy reported that SDMS is following the district’s procedure, which could result in disconnecting service if the bill is not paid.

Availability of service (AOS) fees

Johnson reported that AOS fees are being billed at $20 per month and that past due AOS accounts are being billed $20 per month for current charges and $20 per month to recover the past-due amounts.

Leaks fixed

LaFontaine reported that a leak surfaced in early March. Water was running out of the culvert at the intersection of Sandstone Drive and Red Rocks Drive. American Leak Detection Inc. located the leak, and it was repaired March 6. LaFontaine added that a leaking valve was located and repaired March 8. He estimated the two leaks totaled perhaps 65 gallons per minute.

During February, the district’s surface plant produced 2.97 million gallons, averaging 73.9 gallons per minute over 27.9 days. The district’s well in the Arapahoe aquifer produced 1.72 million gallons, averaging 107.5 gallons per minute over 11.1 days. The net monthly production was 4.35 million gallons.

Water sales for February totaled 1.23 million gallons.

LaFontaine calculated the net loss from the system during February was 3.11 million gallons or 253 percent of sales.

He added that since the leaks were repaired, the Arapahoe well has not been needed to meet the district’s needs.

LaFontaine’s contract approved

The board unanimously approved LaFontaine’s new contract.

The board considered a proposal enabling SDMS to authorize LaFontaine to spend up to $5,000 for unanticipated repair or maintenance expenses.

Zimmermann noted that LaFontaine is already authorized to make expenditures to respond to emergencies.

Nowacki said, "An emergency failure is not the issue, rather this would be for an unplanned replacement part."

The proposal failed, with Nowacki and Reed-Polatty voting in favor, Cross and Zimmermann opposed.

Executive session held on legal matters

Rufien requested an executive session to advise the board on legal matters.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. April 27 at Tri-Lakes district Station 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.

Return to the top of the page

Monument Sanitation District, March 21: District Election Canceled

By Jim Kendrick

Designated Election Official Leon Tenney canceled the Monument Sanitation District’s May 2 election because three candidates were running for the three open seats on the board. Treasurer Ed Delaney is term-limited, while Directors Chuck Robinove and Kristi Schutz were appointed after the last election and ran for election to their seats. Board Chair Lowell Morgan and Secretary Glenda Smith have completed two years of their four-year elected terms. Robinove and Schutz will serve four-year terms, while Bob Kuchek will replace Delaney for a two-year term.

District Manager Mike Wicklund announced that initial construction of the Wakonda Hills sewer mains for the east side of the development had been delayed until April 7, that no tap fees were collected in February, annual sewer collection line cleaning has begun and would continue in April, and that the board should consider 2006-07 rents for tenants in the district’s office building and tap fees for additional fixture units at the next meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 7:45 p.m.

**********

The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. April 19 at the district office, 130 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the third Tuesday of the month.

Return to the top of the page

Tri-Lakes Wastewater Facility Joint Use Committee, March 13: Lab/admin building completed

Web Site Exclusive: Below: Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility staff in front of new laboratory and administration building: (L to R): Plant manager Bill Burks and Plant Operators Toby Ormandy and Scott Eilert. Photo by Jim Kendrick

By Jim Kendrick

The Joint Use Committee for the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Facility reported that final payment had been made on the new laboratory and administration building and discussed the status of its permit review by the state of Colorado.

The final payment and issuing of a certificate of completion to Access Construction were approved unanimously by the representatives of facility owners Monument Sanitation District, Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District.

Copper report

Facility Manager Bill Burks discussed the monthly discharge monitoring report for February. All measured figures were far below maximum tolerances. The effluent copper reading was 13 parts per billion (PPB), barely above the detection limit of the testing procedure but well below the current permit limits of 36.4 PPB for a single reading and 24.8 PPB on average. Those limits expire at the end of 2007. The JUC is seeking an amendment to the permit that would cut these maximums to 8.7 PPB and 13 PPB respectively for 2008 and 2009.

The highest copper influent measurements were 101 PPB for Monument, 105 PPB for Palmer Lake, and 79 PPB for Woodmoor. The committee discussed re-activating an additional aeration basin if the copper readings rise significantly. However, this would significantly increase operations and maintenance costs.

Consultants review future facility permit options

During a two-hour discussion with JUC attorney Tad Foster and consulting engineer Mike Rothberg of RTW Engineering, the committee reviewed possible changes in future regulatory requirements that the state or the Environmental Protection Agency might impose. Rothberg’s firm designed and constructed the Tri-Lakes facility.

Also discussed were possible options for permit amendments for 2008 and beyond.

Burks reported that he had split a specially prepared test sample containing 10 PPB of copper and sent portions to the two testing labs to measure copper levels. One lab reported that the sample contained 11 PPB and the other lab reported 18 PPB. This wide disparity resulted in a consensus that questioned the validity of test measurements for such minuscule amounts of copper as well as the suitability of the proposed future copper limits for the facility’s permit. Drinking water can have up to 1,200 PPB of copper.

Burks reported a new requirement to report ammonia concentrations to the state. The committee also expressed concern about the validity of the new requirement to report mercury concentrations in parts per quadrillion, which is 1 million times smaller than parts per billion.

The committee decided that no changes in policy or procedure were necessary at this time. The next meeting is 6 p.m. Apr. 10 at 16510 Mitchell Ave. The committee normally meets the second Monday each month. For information, call 488-2525.

Return to the top of the page

Palmer Lake Sanitation District Board Election Canceled

By Jim Kendrick

Designated Election Official Becky Orcutt has canceled the Palmer Lake Sanitation District’s May 2 election because of a shortage of candidates for the three open seats on the board. Directors Virgil Watkins and Joe Stallsmith are term-limited, while Director Gary Atkins was appointed after the last election. Board Chair Kathleen Williams and Director Todd Bell have completed two years of their four-year elected terms.

Only Atkins and Dale Platt submitted self-nominations for the election and are now elected by acclamation. The new board will take office May 9 and have 60 days to appoint another director to the empty seat. The appointment for the fifth seat will last until the next special district election in May 2008.

Return to the top of the page

Triview Metropolitan District, March 22: Carwash being considered for Marketplace

By Elizabeth Hacker

The Triview Metro District board of directors held their monthly board meeting March 22. All board members were present. Also present were: Rick Blevins, bond holder, Mike Wermuth representing the Kingswood subdivision (adjacent to Promontory Pointe), and Steve Meyer, vice president of the Homestead Ranch Home Owners Association.

Marketplace Carwash

Blevins reported that two entities were interested in building a carwash on a 3.2-acre site in the Monument Marketplace. The board referred to a restriction that does not allow a stand-alone carwash but noted there was a provision for a carwash as part of an auto-service business. Board President Steve Stephenson expressed his concern for water availability. Blevins replied that anyone who went into a carwash business would want it to grow and that would mean that eventually there would be an increase in demand for water. He added that the Board could set a rate for an agreed-upon amount of water per year, and excess volumes would be charged at an accelerated rate.

Triview Manager Ron Simpson noted that a carwash might work well in the Marketplace because peak consumption for a carwash would be in the winter when water demand from lawn irrigation is low. Triview generally has excess water that could be committed to a carwash in the winter. He summed up the discussion by noting that Triview would support a carwash as part of an auto service center and that the developer would have to agree to the specific amount of water to be used and be charged extra for additional water. Simpson added that it was up to Market Center developer Blevins to select a developer for a carwash.

District manager’s report

Simpson reported that he had sent the Town of Monument a letter in response to their joint meeting regarding planning for future parks and recreation. He reiterated Triview’s three-tiered approach in planning for future parks that was discussed at the February board meeting. The first tier will provide a brief history and describe what had been done since Triview’s start-up in 1985 and will include an inventory of assets. Tier two will include what is planned in the next one to five years and will include Triview’s 3-acre site at Creekside and other proposed projects. Tier three will plan for the next five to 10 years and will include a proposed regional park with trail linkages. The plan will also outline the various responsibilities of Triview and the town.

Development Status

Town homes: Pulte has resubmitted a proposed town home project east of Jackson Creek Parkway north of Leather Chaps. This plan has a combination of single-family homes and town homes. The town homes will have four-1,400-square-foot units in each building. The single-family units will be about 2,800 square feet. A vest-pocket park is planned within the development. The streets will be private and maintained by the homeowners. Simpson also noted that the transmission lines to the subdivision would be buried.

Promontory Pointe: The Monument Planning Commission recommended approval of PRD (planned residential district) zoning for Promontory Point. The town’s trustees will consider the sketch plan and zoning at their April 3 meeting. The buffer lots are proposed to be 1.5 acres with a wall to ensure a smooth transition from the adjacent Kingswood subdivision.

Mike Wermuth, representing the Kingswood subdivision, asked what changes to Gleneagle Road can be expected in the Promontory Point development in response to the traffic impact study that estimated a traffic count of more than 9,000 trips per day on the road extension. Simpson replied that they are considering all the findings of several traffic studies together. He suggested that the proposed roadway 60-foot cross-section that includes two 14-foot traffic lanes, two 8-foot bike lanes, and two 5-foot sidewalks will accommodate the anticipated increase in traffic but added that there was wiggle room to adjust the lane widths within the cross-section width.

Home Place Ranch: The Planning Commission recommended annexation to the town with changes to plan.

Steve Meyer reported that the homeowner association would like to see the trail system continued to connect to the trails within the Homestead at Jackson Creek and that a 10-foot buffer zone should be placed along the northern boundary. Simpson responded that those issues would be addressed but that Triview would need a minimum 20-foot-wide easement for a single-use purpose, and he didn’t think that would be possible. He also questioned who would maintain the buffer zone.

Monument Ridge: Inclusion in the Triview Metropolitan District is dependent on the final sale of the property.

Ranch Point Metropolitan Road District: Sanctuary Point, Home Place Ranch, Promontory Point, Monument and Triview will participate in the funding of this district. The maximum single-family units within these three subdivisions are estimated at 1,800 units. Consultant Sam Sharp has been retained to determine the funding necessary to finance the roads that would be included in the road district.

Bond holder: Rick Blevins discussed the district’s ability to pay down the $1.8 million interest on existing bonds. The Board voted to pass a resolution for the sale of additional bonds to pay down the existing debt. This will be discussed in more detail at the April board meeting.

Operation and maintenance

Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA): Triview has an IGA with the town to maintain the district’s water and sewer operation and to sweep the district’s 22 miles of roadways. The town is looking at what it would cost to cover the rest of the district’s maintenance needs such as snow removal and if in fact the town even has the capability to do this. Simpson noted that in the future the district and town should consider cost savings through "economy of scale." Simpson suggested that they extend the IGA with Monument through 2006. He added that the district needed to hire an operational superintendent to supervise the day-to-day operations, for which they had budgeted.

Amendments to the El Paso County Water Authority: This issue of drainage and storm water management arose because of Colorado Springs’ demand that this be addressed before it would agree to include the Palmer Divide Water Group (PDWG) as a stakeholder in the Southern Delivery System (SDS). In previous discussions, it was noted that because of legal authority, not all of the 18 entities represented in the PDWG could legally address drainage and storm water runoff but that in fact many efforts were addressing these issues. Therefore, the entities represented in the PDWG wish to expand the bylaw to include drainage and storm water runoff.

Simpson reported that they also wanted to change the definition of "quorum" from 80 percent of the entities present to hold a meeting to 50 percent.

The Board approved these changes to the bylaws.

District engineer’s report

Wastewater treatment plant expansion: Chuck Ritter of Nolte and associates reported that the contractor, Weaver Construction, was ahead of schedule and construction should wrap-up in September, three to four months earlier than scheduled. He noted that eight of the filters were already in place and that bi-monthly meetings with the contractor have helped to alleviate potential issues before they become problems.

Ritter reported that they had noticed a significant increase in flows from residential consumers on Sundays and suggested that this may be due to large numbers of residential customers running their washing machines on Sundays.

He reported that the railroad crossing contract had been completed and all that remained was to work out a final settlement agreement with the contractor.

Location of utility line at Baptist Road: Ritter reported that he had been in discussion with El Paso County over the potential location of a utility line along Baptist Road in conjunction with the expansion of that road. He suggested that the line extend east of Kingswood Drive with a line south to intercept Donala’s line. Stephenson asked if this could be included as part of the treatment plant loan, to which Simpson reported that because it was a water line it could not be included. The estimate for a future line along Baptist Road was $65,000-$70,000. Ritter was not sure when construction would take place but thought it would begin in 2007.

Monitoring Water Reuse System: Ritter reported that in order to monitor the water reuse system, it must be added to their Geographic Information System (GIS) system. He estimated that this would cost $9,000. Simpson noted that there were sufficient funds in the budget to cover this expense. The Board acted to approve adding it to the GIS system.

Financial matters

Dale Hill presented the Board with a financial summary and noted that she was working on completing the report. She reported that April billing would include the ballot information for the May 2 election. She added that the two election judges were Liz Harper and Pam Morton, and that they needed one board member to help recount ballots. Julie Glen volunteered to count ballots.

The board authorized Hill to pay the March bills.

Other issues

Stephenson reported on the Homestead park dedication. He noted that the street drainage openings across from Kitchner needed cross bars for safety.

Executive session

The board went into executive session at about 5:30 p.m. to discuss an ongoing condemnation issue and property acquisitions. No action was taken.

Return to the top of the page

Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, March 13: D-38 has not yet requested service to Wissler site

By Sue Wielgopolan

Woodmoor resident Don MacIver was the sole community representative in attendance at the March 13 board meeting to voice concerns about the Lewis-Palmer School District 38’s controversial site choice for a new high school. Woodmoor staff had moved the meeting from their office to the new Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility lab and office building so that board members could tour the new facility. Member James Whitelaw, whose absence was excused, was the only member of the board not present.

The conflict arose after Lewis-Palmer district officials evaluated several potential sites for a new high school and concluded that the only site that met all their criteria was a portion of the 814-acre Wissler Ranch, rejecting a lot that D-38 already owns at the corner of Highways 83 and 105. Though the acreage was not listed for sale, school district representatives approached owner Marie Wissler. Heated public debate has surrounded the issue since negotiations with the Wissler family reached an impasse and owners of the ranch appealed to their neighbors for help in fending off a possible eminent domain struggle with D-38 for purchase of the land in question.

Woodmoor Water and Sanitation had received several phone inquiries regarding the district’s ability and willingness to provide water and sewer service to the 60-acre site.

MacIver voiced his overall support of the local school district and praised the quality of education his two children had received through D-38, but said he opposes any plan in which unwilling sellers would be forced into a purchase agreement through the use of eminent domain.

MacIver said he understood from statements made by D-38 Superintendent Dave Dilley that one of the five criteria for location of a new high school was affordable access to public utilities. He asked whether the Wissler ranch property was within Woodmoor district boundaries, and if any agreement had been made between D-38 and Woodmoor.

Board President Jim Taylor replied that the site presently does not lie within the water and sanitation district’s boundaries. Although Woodmoor staff has informally discussed water and sewer service with school district representatives, D-38 has not presented a petition for inclusion, and Woodmoor has made no commitment to provide service. In response to further questions from MacIver, Taylor said that providing service to areas outside Woodmoor’s boundaries was discretionary, and infrastructure costs would be borne by the customer. Should such a request be made in the future, the board would evaluate the request before making a decision at a board meeting.

Meter replacement program running smoothly

District engineer Jessie Shaffer reported that the meter replacement program was running more smoothly than anticipated. Technicians have installed 380 meters so far, averaging 9½ meter replacements per day. He said that although installation numbers were slightly below those needed to meet the three-month goal of 750 units, he expected that if staff maintained current production levels, the district would significantly reduce the amount of contract work it would need to meet its milestone targets.

Woodmoor to introduce surface water into supplies this summer

General manager Phil Steininger announced that for the first time in the district’s history, Woodmoor plans to incorporate surface water pulled from Dirty Woman and Monument Creeks and stored in Lake Woodmoor into its drinking water supply.

The water level in Lake Woodmoor was lowered four years ago to enable workers to reinforce the banks of the lake along Lower Lake Drive and to install the total number of pumps that would in time be used to supply the Woodmoor golf course and Palmer Lake High School with irrigation water, and bring water to the South Water Treatment Facility (SWTF). Since then, the district has been using its effluent exchange credits to refill the lake.

Previously, the water stored in Lake Woodmoor had been used solely for irrigation of the Woodmoor golf course. Now that lake levels have risen sufficiently to be within what the district calls the "operating band," Woodmoor has the flexibility to use the additional volume for other purposes while still maintaining a desirable depth. Long-term plans call for the use of that stored water as a drinking water supply and an alternate source of irrigation water for additional large users, including Lewis-Palmer High School.

Eventually, Woodmoor hopes to be able to use the lake to supply all or most of its drinking water during the winter months, letting the wells "rest." This will hopefully prolong the life of area aquifers by reducing overall demand and optimize use of the district’s water resources by allowing Woodmoor to trade all or most of its effluent credits for surface water.

Use of surface water will require different treatment and monitoring capabilities. The SWTF was built to handle surface water treatment, and will only need minor modifications. The state of Colorado requires more frequent monitoring as well as different water quality tests when surface sources are used; Woodmoor is evaluating software and adapting its current system to handle those additional demands. Operations manager Randy Gillette, who is the only Woodmoor employee with previous experience in surface water treatment, will oversee the change.

Steininger mentioned that some customers may notice a slight difference in taste with the addition of surface water, as well water has a higher mineral content. He was quick to assure members that the high level of water quality would not be compromised. In answering questions from board members about the possibility of lake fauna entering the system, contract consultant Mike Rothberg of RTW Engineering joked that he would "eat any fish" that made it through the barrage of filters and chemical treatment to a consumer’s tap.

District to sponsor water conservation poster contest

Steininger asked for the board’s approval in sponsoring a poster contest this spring for Woodmoor students, which would illustrate the theme "Water Is Life." The goal of the contest is to raise community and especially youth awareness of the importance of water conservation. He distributed a handout to members outlining details of the proposed competition.

The district has already received a promise of co-sponsorship from National Meter and Automation and Rothberg, Tamburini, and Windsor, Inc. Steininger said he would like to supply contestants with materials and present each participant with a small token just for entering. Winners of first, second, and third place at each grade level would receive a prize as well. He proposed that winning posters be displayed at the Woodmoor office.

The board unanimously approved the idea and authorized Steininger to spend a maximum of $1,000 on sponsorship.

District will publish quarterly newsletter

Steininger told directors that Elizabeth Hacker, the board’s newest member, has agreed to write a quarterly newsletter for the district. Woodmoor’s new billing format gives staff the ability to include a one-page flier, which is the form the newsletter will take.

The newsletter is intended to inform Woodmoor residents about upcoming events and educate customers on district issues, as well as provide a forum for answering consumer questions. Steininger hopes to have the first edition to customers before June.

Woodmoor to host Xeriscape workshop April 20

The district will hold a Xeriscape workshop at the Woodmoor office from 6 to 8 p.m. April 20. The workshop will be the second in a series of three sessions sponsored by the district on using drought-resistant plants for landscaping. The first was a tour last spring of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation’s Xeriscape demonstration gardens.

Participants will create a drawing of their property; a Xeriscape architect will be on hand to provide guidance and suggestions for the effective use of a variety of plants with low water requirements. Class size is limited to 25 district residents. Interested individuals should contact the Woodmoor office at 488-2525 for more information and to sign up.

Car wash owner requests change in water agreement

Kerry Hicks has requested changes to his excess water service agreement. He had initially proposed closing his currently operating Monument Car Wash on Woodmoor Drive and building a new larger facility on the southwest corner of Highway 105 and Knollwood Boulevard. Hicks’ original plans included four self-service bays, a 120-foot automatic wash tunnel, and a gas and convenience store.

Hicks has since re-evaluated his long-term business plan and decided to eliminate the convenience store, reduce the size of the new planned car wash from four self-service bays to two, and build one long and one short automatic wash tunnel. In addition, he would like to continue operating his car wash on Woodmoor Drive.

Hicks did not ask for an increase in service, but instead requested that he be allowed to split his total excess water service allocation between the two car wash locations.

After Steininger confirmed for the board that any new contract could stipulate that sale of either car wash or any change in use would nullify the agreement, members instructed Woodmoor staff to proceed with a redraft. Attorney Erin Smith expects to have a new agreement ready for the board’s review by the April meeting.

Election may be canceled

The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District may cancel the May 2 election for three board seats, which is allowed under state regulations when the number of qualified applicants equals the number of vacant positions, and the district has no other ballot issues.

Two interim members and one returning member will be appointed to full terms.

Jim Whitelaw originally replaced Dick Durham, who moved to Gleneagle in 2004 and was no longer eligible to serve. Whitelaw will continue as a board member.

Elizabeth Hacker was appointed recently to replace Ron Turner, who lost his battle with cancer, and she has decided to remain on the board. She will continue to serve as board secretary, a position to which she was recently elected.

Benny Nasser was eligible for re-election and will serve another term. Nasser will continue as the board’s representative to the Joint Use Committee, which governs the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility. Woodmoor and the Monument and Palmer Lake Sanitation districts jointly own the plant.

Treasurer Jim Wyss and President Jim Taylor were not up for re-election this cycle.

Summary of other agenda items

Other agenda issues of interest discussed at the meeting are summarized below:

Steininger reported on the American Water Works Association/Water Environment Federation conference he attended in Salt Lake City. The theme was "The name of the Game is Sustain." Steininger said he attended about 22 half-hour presentations, and felt the trip was well worth the investment. Of special interest were presentations on succession planning, financing of system improvements, and working effectively with elected boards. He distributed a handout summarizing the talks and asked members to review it for later discussion.

District staff would like to investigate the possibility of irrigation restrictions this summer to encourage water conservation. Steininger asked board members to start thinking about what type of watering restrictions would be most effective in reducing water use without unduly burdening residents.

District engineer Jessie Shaffer told members that construction of the new warehouse and work on the office kitchen remodel were nearly complete. He also updated the directors on the Central Water Treatment Facility expansion and the status of construction projects in the district. Some contractors are in the process of testing infrastructure. Several builders have slowed operations and are waiting for more favorable weather to resume building.

Smith reported that she is revising the district’s policy for payment of claims, and discussed final corrections to Woodmoor’s revised rules and regulations.

The public portion of the meeting ended at 3:20 p.m. and the board went into executive session to discuss the sale, acquisition, or purchase of property, determine negotiating positions, and confer with the attorney about legal issues raised by the proposal to publish a district newsletter. The next Woodmoor Water and Sanitation board of directors meeting will take place at 1:00 p.m. April 11 at the Woodmoor office, 1845 Woodmoor Dr. Meetings are normally held the second Tuesday of the month.

Return to the top of the page

Donald Wescott FPD election May 2

By Jim Kendrick

Designated Election Official Ginnette Ritz has announced that the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District’s election will be held May 2 at the District Fire Station at 15415 Gleneagle Drive, one block south of the Baptist Road intersection. Four candidates are running for the three open four-year terms on the board: incumbent Secretary-Treasurer David Cross, incumbent Director Kevin Gould, Gregory Segura, and Keith Sullivan.

Cross and Gould were first elected to two-year terms in 2004. Director Dennis Feltz is not seeking re-election at the end of his four-year term. Board Chair Brian Ritz and Director Joe Potter have completed two years of their four-year elected terms.

The single ballot question is:

Shall the present Directors and all future elected Directors of the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District be authorized to serve unlimited terms of office as allowed by Article XVIII, Section II (2) of the Colorado Constitution, thereby eliminating the limitation to two consecutive terms of office imposed by Article XVIII, Section II (1) of the Colorado Constitution?

Return to the top of the page

Wescott FPD receives MVEA grant

By Jim Kendrick

Chief Jeff Edwards announced March 27 that Mountain View Electric Association had given a grant of $5,000 to Donald Wescott Fire Protection District for a Life-Pac 12 cardiac monitor. He said the new unit will be carried on the district’s pumper engine and is an upgrade of the Life-Pac 10 model currently carried by the district’s other emergency vehicles.

Return to the top of the page

Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District, March 22: Ambulance revenues strong, May election canceled

By John Heiser

The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Board of Directors met March 22 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.

Financial report

Treasurer Hildebrandt reported that as of the end of February, the district’s expenses were 10.5 percent of the year’s budget, 6.2 percent less than the expected 16.7 percent.

Although total district revenue at the end of February stood at only 7.3 percent of the budgeted $1.995 million for the year, Hildebrandt said that is typical because the district does not receive the bulk of the property tax revenue until later in the year. He noted that ambulance revenues are already at 19.8 percent of the budgeted $350,000 for the year. He credited that in large part to the district’s use of billing consultant Alana Oswalt. At the current rate, total ambulance revenues for the year would be about $415,000, or about $65,000 more than budgeted. The fee for Oswalt’s services is about $3,000 per month.

Election canceled, officers retained

Three positions on the board were up for election in May, and only three candidates were running, so the election was canceled and the candidates were declared to be elected to the positions.

The officers, Pocock as president, Barnes as vice president, and Hartling as secretary, were unanimously re-elected.

Merger plans

In response to a question from Duncan, Pocock said the merger of the Tri-Lakes district with the Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District is one or two years away. He said it would be that long before it would work financially to have a common property tax mill levy for the two districts.

**********

The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District board normally meets the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 26, immediately preceding the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority board meeting at Tri-Lakes district Station 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley).

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

Return to the top of the page

Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District, March 22: Directors run unopposed, election canceled

By Susan Hindman

With no other candidates seeking to unseat the three incumbents of the Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District, the directors up for re-election—Bill Ingram, Bob Hansen, and Tim Miller––were sworn in for four-year terms. The election was declared over, and officers were chosen.

The directors will continue in their current roles: Si Sibell, president; Rod Wilson, vice president; Bob Hansen, treasurer; Bill Ingram, secretary; and Tim Miller, member-at-large.

Regarding this outcome, Hansen said, "I’m happy we’re going to be able to continue what we started and hopefully finish what we started. We don’t have to worry about the election. We must be doing something right."

Miller was also nominated as Woodmoor’s candidate to replace Charlie Pocock as president of the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority. Pocock is on the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District board. Authority president terms are one year, and the position alternates between the two districts. Miller’s nomination was to be announced at the Fire Authority meeting following the district’s meeting.

Financial report

Hansen reported that the district ended February at 1.5 percent under budget. Administrative expenses are still running higher, due in part to the physicals required for the new hires and for those age 40 and over, according to Chief Rob Denboske

He added that the district will receive rebates of around $700 from the insurance company, which will help offset a small portion of the general liability expenses, which remain over budget from the previous month. In addition, wages are slightly over budget, to which Denboske said he envisioned part-time expenses "leveling out."

Despite that, for the first two months of the year, the district spent a total of $188,977, or $94,489 per month. That’s less than the budgeted $102,055 per month. Hansen said that if this trend continues, the district would end 2006 at around 9 percent under budget.

As for revenue received, a total of $87,040 had been collected by the end of February: $59,843 in property taxes, $23,450 in specific ownership taxes, and $3,747 in interest income. Hansen added that in March alone, $347,000 has already been received.

The two People’s National Bank accounts hold $66,898, and the Colo Trust account has $488,823, for a total of $555,721.

**********

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 April 26 at Tri-Lakes district Station 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley).

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

Return to the top of the page

Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority, March 22: Woodmoor/Monument director Tim Miller elected president

Below: Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority Board: (L to R) TLFPD directors John Hartling, Rick Barnes, John Hildebrandt, and Charlie Pocock; W/MFPD directors Si Sibell and Rod Wilson; TLFPD director Keith Duncan, W/MFPD directors Bob Hansen, Tim Miller, and Bill Ingram. Photo by John Heiser

Click here or on the photo to zoom in

Click here or on the photo to zoom in

By John Heiser

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 10 board members were present.

The board agreed at past meetings that the presidency of the fire authority should alternate each year between the two districts. The following slate was unanimously approved: Tim Miller (Woodmoor), president; Charlie Pocock (Tri-Lakes), vice president; John Hildebrandt (Tri-Lakes), treasurer; and Rod Wilson (Woodmoor), secretary.

Financial report

Fire authority Treasurer Hildebrandt distributed copies of a financial report covering the Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor/Monument districts and the resulting financial status of the fire authority through the end of February. He noted that revenue and expenses would be expected to be at one-sixth (16.7 percent) of the annual budgets. Some highlights:

  • The authority has received $49,023 in specific ownership taxes, 14.3 percent of the anticipated $342,626 for the year.

  • The authority received ambulance revenues totaling $69,167 or 19.8 percent of the anticipated $350,000 for the year.

  • Expenses through February totaled $425,502 or 12.1 percent of the $3.5 million annual budget. Salary expense was the largest portion at $286,418, 15.3 percent of the $1.9 million annual salary budget. The seven new employees hired under the SAFER grant started work Feb. 1.

Hildebrandt noted that the Tri-Lakes district exercised its bank line of credit to cover the revenue shortfall until property tax revenue was received. He said the district exercised the line of credit March 6 and paid it off March 17.

A resolution was unanimously passed to set the minimum threshold for capital expenses at $5,000. Following the authority meeting, each of the boards reconvened to pass the same resolution for their respective districts.

Allowance for uniforms

After some discussion, the board unanimously approved a stipend of $300 per firefighter per year to pay for uniforms, including pants, shirts, boots, and laundry.

Woodmoor Treasurer Bob Hansen said, "Looking sharp lends authority."

Operational report

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

  • The fire authority responded to 122 calls during February. They consisted of 69 medical, 13 fires or fire alarms, 23 traffic accidents, 14 public assists, and three calls involving hazardous materials. The total calls for the year stood at 262.

  • Vehicle trips totaled 263 in responding to the 122 calls, with an average of 2.15 vehicles responding to each call.

  • During February, 59 people were transported to local hospitals.

  • For February, Station 1 on Highway 105 responded to 64 calls, Station 2 on Roller Coaster Road responded to 20 calls, and Station 3 on Woodmoor Drive responded to 37 calls.

**********

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 Tri-Lakes district Station 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley). The next meeting will be April 26.

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

Return to the top of the page

El Paso County Planning Commission, March 21: Court rules water insufficient for 13 approved projects

By Steve Sery

It was an unusual month, at least compared to the past three or four–there was only one meeting! The backlog of projects is about half of what it was in July 2005 and there appears to be some slowdown in new development activity.

There was only one item in northern El Paso County: a request for the On the Rocks Minor Subdivision. This is a 21-acre parcel just north of Old Northgate Road and Highway 83. The property is zoned RR-3 (minimum 5-acre lots) and the proposal met that requirement. There were no issues and it was approved unanimously.

An item of interest, although not in our area, is a State Water Court decision regarding the Cherokee Metropolitan District. This district supplies water and sewer services to a large portion of the county in the Falcon area. Very briefly, Cherokee has agreed to supply water to subdivisions outside of its district boundaries. The State Engineer’s office said Cherokee did not have the water available to do that; Cherokee disagreed. The County Commissioners sided with Cherokee, permitting 13 projects to go forward. This went to water court and the judge ruled with the State Engineer. This will undoubtedly be appealed but it puts the projects in a tenuous position for now. The county attorney will have to rethink the county’s position.

Return to the top of the page

County report on ruling to be presented April 27

By Jim Kendrick

County Attorney Bill Louis has been asked to give a report to the Board of County Commissioners at their meeting scheduled for April 27. He will report on his findings regarding a Colorado Water Court ruling in a case involving the Cherokee Water and Sanitation District and the ruling’s affect on water availability in the county, particularly in areas of high growth and development.

"This is a critical issue for growing areas of the county with the potential for far-reaching consequences. "We have asked the County Attorney’s Office to carefully study the court’s ruling and to present us with options," said Board Chair Sallie Clark.

"It has been suggested by some that the state court ruling retroactively affects subdivision plats that have already been approved based on a finding of water sufficiency," said Commissioner Jim Bensberg. "I don’t agree."

The County Commissioners’ meeting will begin at 9 a.m. on Apr. 27 in their third floor meeting room at 27 E. Vermijo.

Return to the top of the page

Woodmoor Improvement Association Board, March 15: Board approves ancillary buildings

By Chris Pollard

The first item on the agenda was a short announcement from Woodmoor resident, Richard Hicks, who said he was looking to form a group of interested residents with regard to the development of what was called the Choi Pankey property around Lake Woodmoor. This is destined to be developed as multi-family housing and he wanted to make sure that this was properly done while maintaining the natural environment and ensuring minimum impact on the neighboring residents.

Ancillary buildings approved

Before the board discussed the resolution on whether to approve ancillary buildings, Eric Lessing, Woodmoor resident, spoke in favor of the measure. He had an interest in building a potting shed and felt that for some people there would be advantages. The buildings could house unsightly articles or extra cars and would add value to the neighborhood. There had been a number of complaints about extra vehicles and Lessing felt that this would give some people an extra option besides building an expansion to their current house. He also felt that it would provide more options on driveways and drainage.

Lessing said only a few people would install ancillary buildings, but some residents would prefer the reduced height requirements of an ancillary building versus that of an extension.

Elizabeth Miller, Director of the Architectural Control Committee, then reread the motion. Jim Woodman, Director of Forestry, asked if residents would have to remove buildings such as a shed before adding an ancillary building, and Miller confirmed that this would be the case. After a short discussion about siding and roofing materials, the board approved the motion, with only Bill Walters and Brian Osterholt voting against it.

South Woodmoor stop signs approved

Terry Holmes, secretary, and Bill Walters, vice president, reported on their presentation to the Board of County Commissioners with regard to adding stop signs in South Woodmoor. They said the presentation and discussion took about an hour and was eventually approved 3-2. County Commissioner Sally Clark suggested that it would have been better if the WIA had offered to contribute to the cost, but an amendment requesting payment of no more than $2,000 failed. The only real condition was that before installation of the stop signs, some traffic statistics must be gathered and that this should be repeated a few months after they are installed. It was expected that the signs would be installed by mid-April.

In a related item, the board noted that the Sheriff’s Office had finally been enforcing traffic laws in South Woodmoor and had issued 67 tickets in a seven-day period. They will continue their enforcement program in North and South Woodmoor soon.

Also, the board reported on a meeting with some Lewis-Palmer School Board members regarding driving behavior by students and parents near the high school. Members of the school district said that they were working on a "Respect your neighbor campaign" and to restrict parking by students who violate rules. The district was also working on a traffic study related to adding an entrance on Jackson Creek Parkway. The campaign is intended to improve student and parent awareness on appropriate driving behavior in the neighborhood.

Hans Post, president, added that they should meet with the school board near the end of the school year to review progress.

Newsletter

Bill Walters said he had met with a couple of other board members to talk about communication with the residents. They mostly discussed the newsletter and felt that, currently, there was too much unbroken text and that it needed to be published more often. In the following discussion, it was estimated that each issue required as much as 120 man-hours with real costs of just over $1,000 for postage and printing.

The board then discussed potential options for contracting the design and layout and other sources for printing and distribution. Allen McMullen and others thought that adding color would add to the popularity of the newsletter and felt that it could be used to drive more people to the WIA website. He showed some samples of a design that had been done for another homeowner group and asked board members for suggestions for a newsletter name.

Forestry report

Jim Woodman, Director of Forestry, said that there was some better news with regard to the mountain pine beetle infestation in Woodmoor, as he had received far fewer calls since the beginning of the year. Only five homeowners averaging five trees each had come forward, so the population of beetles appears to have dropped. The only concern was that some trees were only now turning brown, and they didn’t know the reason for this.

Woodman said the common area thinning program was progressing. A number of residents had attended classes on the defensible space program but most haven’t yet applied for grants to do the thinning. He said that he had added an incentive to residents wishing to do a cross boundary project with a neighbor or a common area by raising the grant amount from $500 to $750.

The common area program was going too slowly, Woodman said, but he is pleased with the look, having made the area more "park-like." Some previously skeptical neighbors were also happy with the results. The next area planned for this treatment is around Toboggan Hill, probably with a different contractor, to try to get the work done before the grants are gone.

Woodman also reported on his progress towards making Woodmoor a "FireWise" community with regard to both minimizing the danger of forest fires in the first place and the response to one if it did occur. He showed some of the results of working with the El Paso County Planning Department with aerial and satellite maps that had been computer enhanced to show different vegetation zones. The areas had been classified into one of eight types and then these were rated as to their fire hazard and merged with plot plans to find out which houses are at greatest risk.

New Business

Post, in his final notes of the meeting said that he was looking for resident volunteers to attend meetings relating to developments around Woodmoor. He cited the example of Homeplace Ranch where plans showed roads connecting on Higby Road to those in Woodmoor. This needed to be carefully monitored and hoped somebody, maybe retired, would be available to help.

He also announced that T-Mobile, which had asked to erect a cell phone mast in one of the Woodmoor common areas, had since asked Woodmoor Pines Golf and Country Club and was planning to build on what was originally a tennis court. He felt that this would provide better cell-phone coverage in Woodmoor but be sufficiently far away from residents that it should not affect them.

*********

The next meeting of the WIA board will be April 19, 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.

Return to the top of the page

March Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

Windy and mild weather returned for the beginning of March. Temperatures were well above average during the first week of the month as highs reached into the 50s and 60s under mostly sunny skies. Winds also kicked up, with gusts to 40 mph at times.

The second week of March turned out to be an eventful one for the Tri-Lakes region. We started off quiet enough with mostly sunny skies and mild temperatures. In fact, we approached record high territory on Monday the 6th as highs reached into the mid- and upper 60s. But this was ahead of an approaching change in the weather pattern that would bring cold and unsettled weather from the northwest. Unfortunately, no major organized storms developed in the area close enough to us to produce widespread heavy snowfall, but we did pick up a couple of shots of snow and temperatures sure turned cold.

Wednesday the 8th was the first shot of snow, with 3-4 inches piling up during the afternoon and evening, along with gusty winds. Highs were also about 25 degrees colder than the previous day, making the change even more drastic. The cold and unsettled conditions stuck around through the weekend, as highs stayed below average through Sunday, holding in the 30s to low 40s. But the real winner with this latest series of cold weather was the southwest mountains-exactly where we needed it. In fact, Wolf Creek Pass picked up over 50 inches of snow during that five-day period.

Lingering cold air and light snow greeted us to begin the week of the 13th. Highs stayed below freezing initially, but sunshine returned for the next few days as temperatures moderated under the stronger March sun. Highs reached through the 40s and into the 50s by Wednesday afternoon. Temperatures stayed near average to end the week, then jumped above normal for Saturday the 18th, with highs reaching the mid to upper 50s with gusty winds. This was ahead of the next storm system however, which began to make itself felt late in the day on Saturday.

Clouds increased during the day Saturday, with some sprinkles developing, then mixing with some wet snow by late afternoon. Clouds continued to lower and thicken with freezing drizzle coating many surfaces by evening. Sunday turned out to be an even more eventful day--very much "March-like". The morning started off with fog and low clouds, along with a little light snow, but things really got interesting during the afternoon as a strong storm approached the region. This was able to tap into higher amounts of moisture along with an unstable atmosphere we typically see in March and produce a couple rounds of thundersnow. These thundersnow storms also put down some graupel and pea-size soft hail. This was soon overlain by fresh snow through the evening, making travel a little unpleasant across most of the area. But I don’t think anyone is complaining about receiving some much-needed moisture just in time for spring.

The week of March 20th started off cold and snowy, as winds howled Monday while 4-8 inches of snow piled up. High temperatures struggled to reach the low 20s across the area with the storm finally beginning to wind down during the afternoon and evening. Although things calmed down the next day, we stayed awfully cold with morning lows starting in the single digits and afternoon highs once again staying in the 20s.

The weather quieted down for the remainder of the month, however, as temperatures climbed through the 30s on Wednesday the 22nd to the 50s and 60s by the end of the month.

A Look Ahead

April can see a wide variety of weather conditions in the Tri-Lakes region from warm, sunny days to howling blizzards. April 2005 was a snowy and cold one for us, as we received over 50 inches of snow during the month. Hopefully we’ll see abundant moisture again this year, as this is critical to getting our foliage off to a great start. The official monthly forecast for April 2006, produced by the Climate Prediction Center (http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/), is calling for a slight chance of above-normal temperatures and equal chances of normal precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit http://users.adelphia.net/~billkappel/ClimateSummary.htm.

March 2006 Weather Statistics (as of 3/30)

Average High 46.7°
Average Low 20.8°
Highest Temperature 66° on the 6th
Lowest Temperature 2° on the 21st
Monthly Precipitation 1.46"
Monthly Snowfall 16.0"
Season to Date Snow 83.1"
Season to Date Precip. 11.04"

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

Remember, weather affects all of us everyday and is a very important part of life for us in the Tri-Lakes region, and we want to hear from you. 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.

Return to the top of the page

Letters to Our Community

Slow down!

I live on Glenway Street, in the Town of Palmer Lake. And although Glenway is a school zone, and the speed limit is only 20 miles per hour, people speed like crazy down the road. My opinion is that on Glenway and all other streets, speeding laws should be enforced.

At 3:30 each day, kids either walk or take the bus home from school. Cars go speeding across the road dangerously, while children may get run over. After school, or on weekends, kids just love to ride their bikes. But what is the use, having to always pull over to the side of the road quickly, to avoid getting squashed?

Some folks may say that the kids can ride in the back yard, or just pull over and let the drivers do what they do. But it is important to follow what the law says, not just do what you want. I personally think that if the speeding and lawbreaking does not stop soon, then somebody is going to get hurt.

To enforce the law, the police should put up speed detectors to show people how fast they really are going. Also, police cars should be stationed by the road. Almost all of us have a reason to stop speeding. I hope it stops soon.

As a community, we should help one another. We should care about the law. I predict that if we enforce the laws on speeding, then we will certainly be a happier community.

Jessika Hodgson, age 10

Return to the top of the page

Having a Bad Day?

I was reading the March 4, 2006, issue of Our Community News when I came to the article concerning Mayor Glenn’s remarks at the Feb. 6 meeting of the Monument Board of Trustees. My first impression was he must be having a bad day. He said that the City of Colorado Springs was "...going to come drill wells and dry us up" and that El Paso County "...has not stepped up to the plate and helped us with anything." My next impression was that it sounded like whining and certainly wouldn’t serve to improve relations with the city to the south nor with county officials. Then I came to the part of the article that really got my attention, his statement that "...Pikes Peak RTA, is spending a ton of money, $10 million plus, on Hodgen Road extension, when there is no traffic on Hodgen, but there sure is on Higby Road." First, traffic density on both roads is nearly identical–around 4,000 vehicles per day in 2003–and secondly, according to El Paso County’s official web site, the Hodgen Road extension construction is projected to cost "...just over $1 million, including utility relocation expenses."

If the mayor has made inflationary and inflammatory comments to city and county officials, such as the one concerning traffic and construction costs of the Hodgen Road extension, the term "burning bridges" leaps to mind, and I don’t believe he shows the type of leadership I would expect from such an official.

Douglas Hopley, Sr.

Return to the top of the page

Congratulations and thanks

The Local Firefighters of IAFF 4319 would like to congratulate the incumbent board members of the Woodmoor-Monument and Tri-Lakes Fire Protection Districts on retaining their positions. They and the entire Tri-Lakes/Monument Fire Authority Board have done an outstanding service to the community in joining the two districts into one dynamic, well-trained, and service-oriented organization. The improvements include more firefighters, paramedics, and new apparatus to better serve the community. We would also like to thank Mr. Diggins for his service on the Woodmoor-Monument Board at the beginning of the joining of the two Districts.

Finally, we would like to thank the community for its support of the boards and the firefighters. Together, and with continued support, we can and will keep a standard of care and service far above what two separate organizations could offer in a rapidly growing community.

Monument Local Firefighters 4319

Return to the top of the page

Palmer Lake needs leadership

If you went to the Town of Palmer Lake’s Meet the Candidates Night on March 23, you may have gotten the impression that the main issues facing Palmer Lake were minor ones. Nothing could be further from the truth. Simply look at the ballot issues. The current administration is asking you to abolish term limits, increase taxes and retain excess revenue. Combine these initiatives with the already passed 51 percent increase in the average water bill for the 5,000 gallon customer and a distinct pattern emerges. There are better alternatives for our future.

R.W. of Palmer Lake was at the March 23 meeting. He wrote to the Palmer Lake Independent News … "I am very curious about the animosity towards your tennis efforts. I think your programs are great and we should support them wholeheartedly. My concern is that this animosity reflects a general attitude in the town towards entrepreneurship and private prosperity. If elected mayor I hope you can work to begin changing that tone. Good luck and thank you for your efforts."

I couldn’t agree with R.W. more but since I am personally involved, as mayor I would recuse myself from voting on the "tennis issue." It is time for us to come together as a community and shine the light of thoughtful discussion and inquiry upon the issues of the day.

Palmer Lake needs leadership. I can and will provide that leadership. Please tell all your acquaintances and bring two friends with you to vote on Tuesday, April 4, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

Kim Makower, candidate for mayor of Palmer Lake

Return to the top of the page

You won’t even ask?

I attended the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) meeting March 10. Commissioner Wayne Williams asked for comments and suggestions as to how to solve the Baptist Road I-25 interchange problem without raising taxes—meaning the 1 percent sales tax that is proposed for this year’s November ballot. I suggested that our local elected officials bring this serious safety problem to the attention of Governor Owens. The commissioner’s response was "I wish it were as simple as, ‘Go tell the government we need this’," and was followed by a low chuckle from BRRTA board members and his staff.

In my view, Williams is our elected official and the one person who could go to the governor on our behalf about this issue. It would be irresponsible for him not to inform the state of the seriousness of this problem and ask for the money needed to improve a very dangerous situation. The safety of his constituents and of citizens traveling the interstate is at stake. It is sensible to ask for help when problems become this important.

I believe the governor and our state representatives need to hear it from him and will listen—and that they will care about the negative effects and hardships the Baptist Road interchange is causing. I also believe these state officials know that the cost will be high and that their decision to approve the funding of this project may cause some hardship on other proposed projects in the state, but that this project needs to be addressed immediately.

Is it too much to ask him to help us obtain state funds (from taxes we have already paid) for this project? Commissioner Williams should go to the governor and the State House and make a plea for his constituents. If he is told "No," then he should keep going back to them until the answer is "Yes." This constituent believes it is not too much to ask. As the District 1 commissioner, his duty is to deal with these issues. If he can’t help us with a safety matter of this magnitude, how can we as voters expect him to accomplish lesser matters at higher levels of government?

Michael Wicklund

Return to the top of the page

Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Time for a thrill

By the Staff at Covered Treasures

Doesn’t it seem that warm, sunny days are just a dream in April? When that beautiful weather does finally come to us, we hate to spend time indoors. But April is known to be an unpredictable weather month, and you’ll want to be prepared for spending a day or two indoors. You won’t mind the snow and wind of our capricious spring months as you lose yourself in these tales.

Manhunt: The 12-day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer
By James L. Swanson, $26.95

The murder of Abraham Lincoln set off the greatest manhunt in American history: the pursuit and capture of John Wilkes Booth. From April 14 to 26, 1865, the assassin led Union cavalry and detectives on a wild, 12-day chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., across the swamps of Maryland, and into the forests of Virginia. The nation, still reeling from the just-ended Civil War, watched in horror and sadness.

At the center of this story is John Wilkes Booth, America’s notorious villain. A Confederate sympathizer and a member of a celebrated acting family, Booth threw away his fame, wealth, and promise for a chance to avenge the South’s defeat. For almost two weeks he confounded the man hunters, slipping away from their every move and denying them the justice they sought.

Based on rare archival materials and obscure trial transcripts, Manhunt is a fully documented work, but it is also a fascinating tale of murder, intrigue, and betrayal; a gripping hour-by-hour account told through the eyes of the hunted and the hunters.

Labyrinth
By Kate Mosse, $25.95

In this extraordinary thriller, rich in the atmospheres of medieval and contemporary France, the lives of two women born centuries apart are linked by a common destiny.

July 2005: In the Pyrenees mountains a volunteer at an archaeological dig stumbles into a cave and makes a startling discovery: two crumbling skeletons, strange writings on the walls, and the pattern of a labyrinth. Between the skeletons lie a stone ring and a small leather bag.

July 1209: On the eve of a brutal crusade that will rip apart southern France, a father gives a book to his 17-year-old daughter as he leaves to fight the crusades. The book, he says, contains the secret of the true Grail, and the ring, inscribed with the pattern of a labyrinth, will identify a guardian of the Grail. It will take great sacrifice to keep the secret of the labyrinth safe.

In the present, another woman sees the find as a means to the political power she craves; while a man who has great power will kill to destroy all traces of the discovery and everyone who stands in his way.

Labyrinth is deeply researched, thoughtfully written, and well worth reading.

Cell
By Stephen King, $26.95

There are 193 million cell phones in the United States alone. Who doesn’t have one? King’s latest, fascinating novel doesn’t just ask "Can you hear me now?" For those among us who have become irritated at the ever more intrusive presence of cell phones in our daily lives, this book answers–with a vengeance.

What happened on the afternoon of Oct. 1 came to be known as the Pulse, a signal sent though every operating cell phone, turning its user into something less than human. People become savage, murderous, unthinking–on a wanton rampage. Is it a terrorist act? Is this a cyber prank gone haywire?

Cell is classic Stephen King, a gripping, gory horror tale with white-knuckled suspense that makes the unimaginable entirely plausible and totally fascinating.

The Da Vinci Code
By Dan Brown, $7.99/$14.95/$24.95

If you’ve resisted reading this one for the past three years but want to know what’s going on before seeing the movie later this spring, now is the time to pick it up. Just recently released in paperback, this is a great page-turner of a suspense novel. The book moves at a breakneck pace; virtually every chapter ends with a cliffhanger. Read the book, then see the movie!

So, while spring weather teases us, snuggle up with a good thriller on those snowy days. The crocuses will be popping up before we know it! Until next month, happy reading.

Return to the top of the page

High Country Highlights: Early Spring Garden Tips

By Woody Woodworth

When spring arrives in northern El Paso County and the Tri-Lakes area, you think warm days, cold nights, and wet snows. It is the perfect time to get in gear with some early gardening techniques to help make your gardening experience successful. Now is the time to get your lawns fertilized and your garden beds prepared and ready to plant. By additional mulching and pruning, you will ensure your gardens get off to a good start.

Early spring is a great time to give your lawn, trees, shrubs, and perennial gardens a boost with a little fertilizer. You should fertilize your lawn in late March or the first part of April. Use a crabgrass control if crabgrass is a problem. If you just want a green-up, use Jirdon’s Greenmaster fertilizer, which is 25 percent slow-release nitrogen. A healthy lawn should be watered deeply and requires about an inch of water per week. Daily shallow watering promotes unhealthy shallow roots and a less healthy lawn. Proper fertilization and watering will ensure you have a beautiful lush lawn this season. Kick in your trees and shrubs with a little tree and shrub fertilizer that is formulated specifically for plants in the Rocky Mountain region. You should apply light applications around May 15, June 15, and July 31.

Place mulch around the roots of trees, shrubs, and perennials to prevent moisture loss. Use 3 or 4 inches of medium-size cedar bark mulch around trees and shrubs by covering the ground out to the "drip line" of the plant. Be sure to keep the bark mulch 6 inches away from the base of the trunk because the mulch can harbor insects and encourage rot. Mulching will allow moisture from rain, snow, and irrigation to reach roots of trees and shrubs and help minimize watering .

Start in your garden beds by pruning back your perennials that you may have left standing throughout the winter. Cut back perennials to about 3 inches above the crown of the plant, paying close attention not to injure the new growth. Cut back ornamental grasses to 5 or 6 inches and their plumage will flourish in the early summer. After cutting back the gardens, add a forest mulch liberally (about 3 or 4 inches) around the plants and throughout the garden beds. We use a product called Soil Pep that can be found at most independent garden centers.

Got spring fever? Winter is officially over, but it’s still too cold for most plants to survive. The solution? A collection of gorgeous flowering and foliage varieties you can plant in early spring. This is a great time to introduce cold-tolerant plants to your patio or gardens. The Spring Magic collection from Proven Winners allows high-altitude gardeners to experience beautiful color early in the gardening season. Pre-planted pots composed of early-blooming annual and perennial plants such as pansies, snow in summer, violas, iberis, and primula are combined with the spike-like appeal of euphorbia and acorus. Spring Magic plants can endure our cool spring nights and still perform with luster. They’re perfect for containers, borders, and beds in the early spring before the regular annual season is upon us.

Plant potatoes and onion sets and cool weather vegetable varieties such as cabbage, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and curly parsley. At planting time, fertilize in bands along both sides of the row with a fertilizer formulated for our soils, such as Jirdon’s Vegetable Fertilizer (12-16-14). Keep the band of fertilizer at least 2 inches from the seed potatoes and other vegetables.

For more tips on gardening in the Tri-Lakes area, go to www.highcountryhg.com.

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

Return to the top of the page

Palmer Lake Historical Society, March 16: Hummingbirds, our mischievous neighbors

By Dee Kirby

Jerry Dalferro, a man with a passion for hummingbirds, shared his exuberance with an audience as enthusiastic as he over this mite of a bird that weighs less than a penny, builds a nest a smidgen bigger than a quarter, and lays two eggs per season–each no bigger than a Chiclet.

If we think we scurry about throughout the day, rushing to this and that, we are a species on hold compared to the busyness of a hummingbird. For instance, he burns 6,600 to 12,000 calories a day, thus his split, thread-like tongue flicks in and out 11 times a second when he feeds on nectar every 15 minutes, otherwise he will starve, and all the while, his tiny heart races at 500 beats a minute. More amazing, he packs enough fuel and endurance to fly 22 hours, nonstop, across the Gulf of Mexico. Whew! No wonder Dalferro parted with 158 pounds of sugar last summer to feed the hummers, sometimes 150 at a time.

Dalferro said that maintaining hummingbird feeders can be a babysitting chore. He sets his feeders out early in the morning and brings them in at night because of bears. Feeders need to be washed every day or two and hummingbird formula prepared and refrigerated. But his reward is "up close and personal" when the hummers hover near him and land on his fingers, five at one time. No wonder he calls the hummers "my buddies."

Dalferro said that the hummingbirds return in late April to the same feeders. The first to arrive are the aggressive rufous. Soon to follow are the other hummingbirds of Colorado, the broad-tail, black-chinned, and Anna’s.

Dalferro’s formula for enjoying the hummingbirds is to "don a red robe," sit on his deck, and let the tiny birds come to him. And, to dispel an old wives’ tale, Dalferro said, "No, hummingbirds do not ride on the backs of geese."

On the wings of the hummers, a perfect segue into the Palmer Lake Historical Society’s meeting on April 20, Dr. E. Muenger, Command Historian, U.S. Air Force Academy, will address: "Searching for an Air Force Academy."

Hummingbird feeders and food

Use only cane sugar. Do not use honey, for it will kill the birds. Do not use red dye. The "stringers" that appear in the sugar water of the hummingbird feeder are bacteria, letting you know it is time to clean the feeder. Clean feeders with bleach, not soap, for soap clings to the feeder and repulses the birds.

Enjoy the finches, bats, and butterflies that sip from the feeders. However, to dispel ants, put the feeder into a bowl and create a moat of water around it. As for discouraging bees, spray the feeder with PAM.

Return to the top of the page

Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Mountain Bluebird

Drawing by Elizabeth Hacker

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

In March, Randy and I explored the back roads of the Greenland Ranch. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that March’s typical cold, windy, and generally bleak weather is really springtime in the Rockies. However, we quickly stopped thinking about the weather when we spotted multitudes of mountain bluebirds flocking on the Palmer Divide. In our excitement, we quickly got out of the car to take a closer look at the antics of these truly beautiful turquoise birds.

In mid-March, flocks of male bluebirds migrate north to Colorado to begin establishing their territories. The less colorful females follow a few weeks later. While we did see a few pairs on fences, most of the birds we observed were flocks of males.

All bluebirds are monogamous. The males guard their mates from the time a pair forms until the female lays her first eggs, usually in mid-April. Pairs will often mate for more than one breeding season. It is thought that the reason some birds mate with each other year after year is because they both return to defend the same territory and repeatedly breed successfully.

The female chooses a nest site, which can be a natural cavity, abandoned woodpecker hole, cliff crevice, or nesting box. Like other bluebirds, mountain bluebirds compete with house sparrows and European starlings for nest sites. Only the female builds the nest, which takes about a week. Males are very attentive to their females during the nest-building period. They aggressively chase off other birds from their territory and closely guard their mates. Occasionally, they carry material to the nesting site but do not actually weave it into the nest.

The first eggs are laid in late April and early May. Females lay one egg per day until the clutch is complete. The average clutch size is five to six eggs. The eggs are smooth, glossy, and pale blue to bluish-white. Because all eggs laid by a female are the same color, any odd-colored eggs in a clutch indicates that another female has laid an egg in that nest, a behavior known as egg dumping. Starlings are notorious for dumping their eggs in bluebird nests.

Incubation begins when the last egg is laid and lasts 13 to 14 days. The female continues to brood the nestlings for a week after they hatch, while the very busy male guards the territory and feeds the nestlings and its mate. When the female begins to brood only at night, both sexes start feeding the young. The nestlings fledge after 17 to 22 days. Initially, they depend heavily upon their parents for food. The male continues to care for the fledged young as the female begins to renest, but the young become independent of their parents in three or four weeks.
Unlike eastern and western bluebirds, the mountain bluebird is all blue with no orange. No other songbird is as blue. It is unique from the other bluebirds in that it feeds exclusively on insects and hovers over its prey.

At one time the bluebird was one of the more common birds in North America, but by the early 1960s their numbers had dwindled so much that intensive conservation efforts were needed to ensure their survival. Concerned bluebird enthusiasts saw the impact habitat loss was having on these birds, and began replacing the birds’ lost nesting cavities with nesting boxes. Have you observed these boxes along fences in places like the New Santa Fe Trail?

Politics aside, the efforts of one first lady from Texas cannot be denied. In the 1970s, the pervasive clutter, billboards, and junkyards enveloping the nation’s roadsides disheartened Lady Bird Johnson. It deeply concerned her that our nation’s once vast natural beauty was quickly vanishing. Mrs. Johnson viewed roadsides as a window through which we learned about our ecological heritage. As first lady, she recognized an opportunity to start a national revitalization effort and fought to make America more beautiful by restoring and protecting the natural habitats and national heritage along our interstate highways. Thanks to her courageous effort, when we stop at rest stops while trekking across country, we can experience natural landscapes and often view birds and wildlife.

While she may deserve the credit for initiating this movement, it survives today thanks to numerous efforts by individuals and organizations. One local example was by Palmer Lake’s Cub Scout Den 3, Pack 17 who built bluebird houses and placed them in the Pike National Forest. It is the efforts like this that ensure the bluebird’s future on the Palmer Divide.

Elizabeth Hacker is an artist and freelance writer. E-mail your questions and bird finds to her at OCN.

Return to the top of the page

Art Matters: Earth Day, April 22

By Janet Sellers

The Earth Day Worldwide celebration is April 22. The suggested observance of Earth Day by its founder, John McConnell, includes care of the Earth and awareness of "… How to shop, invest, save, travel–the Earth Trustee way…" As the U.N. Peace Bell rings at U.N. headquarters in New York City, it will be joined by the simultaneous ringing of peace bells around the world. It is hoped that every group observing Earth Day will ring a bell, or bells, at that time. Every effort to remember the ideals of Earth Day helps create a better, healthier world.

Did you know that when you buy organically grown coffee or tropical products you are protecting the lives of the farmers and the amazing tropical birds and animals of that growing region? Toucans, red and blue macaws, even the rare quetzal bird, are protected­–especially by the grand scale commerce of coffee. Also, did you know that the water health of the world’s wetlands areas is the barometer of the Earth’s health? Those are the two ingredients in the second most popular commodity in the world, one that many of us consume every day. (The commodity in first place is oil). We can give our attention to what we buy and what that money does as the power of our dollar moves from us to our community and on to other nations.

Each year, schoolchildren and adults in our local community, across our nation, and around the world celebrate Earth Day and focus on learning about protecting the life and health of our planet. Gardens and trees are planted, and many aspects of the arts are called upon for the event. Many communities hold Earth Day festivals and awareness programs using the arts as a vehicle to reach everyone possible.

In our community this month, the Monument Library will feature the Monument School of Fine Arts’ annual art show exhibits on wetlands habitat and Monument students’ Junior Duck Stamp Design Competition entries, animals and birds of local interest, a seven-year Duck Stamp Design retrospective of exemplary student Tyler Ciccolella’s paintings, nature sketches and drawings by students and faculty, and the Earth Day special show "Every Cup Counts," an exhibit about the birds and animals of organic coffee plantations–the ones you save and support when you buy organic coffee and organic tropical products.

If you are interested in learning more about the festivals of Earth Day, visit http://www.earthsite.org/trustee.htm and become an Earth Trustee.

Local gallery showings and events

Winter Gallery: An ad hoc opening March 23 ushered in the newest offering of abstract paintings at the Winter Gallery. L. Brooke Johnson’s copper verdigris collage works, Stevie Grant’s mixed media collage, Gary A. Arthur’s acrylic abstracts, and Wayne Nickle’s mixed media are the focus of this show. These four local Pike’s Peak-area artists’ works filled the main galleries with color, energetic brushwork, and photography. Not to be missed, however, is the superb natural world photography by Dr. Stephen G. Weaver. He is a geologist who understands and shares the dynamic images of the Earth’s geologic features and processes.

Bella Art and Frame: Currently showing an eclectic and artful mix of sculptures, art furniture, paintings, and splendid art frames. Owner Sabrina says she is gearing up for the Art Hop coming in May, so stay tuned.

Pankratz gallery: Linda Pankratz hinted their coming art shows this season will be very different and she is quite enthused about them, as well as the new offerings of Kathryn MacMahon, whose family portrait paintings are now available. Drop off your photos at the Pankratz Gallery and she will create commissioned oil paintings.

Pacific Rim Interiors: Those favorite carved wooden art wands are back and more fascinating sculptures, textiles, and art are on hand. Besides the irresistible carvings and vessels, I love the handmade paper shopping bags and the embroidered silk wine gift bags, and then there are the boxes–all are must-see.

Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA): In the Lucy Owens Gallery, Member Art Show until April 21; School District 38 Student art show sponsored by the Air Academy Federal Credit Union; the TLCA gift shop has new art on exhibit every month.

Calls for artists

Local artists: Exhibit your hanging artwork at the Pikes Peak Library District. Drop off five pieces of matted and framed art representative of your style and medium to the Carnegie Reading Room at Penrose Library, 20 N. Cascade Ave., from 10 a.m. to noon April 4. Pick-up is the same day, 4:30 to 6 p.m. The Library Art Evaluation Committee reviews works, schedules approved artists for shows throughout the district. Contact Cathy Genato, cgenato@ppld.org or 531-6333, ext. 2338 for more information.

Spring/summer art classes and workshops

Monument School of Fine Arts: Liquid Stone­–New Sculpture in Concrete; Weekend sculpture classes for indoors and outdoors, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays at the studio.

Ongoing studio art classes for all ages; studio hours are 4-8 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays, outdoors if weather permits!

June Movie Camp and Summer Art Camp registration starting; call about the early bird rates for April. For the 2006 Summer Art Season and Outdoor Art Camp, contact Janet in the programs office at 488-8280.

Tri Lakes Center for the Arts April/May Art classes

April 6-27: Elizabeth Hacker–Reflection in Landscape
April 7-28: George Molstad–Seeing as the Artist Sees
April 8: Robert Gray–(watercolor) Figures & Horses
April 29 & May 6: Delynn Ellis–classic stained glass, mosaic platter

TLCA is located in the historic Kaiser-Frazer building, 304 W. Highway 105, in Palmer Lake. Phone 481-0475, or visit www.trilakesarts.org.

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

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.

Sheriff’s Office announces upcoming Citizens’ Academy

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office is accepting applications for the first Citizens’ Academy of the year. The Citizens’ Academy will begin April 19 and be held Wednesday evenings, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. It will be conducted over 11 weeks, culminating in a graduation June 29.

Classes in the Academy will offer participants a wide-ranging view and unique insight into the various functions of the Sheriff’s Office. There is no charge to attend the Citizens’ Academy, however, seating is limited. Citizens wishing to attend should phone Deputy Andy Prehm, 520-7340, or Deputy Jacob Abendschan, 520-7107, to request an application. Completed applications were due March 31, but if you are interested in participating, phone Deputy Prehm or Deputy Abendschan April 3.

Return to the top of the page

Rocky Mountain Music Alliance Concert

Really getting into it - Dr. Michael Baron performed a solo Rocky Mountain Music Alliance concert on Mar. 4. The concert was underwritten by Sheila Christy of Grand Junction. Baron is also a distinguished educator and gave a short lesson on each composer and specific things for the audience to look for before he performed each piece. His program included works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Liszt, as well as an usual piece by Jean Papineau-Couture simulating strange night sounds he had to make from inside the piano (see photo by Jim Kendrick below).

The last concert of the RMMA series, 7 p.m., April 8, will showcase James Houlik who is the top classical tenor saxophone player in the world. He is a consummate entertainer who has been thrilling his audiences with sounds and a virtuosity seldom matched on the instrument. He will be joined by the incomparable Dr. Michael Baron and a special appearance by Steve Barta, jazz pianist extraordinaire. Tickets will be available at the door, $22 for adults and $18 for students. Doors open 45 minutes before concert time at Forestgate Presbyterian Church, 970 Northgate Road. For more information, contact Pam Brunson, 484-0192, or e-mail rmma@adelphia.net.

Below: Rocky Mountain Music Alliance Chair Pam Brunson and soloist Dr. Michael Baron. Photo by Jim Kendrick

Return to the top of the page

AARP Mature Safe Driving Program at Monument Library

This is the nation’s first and largest classroom driver refresher course specially designed for motorists age 50 and older. Completion of the class can get you a discount on your insurance. The class will be held Apr. 13 and 14, 1-5 p.m. You must attend both days. Advance registration and $10 fee are required. Monument Branch Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr. For more information, phone the library, 488-2370.

Return to the top of the page

Gleneagle Sertoma Wine Tasting

The Gleneagle Sertoma Club is hosting a wine tasting April 7, 6-8:30 p.m., at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, 304 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake. The evening will feature wines from the Wine Seller in Monument, beer, food from Cunningham’s Catering and The Melting Pot, coffee from Serrano’s, and a caricature artist. Integrity Bank will provide cheeses to match the wines. The cost is $30 per person, $50 per couple. Last year the event raised $4,400 for Tri-Lakes Cares and other local charities. For more information, call Sherry Edwards, 488-1044.

Return to the top of the page

Chamber of Commerce Banquet and Silent Auction

The Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual banquet April 8, 6 p.m., at Pine Crest Event Center, 106 Greeley Blvd. in Palmer Lake. The evening’s theme is the Caribbean. The cost, $45 per person, includes two drink tickets. Raffle tickets for a five-night Caribbean cruise vacation for two are now available. For more information or to donate items for the silent auction, phone the chamber at 481-3282.

Return to the top of the page

Tax information at Pikes Peak Library District

Pikes Peak Library District is offering tax information and reproducible tax forms to help people prepare for the busy tax season. Available information includes:

  • Tax Info IRS link on the ppld.org main web page. This link includes information about office locations, telephone numbers, local and national revenue offices, and websites.

  • Reproducible federal and Colorado state individual income tax forms (available for photocopies only) at all libraries. Copies are 10 cents per page.

  • A telephone information line (531-6333, x1040) will be updated with information on forms, library resources, and volunteer income tax assistance sites.

Due to privacy issues and time limitations, PPLD does not recommend electronic filing from public library computers. Turbo-Tax CDs or other tax software can not be used for saving and printing forms from library computers.

Return to the top of the page

30th Pine Forest Antique Show

Below: 2005 Pine Forest Antique Show and Sale. The 2006 show will be held April 22 and 23 at Lewis-Palmer High School. Photo provided by the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club

Mark your calendars for this popular annual event April 22, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and April 23, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Lewis-Palmer High School (I-25, Exit 161 or 158). The show will feature antiques from more than 60 select dealers, as well as a delicious Country Café, homemade bake sale, and door prizes.

Scheduled events Saturday: Miss Colorado, Jessica Urban, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; "Antique" Art Form by Lynn Lybolt, 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday: Authors Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Jan McKinney’s English Antiquing Seminar, 1 p.m.

As the major fundraising event of the year for the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club, the antiques show and sale benefits local nonprofit groups such as District 38 schools, fire and police departments, senior citizen groups, and other nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organizations that provide services to residents within the community. For more information, please visit the Web site at www.tlwc.net.

Return to the top of the page

Tri-Lakes Senior Forum

The Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership (HAP) and Pikes Peak Area Agency on Aging (PPAAA) are joining to host the Tri-Lakes Senior Forum April 29, 8 a.m. to noon, at Lewis-Palmer Middle School, 1776 Woodmoor Drive, Monument. Tri-Lakes area senior citizens and providers of services for Tri-Lakes area seniors are invited to attend to discuss issues such as housing, finances, safety, nutrition, mental health, physical health, well-being, participation, social support, assistance with everyday activities, transportation, and caregiver support. There is no charge to attend the forum. Transportation to and from the forum will be available for seniors. Attendance will be limited to the first 150 to register. Registration deadline is April 7. Register by phone at 471-2096, e-mail at seniorinfo@ppacg.org, or regular mail at PPAAA, Attn: Eileen Porubsky, 15 S. Seventh Street Colorado Springs, CO 80905. For more information, phone Chuck Roberts, 488-3855 or Michael Decker, 471-7080, ext. 114.

Return to the top of the page

Child ID program

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation reports that 15,000 Colorado children are abducted each year. To help in the battle against lost and abducted children, the Monument Masonic Lodge will conduct a free child ID program April 29 and 30, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Centurion Daylight Lodge, 18275 Furrow Rd., and May 20, noon to 5 p.m. at Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. All children must be accompanied by at least one parent. The ID process involves taking an electronic photo and index finger prints and producing a hard copy of them, measuring the child’s height and weight, filling out a form and attaching two strands of the child’s hair for DNA analysis. The parent(s) keeps the completed form. For more information phone Ed Kinney, 481-2750.

Return to the top of the page

Mozart Goes to Monument

The Colorado Springs Philharmonic, conducted by Lawrence Leighton Smith, concludes the 2005-06 Mozart & Friends series with "All Mozart" May 6, 8 p.m., and again May 7 at 2:30 p.m. at Lewis-Palmer High School, 1300 Higby Road. The program showcases Lawrence Leighton Smith’s piano prowess as he conducts from the piano Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 14. The program includes the Overture to the Marriage of Figaro and Serenade No. 9 in D major (Posthorn).

The concert is part of the continued community outreach by the Philharmonic to bring orchestral music to many parts of the Colorado Springs area. The Mozart & Friends series offers a more intimate setting for audiences who want a neighborhood experience. Tickets are $20 at the door, at Pikes Peak Center, 190 S. Cascade Ave, by calling 719-520-SHOW, and at all Tickets West outlets and online at Ticketswest.com.

Return to the top of the page

Wildland Fire Crew accepting applications

The El Paso County Wildland Fire Crew is seeking active and enthusiastic citizens to become volunteers for one of the best wildland fire crews in Colorado. If you love the outdoors, hard work, and want to help protect our community from fire, working with this crew could be for you. The crew has male and female volunteer members ranging from ages 18 to 60-plus, with different levels of participation.

If you are interested in joining, pick up an application at 210 S. Tejon St., downtown Colorado Springs. The next Wildland Fire Academy is scheduled to start May 6. Applications for this academy will be accepted until April 17. To be eligible to join, you must be at least 18 years of age, a U.S. citizen, and have no felony arrests or convictions. You must have a valid Colorado driver’s license, a high school diploma or a GED, and most positions require you to be in very good physical condition. Applicants must also pass a background check, an oral interview, a physical agility test based on position type, and the 40-hour Wildland Fire Academy. No previous experience is required. Some equipment purchases will be required for fire response.

Return to the top of the page

Gleneagle Spirit Run/Walk in May

The Second Annual Gleneagle Spirit 5k Run/Walk for Fun will take place May 20, 8:30 a.m. to noon, at Antelope Trails Elementary School, 15280 Jessie Dr. The 5k course winds through the streets of scenic Gleneagle (east of I-25 between the Northgate and Baptist Road Exits) and has a variety of elevations to challenge all participants. The event is organized by resident Mark Rudolph, with all net proceeds going to Boy Scout Troop 194. The 2005 event raised over $1,000 for the troop. "The Boy Scouts are very visible throughout our community," Rudolph said. "They assist in many projects and activities that help to keep our neighborhood clean, safe, and beautiful."

The race will be professionally timed, and gold, silver, and bronze medals will be presented to the top male and female finishers in eight age divisions. Participants will receive an event T-shirt, water bottle, and other sponsor goodies. After the run/walk, participants will be treated to a pasta feed, live music, stretching, body/ankle/leg massages, and a display of firefighting/emergency response equipment in a festival atmosphere. The price is $23 per participant pre-registered ($30 day of the race registration). Children under 14 are free. To register for the Gleneagle Spirit, look for the registration form boxes along Gleneagle Drive starting April 15 or call Mark Rudolph, 492-3974.

Return to the top of the page

Exchange students need host families

International Student Exchange is seeking host families for the 2006-07 school year. A young lady from Hong Kong, an environmentalist award winner, seeks a Colorado family. Talented young students from Germany, Colombia, South Korea, Norway, Spain, and Italy are waiting for host families. Change the world person by person; phone Annie, 638-8378 or e-mail nbane78@msn.com.

Return to the top of the page

Wildlife Masters in El Paso County

Do you wonder how to keep the deer from munching your freshly planted garden, how to get the skunk out from under your deck without getting sprayed, or how to get the squirrels out of the attic? Colorado State University Cooperative Extension in El Paso County has a staff of trained Wildlife Masters who have received special training on solving such problems. A call to the Master Gardener Help Desk, 636-8921, will be directed to the on-call Wildlife Master and you will be called promptly with an answer. If you have e-mail, a fact sheet will be sent electronically, giving you more tips on dealing with the problem. A fact sheet will be sent to you by e-mail or regular mail. For more information, call 636-8921.

Return to the top of the page

Report county road problems online

You can report a road problem quickly and easily online or by phone. You can report problems such as potholes, traffic light outages, fallen stop signs, drainage, or even dead animals. Visit the county’s website, www.elpasoco.com, and go to the Transportation Department webpage. There you will find a section called "How to report a problem." It will tell you how to send your concern, and link you to the online form. You can also report a problem directly at http://adm.elpasoco.com/transprt/service_request.asp. If you prefer to speak to someone, phone 520-6891. If it’s an emergency road problem, call 520-6460. Department of Transportation dispatchers are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Return to the top of the page

Prior Up Next


Home  About  Advertise  Archive  Calendar  Contact  Donate  Help  Links  Maps  Subscribe  Topics  Updates
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, ads@ocn.me, editor@ocn.me, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
This page was last modified on October 31, 2019. Home page: www.ocn.me
Copyright © 2001-2019 Our Community News, Inc. All Rights Reserved.