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Vol. 7 No. 4 - April 7, 2007


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Home Place Ranch plan approved; Jackson Creek Land Co. threatens de-annexation

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in and download the site plan

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Jim Kendrick

Despite Jackson Creek Land Company’s last-minute objections and threats to de-annex its residential and Monument Marketplace properties, the Monument Board of Trustees on April 2 approved the final plat and final Planned Development (PD) site plan for the Home Place Ranch Development.

Jackson Creek’s objections stem from 20-year-old and still-unresolved inconsistencies between town land use ordinances and the Regency Park Annexation Agreement of 1987.

Trustee Travis Easton, who works for engineering consultant firm Nolte & Associates, the major engineering consultant for Home Place Ranch landowner and developer HPR, LLC, recused himself before the plat and site plan hearings began and left the room for their duration. Trustees Dave Mertz and Tommie Plank were absent.

Principal Planner Karen Griffith presented the staff report on the plat and site plan proposals, suggesting the same conditions that were approved by the Planning Commission. Land planner Linda Sweetman-King, founder and managing partner of TerraVisions LLC, gave the same developer’s presentation as well.

See the article on page 18 for the details of these presentations on the Home Place Ranch proposal on March 14, and the staff’s recommended conditions of approval which remained unchanged for this BOT hearing.

Public comments

Homestead at Jackson Creek Home Owners Association President Robert Fisher spoke in favor of the proposal, thanking HPR for preserving all the agreements reached with his association during sketch plan development a year ago.

Cheryl Wangeman, chief financial officer of Lewis-Palmer School District 38, said she reached an agreement in principle with the developer to change the shape of the 10-acre dedication for the elementary school to a more usable rectangle, all of which is outside of Preble’s mouse habitat. There will now be an additional cash dedication to D-38 when final plans for the remaining four residential clusters with 292 single-family units are approved.

Jackson Creek’s attorney Bruce Wright listed four concerns about the west side of the Home Place Ranch development in a letter to Town Attorney Gary Shupp that was hand-delivered to Town Hall in the late afternoon of Friday, March 30. Shupp does not work at Town Hall so he was unable to review the letter until April 2.

Jackson Creek Land Co. spokesman Rick Blevins said it is not opposed to the Home Place Ranch project. "I like the project," he said. "I think it’s great for the area." Though Blevins said that HPR had not provided information, Wright’s letter noted that Blevins had met with HPR President Dale Turner and CEO Dale Beggs in June 2006. The following are Wright’s concerns printed in italics, followed by responses from HPR consultants:

1. Jackson Creek had not been consulted by HPR on selling or donating land for right-of-way for an eastbound deceleration lane to the western Higby Road access on the northwest corner of Home Place Ranch.

Response: HPR engineering consultant Lance Malburg of Nolte & Associates said the deceleration lane could be built within the 100-foot right-of-way to be built by HPR. The deceleration lane would also fit within the existing 70 feet of right-of-way along the frontage of the adjacent Jackson Creek parcel, implying that Jackson Creek did not need to donate right-of-way.

Mayor Byron Glenn later said the town would require right-turn lanes for all Triview widening improvements, regardless of initial traffic counts.

A traffic study conducted by Scott Barnhart of engineering consultant PBS&J showed that a deceleration lane is not required by the traffic that will be generated by Home Place Ranch.

Malburg added that HPR’s new, wider Higby lanes must taper back to the narrower existing two-lane road along the Jackson Creek frontage, unless Blevins’ company donates property for the eastbound deceleration lane. The Triview Metropolitan District is responsible for all widening of Higby Road west of the Home Place Ranch frontage. Neither the town nor Triview has initiated any plans for widening the existing portion of Higby Road from the northwest corner of Home Place Ranch to Jackson Creek Parkway.

The previously approved PD sketch plan showed a shared access that would also serve the northeast corner of the adjacent Jackson Creek property. However, the Beck Place intersection was moved about 30 feet east when Jackson Creek elected not to share the access with Home Place Ranch.

2. Jackson Creek does not want the additional traffic from the two proposed "residential collector streets," designated as "future roadway connections" on the Home Place site plan, that would extend west from Haysled Drive into the Jackson Creek development. "That part of (the) Regency Park (Annexation) has never been planned for development," Blevins said. Wright wrote, "There are no collector roads planned that will connect with the planned Home Place access points."

Response: Sweetman-King said the two cross-access connections between the parcels were required by town staff for emergency vehicle access and traffic circulation.

3. The Home Place Ranch sanitary sewer system connection through Jackson Creek open space area has not been discussed with Jackson Creek. The proposed connection could cause problems for Jackson Creek because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has already approved its plans and issued 404 permits. Jackson Creek does not want negotiations to be re-opened.

Response: Malburg said HPR was directed to use the proposed Jackson Creek sanitary sewer outfall collection lines by Triview District Manager Larry Bishop. Triview will be responsible for obtaining the 404 permits, not Jackson Creek Land Co.

4. Home Place Ranch has PRD-4 (Planned Residential Development) quarter-acre lots "up against" Jackson Creek’s planned PRD-2 half-acre lots on the east side of its parcel, "with no separation at all." Blevins suggested that Home Place Ranch rezone its cluster to "PRD-2 or provide a landscape separation."

Response: Sweetman-King said the PRD-4 zoning and density along the common boundary are unchanged from the PD sketch plan that the trustees approved on May 15, 2006. There were never any requests by town staff to HPR for landscape buffering.

Glenn said Jackson Creek Land never wrote a formal comment to town staff on any HPR proposal before its attorney wrote his letter of concern to Town Attorney Shupp, even though Blevins and Jackson Creek had been notified of all HPR hearings by certified letters, which he or his staff signed for.

The town never required the Jackson Creek development to provide landscape buffering on lots adjacent to Home Place Ranch. There are no Jackson Creek lot lines for Home Place Ranch to align with because there is no Jackson Creek site plan.

Also, the town has never required nor has Jackson Creek Land proposed landscape buffering between its own adjacent developments. The most recent example is the lack of buffering between the new houses in the PRD-4 section of Remington Hills under construction and the approved Copper Heights development at the intersection of Leather Chaps Drive and Bowstring Road. .

Blevins surprised the staff by saying that a preliminary lot layout was presented to staff about three years ago for the adjacent parcel, before any of the current town department heads were hired. However, there was no formal application from the land company that accompanied the sketch, nor was a case number assigned to that sketch by former planning staff. There is no town record of the sketch plan nor are there any lot lines on the original Regency Park master development plan or the four subsequent amendments.

After numerous questions, the board added the following conditions of approval to those proposed by staff and approved by the Planning Commission for the final plat and final PD site plan:

  • Establish a 20-foot landscaped buffer easement along the western boundary north of Tract I. Staff must approve landscape requirements for the buffer, which must include evergreen trees with minimum planting heights of 8 to 10 feet. Individual homeowners must maintain the landscape buffer.
  • The developer must provide documentation that a sanitary sewer easement is available through the Jackson Creek property to the west, or another acceptable easement is available to Triview.
  • The lots on Haysled Drive south of the intersection with King Mountain Lane must be developed in Phase 2 unless Tri-lakes Fire Protection District determines which lots meet fire code standards to be served by a single access.
  • The pedestrian trail along Higby Road must include a 6-foot concrete path and a 4-foot-wide gravel path.
  • The staff will determine the minimum traffic count for requiring installation of the right-turn lane from Higby Road into Beck Place, and which entity is responsible for the acquisition of any right-of-way.
  • Cross-sections for HPR’s improvements to Higby Road must match the cross-sections for the existing roadway west of the site.
  • The applicant will coordinate with staff to determine whether the northernmost tot lot can be relocated to a more central location near the intersection of Haysled Drive and King Mountain Lane.

The plat and site plans were approved (3-1-1) with Glenn, Trustees Gail Drumm and Steve Samuels in favor, Trustee Tim Miller opposed, and Trustee Easton recused. Miller did not say why he voted no on both proposals. Easton returned for the rest of the meeting.

Glenn said he wanted to "interrupt the agenda" to discuss with Blevins the last two paragraphs in attorney Wright’s March 30 letter to Shupp. In those paragraphs, Wright complained about Jackson Creek Land having to submit sketch plans for its undeveloped parcels in the future and threatened to initiate de-annexation. Wright’s letter claimed the town’s sketch plan requirement was a substantial alteration to the annexation agreement, and section 16.2 allows the land company to "disconnect" from the town.

"We anticipate the other property owners in the Monument Marketplace would join in this petition, as may numerous other property owners with the original Regency Park annexation," Wright wrote.

Shupp said de-annexation by Jackson Creek, Monument Marketplace, and any other property owners who join the petition is a statutory function that is normally determined by the Board of Trustees, based on whether it would be in the best interest of the town. The 20-year-old Regency Park annexation agreement provides for de-annexation without objection by the board if certain conditions have been violated, which a court would have to decide. Miller noted that a public discussion of how to respond to Wright’s letter was inappropriate until Shupp drafts a letter of response.

Blevins said Jackson Creek Land owners, Tim and Tom Phelan, Western National Bank, and Pinetree-Phoenix Bell bailed Triview Metropolitan District out of bankruptcy in 1994 by buying all the Regency Park land.

Trustee Steve Samuels said the Wright letter that gave only one business day’s notice was "petty," "absolutely ridiculous, and childish," and "not necessary." He said he was frustrated by the lack of direct discussion between the parties and the board. The board’s job is to fairly resolve differences between Home Place Ranch’s and Jackson Creek Land’s "biases based on money."

Glenn said the de-annexation is not justified, that the town had bent over backward to put Jackson Creek proposals "on the top of the pile for staff reviews."

Blevins said Wright "has always been the one on de-annexation." He added, "We absolutely disagree with the requirement for a sketch plan."

Town Manager Cathy Green objected to Blevins’ claim that the town had not responded to his inquiries, saying the annexation agreement would not pass today, that changes need to be made to follow town ordinances and that Jackson Creek needs to reciprocate.

The wording of many important aspects of the Regency Park Annexation Agreement of 1987 is inconsistent with definitions in town ordinances. The staff has been trying to reconcile the differences over the past year. For example, none of the residential, commercial, or industrial zone designators in the Regency Park regulations were similar to those listed in town ordinances. The town recently converted its zones to the Regency Park zones. Green said "Jackson Creek has not reciprocated" and the town’s laws have always required a sketch plan.

Tom Kassawara, Monument’s director of Development Services, said the only differences that would be treated in the Jackson Creek sketch plan that the staff asked for are the changes between the approved fourth and fifth amendment to the Regency Park Plan recently proposed by Blevins. Kassawara said the town would accept all previous documentation as "grandfathered." Those changes must conform to town code, regardless of whether former staff ever enforced the code requirements on the original plan or the first four amendments.

The board agreed to schedule a work session with Blevins to discuss unresolved issues on the process of plan approvals.

In other matters, the board approved:

  • A proposal to include the Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District in the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District.
  • The renewal of liquor licenses for the Broiler Room and Conoco/Circle K on Highway 105.
  • A donation of $2,500 from the board’s discretionary fund to the town of Holly to help with tornado recovery.

As the meeting adjourned at 9:40 p.m., developer Dale Turner said he and Beggs had met twice with Jackson Creek Land Co. owners, Tim and Tom Phelan, before the June meeting with Blevins. Turner and Beggs said the Phelans encouraged Home Place Ranch to place the PRD-4 cluster on the border with the Phelans’ PRD-2 property so that Jackson Creek Land could justify increasing its density to PRD-4 to town staff when it develops that property in the future.

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Monument Board of Trustees, March 5: Interchange improvements inch toward start date; YMCA and Promontory Pointe site plans approved

By Jim Kendrick

Recent progress made by some utilities in moving their buried equipment out of the way of ongoing roadbuiding may help expedite the Baptist Road widening and Interstate 25 interchange renovation projects, Monument Mayor Byron Glenn said at the March 5 Monument Board of Trustees meeting . In other matters, the board approved:

  • The final site plan for the Tri-Lakes YMCA.
  • The second major amendment to the site plan for the Trails End development.
  • The final plat for filing 15 of the Monument Marketplace.
  • The revised plat for Promontory Pointe.
  • The revised site plan for Promontory Pointe.

Trustee Dave Mertz was absent.

Baptist Road construction update

Glenn said he would meet with the "potential buyers" of the Timbers at Monument vacant commercial parcel and property owner Mike Watt to discuss right-of-way donations for road construction. Watt owns the Foxworth-Galbraith property (formerly Brookhart’s) on the northeast corner of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange.

The large vacant Timbers at Monument parcel wraps around Watt’s hardware store property on the east and north sides. The two parcels extend north from Baptist Road to the Monument Marketplace, between Jackson Creek Parkway and I-25.

Watt and the current Timbers landowners had been expected to have already donated a substantial amount of right-of-way along the north side of Baptist Road for the I-25 Baptist Road interchange expansion, as well as the Baptist Road widening east to the Jackson Creek Parkway intersection.

Struthers Road north of Baptist Road will be closed once this right-of-way is donated and interchange construction begins. Struthers Road south of Baptist Road is closed and the two-lane frontage road portion is being demolished. Both of the new dual-lane northbound I-25 ramps will be constructed in the abandoned Struthers Road right-of-way. (See Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) article on page 33 for related details.)

"Everything seems to be falling into place for a May 1 start-up, so keep your fingers crossed," Glenn said.

Progress on erosion problems along Jackson Creek Parkway

Engineering consultant Ayers and Associates is redesigning the drainage along the east side of Jackson Creek Parkway from the Village Center at Woodmoor development, said Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services. The modifications are based on Ayers’ calculations of percentage of flow for each of the contributing sub-basins.

The town asked W.E.D. LLC, the landowner, to increase the size of the Village Center detention ponds due to higher-than-predicted storm water flows causing substantial erosion along the eastern shoulder of Jackson Creek Parkway north of Higby Road. Kassawara said the drainage ditch would require adding a culvert under the proposed intersection to be built for the new YMCA. The project will be going out for bid soon.

Donation of land for senior center finalized

Glenn said the town has closed on its land donation – a lot on the south side of Highway 105 at the east end of the Village Center at Woodmoor – for a senior residential center. The developer of the senior center, TIGER, Inc., will provide discounts in perpetuity on some of the apartments for low-income seniors in return for the land donation by the town.

YMCA site plan for first of two phases approved

Site plan proposal: The YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region’s 12-acre lot is located between I-25 and Lewis-Palmer High School on the west side of Jackson Creek Parkway, about a quarter-mile north of the Higby Road intersection. There will be two accesses onto Jackson Creek Parkway. The main access will be in the center of the property, opposite a new access planned for the north parking lot of the high school. The other access, to the north, will be right-in/right-out-only on the northeast corner of the YMCA property.

The main access will include a common signalized intersection to be installed by a joint venture of the YMCA and the Lewis-Palmer School District 38 with an "on demand" traffic signal, said Kassawara. He said 55 percent of the students who drive to school come south on Jackson Creek parkway. They would be able to enter the north parking lot via a new dedicated left-turn lane and light. The new access will relieve student congestion to the south at the Higby Road traffic signal during morning and afternoon rush hours.

There will also be a dedicated left-turn lane and on-demand left-turn light for northbound vehicles on Jackson Creek Parkway entering the main YMCA access, as well as a dedicated right-turn lane into the north high school lot.

The new traffic signal will also be on demand for vehicles exiting the main YMCA access and the north high school parking lot, which would eliminate needless delays for through traffic on Jackson Creek Parkway during off-peak hours. The proposed signal might be operational by the start of the next school year.

Principal Planner Karen Griffith noted that a preliminary/final replat of the property was also submitted with the site plan but is being revised and will be submitted for review by the commission and Board of Trustees at a later date. This 12-acre property is one of three properties created by a subdivision of the larger undeveloped Woodmoor Placer A plat. The re-plat will not be reviewed until July or August, said Kassawara.

Griffith described the first of two phases of construction. The 45,000-square-foot contemporary masonry, stucco, and aluminum building will feature a large light spine (a big semicircular skylight that spans the width of the building) for sunlight and views, as well as a community room, recreational aquatics center, exercise room, gymnasium, locker room facilities, and a child-care room. There are 231 parking spaces (214 required), an outdoor artificial turf soccer field, and a half-mile walking trail around the perimeter of the property. .

The second phase would include three building additions totaling 21,095 square feet and a second synthetic soccer field. The additions would be built in roughly four to 10 years. When completed, the additions would house an eight-lane competition swimming pool, an additional strength-and-conditioning room, racquetball courts, an auxiliary gym, and more rest rooms. The timing of the second phase depends on the nonprofit’s fund raising and membership growth, and would require approval by the Planning Commission and Board of Trustees.

Griffith also described in detail how the proposal meets the town’s 10 review and approval criteria for a PD site plan.

Some of the items she discussed regarding compliance were:

  • More than 71 percent of the site is landscaping, and trails throughout the property will connect to those proposed for adjacent parcels.
  • Although there was no formal economic impact study conducted, "Staff expects it to have a positive fiscal impact by bringing people into Town, who will then patronize local businesses and generate sales tax."
  • The traffic study conducted by YMCA transportation consultant Felsburg, Holt & Ullevig concluded that projected southbound Phase I traffic would not meet minimum county Department of Transportation thresholds for a deceleration turn lane on Jackson Creek Parkway for either of the two YMCA accesses. The town’s traffic consultant, SEH, Inc., concurred.
  • The staff would re-evaluate the need for a deceleration lane if future traffic is higher than forecast by the study.
  • An internal "vehicular drop-off lane" in front of the building for pedestrian safety.
  • The plan is consistent with the town’s Comprehensive Plan and other relevant goals and policies.

No referral agencies had submitted major comments or concerns about the proposal, Griffith said. The Woodmoor Improvement Association had also approved the YMCA’s plans as had the town’s Planning Commission. Griffith noted that the developer submitted a lengthy document describing in detail how the proposal met the numerous goals in the town’s comprehensive plan.

Griffith proposed five conditions of approval:

  • Approval is subject to final staff approval of engineering plans.
  • The traffic signal will be an "on demand" signal.
  • All referral comments will be addressed to the satisfaction of Town Staff prior to recording.
  • Technical corrections will be made to the satisfaction of Town Staff prior to recording.
  • A final subdivision plat/replat will be approved and recorded prior to issuance of a certificate of occupancy for the building.

Ground-breaking in April: Architect and land planner Rhonda Boger-Linder of LKA Partners, Inc., gave the applicant’s presentation, including a digital animated tour of the property for both phases of construction. She said groundbreaking would be 10 a.m. on April 12. The traffic signal will be built between May 29 and Aug. 16, in time for the start of the new school year. The first phase of construction will take about one year.

Boger-Linder described the architectural theme and features of the building as attractive additions to the view corridors for I-25 and Jackson Creek Parkway. There are no issues with Preble’s mouse habitat, wetlands, flood plains, or site drainage. The light spine and roof of the aquatics center will screen all heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment on the roof from view in any direction.

Swim programs described: Boger-Linder provided several answers to trustees’ questions about immediate and long-term swimming programs:

  • The aquatics center pool will have three lap lanes for recreational training.
  • The other portion of this family pool will host swimming and water aerobics classes.
  • The slide tower for the aquatics center may not be built if donations are inadequate, so two depictions of the east side of the building are shown in the site plan––with and without the slide tower.
  • A memorandum of agreement will be signed by the YMCA and District 38 for cooperative training and hosting competitions in the future eight-lane pool, which is part of Phase II and dependent on future donations and membership growth.
  • Parking for the YMCA will be provided by Lewis-Palmer High School during construction of the two north-side additions in Phase II.

There were no comments from citizens during the open public hearing.

Jackson Creek Parkway turn lanes remain controversial

Responding to a half-hour of board members’ questions, Kassawara discussed the requirements for Jackson Creek Parkway turn lanes and future expansion to four lanes from Higby Road to Monument Marketplace to Highway 105.

This portion of Jackson Creek Parkway is not in Triview Metropolitan District, which only extends to the south side of Higby Road. Triview Metropolitan District paid for construction of Jackson Creek Parkway between Baptist Road and Higby Road. Triview will not contribute to parkway improvements north of Higby Road now that the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority’s temporary one-cent sales tax has been approved and the expansion of the Baptist Road interchange will result in less traffic growth on the northern portion of the parkway.

Some of Kassawara’s observations on the parkway were:

  • A major redesign is required to convert the remainder of Jackson Creek Parkway to a four-lane arterial, with turn lanes, and to ensure adequate future access for development of the two commercial parcels to the north of the YMCA.
  • The site plan meets all Regency Park setback regulations; this land is not part of Triview.
  • The length of the southbound left-turn lane for the north high school parking lot is 150 feet to accommodate traffic during red lights, with an additional 144 feet of "taper," or transition lane.
  • The on-demand YMCA-District 38 traffic signal will be about a quarter-mile north of the existing Higby Road signal––well more than the 900-foot minimum spacing for a two-lane major collector road.
  • The existing Higby Road segment along the south side of the high school parcel will be abandoned as a public county road and become a school driveway.
  • The county will realign Higby Road to the southwest, from west of the Harness Road intersection to a new intersection with Jackson Creek Parkway at least a quarter of a mile south of the existing signalized intersection.
  • The Higby Road traffic signal will be moved to this new intersection and be at least a half-mile south of the new YMCA on-demand signal, as required for a four-lane arterial road.
  • The YMCA traffic study states that 75 percent of the southbound traffic turning right into the YMCA parcel will use the northern access––on the northeast corner of the property.
  • Predicted Phase I right-turn flows into the northern YMCA access will not exceed the minimum county requirement for a deceleration lane for a two-lane road, or the higher minimum requirement for a four-lane road, if the parkway is expanded.
  • The minimum county traffic requirement for a northbound parkway deceleration lane at the signalized access for the north high school parking lot will be met immediately as will the requirement for a southbound left-turn lane.
  • The town cannot legally require that land be set aside for a southbound deceleration lane for either YMCA access without an existing or forecast traffic count that exceeds the minimum county requirement.
  • The owner of the adjacent property directly north of the YMCA parcel, the Jackson Creek Land Co., cannot be required to donate right-of-way for a deceleration lane for the north YMCA access because flows are expected to remain below the threshold for such a requirement and the deceleration lane could compromise future access to the company’s parcel.
  • There is sufficient room within the existing 120-foot parkway right-of-way to widen Jackson Creek Parkway between Higby Road and Highway 105 from a two-lane road with no turn lanes to a four-lane minor arterial with dedicated single left-turn lanes and northbound and southbound deceleration lanes (seven lanes total) at the two planned signalized intersections. Kassawara added that he "anticipates that there will be bike lanes on both sides" of the parkway after expansion.
  • No additional land dedications from the adjacent commercial lots are required.
  • The town cannot retroactively require dedication of right-of-way by demanding an amendment to an already-approved final PD site plan for the first phase.
  • There will be higher minimum traffic counts for turn lanes when the parkway is widened to four lanes and becomes a minor arterial.
  • The parkway could be widened before the second phase of the YMCA is approved.
  • Predicted Phase II right-turn flows into either YMCA access will not exceed the minimum county requirement for a deceleration lane for a two-lane road, or the higher minimum requirement for a four-lane road, if the parkway is expanded.

Glenn said the roadway should not be shifted to the east just to make room for the deceleration lane within the town’s right-of-way. He asked Kassawara to "get with SEH on the decel lane because if we need to acquire right-of-way, we need some meetings to start working on a way to get it."

Several board members questioned the measured and predicted parkway traffic counts in the YMCA traffic study as well as the concurrence on the study by SEH.

Jackson Creek Parkway traffic would not be high enough to exceed county requirements for a deceleration lane through 2030 if widened to a minor arterial, according to engineer Chris Sheffer of Felsburg, Holt & Ullevig. If the "more stringent" Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) criteria were applied, the threshold would be a count of 50 turns per hour, he said.

Kassawara said, "Sometime in the future, if you base it on CDOT criteria, you might need a turn lane, but it’s not a CDOT roadway. We don’t follow CDOT criteria."

"I understand," said Glenn. "So you’re saying let’s be substandard to CDOT. I’m saying let’s not." Kassawara said, "We’d be equal to county criteria." Glenn replied, "Like I said, I don’t trust the county" standards for left-turn lane lengths.

Glenn added, "We’ve got a traffic engineer. I’d like them to look at the turn lane into the school during peak hours of traffic. I don’t think 150 feet is adequate to handle the students coming in at that time."

Glenn said the town could close the YMCA’s northern right-in/right-out-only access if an emergency occurs and a deceleration lane is needed. Glenn asked Blevins if the Jackson Creek Land Co. would be willing to dedicate the land needed to build a "decal" lane.

Blevins said that the existing 120-foot parkway right-of-way is already wide enough for all four through-lanes and all right- and left-turn lanes and that there is no need for his company to donate land. He added that Jackson Creek Land Company may have to negotiate a common entrance with the landowner of the next commercial property to the north, Phoenix Bell.

"The right-of-way required for a CDOT-level right-turn lane was going to infringe on Mr. Blevins ability to put a meaningful access point on that 10 acres," said Kassawara. The study showed no turn lane is required at this time. The board can review actual traffic counts five to 10 years from now when the YMCA makes an application for approval of Phase II.

The board unanimously approved the site plan with one additional two-part condition:

  • The town’s traffic engineer must review the southbound left-turn lane criteria and advise if the southbound Jackson Creek Parkway transition lane (taper) and stacking lane are long enough to accommodate the number of vehicles expected to execute left turns into the high school during the peak morning hours. If the town’s consultant determines that lengthening either or both portions of the left-turn lane is required, the final site plan must be revised to reflect the revised requirement.
  • If the results of a future traffic study analyzing the widening of Jackson Creek Parkway to four lanes determines that a southbound right-turn lane at the north entrance to the YMCA is necessary, the YMCA will obtain the necessary right-of-way and construct the turn lane (or provide funding to the town for the construction) as part of the widening project.

Second major amendment to Trails End PD site plan narrowly approved

Below: Doug Fullen of Way Architects represented the Trails End land owner, Five Y Eyes Guys, LLC, in seeking approval of a second major amendment to the development’s design guidelines to add three new models of single-family homes being sold by Richmond Homes. Photo by Jim Kendrick

Doug Fullen of Way Architects represented the Trails End land owner, Five Y Eyes Guys, LLC, in seeking approval of a second major amendment to the development’s design guidelines to add three new models of single-family homes being sold by Richmond Homes. The Trails End development is at the south end of Monument between Old Denver Highway and the railroad tracks. The entrance is at the Wagon Gap Trail intersection.

Five new models were previously approved by the Planning Commission on Aug. 9 and the board on Sept. 5, bringing the total available at that time to eight.

This request would increase the number of approved models to 11 and was approved by the Planning Commission on Feb. 21. All are two stories and some have walkout basements.

Fullen said the three new models are equal to or larger in size than the eight currently approved models. Kassawara said the proposed models would provide broader variety, consistent with the town’s comprehensive plan. Each of the new models is consistent with the previously approved PD design guidelines. All of the new models fit within the setbacks for the PD master plan.

Trustee Gail Drumm said that he did not want "larger footprint houses" in Trails End because "a lot of these lots are really small to start with," that there is not much space between them, that the setbacks are "very minimum," and that the area "will just look more congested than it does already."

Fullen replied that the size of the houses would only increase by a maximum of 20 square feet and the minimum side-by-side spacing is 15 feet.

Trustee Steve Samuels responded to Fullen by saying this spacing was between foundations rather than rooflines or bay windows, which are much closer to each other. Kassawara said the minimum possible spacing for adjacent bay windows would be at least 10 feet. There were no citizen comments.

The second amendment to the design guidelines was approved by a minimum majority (4-2) with Drumm and Samuels opposed.

Another Monument Marketplace filing is approved

The board unanimously approved the preliminary/final plat for filing 15 of the Monument Marketplace. The vacant property is 6.06 acres, is located on the northeast corner of the center-east of Wal-Mart, and will contain three mid-size retail stores.

Changes to final plat and PD site plan approved for Promontory Pointe

Below: Karen Griffith discusses Promontory Pointe. On the right are town clerk Scott Meszaros and town manager Cathy Green. Photo by Jim Kendrick

Before the Promontory Pointe hearing began, Mayor Glenn recused himself, stating that he has a business relationship with applicant John Laing Homes. Glenn left the meeting room. Trustee Tommie Plank presided as acting mayor pro tem since Mayor Pro Tem Mertz was absent.

John Laing Homes purchased most of the 284 lots from Landco, the development landowner, after Landco’s final plat and final PD site plan had been approved by the Planning Commission on Aug. 9 and the Board of Trustees on Sept. 5. Landco retained ownership of 19 large lots located primarily along the common boundary with the Kingswood development to the east.

John Laing Homes determined that the models it planned to sell did not fit the lots it had purchased very well and requested a modification of the previously approved plat and site plan. The development services staff determined that the changes were too extensive for them to approve administratively. No changes to the 19 Landco lots were proposed.

Some of the revisions Kassawara and Griffith discussed were:

  • The total number of lots dropped from 284 to 274.
  • All driveways and common accesses on Gleneagle Drive were eliminated.
  • Only side yards will face Gleneagle Drive.
  • The development’s park was enlarged and a parking lot was added.
  • Trails were relocated to accommodate the county’s plans for a regional trail between Fox Run Park and the Santa Fe Trail.

Gleneagle Drive traffic light added back to Baptist Road improvements

The Planning Commission unanimously approved the revised plat on Sept. 21 (4-0) but did not approve the revised site plan (2-2). The vote was split on the site plan because of safety concerns resulting from the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) dropping the installation of a traffic signal at the intersection of Baptist Road and Gleneagle Drive, the main entrance to Promontory Pointe.

Kassawara said he had held a meeting with representatives of Triview Metropolitan District and the landowners of Promontory Pointe, Home Place Ranch, and Sanctuary Pointe. As a condition of annexation, each of the three landowners had agreed to create a separate road improvement special district and have different mill levies to pay off their road construction bonds due to different products and densities.

The road improvement special districts will be administered by Triview. The districts will pay for the main collector roads through each of the three developments as well as widening of the county’s Higby Road between Gleneagle Drive and the town’s Jackson Creek Parkway between Higby Road and Monument Marketplace. All new homes within these three annexations are also subject to Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority road use fees that are collected when the homes are purchased.

Kassawara said the landowners’ representatives had agreed that their individual special road districts would contribute half the cost of the signal if BRRTA would pay the other half of the cost. The three landowners will pay pro rata shares of their half of the signal costs based on the predicted traffic each generates.

Previous studies show that about half of the traffic at this intersection will be from the county. Kassawara noted that BRRTA’s contribution to the signal would be voted on at the March 9 BRRTA meeting. The BRRTA board approved payment for half the signal costs on March 9.

Kassawara suggested that the board add a sixth condition: that the new signal at Gleneagle Drive and Baptist Road must be installed and operational before the first certificate of occupancy is issued by the town for any of these developments, even if the measured traffic at the intersection does not meet minimum traffic signal warrant requirements.

Previously approved trail through backyards eliminated

The originally approved Landco plat and site plan included a 30-foot-wide public trail and utility easement that ran the full length of the western boundary of Promontory Pointe through the backyards of all the western-most perimeter residential lots.

The future landowners of these lots would have had to pay private property taxes on this easement even though the public trail would have been isolated from the rest of their backyards by a split-rail fence on both sides of the easement.

Landco had to install the fences on both sides of the gravel trail and all the landscaping and irrigation before the first building permit could be issued. The trail, fences, landscaping, and irrigation systems on this private, taxable property were to be maintained by Triview Metropolitan District.

After the Landco plat and site plan were approved, Triview purchased the vacant 50-foot-wide strip that extends north from Baptist Road to Walters Creek Drive, between the western boundary of Promontory Pointe and the eastern boundary of Jackson Creek. The public trail and utility easements that were to have been in the backyards of the adjacent Promontory Pointe residential lots were shifted west into this 50-foot Triview strip. Triview will still maintain the gravel trail, fences on both sides of the trail, landscaping, and irrigation systems.

Backyard trail converted to landscape buffer

The western-perimeter residential lots north of the 50-foot-wide strip, between Walters Creek Drive and the northwest corner of Promontory Pointe, would still have had the privately taxed 30-foot-wide trail easement through their backyards. However, John Laing Homes, Triview, town staff, and the county agreed to relocate this backyard public trail segment to an easement on the west side of Gleneagle Drive, with a side-by-side gravel trail and sidewalk.

Instead of the 30-foot trail easement, there will now be a 30-foot-wide "no-build" easement at the rear of all the western perimeter lots from Baptist Road to the northwest corner for a landscape buffer for all adjacent Jackson Creek houses to the west. The landscape buffer will be maintained by the individual homeowners, rather than Triview. The homeowners will still pay property taxes on the 30-foot-wide no-build easement.

The new trail alignment extends from the northeast corner of the 50-foot-wide Triview property, then east through a dedicated open space tract, then north along the west side of Gleneagle Drive to the common boundary with the Home Place Ranch development to the north. Triview will maintain this portion of the trail as well. The wider corridor includes bike lanes on both sides of the road next to the trail easement, and both have better views of the mountains than the backyard trail.

When completed, this side-by-side concrete and gravel trail will be extended farther north along Gleneagle Drive to Higby Road, then west to Jackson Creek Parkway on the south side of Higby.

The proposed John Laing Homes revisions to the plat and site plan met all town land use regulations and the requirements of the town’s comprehensive plan.

Architect Lee Martin of Land Architects reviewed in detail all of John Laing Homes’ proposed changes.

HOA protests trail realignment

During public comment, Robert Fisher, president of the Homestead at Jackson Creek HOA, objected eliminating the 30-foot-wide trail easement. He said that Triview had committed to building and maintaining the easement in the backyards of the perimeter homes between Walters Creek Drive and the northwest corner of the development before the board’s approval of Landco’s final plat and site plan.

Triview background: OCN reported that at the Aug. 23 Triview board meeting to which Fisher referred, former District Manager Ron Simpson said he had some discussions with the Heights Homeowner’s Association about the northern portion of the 30-foot-wide trail easement strip. Fisher said that if this northern segment of the 30-foot-wide trail easement was deleted from the plat and PD site plan, area residents would forever lose the opportunity for a continuous trail connection. He strongly urged the board not to abandon this one-time opportunity.

After the Triview directors discussed the issue, their attorney Peter Susemihl suggested the board could accept the strip into the district but not commit to a purpose for it. The board voted to accept the 50-foot-wide and the 30-foot-wide strips of land.

Fisher said that the town staff had subsequently given permission to John Laing Homes to nullify the 30-foot-wide trail easement in its proposed revision of the final plat and site plan that had been recorded after a negotiated agreement among the Jackson Creek HOA, Landco, Triview, and the Town of Monument. He expressed concern that the staff would allow similar trail dissolution along the southern boundary of Home Place Ranch.

Fisher also said the dissolution of the trail easement allows John Laing Homes to include the no-build landscape easement in the "comparable" lot size calculation, effectively reducing the overall rear house separations and size of the eight affected lots that border Homestead to less than the previously agreed upon "comparable size" on the original plat and site plan. Fisher concluded that the board should honor its previous written agreements with the Monument residents who live in Homestead. He did not object to the additional 50-foot-wide trail easement along Gleneagle Drive as long as it was not considered a substitute for the 30-foot-wide easement.

Kassawara and Griffith told Fisher that moving the trail east to the 50-foot right-of-way on the west side of Gleneagle Drive was a reasonable compromise because:

  • The other trail is very close to the adjacent Homestead residents.
  • The trail along the southern boundary of Home Place Ranch would not be eliminated.
  • It does not make sense to have an easement through private property when a public easement is only a few houses away.
  • It is easier for Triview to maintain the Gleneagle Drive easement.

Griffith said the county Parks Department met with town staff, Triview staff, and the Promontory Pointe and Home Place Ranch developers, and an agreement was reached to realign the trail. It now turns eastward from the north end of Triview’s easement, along the Triview utility road, then turns northward along the west side of Gleneagle Drive to meet the trail proposed in Home Place Ranch, also on the west side of Gleneagle Drive. Griffith said it would be a better location and trail experience for most users. However, several Homestead residents in the audience later protested eliminating the trail segment through the backyards of the adjacent perimeter houses.

Griffith said the plat revision still conforms to all the town’s subdivision regulations, land dedication requirements, and design principles. She recommended approval of the revised final plat with the following conditions:

  1. Right-of-way for Baptist Road will be dedicated to the county prior to recording of the plat.
  2. All referral comments will be addressed to the satisfaction of town staff prior to recording.
  3. Technical corrections will be made to the satisfaction of town staff prior to recording.
  4. Cash-in-lieu of land to satisfy school land dedication requirements shall be paid prior to issuance of a Monument Land Use Permit for each home.
  5. A subdivision improvement agreement (SIA) will be approved by town staff for content and executed between the applicant and Triview Metropolitan District prior to recording of the final plat. This will include the applicant’s pro rata participation in the future traffic signal at Gleneagle Drive and Baptist Road, if no other funding becomes available.

Trustee Steve Samuels, a Colorado Springs landscape company general manager, suggested another condition in the landscaping portion of the site plan to require mixing of "gorilla hair cedar mulch" in the open space plant beds to be maintained by Triview with the proposed river rock.

The five voting members of the board for this hearing unanimously approved the John Laing Home revisions to the final plat with the proposed conditions.

Griffith said the site plan met all 10 general review and approval criteria except those required revisions that were noted by Kassawara. She recommended approval of the revised final site plan with the following conditions:

  1. All referral comments will be addressed to the satisfaction of town staff.
  2. Approval is subject to final approval of engineering plans by staff, including finalization of the drainage, traffic and grading plans. Minor changes to the plans may be approved by staff.
  3. Approval is subject to technical corrections to the satisfaction of staff.
  4. The installation of completed asphalt pavement for Gleneagle Drive from the north end of Phase I to the north property line will be required when and if the construction of Gleneagle Drive from Higby Road south through the Home Place Ranch property is commenced. Otherwise, the road right-of-way will be prepared to final grade with proper compaction, without asphalt paving, for construction traffic.
  5. A subdivision improvement agreement (SIA) will be approved by town staff for content and executed between the applicant and Triview Metropolitan District prior to recording of the final plat. This will include the applicant’s pro rata participation in the future traffic signal at Gleneagle Drive and Baptist Road, if no other funding becomes available.

The five voting members of the board for this hearing unanimously approved the John Laing Home revisions to the final site plan with these five proposed conditions, plus the traffic signal and mulch conditions added for the plat.

Mayor Glenn returned to the meeting room and presided over the remainder of the meeting.

Other matters

  • The board unanimously approved a construction contract for a new buried storm water culvert under Beacon Lite Road on the north side of Highway 105. Town engineering Ayres and Associates designed the project for a total cost of $26,000. The board approved a partial payment of $17,350 to Ayres. KB Construction, Inc., was awarded the contract to install the new culvert with a bid of $201,102. Construction should be completed by the end of May.
  • The board also approved a payment of $71,820 to Centennial Services, Inc., for architectural work performed for the new Town Hall/Police Department building to be built on the southwest corner of Beacon Lite Road and Highway 105.
  • Treasurer Pamela Smith suggested that the board consider early repayment of the loan on the Monument Dam repair within the town’s water fund. There are no loans within the general fund that can be repaid early. Glenn said he was hesitant to use water fund money this early in the year without knowing what other expenses may be incurred for water storage and other potential capital water investments for alternative sources.
  • The board unanimously approved an annual renewal of the liquor license for the Jasmine Garden Restaurant, 1425 Cipriani Loop.
  • Police Chief Jake Shirk said that Officer Michael Wolfe had recently completed the Colorado State Patrol’s Truck Inspection Course. The town will adopt federal regulations on trucking and create a fine and fee schedule for town inspections via new commissions from El Paso County so pursuit of trucks can continue outside town boundaries. Numerous trucks use Highway 105 and Beacon Lite Road to avoid the weigh stations on Monument Hill.

The meeting adjourned at 9:45 p.m.

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Monument Board of Trustees, March 19: Board discusses possible conversion of bowling alley to senior center

By Jim Kendrick

Chuck Roberts, director of the Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance and board member of the Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership, asked the Monument Board of Trustees to commit to making large annual donations for a new Tri-Lakes senior center at its March 19 meeting.

Roberts said he needs to raise pledges of about $500,000 from regional organizations to make it financially feasible for Tony Garvin of Flying Buffalo, LLC, to buy the closed Palmer Lake Bowling Alley on Highway 105 and then lease it to Roberts’ organization.

All trustees were present.

Fireworks donation increased to help cover escalating costs

In other matters, Palmer Lake Fireworks Committee spokesman Jeff Hulsmann requested cash support for the regional fireworks display and Monument Police Department support for an improved traffic-flow plan to help motorists exit the town more quickly after the display. Hulsmann asked Police Chief Jake Shirk to assist in planning to allow outbound traffic in both lanes on Highway 105, County Line Road, and Spruce Mountain Road for a short period to expedite flows in a manner similar to traffic flows at the Air Force Academy after a football game.

Trustee Steve Samuels suggested increasing the annual donation from the board’s discretionary contingency fund from $5,000 to $6,000 after Hulsmann noted that expenses will be about $3,000 higher for 2007 than 2006. Costs are expected to increase from $19,000 to $22,000 due mostly to insurance price rises.

Anyone wishing to donate money for the show or volunteer for one of the committee positions can contact committee chair Carol DeBlois at (719) 481-6218.

New Tri-Lakes Senior Center location proposed

Chuck Roberts, director of the Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance and board member of the Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership, asked the board for financial support to convert the former Palmer Lake Bowling Alley into a new Tri-Lakes Senior Center. The two Tri-Lakes groups are negotiating with Flying Buffalo, LLC, and need pledges of support from several public and private entities to make the purchase feasible, Roberts said. Other potential buyers are also interested in the bowling alley.

He asked the board to:

  • Pledge at least $150,000 to support start-up and initial operation in 2007.
  • Consider a resolution to add an annual line item of at least $200,000 to future town budgets for senior programs.

Garvin supported Roberts’ request as the potential buyer of the building. Garvin said he is willing to do whatever he can to get the project started. He added he would make the external changes to the building and incorporate their cost into the lease.

Major points discussed by Roberts included:

  • Peak Vista Community Health Centers would provide on-site health care to Medicare and Medicaid patients.
  • Adult Day Care, Inc. would provide life-enriching classes and activities designed specifically for seniors.
  • Roberts’ groups will coordinate with the YMCA to make sure their programs do not duplicate each other.
  • The building is on a major highway with commercial (C-2) zoning, which covers all planned activities, an existing commercial kitchen, water and sewer, 120 paved parking spaces, room for a senior clinic and adult day-care center, and space for a variety of physical-activity programs.
  • Town Hall, which is only 2,400 square feet with 15 parking spaces, would still serve as the interim regional senior center.
  • The closest senior center to Monument now is at 1514 N. Hancock, 20 miles away in Colorado Springs.
  • The business plan and lease figures will be available to the board after closing negotiations are completed.
  • About 7,000 square feet of space would be sub-leased to other service organizations.

Major points discussed by board members and staff included:

  • The town needs to see a business plan to better analyze how it might be able to participate in support.
  • There is no line item for funds for this new proposal in the 2007 budget.
  • There may be as much as $25,000 remaining in the board’s contingency fund.
  • The town has already made a substantial in-kind contribution this year to seniors by recently donating 2.7 acres for Village Center at Woodmoor senior housing and is working to obtain more land and senior housing with McKenzie House.
  • The town has planned to convert Town Hall to a senior center after the new Town Hall/Police Department building is built on the southwest corner of Beacon Lite Road and Highway 105.
  • The town has only one-sixth of the 30,000 people and 7,500 seniors in the region.
  • A smaller proportionate annual contribution would be more appropriate and fiscally sound, beginning possibly in 2008.

New restaurant to open on Highway 105

Ken Trombley and Patricia McClelland were granted a new beer and wine liquor license to open Bayou Barbq, a Cajun and barbecue specialty restaurant at 481 Highway 105, Suite G. Liquor revenue for drinks with meals is expected to be about 10 percent of sales. There will be no bar. Trombley said there are no other Cajun or barbecue specialty restaurants in northern El Paso County. The restaurant is scheduled to open April 10.

Building owner Steve Marks spoke in favor of the application and noted that he is also helping Trombley and McClelland expand their Bella Panini restaurant on Highway 105 in Palmer Lake to keep up with customer demand.

Gleneagle Drive traffic signal funding approved

Mayor Byron Glenn reported that the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority had voted to pay for half the cost of a traffic signal at Gleneagle Drive and Baptist Road ($50,000 to $65,000.) This payment will be matched by a payment from the landowners of Promontory Pointe, Home Place Ranch, and Sanctuary Pointe based on their pro rata shares of traffic they will contribute to that intersection.

On March 5, the board added a condition of approval for the revision of the Promontory Pointe final plat and final Planned Development site plan that the signal must be installed and operational before the town will issue any certificates of occupancy for the development.

Possible new Baptist Road widening delay

The long-abandoned concrete single-lane road that used to run between Colorado Springs and Denver is now being considered "historic," and the county may have to seek Federal Highway Administration approval to remove some of the disintegrating concrete to widen Baptist Road between Interstate 25 and Old Denver Highway, Glenn said.

The Leather Chaps intersection on Baptist Road should be paved and reopened in two to four months, once Mountain View Electric Association finishes relocating its buried power lines.

Street closure for car show approved

The board unanimously approved a request from the Tri-Lakes Cruisers for its annual one-day car show on June 10. Front, Washington, and Second streets will be closed from 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. All proceeds raised by the Tri-Lakes Cruisers will be donated to Tri-Lakes Cares; the total raised over the past five years is $10,000. The sponsor will pay overtime for an on-duty police officer to handle traffic-control issues.

Five payments over $5,000 approved:

  • $70,203 to Triview Metropolitan District including $65,010 for its share of January 2007 sales tax plus $5,193 for its share of February 2007 special ownership tax for motor vehicles.
  • $75,119 for principal and interest for the first of two equal semi-annual 2007 payments on a 1997 20-year $1.8 million general obligation water bond from the Colorado Water Resources & Power Development Authority for Well no. 8, water storage tank, booster pumping station, automated water meter reading system and other facilities/improvements.
  • $12,905 to Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency for second-quarter payment for workers’ compensation insurance.
  • $20,622 to Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency for second-quarter payment for property and casualty insurance.
  • $7,537 to the U.S. Department of the Interior-Geological Survey for the annual payment for collection of stream-flow data in Monument Creek above and below the dam at Monument Lake.

The board also unanimously approved the treasurer’s January and February financial statements.

Promontory Pointe trail easement controversy resurfaces

Glenn discussed a commentary on the board’s March 5 approval of a revision to the final plat and Planned Development site plans by Homestead at Jackson Creek resident Steve Meyer on his Web site www.monumentmatters.org. Meyer is vice president of the subdivision’s home owners association and represents the town on county road-use committees. Meyer and Homestead HOA president Robert Fisher had objected to what they said was the town’s and Triview’s failure to retain a previously approved 30-foot-wide trail easement through the backyards of eight lots along the northwest boundary of Promontory Pointe.

Glenn said Meyer’s comments stimulated "pretty flagrant e-mails" to the trustees. Glenn had recused himself from the hearing because he works as a civil engineering consultant for John Laing Homes on projects in Colorado Springs, but none within Tri-Lakes. These were his first official comments on the John Laing Homes request to revise the Landco plat and site plan previously approved on Sept. 5. (See article on page 8 for details of the March 5 BOT meeting and disputed trail location decision.)

Some of the points Glenn discussed were:

  • The BOT initially approved numerous 30-foot-wide trail easements through the rear of the backyards of all residential lots along the western boundary of Promontory Pointe in the Landco final plat and site plan.
  • Triview Metropolitan District subsequently purchased a 50-foot-wide strip between Jackson Creek and all but the northern eight of these western Promontory Pointe boundary lots.
  • Homestead HOA did not follow through with written documentation on any agreements it had made with Triview for use and maintenance of the strip on Aug. 23. This HOA documentation was a condition of approval by the Triview board to maintain the eight northern 30-foot-wide trail easements and the just-purchased 50-foot-wide strip, voiding the Triview agreement on the 30-foot-wide easements.
  • After purchasing all but 19 of the Promontory Pointe lots from Landco, John Laing Homes requested and the town approved converting the 30-foot-wide easement for all these houses to a no-build landscape buffer to be maintained by the individual homeowners.
  • El Paso County agreed to move its trail out of the 30-foot-wide easement to the 50-foot-wide strip and a 50-foot-wide right-of-way along the west side of Gleneagle Drive. The trail will extend through Home Place Ranch to Higby Road within a continuation of that 50-foot-wide easement. The relocated trail will be maintained by Triview.
  • The town could not justify a public trail easement or payments to Triview for maintaining the trail through privately owned backyards.
  • Triview’s policy under new district manager Larry Bishop is not to accept any property for maintenance without a revenue stream to pay for the costs.

The affected homeowners would have had to pay property taxes on the strips through their backyards but would not have had any say on the use of their land.

The board’s job is "to listen to both sides and look at what’s best for the town and be fair about it," said Trustee Steve Samuels. "It’s not to take care of developers and not to take advantage of the homeowners" who want the use of "land that they don’t own."

Meyer, who attended the March 19 board meeting, did not respond to the board members’ statements in reply to his Web site editorial and the e-mails of several other residents.

Glenn encouraged residents to volunteer for the Planning Commission and run for trustee in the next election.

On another matter, Trustee Tim Miller thanked Meyer for his discussions with CDOT to have the department lengthen the timing of the right-turn signal at the Baptist Road I-25 off-ramp to 70 seconds to help prevent backups extending all the way down the northbound off-ramp into the right-hand through lane.

Batch plant lawsuit amended and resumed

Town Attorney Gary Shupp reported that Kalima Masse, owner of the previously abandoned Rockwell Ready Mix Concrete batch plant at Highway 105 and North Washington Street, had filed a motion to amend one of her previous complaints and to add to it the existing complaint filed in District Court. Masse’s latest action does not preclude the chance to resolve the case through mediation in April before going to trial. (See article at http://www.ourcommunitynews.org/v7n3.htm#bot0220 for the history of this long-running legal dispute.)

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara noted that McDonald’s had asked for information regarding opening a restaurant in the Monument Ridge development on the southeast corner of the intersection of Baptist Road and Jackson Creek Parkway during a pre-application meeting with town staff.

Director of Public Works Rich Landreth stated that the required accounting for the Substitute Water Supply Plan has been completed and the town has started to store its own water in Monument Lake. Landreth has not purchased additional water yet from other available sources due to much higher than expected costs for other entities to account for their water credits. Glenn suggested that the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments and the Colorado Springs City Council said they may have excess reservoir water they might "give to the town" to fill Monument Lake. Currently high flows may help fill the lake faster, said Landreth.

Chief Shirk said his department is teaming with Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Rescue Authority for cross-training for the Senior Citizen Safety Program, which combines fire and security inspections for seniors’ homes. The Colorado Law Enforcement Assistance Fund has approved a grant of $6,000 that will pay for training and for overtime to perform specific DUI checks during peak periods.

The board had a lengthy preliminary discussion to begin prioritizing the projects included in the town’s long-term capital improvement program and to begin preparing a new ballot question to extend the town’s existing waiver on the state TABOR requirement to refund excess tax revenues.

The meeting adjourned at 8:38 p.m.

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Monument Planning Commission, March 14: Home Plan Ranch Development approved

By Jim Kendrick

On March 14, the Monument Planning Commission unanimously approved the final plat and final Planned Development (PD) site plan for the 428-acre Home Place Ranch development, the former Sally Beck ranch property south of the Higby Road-Fairplay Drive intersection. Commissioners Kathy Spence and Patricia Mettler were absent.

Home Place Ranch is adjacent to Higby Estates to the east, Sanctuary Pointe to the southeast, Promontory Pointe to the south, Homestead at Jackson Creek to the southeast, Woodmoor Summit to the northwest, and Sally Beck’s vacant property to the north.

Three new developments will pay for road improvements

The main north-south collector road through Home Place Ranch will be Gleneagle Drive. It will extend south from Higby Road with an 80-foot-wide right-of-way. This new road will connect to Baptist Road via the 60-foot-wide Gleneagle Drive right-of-way through Promontory Pointe. There will be 5-foot-wide bike lanes on both sides of the new roadway in both developments.

The main east-west collector road through Sanctuary Pointe (unnamed at this time) will extend into Home Place Ranch to connect to Gleneagle Drive. Right-of-way for this intersection will be dedicated when the plat is recorded. The eastern end of the Sanctuary Pointe collector road will intersect with Baptist Road roughly at the middle of the north side of Fox Run Regional Park.

Funding for these two new collector roads and the widening of Higby Road between Gleneagle Drive and Jackson Creek Parkway will be raised by special road improvement districts recently created by the developers of Home Place Ranch (HPR LLC) and Promontory Pointe (Landco) and a future special road improvement district to be created by the developer of Sanctuary Pointe (Classic Homes.) Improvements to Higby Road must be completed before the town issues the first certificate of occupancy.

The annual interest and principal payments for the new transportation bonds will be raised by different mill levies for each of the three developments. The three separate tax rates will be based on the costs of homes and amount of traffic that each development will contribute to the three roads.

The three new special road improvement districts will be administered by Triview Metropolitan District, the developer district originally created by Jackson Creek Land Co. The estimated total cost for these road projects is $2.5 million.

Other infrastructure contributions that HPR LLC must pay to Triview are:

  • Water storage tank - $755,000
  • Expansion of water treatment facility - $1.125 million
  • Water main extension - $1.8 million
  • Renewable water source purchase - $200,000
  • Future equipment and installation of up to 3 municipal wells
  • Installation of a major sewer collection line - $815,000 (up to two-thirds of that cost may be reimbursed to HPR LLC by Landco and Classic Homes)

Development statistics revised

The final plat and final PD site plan for Home Place Ranch proposed:

  • A maximum of 912 total residential units (down from 990 in the PD sketch plan)
  • 620 single-family home lots in this proposal
  • A 17.4-acre community park (up from a16-acre regional park in the PD sketch plan), with 12 parking spaces and trailhead added, and relocated to the southeast corner of Gleneagle Drive and Higby Road
  • Two 0.75-acre "tot lot" parks
  • Dedication of 10 acres to Lewis-Palmer School District 38 for an elementary school site
  • 106 acres of open space, which includes 90 acres of protected mouse habitat

The developer is working with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on a comprehensive Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat mitigation plan. Substitute habitat within the property must be created to compensate for existing habitat within some of the residential lots and the 10-acre elementary school dedication. Past staff and board concerns expressed in the sketch plan hearings about HPR LLC proposing future density increases, if the mouse were to be de-listed as an endangered species, were dropped.

The proposed land use is:

  • Residential lots – 187 acres (43 percent)
  • Future residential – 39 acres (9 percent)
  • Road right-of-way – 54 acres (13 percent)
  • Open space, trails, parks, school – 135 acres (31 percent)
  • Detention ponds and drainage – 15 acres (4 percent)
  • Densities ranging from two to eight dwelling units per acre

The Development Services staff reported that the proposed subdivision in the plat conforms to the town’s subdivision regulation regarding purpose, land dedications, and design principles.

Proposed plat conditions

The staff proposed five conditions of approval:

  • All referral comments from other agencies must be addressed to the satisfaction of town staff prior to recording of the plat, including the comments of the town’s traffic consultant (SEH Inc.) on the traffic study by the developer’s consultant (PBS&J).
  • Technical corrections must be made to the satisfaction of town staff prior to recording of the plat.
  • An agreement must be reached by HPR LLC and D-38 on the required dedication of 10 acres of land and an executed deed of transfer submitted to town staff prior to recording of the plat.
  • A subdivision improvement agreement must be agreed upon by HPR LLC and Triview, submitted to town staff for review and approval, and executed by both parties prior to recording of the plat.
  • A license agreement and any other necessary documentation regarding proposed streets, easements, and improvements proposed within Tri-State Transmission’s high voltage power line right-of-way through the Home Place Ranch parcel must be provided to town staff.

Some of the PD site plan details discussed were:

  • The site plan meets all 10 requirements of town regulations as well as the town’s comprehensive plan.
  • Phase I construction starts at the north boundary by Higby Road and will extend southward.
  • The staff required HPR LLC to provide a forest management and fire mitigation plan in addition to preserving as many ponderosa pines and gambel (scrub) oak stands on the property as possible on the PD site plan.
  • Design guidelines for future attached single-family and multi-family housing areas will be submitted later for review and approval hearings by the Planning Commission and Board of Trustees.
  • Trails through the mouse habitat must be approved by Fish and Wildlife.
  • Fish and Wildlife will advise the Army Corps of Engineers on wetland issues within the extensive floodplain and drainage plans for other areas of the development.
  • County warrants for a traffic signal at Higby Road and Gleneagle Drive should be met at the end of construction in Promontory Pointe in about two years.
  • Due to some steep slopes within Home Place Ranch, the grade of the new Gleneagle Drive segment will be as high as 8 percent.
  • The sidewalk on the south side of Higby Road, west of the Gleneagle Drive intersection, will be 6 feet wide, with an adjacent 4-foot-wide gravel trail.
  • Perimeter lot sizes to match existing adjacent lots were previously negotiated and were retained by John Laing Homes and Landco.
  • Funding of a traffic signal at Gleneagle Drive and Baptist Road, half by Landco, HPR LLC, and Classic Homes and half by the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority before the first certificate of occupancy will be issued by the town.

Proposed site plan conditions

The staff proposed eight conditions of approval:

  • All referral agency comments must be addressed to the satisfaction of staff.
  • Approval is subject to final approval of engineering plans by staff, including drainage, traffic, and grading plans, as well as the connection of the Gleneagle Drive segments at the boundary with Promontory Pointe (different sizes of right-of-way).
  • Approval is subject to technical corrections to the satisfaction of staff, particularly those issues raised in the staff’s letter Feb. 28 to HPR LLC.
  • Installing asphalt pavement from Higby Road to the boundary with Promontory Pointe will be required once road construction has begun in Promontory Pointe to the north of Baptist Road. Prior to that, Gleneagle Drive must be constructed to final grade, without asphalt, with a surface suitable for construction traffic.
  • Improvements to Higby Road must be completed and accepted by El Paso County before issuance of the first certificate of occupancy for the project.
  • A subdivision improvement agreement must be agreed upon by HPR LLC and Triview, submitted to town staff for review and approval, and executed by both parties before recording of the final PD site plan.
  • A license agreement and any other necessary documentation regarding proposed streets, easements, and improvements proposed within Tri-State Transmission’s high-voltage power line right-of-way through the Home Place Ranch parcel must be provided to town staff.
  • Documentation from Fish and Wildlife must be provided to town staff showing agency acceptance of improvements to protected mouse habitat or that encroaching improvements have been relocated outside of mouse habitat.

Land planner Linda Sweetman-King, founder and managing partner of TerraVisions LLC, gave the developer’s presentation. She noted changes from the May sketch plan, including:

  • The eastern access to Higby Road near Higby Estates has been eliminated resulting in less grading and tree loss.
  • The western access to Jackson Creek has also been eliminated at the other developer’s request.
  • 225 acres of residential, down from 262 acres.
  • 135 acres of parks, trails, and open spaces.
  • 3.6 miles of trails, up from 3.5 miles.
  • Dedication of 54 acres of right-of-way, up from 15 acres, to include the collector road access to Sanctuary Pointe (loss of 39 acres of residential lots), and 40 feet next to Higby Road.
  • 63 acres of ponderosa pines and 41 acres of gambel (scrub) oak will be preserved.
  • The eastern and western tributaries of Jackson Creek will be returned to natural spring channels from pastures and buried pipes.

Public comments

Homestead at Jackson Creek Homeowners Association President Robert Fisher spoke in favor of the proposal, complimenting the developer for preserving all the agreements reached with his HOA during sketch plan development. No one spoke in opposition of the proposal.

Cheryl Wangeman, chief financial officer of D-38, noted that the developer was being "very patient with all our transitions" to a third D-38 superintendent. She asked the town staff to help the school district in its negotiations with an additional condition on the developer to change the 10-acre school dedication to a more usable rectangle. Otherwise, the district will have to ask the town to require dedication of an alternative site, not in mouse habitat and floodplain, or the district will have to buy from HPR LLC an additional two to three acres that are level and not in mouse habitat to be able to build.

There will be about 540 elementary-age children living in Home Place Ranch, which will fill the proposed elementary school, Wangeman said. The next D-38 elementary school will probably be built in 2011 or 2012. Palmer Ridge High School is under contract and there are no plans to build another middle school.

The meeting adjourned at 8:40 p.m.

**********

The next Monument Planning Commission meeting is at 6:30 p.m. April 11 at Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Palmer Lake Town Council Workshop, March 1: Trustees consider request to change residential lots into retail property

By Celeste Raine

The Palmer Lake Town Council discussed a request by the new owners of the Illumination Pointe parcel for a rezone from residential (R-1) to commercial (C-2) and a minor subdivision that would divide the 6½-acre property into four retail lots.

The proposal raised numerous long-range questions regarding the town’s comprehensive plan for adjacent properties, and the need to update the plan to determine what type of zoning and uses the town prefers for this undeveloped area.

Trustee Trish Flake was absent.

The Illumination Pointe property, which is Lot 2 of the Meadows Subdivision, is located west of Highway 105, across from the Mennonite Church. The town’s current R-1 Meadows zoning is for residential with 5-acre lots. The town’s comprehensive plan currently states the area should remain residential.

The proposed retail lots will have a consistent architectural theme and be landscaped. Local developer Doug Pinney of Frontier Construction LLC, who represented landowner Sharon Smith in the discussion, said the parcel would include space for retail and building industry businesses.

Smith wants to develop the largest retail lot on the east side of the property as a new location for the Colorado Light House, a lamp and lighting fixture store, which currently leases space in the West End Center. The building would have other units, which she would lease. She plans to sell the three remaining 1-acre retail lots.

Some key points raised during the discussion included:

  • The town’s comprehensive plan does not address commercial development at the southeast end of town.
  • The Planning Commission needs to update the comprehensive plan for expected commercial proposals in this area, including annexations of contiguous county property.
  • Retail zoning would be a better fit for Smith’s parcel because many people prefer not have their home next to a highway.
  • The Town must make sure that the three trailer parks close to Smith’s parcel would not get forced out if many of the nearby vacant sites get rezoned.
  • The question of whether this rezoning would set a precedent for the entire Highway 105 corridor becoming commercial remained unresolved.
  • Also unresolved was the question of whether there would be a benefit to rezone this area to planned unit development (PUD). Some trustees said PUD zoning allows mixed uses and may provide the Town Council with more flexibility and control if and when the property changes hands.
  • Currently, the property does not have access to Highway 105. The Colorado Department of Transportation should determine if the property can gain access prior to voting on the minor subdivision.
  • Internal road right-of-ways need to be wider to provide access for 18-wheel truck deliveries and large fire trucks. The town’s Board of Adjustment may be able to resolve this issue if the C-2 zoning is approved instead of PUD.

No action was taken because the Planning Commission had not voted on the two proposals due to the Feb. 28 commission meeting being canceled by snow. At a special meeting on March 6, the commission voted on the proposals (see article on the facing page).

The trustees were supportive of the rezone request but not ready to support the minor subdivision without more information.

The meeting adjourned at 7:50 p.m. The board then unanimously convened a special council meeting. This meeting was an executive session on personnel matters. No actions were taken.

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Palmer Lake Town Council Meeting, March 8: Illumination Pointe rezoned from residential to commercial

Below: Jen Martin was appointed to fill the vacant seat on the Palmer Lake Planning Commission at the March 8 Town Council Meeting. She will be sworn in at the Planning Commission workshop meeting at Town Hall on April 11. Photo by Jim Kendrick

Below: At the Palmer Lake Town Council meeting March 8, Illumination Pointe landowner Sharon Smith and local contractor Doug Pinney of Frontier Construction LLC discuss their proposal for creating four commercial lots on her 6.5 acre residential property opposite the Mennonite Church on Highway 105. Smith’s request for rezoning from five acre residential (R-1) to commercial (C-2) was approved but her request to subdivide into four lots was tabled until she gets approval from the state for access to Highway 105. Photo by Jim Kendrick

By Jim Kendrick

The Palmer Lake Town Council unanimously approved rezoning Sharon Smith’s 6.5-acre Illumination Pointe property near Highway 105 from R-1 residential to C-2 commercial. The council unanimously tabled her request for a minor subdivision of the 6.5-acre parcel into four separate commercial lots because the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has not approved access to the property from Highway 105 by CDOT, nor is there access across the properties of adjacent landowners. (See article above for details of Smith’s proposals.)

Business owner requests conditional use

During a wide-ranging 20-minute discussion, the council provided specific guidance to Guillermo Moratorio, before formal hearings, on how to gain approval for his requested change in venue to 702 Highway 105 for his company, Alma Construction. Moratorio sells kits for building sheds. The property is south of the ball field at the south end of downtown Palmer Lake. Moratorio asked if he could be excused from building a screening fence at the rear of the property because the train tracks behind the lot are about 15 feet higher than the rear property line. There is also a hill between this lot and the ball field.

"Let me just say that a shed on that property is an improvement over the trash and refuse that have been an eyesore … with or without a fence," said Trustee Trudy Finan.

Moratorio’s request was for a conditional use rather than a permitted use within a CC commercial zone, said town attorney Larry Gaddis. Other potential rental locations with appropriate zoning, C-2 or M-1, were suggested by some trustees and local builder Kurt Erhardt.

Moratorio also proposed leasing a half-acre lot the town owns on County Line Road to start a storage business that would use some of his assembled sheds as storage units. A site survey by Mayor Max Parker, Town Clerk Della Gray, and Planning Commission Chair John Cressman will be scheduled to determine if access is acceptable and what a fair rent would be.

Trustees’ reports

Roads: Trustee Richard Allen reported that 90 tons of Class 6 gravel road material were applied to Highland Road to temporarily dry out the clay until a permanent repair can be made. Roads Supervisor Bob Radosevich attended a Rocky Mountain asphalt conference on new standards and techniques for road repairs and won a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant of $2,276 for snow removal.

Fire: Trustee Gary Coleman reported that the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department responded to 12 calls in February: six medical, four fire, and two public assist calls. Two of the calls were for mutual aid of other North Group fire departments.

Police: Trustee Finan reported that:

  • The staff is fully manned with four full-time and two part-time positions.
  • The department’s evidence room had been upgraded to meet new state guidelines.
  • Policies and procedures are being modified to be parallel with those of Monument.
  • Crimes of fraud against the elderly are becoming a significant problem.
  • A bid request had been made to buy and install a separate police computer server to meet Colorado Bureau of Investigation security requirements.

Buildings: Trustee Trish Flake reported that:

  • Roof and water repairs are required for Town Hall.
  • The town’s annual Easter Egg hunt will be at 10:30 a.m. April 7 in front of Town Hall — rain or shine — bring your own basket.

Water: Trustee Jim Girlando reported the resignation of former Water Supervisor Steve Orcutt and the need to hire a replacement with a Class A license or initiate contract services to run the town’s water plant.

Economic Development: Trustee Susan Miner reported that the town had received a grant of $231,000 for building sidewalks for children to safely walk to Palmer Lake Elementary School. Miner said an engineering construction committee and a design group had been formed to solicit bids and to design the walkways, light posts, benches, and other equipment that will be built with the grant money. Parker noted that town engineer Paul Gilbert had not been listed as the project manager on the state grant application by Miner’s committee.

Miner said her committee needs to solicit more information regarding participation by CDOT and Pikes Peak Area Council of Government staff before making final decisions on architectural and engineering consultant selections for the sidewalk project and the separately planned downtown streetscape upgrades.

Fountain Creek Watershed Study representative Bob Miner asked for a $1,000 contribution to form a visioning group that will establish a watershed and flood control association to manage regional flood and erosion control programs. Parker and Allen asked him to provide documentation on the charter for the planned organizational structure and cost shares for all prospective members. The board unanimously approved a motion to participate in the association in the future.

In other matters, the council:

  • Unanimously approved a recommendation by the Planning Commission to appoint resident Jen Martin to fill the vacant seat.
  • Approved the annual lease renewal for town land on County Line Road that has been held by the Palmer Lake Sports Riders for more than 20 years.
  • Approved a request for the town to share a radio frequency with Castle Pines North Metropolitan District by a vote of 6-1, with Flake opposed.
  • Discussed possible terms for use of town land on Westward Lane by Kurt Erhardt for access to his adjacent vacant property for future commercial development with approval contingent on a favorable review by the town attorney.
  • Discussed the pros and cons of town takeover of Erhardt’s well to provide water to landowners at the southeast end of town and asked Erhardt to make a proposal with specific costs and well production data.
  • Discussed fire and medical emergency procedures to be followed by Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department and Larkspur Fire Protection District during the four-month closure of Spruce Mountain Road through July 10.

The meeting adjourned at 9:45 p.m.

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Palmer Lake Planning Commission Special Meeting, March 8: Illumination Pointe rezoning recommended for approval

By Jim Kendrick

The Palmer Lake Planning Commission met March 6, after the Feb. 28 meeting was cancelled due to snow, and approved a rezoning from R-1 to C-2 and a minor subdivision of the plat into four retail lots of the 6.3-acre Illumination Pointe property. The property, Lot 2 of the Meadows Subdivision, is located west of Highway 105, across from the Mennonite Church. No site plan proposal was considered. All commissioners were present.

Because of the weather delay, the application from landowner and developer Sharon Smith was first heard by the Town Council at its workshop meeting March 1. (See article on the facing page for details of the Smith’s application and the issues raised by the council during the discussion at the March 1 workshop.)

Mayor Max Parker gave the commissioners a brief overview of issues raised in the council’s workshop meeting regarding lack of guidance in the town’s comprehensive plan with respect to the long-term planned mix of commercial and residential zoning for the vacant lots in and adjacent to the southeast end of town. Parker asked the commissioners to consider "zoning in general" rather than taking a "piecemeal" approach as it considered requests for commercial rezoning along Highway 105. He also asked the commissioners to consider whether the comprehensive plan needs to be revised to address this issue.

Local design/build general contractor Doug Pinney of Frontier Construction LLC, which specializes in pre-engineered metal buildings, represented Smith.

Some of the issues raised by the commissioners were:

  • The Colorado Department of Transportation has not approved access to the property from Highway 105.
  • The proposed shared access from Highway 105 would be with an adjacent property in the county.
  • There is no direct access to the property from Cloven Hoof Drive.
  • The proposed road through the center of the parcel has only a 28-foot right-of-way without a turnaround, instead of the standard 50 feet for safety and fire and delivery truck access.
  • Setbacks must be large enough to allow for adequate road right-of-way as well as utility easements.
  • A portion of the perimeter utility easements are in a floodplain.

The requests for rezoning from R-1 to C-2 and minor subdivision into four lots were unanimously approved. A condition of approval of the subdivision requires Smith to submit to the town drainage and landscape plans for the property when the first building permit is issued.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:20 p.m.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, March 21: Waste plant buildings going up

By Sue Wielgopolan

After several months of slow progress, the new waste plant buildings are finally taking shape. At the Donala board’s March 21 meeting, general manager Dana Duthie showed slides taken during construction.

Construction now is proceeding rapidly. Brickwork on the preliminary treatment building is nearly complete. The electrical building is also going up. Weaver construction is digging the hole for the influent station.

However, inaccuracies and omissions in the original drawings for the plant pose continuous challenges. Every excavation reveals new surprises. Duthie complained that the contractor frequently finds undocumented wiring and pipelines underground, and must reroute them or find a way to accommodate existing infrastructure.

The board also listened to summaries of recent activities of the El Paso County Water Authority and the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, and discussed the merits of establishing Donala as a weather station for a new type of irrigation controller.

Donala focuses on conservation

Duthie told members that operators Mark Parker and Terry Ladouceur recently attended a landscaping symposium, where they saw a presentation on a Rainbird evapotranspiration (ET) manager. Rather that irrigating according to a clock, the controller relies instead on readings of local environmental conditions such as temperature, wind, and humidity to determine when and for how long the system will irrigate.

The ET manager is much more effective in reducing irrigation water consumption than restrictions, as it turns on sprinklers only when moisture is needed. However, the localized showers common in the area could reduce the unit’s effectiveness, since readings are broadcast from a station where rainfall may or may not be equivalent to conditions at the homeowner’s location.

A Rainbird representative spoke to Donala staff about the system, which requires a local weather station transmitter to be effective. Presently, the nearest transmitter is in the Highlands Ranch area.

Donala will purchase the $7,000 software package necessary to transmit the needed information from the district’s weather station, as well as 12 individual controllers, which sell for $705 each. Ladouceur will plant a demonstration garden using xeriscape plants and a bluegrass plot. The garden will rely solely on an ET manager and natural rainfall for moisture. Duthie said he will also put his own lawn on an ET manager.

Residents using the system will be exempt from watering restrictions. Because the units are so expensive, the district may offer some sort of rebate, or try to obtain additional units at a bulk discount if customers show sufficient interest.

El Paso County Water Authority

Related legislation: Duthie opened his update of the March El Paso County Water Authority (EPCWA) meeting by telling Donala board members that two bills of interest to regional water providers had recently been passed by the House and are under consideration by the Senate. The first, HB07-1036, would prohibit the exercise of eminent domain on water rights alone without condemnation of the land.

The second, HB07-1159, would mandate that special elections must now be coordinated with other elections (usually held in November) or conducted by mail. Previously, Donala and other area special districts held elections and ballot issue voting in May, and directors’ terms are based on a 2-year cycle that begins and ends in the spring. The district still has the option of conducting a mail-in election, but the increased costs associated with mailing could prove prohibitive.

Colorado Springs to pump more groundwater: Cortney Brand, senior project engineer for the Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) Water Resources Department, told authority members about changes to CSU’s groundwater policy and plans involving the city’s use of Denver Basin aquifers.

CSU recently spent several thousand dollars studying the impacts and benefits of a process commonly referred to as "aquifer recharge," which involves injecting treated water back into the aquifers. Essentially, the process uses the aquifers as underground storage in lieu of above-ground reservoirs or tanks.

The utility’s policy previously stated that Colorado Springs would pump water from aquifers only during periods of extended drought or in the event of a water emergency. CSU wants the flexibility to use well water as a supplemental source; the city has adjudicated rights to about 30,000 acre-feet per year.

Based on the studies, Duthie said Brand expects that the injection process would extend the life of the wells by 60 to 70 percent. Study results also indicated that in the deeper, more confined Arapahoe aquifer, the injected water displaced and did not mix significantly with the ground source at the injection site.

The city utility also announced it is spending approximately $25 million on water projects and improvements, including seven new wells and a new treatment plant.

Authority may form transit loss, Black Squirrel enterprises: Duthie said that Colorado Springs, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the state engineer’s office requested that the authority create an enterprise to administer the Transit Loss Program. The transit loss model, around which the program is built, uses a series of Geological Survey gauging stations to measure Monument and Fountain Creek flows en route to the Arkansas. The ability to closely monitor the volume of water added to or pulled from those streams enables participating agencies to buy, sell or trade effluent credits. The Geological Survey contracts with Colorado Springs and the EPCWA, who are partners in the Transit Loss project, to maintain the stations and model at a yearly cost of $20,000 each.

The task of assessing each authority member’s share, as well as issuing invoices, recording payments, and following through on record-keeping, is a time-consuming duty. Since the time commitment is proving too great to be performed as a volunteer function, the authority will probably pay for accounting services.

Gary Barber asked the EPCWA to make a monetary contribution to the Fountain Creek Crown Jewel Project Task Force. The group, initiated by Sen. Ken Salazar’s office, will be composed of approximately 70 members whose purpose will be to propose solutions to storm water and water quality problems, create recreational opportunities, enhance wildlife habitat, and ensure that agricultural lands remain productive along the Fountain Creek corridor. The authority voted to give $2,500 to the effort.

Authority addresses storm water control: The water authority approved a change to its by-laws incorporating storm water control as part of its functions. The addition could help northern El Paso County communities, as the City Council and Mayor Lionel Rivera have long insisted that any move toward regional cooperation on water issues must be preceded by efforts of Palmer Divide-area entities to assist in solving the city’s stormwater problems.

Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority

Duthie summarized discussions that took place during the last two meetings of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority.

Cooperation on SDS unlikely: Duthie told the Donala board that the water authority was unlikely to further pursue efforts to be included in Colorado Springs’ Southern Delivery System. The main component of the project is a 46-mile pipeline that will be built to bring Arkansas River water north to Colorado Springs. Any agency desiring to transport water through the pipeline must possess storage rights in Pueblo Reservoir, which is where the pipeline will probably originate.

Pueblo Reservoir is a part of the federal Fryingpan-Arkansas project; use of that storage facility is restricted to agencies that have contributed, through taxes, fees, and non-monetary means, to its construction and maintenance. The Southeast Colorado Water Conservancy District is one of those partners; residents within its boundaries, including the city of Colorado Springs, have been paying Fry-Ark taxes for many years.

Joining the conservancy district is one way that northern El Paso County could share in storage rights. However, becoming a part of the district would be cost-prohibitive; area residents would have to pay a proportionate share of expenses and back dues dating to about 1922.

Water for Cherokee sought: The Pikes Peak Authority is still seeking cooperation with Colorado Springs on other regional water issues. Water providers within the authority with effluent to sell, such as Donala, would like to work out a three-way arrangement with Colorado Springs to temporarily provide potable water to member Cherokee Metro District in exchange for effluent and additional fees.

CSU has an existing water line to Cherokee. According to Duthie, CSU need only "open a valve" to physically deliver water; the policy adjustments necessary to allow the utility to work collaboratively with communities outside city limits are a more difficult obstacle to overcome.

Group to actively advocate regional cooperation: The authority has decided it is time to approach Colorado Springs and El Paso County officials to once again broach the topic of regional cooperation. Betty Konarski, Monument’s alternate representative to the PPRWA, suggested that efforts would be met with less resistance if elected representatives from the districts, rather than water managers, engaged elected officials from the city and county in discussion. Members discussed district directors who might provide good match-ups with various officials.

The authority would like to meet first with El Paso County commissioners, then with newly elected officials of the Colorado Springs City Council.

Water authority lobbyist Dick Brown will develop talking papers to provide direction for the selected district board members or trustees.

Authority plans meeting with infrastructure study consultants: Duthie informed board directors that several members of the PPRWA planned to attend a meeting with hydrologic engineering firm Bishop Brogden Associates on March 22 at its Boulder office to discuss the status of the Water Infrastructure Planning Study and the roles of the engineers employed individually by each district.

There had been some miscommunication on one of the outlined tasks; the meeting’s purpose is to assess progress and ensure that the engineers are clear on their work direction.

Duthie said Donala would postpone any decision on how to most productively use the district’s effluent until the PPRWA had received the results of the water infrastructure study, which was expected to wrap up by September. Plans for a 2 million-gallon storage tank will remain on hold until then.

Pipeline proposal solicited: Blaine Dwyer of Boyle Engineering attended the March water authority meeting at the group’s request. The authority has a responsibility to investigate the cost and feasibility of a pipeline connecting Brush Hollow reservoir and Stonewall Springs quarry to Palmer Divide-area infrastructure as part of the PPRWA’s contract with Mark Morley. Boyle is an internationally recognized engineering firm specializing in designing water and wastewater infrastructure.

Dwyer listed several design studies in which the firm is currently involved, including a plan to pipe unallocated Colorado River water back to providers within the state, and Aaron Million’s Green River Pumpback project. The group had previously done consulting work on remote well field feasibility for the authority.

Duthie said the authority discussed sole sourcing its pipeline design to Boyle, as the firm has a solid reputation and had previously done good work for the Palmer Divide Water Group. Attorney Rick Fendel assured authority members that the group was not obligated under special district rules to solicit numerous bids. After considering the merits and drawbacks of sole sourcing, the members decided instead to ask Boyle for a cost estimate, which Dwyer agreed to submit at the PPRWA’s April meeting.

Fountain expresses interest in cooperation with authority: City of Fountain utility director Larry Patterson attended the March meeting to express Fountain’s support of authority efforts and possible interest in joining. Fountain is a partner with Colorado Springs in the SDS project.

Duthie told Donala members that while the PPRWA is open to extending membership to agencies not presently included, the group wants to stay focused primarily on the needs of northern El Paso county residents. The authority will welcome additional partners if the entity can participate in mutually beneficial projects.

Dues, voting privileges still at issue: Duthie said the authority had not yet settled on a dues and voting policy. Although members had responded favorably to the idea of setting dues and allocating votes according to district population, such a policy could prove detrimental if a much larger district were to join the group.

Resolving the issue in a timely manner has become important, as entities of both extremes have indicated interest in membership

The authority will continue to discuss the topic at future meetings.

District saves $180,000 in power costs

Duthie told the directors that Donala saved about $180,000 in 2006 through Mountain View Electric’s Power Partner program. The program discounts the power bill for each month the district is consistently off-line during peak demand times.

The program can be difficult to follow. If Donala is on-line during peak demand time for a single day during the month, it will not receive the discount for that month. While Mountain View is supposed to send a signal via computer to switch the district over to auxiliary power as peak approaches, it does not always do so.

Duthie credits Parker with much of the savings. The district can manually monitor Mountain View’s loads and switch to auxiliary power without the signal. Duthie said the district missed only two months of peak demand, due in large part to Parker’s diligence.

Status of district projects

  • Construction on the northern section of the Struthers Road extension is on hold until El Paso County settles its easement dispute with the landowners. Donala has completed installation of its water line to that point. Emergence of the protected Preble’s meadow jumping mouse from hibernation has the potential to further delay work.
  • The redrill on Well 2A will be equipped during the first quarter of 2007.
  • Drilling on new Well 14A, located in Fox Run Park, is complete. The transformer for the well has been ordered from Mountain View Electric. The district is installing the vault and pipeline through the easement.

Other matters

  • Duthie distributed a recalculated cost of service analysis, and using conservative estimates of the life expectancy of large ticket items and projects, spread the cost over several years.
  • After reviewing investment summaries for the month, board members expressed concern that returns from Donala’s investments with Davidson Fixed Income continue to fall below those of Colo Trust. A representative of Davidson will attend a meeting in June or July to discuss the firm’s strategy and answer questions.

The meeting went into executive session at 2:23 p.m. to discuss the purchase, acquisition, lease or transfer of water, and personnel matters.

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The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting on Monday, April 23, at 1:30 p.m. at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of each month.

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Triview Metropolitan District, March 14: Base rate raised for water, sewer

By Elizabeth Hacker

In an effort to balance its budget, the Triview Metropolitan District voted at a special meeting March 14 to raise the base rate for sewer and water service by $8.10 per month for a single family equivalent with a three-quarter-inch tap.

Due to adverse weather, the regular board of directors meeting scheduled for Feb. 28 was cancelled and this special meeting was held. The regular board of directors meeting scheduled for March 28 was cancelled due to a lack of a quorum. A special meeting will be held at 5 p.m., April 11 to discuss impact fees.

In other matters, the board of directors also approved:

  • A resolution for an inter-governmental agreement with the Town of Monument to collect fees for road improvements to Home Place Ranch and Promontory Pointe.
  • A resolution to honor former board member Martha Gurnick for her four years of service to the district.

Board member Joe Martin was absent.

Base rate increase approved

District Director Larry Bishop reported that revenue from the enterprise fund was $99,000 less than the district’s expenses for 2006. He proposed that beginning April 1, 2007, the district increase the base rate for sewer and water service by $8.10 per month. He said the average bill is now $27.13 a month, and the proposed base-rate increase would raise that to around $36. He added that expected revenues for 2007 were expected to be about $100,000 short of projected expenses, and that if the rate increase were approved effective April 1, the district would break even.

Board President Steve Stephenson asked Bishop if he had calculated a consumptive rate increase for water, to which Bishop replied he had not because he was comfortable that an increase in the base rate would create enough revenue to cover the district’s expenses. Bishop added that because consumption rates fluctuate from season to season and year to year, an increase in these rates would not be as predictable as a fixed increase to the base rate, which is static.

In response to the board’s concern that a rate increase might discourage development in an already slow housing market, Vice President Joe Belzer said the housing market in Monument had slowed but was still strong and will benefit from the 10,000 troops moving to Fort Carson. He suggested that adding an $8 base-rate increase would not deter builders or people from moving to this area.

Stephenson added that the district could not control outside expenses, but if it was to be fiscally responsible, it needs to balance revenues with expenses. The board voted to approve the proposed base-rate increase, effective April 1.

Intergovernmental agreement approved

In 2006, Landco, the landowner of Promontory Pointe, and HPR, LLC, the landowner of Home Place Ranch, voted to form two new special road improvement districts, Triview Metropolitan Districts no. 2 and no. 3, respectively, in a special developer district election. Sometime in the future, Classic Homes, the landowner for Sanctuary Pointe, will vote to create their own special road improvement district, TMD #4. The districts are under the umbrella of Triview but were established as a way to finance the design and construction of roads for these developments. Triview will be paid through a mill levy on homes that are purchased in these developments. The resolution the board approved further defines Triview’s role in operating and maintaining road improvements once they are constructed and dedicated to the district.

Gurnick resigns

The board accepted Martha Gurnick’s resignation effective the beginning of March and acknowledged her four years on the board by approving a resolution commending her for her service dedication to the district. Discussion of her replacement was held in executive session.

Manager’s report

Pumping statistics: Bishop reported that the pumping statistics were 98.29 percent accounted for in January and that February stats were close to 100 percent. Since September, Bishop was trying to understand why the water being pumped from district wells was much greater than what he could account for through metering. He finally learned that the backwash from the wells was not being accounted for, and developed a method to measure this.

Monument Ridge Shopping Center: Bishop noted that Walgreen’s, Fairfield Inn, and Chase Bank had been approved for the Monument Ridge center and were beginning to break ground. He added that El Paso County still had an issue with the right-in-right-out traffic movement for Chase Bank.

Monument Marketplace: Bishop reported that PetSmart and Staples had been approved for Monument Marketplace in addition to a liquor store and a Carl’s Jr. He added that the carwash had been excluded for now but that he was waiting to hear back from the developer. He expected that Marketplace developer’s representative Rick Blevins and the developer would contact him to further negotiate his proposal.

Copper Heights: Bishop reported that the housing market had slowed in September. He noted that while Pulte Homes had pulled out, another developer has expressed interest in Copper Heights.

New water tank: Bishop reported that a new water tank is proposed for Sanctuary Pointe even though it has not yet been annexed into the district. He noted that if for some reason the development did not come into the district, the top of the ridge is still the best site for a water tank and they hopefully would come to an agreement to locate it there.

Baptist Road: Bishop reported that phase one of the sewer work, on the north side of Baptist Road to the east of the Interstate 25 bridge, was complete. Stephenson questioned why the contractor wasn’t working on completing the portion of the work located in the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat that had to be completed before May 1. Bishop responded that because federal funds were involved, purchase of all property had to be completed before they could begin work in the right-of-way, which is where the mouse habitat was located. He said that while the land acquisition was progressing, it had not been completed.

Wastewater treatment plant expansion: Tom Repp, consultant with Nolte Engineering, reported that portions of the foundation were complete but that the contractor was behind schedule and blamed delays on the weather and inability to get equipment and parts from vendors.

Repp reported that they were in the final stage of putting the bid package together for the filtration system and that he was trying to get a better price on the steel and polymers because the construction costs were about 8 percent higher than what had been estimated. Repp added that CTL Thompson was taking the borings and that he would have more to report in two weeks. Bishop asked that further discussion of the WWTP expansion be held in executive session.

Water conservation schedule: The board reported that in an effort to conserve groundwater, Triview will be on the same irrigation schedule as the Town of Monument from May 1 through Sept 30. Homes with odd-number addresses will water on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and homes with even-numbered addresses will water on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. There will be no watering on Sunday.

Interconnecting water line: Bishop reported that Donala Water District had agreed to extend its water line to Triview’s line at no cost when Sanctuary Pointe is ready to develop, adding that eventually there will be four interconnecting lines with Donala. Bishop noted that they would discuss treatment and water quality in an executive session.

Church seeks inclusion in district: Bishop reported that the district had received a letter from the Family of Christ Lutheran Church, located on the south side of Baptist Road near Leather Chaps, requesting inclusion into the district. He noted that because churches are tax-exempt, it wants to pay fees but no taxes, which would mean it would be treated differently than other district customers. He agreed that churches help sell houses but added that in his experience, treating exempt organizations differently becomes logistically problematic. Stephenson suggested that exempt organizations should be treated the same and that if this property were to be included into the district, the water rights under the property should also be part of the agreement.

Newsletter: Bishop noted that he would like to start a newsletter to keep district residents informed about what is going on in the district and how to conserve water. The board agreed that this would be a good idea and asked Secretary Julie Glenn if she would have time to do it. She responded that currently she did not have time to work on it. Bishop said he would try to put something together for the board to consider at a future meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 5:30 p.m. when the board went into executive session.

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, March 8: Surface water a vital part of Woodmoor’s plans

Below: On Feb. 23,  water shoots from a top of an electrical conduit approximately 12 feet up on the side of a power pole at the south-east corner of Higby Road and Jackson Creek Parkway. The source of the water was unknown but appeared to be related to run-off from recent snow storms. Photo by Mike Wicklund

By Sue Wielgopolan

Woodmoor expects to have a supplemental surface water source in place by 2015, according to the district’s 2006 Long Range Plan. Manager Phil Steininger and district engineer Jessie Shaffer presented a summary of the plan to Woodmoor board members during a special morning meeting Mar. 8. The update represents a "paradigm shift" in objectives, from total reliance on Denver Basin aquifer supplies to development of a surface source.

Woodmoor currently relies on the Arapahoe aquifer for 80 percent of its supply. The remaining 20 percent is drawn from the shallower Dawson and Denver aquifers. Studies show that as water levels in the aquifers continue to drop, production per well will decline significantly. The Arapahoe, which is most heavily used by larger districts, will be particularly affected.

The presentation also focused on more efficient use of the district’s existing water resources, with emphasis on maximizing exchange and incorporation of Lake Woodmoor as a storage basin for drinking and irrigation water.

District history: uncertain beginnings

The Woodmoor development was created in 1964 primarily to serve a growing community of retired members of the military. The original boundaries of the water and sanitation district coincided with present-day boundaries of the Woodmoor Improvement Association. Water and sewer infrastructure was built around the golf course, which was the centerpiece of the development. Lake Woodmoor was created in the late 1960s mainly for aesthetic value, and used later as a nonpotable irrigation source for the Woodmoor Country Club.

At that time, El Paso County requirements were considerably more lenient. Sewage treatment was handled by an unpermitted lagoon system. The developer installed infrastructure as needed, and often did so without planning for growth or obtaining the easements essential for routine maintenance. The first homeowners desiring central hookups in undeveloped areas frequently paid the entire cost for lines to their homes, and were reimbursed on a prorated basis as other individuals purchased houses on the same street and tapped into both systems.

Growth soon outpaced the capacity of the original sewage treatment system. In the 1970s, Woodmoor joined with Monument and Palmer Lake Sanitation Districts, and helped fund the first expansion of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility.

Numerous problems plagued the district during the early years. As many as 600 residents at a time were occasionally without water for as long as three days. And not all homes in Woodmoor had central service; a significant number within the district still relied on private wells.

Steininger took over the district in 1984. In 1987, district residents passed a bond issue to build core infrastructure. Even then, Woodmoor was unable to drill wells and build infrastructure rapidly enough to consistently meet demand, which resulted in occasional water outages.

Woodmoor institutes long-range planning

The district needed a planning tool that could assess the impact of future growth to avoid overburdening the water and sewer systems, and help with project prioritization and yearly budgeting. Woodmoor retained engineering firm Rothberg, Tamburini, and Winsor (RTW) to assist in developing a comprehensive plan for the district, and in 1991 staff presented the first Long Range Plan to the Woodmoor board.

The plan provided what Steininger referred to as a "snapshot in time"– an inventory of existing resources and capacities of each component, as well as baseline data and a profile classification of customers. For the first time, the capital improvement program was structured according to when and where growth was anticipated to take place.

On RTW’s recommendation, the board decided to update the Long Range Plan every three to five years.

In subsequent years, the district continued to build on and refine its information base. Infrastructure planning was based on the evolving Long Range Plan. Because the district was expanding as more developers requested inclusion, RTW also recommended interim growth monitoring to make the plan more useful in annual project budgeting.

The engineering firm conducted numerous ongoing analyses and developed models for several systems, including water distribution and wastewater collection, and most recently a well field model. The models enable Woodmoor to plug in collected data and extrapolate the effects of different growth scenarios on existing infrastructure.

District acquires Lake Woodmoor, adds creek diversion

Perhaps the most significant action to date resulting from long-range planning was the purchase of Lake Woodmoor.

The district first identified the lake as a possible asset in 1994. In 1987, the state adjudicated all water rights to Dirty Woman Creek flows to the Woodmoor district, to be augmented at 100 percent using effluent flows from the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility. Then-owner K.A.B. Pankey already had adjudicated storage in the lake.

A three-way agreement among the Woodmoor Country Club, Pankey, and the Woodmoor district governed use of the lake until 2001, when the district purchased Woodmoor Lake to use for nonpotable irrigation storage, with the intention of eventually using the stored supplies to help offset peak demand.

Lake Woodmoor lies in a depression within the Deer Creek basin but is not directly fed by a permanent stream. Instead, the lake is gravity-fed by a pipeline from Dirty Woman Creek, which until 2002 provided its sole source of renewal water. In that year, Woodmoor completed a pumping system designed by RTW that enabled the district to also divert adjudicated water from Monument Creek into Lake Woodmoor, completing the present exchange system and giving Woodmoor the flexibility to take full advantage of its exchange rights.

Projecting growth

The Long Range Plan attempted to quantify demand for current, probable and possible scenarios.

Because water use is easier to visualize when related to community size rather than volume measurements (such as acre-feet or millions of gallons), Woodmoor frequently uses the concept of single-family equivalents to quantify demand. A single-family equivalent (sfe) is the average volume of water used by a family of four over a year. The district presently sets the value of one sfe at .36 acre-feet per year. Commercial use is also expressed in terms of equivalents.

Currently, district customers consume approximately 3,500 sfe’s yearly. Woodmoor expects to supply 6,500 sfe’s at existing buildout, which represents the estimated yearly demand when all planned development within present district boundaries is complete.

Taking into consideration surrounding properties that could eventually petition for inclusion, Woodmoor estimated that in the future, it might supply service for as many as 7,800 sfe’s, termed "ultimate buildout" in the Long Range Plan. Steininger assured board members that while the number is useful for long-term planning purposes, inclusion of any of the outlying properties is by no means a foregone conclusion. Every petition will have to be voluntarily initiated by the owner and considered by the board on the strength of its merits as an asset to the district.

The 2006 plan – water supply challenges

Though the Long Range Plan also addresses wastewater infrastructure, the central focus for the 2006 plan was on water resources. RTW determined that long-term continued use of the Denver Basin aquifers is not a cost-effective option. As water levels in the upper three aquifers continue to drop, extraction becomes increasingly expensive.

Water levels in the Arapahoe aquifer, which supplies more than three-quarters of Woodmoor’s annual demand, are dropping at a rate of approximately 25 feet per year. Using the well field model developed by hydrologic consulting firm Bishop Brogden Associates, RTW predicted that in the future, production rates per well could drop from an average overall yield of 200 gallons per minute to a possible low of 50 gallons per minute.

Drilling more wells into the Arapahoe will not solve the problem. Placement of wells is important, as each well impacts a sizeable zone surrounding it, known to hydrologists as the "cone of influence." If well sites are located too closely together, the cones of influence will overlap, reducing yield in each well. In its summary, RTW stated that once the wells planned in the near future have been drilled, the district will have reached near-saturation within its present boundaries. Further drilling will increase the annual yield but diminish production from existing wells.

Tapping the Laramie-Fox Hills aquifer is an option that the district intends to eventually exploit, but several factors make mining it less than desirable, including the fact that water in the Laramie-Fox Hills contains high enough levels of hydrogen sulfide that an odor of rotten eggs is discernable.

RTW provided an assessment of Woodmoor’s water resources, including each aquifer’s outlook:

  • While the Dawson has the best water quality, the yield is low at an average of 30 to 70 gallons per minute. Although it is the shallowest of the four Denver Basin aquifers, the cost to produce an acre-foot of water is high. Private homeowners with individual wells are the greatest users of the Dawson and Denver. The district has eight Dawson wells; but only four provide reliable use. Further future development is not cost effective.
  • The geology of the Denver is spotty; its presence is not consistent across the area. Quality is good, but yield traditionally low, making it a "risky" source for future development. Of the three Denver wells in the district, two are reliable.
  • The Arapahoe provides the most cost-effective water. Water quality is "decent," but it does contain some manganese and iron, and requires a higher level of treatment (i.e. filtration). Though yields in all eight Arapahoe wells are presently good at a district average of 300 gallons per minute, heavy pumping by all large users in the Denver Basin will continue to rapidly deplete the Arapahoe. Yield is expected to drop precipitously in the near future.
  • The Laramie-Fox Hills is the deepest aquifer in the Denver Basin. Extraction will be expensive. Yield is expected to be reliable, but low. Water quality is poor, requiring more chemical treatment. However, decline rates are also anticipated to be minimal.
  • Through the district’s surface exchange system, water from Monument and Dirty Woman Creeks is piped into Lake Woodmoor and exchanged for effluent flow released from the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Facility. Water quality is good, but requires filtration. The amount of water available each year is dependent on precipitation, and therefore minimal during drought.

Interim solutions

To deal with an increase in population and a decrease in water supply, the district and RTW formulated a multi-pronged approach. Steininger outlined an interim water resource strategy, using the following goals to guide district policy:

  • Maximize use of the existing exchange system to fill the lake and minimize the amount of effluent lost from the system.
  • Optimize well efficiency and extend well life by minimizing pumping and using pumping strategies that yield the highest long-term production.
  • Reduce water waste and increase effectiveness through a multi-faceted demand management program.
  • Drill new wells only as necessary.
  • Work with surrounding water providers to optimize existing infrastructure and resource use.
  • Work with those same providers to develop a renewable water supply.

Lake Woodmoor’s role

Utilizing Lake Woodmoor as storage for drinking and irrigation water will be key to the interim strategy’s success. RTW assisted the district in developing a set of "best management practices" to govern lake use.

During colder months, best management practices call for lake replenishment using available flows in Dirty Woman and Monument creeks, and supplemental water pumped from nearby and future wells. Water will be drawn from the lake to meet peak demand during irrigation months, usually extending from June into September, when daily consumption more than doubles.

Until now, peak day and seasonal, rather than annual, demand triggered construction of new wells. By using the lake to meet demands that exceed pumping capacity during those three months, the district will postpone or eliminate construction of some wells. Each new well costs the district $1.5 million to $2 million to drill, outfit, and connect to the treatment and distribution system. Use of stored lake water will result in significant savings. And reducing or eliminating the need for future wells has the added benefit of reducing pressure on the aquifers.

But flexibility will come at a price: Those practices will result in significant fluctuations in lake levels.

Best management practice also provides for the carryover of storage from year to year. In the event of an extended drought, RTW recommended water restrictions requiring a 30 percent reduction in use during the second year for the three-month summer irrigation period.

Optimizing well efficiency

The well field research conducted by Bishop Brogden Associates revealed that optimal production is achieved when wells are pumped at a lower rate over a long period. Although higher pumping rates produce more in the short term, recovery takes longer, and annual yield is lower when a more aggressive pumping schedule is implemented.

RTW used this data to set up the most efficient, cost-effective method to manage Woodmoor’s water resources. By pumping supplementary water into the lake during non-irrigation months and banking an amount adequate to meet peak day and seasonal demands, the district hopes to avoid the intensive pumping that has been necessary in the past.

Conserving water, reducing waste

By implementing a demand management program, Woodmoor hopes to accomplish multiple goals. In addition to conserving water, reducing waste, and promoting good stewardship of a scarce resource, the district may be able to postpone or eliminate costly well projects.

Steininger emphasized that the program does not consist solely of watering restrictions but uses them as one tool in a broader program that includes education, rebates, and a rate structure that discourages excessive water use. He stated that to be successful, the process requires public input and feedback.

Woodmoor plans to educate residents on how to maintain their landscaping with less water. The district will sponsor another xeriscape class; it may also add a turf management mini-class. Last year’s elementary school water conservation poster contest was a success. District staff is organizing a contest for 2007, in hopes that it will become an annual event. Several books and pamphlets on arid environment landscaping are available for browsing at the district office.

The district will again implement an irrigation schedule. It will differ significantly from the 2006 plan, as Palmer Divide-area water providers are attempting to standardize their programs region-wide. This year, Woodmoor wants residents to water on a three-day per week schedule, and adhere to a 6 p.m. to 10 a.m. irrigation window. Odd-numbered addresses are asked to limit sprinkler system use to Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; even-numbered addresses may water on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Mondays are designated as no-watering days. Hand-watering will be permitted during evening hours. Woodmoor will also assist its residents by monitoring evaporation conditions on a regular basis and recommending the length of time each area should be watered.

Rebates on items such as low-flow showerheads, low-water-use toilets, high-efficiency washers, and rain-sensing sprinkler switches will provide incentives for Woodmoor residents to replace existing household appliances and devices with water-saving substitutes.

Woodmoor hopes to eliminate wasteful water practices, which are also prohibited in the district’s Rules and Regulations. The document states that any activity that causes water runoff onto streets or drainage facilities is a violation of district regulations.

Steininger said that although the district will discourage sod installation during peak irrigation season, exemptions and exceptions to restrictions would be considered case-by-case. Commercial operations, open-space areas and recreational/educational facilities will also be subject to restrictions and requirements.

Woodmoor residents will receive detailed descriptions of the program, including fines and penalties, in future mailings.

Wastewater programs

RTW’s most recent wastewater accomplishment was developing a new sanitary sewer system model. It encompasses the "backbone" collection system for the entire district, and identifies the locations and capacities of individual components such as lift stations, outfalls, interceptors and high-flow mains. The model enables Woodmoor personnel to simulate anticipated loads from future growth and avoid possible bottlenecks by upgrading, rerouting or expanding infrastructure as needed.

A wastewater quality analysis included in the Long Range Plan is intended to help Woodmoor anticipate changes in the chemical profile of the district’s wastewater, and alter treatment regimes to respond.

The plan also analyzed the district’s future wastewater processing needs and concluded that present capacity of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility is sufficient to handle future maximum flows, even if Woodmoor grows to the size anticipated at ultimate buildout. However, changes in chemistry may necessitate a blower (aeration) upgrade.

Upcoming projects

Steininger outlined capital construction projects that will be completed between 2015 and 2020. The projects will be financed primarily through tap fees, as they are directly related to growth. Fees will be adjusted as needed to help pay for the projects.

  • Drill 5 more Arapahoe wells.
  • Drill 1 Laramie-Fox Hills well.
  • Re-drill Well 8.
  • Upgrade the Central Water Treatment Facility for surface-water treatment.
  • Add potable water tanks for 2 million gallons of capacity.
  • Identify a location for and construct a raw water storage reservoir.
  • Expand the South Booster Pump Station.
  • Add one new treatment/filtration facility.

Renewal and replacement projects are necessary to maintain the district’s water and sewer systems regardless of growth. According to Steininger, those improvements will be funded primarily through service fees:

  • Rehabilitate sanitary sewer lines using flexible PVC lining technology that doesn’t require excavation.
  • Upgrade the district’s supervisory control and data acquisition system as necessary to incorporate more sophisticated record-keeping and command functions for water and wastewater systems.
  • Replace water and sewer lines when cost effective, increasing the pipe size when beneficial.
  • Lower well pumps as necessary.
  • Pay for electrical, chemical, and general operational costs.

Solutions for the future

Ultimately, Woodmoor will need to convert from groundwater to surface supplies. Several projects are in the exploratory stage, including including rotation fallowing/leasing options with lower Arkansas Valley farmers originating to the south, and purchase of water in the Green River Pumpback and the Yampa River Project originating to the north.

It will take years for any of those projects to become reality; yet unidentified projects could present themselves in the future. In the interim, Woodmoor intends to explore opportunities involving other entities outside the district to "stretch" existing supplies. These may include:

  • Purchase of effluent credits by entities farther downstream, outside the region.
  • Partnership with area water providers to interconnect systems and maximize available storage capacity, particularly in Lake Woodmoor and Monument Lake.
  • Develop an effluent reservoir or catch basin.
  • Possible development of a distant satellite well field.

After summarizing the presentation, Steininger asked board members for their consent to move ahead with the Long Range Plan as outlined. He emphasized that project and management recommendations were based on maximization of the resource and most cost-effective use, and did not take into consideration the political ramifications of implementation.

Engineering consultant Mike Rothberg, of RTW Engineering, told board members that the total number of wells and drilling schedule will be dependent on the ability of the district to use Lake Woodmoor as outlined in the plan. Any restrictions, such as moderation of the lake level, would affect projections and require additional modeling.

After discussion, the directors unanimously approved the Long Range Plan and authorized staff and RTW to begin implementing it.

Regular session

At 1:40 p.m., the group took a short break before convening the regular afternoon meeting. Secretary Jim Wyss, who was present for the morning session, was excused.

Break repaired

Operations manager Randy Gillette told board members that the water main break under Dirty Woman Creek that had resulted in the loss of several million gallons of water during January had been repaired. Woodmoor hired a contractor to do the repair after the district’s crew tried unsuccessfully to use a backhoe to dig down to the break through heavy stream flows.

Gillette said the repair took two days to complete. The contractor used two pumps to keep up with flows, and an excavator to reach the main. He said a shear break had occurred where the water pipeline crossed a concrete sewer encasement. The contractor cut out a 4-foot section of pipe and installed ductile piping and two couplets to add flexibility and reduce the likelihood of future breaks at that point.

Surface water system not yet operational

Gillette reported that differences in turbidity levels between stream and lake water continue to cause problems with Woodmoor’s surface treatment system, which is not yet ready for drinking water distribution. Turbidity measurements are five to 15 times higher in Monument exchange water than in Woodmoor Lake water. When the system switches between the two sources, the chemical feeds are unable to change rapidly enough to compensate.

Gillette will continue to work with Rothberg and the chemical vendor to correct the problem, and expects the South Treatment Plant to be ready for surface treatment well before the summer irrigation season.

It is important to have the surface water system operable soon, as Woodmoor wants to use lake water for drinking and irrigation as much as possible to lower the level of the lake in preparation for any possible repair work that may be done on the dam.

Steininger emphasized that no decision had been made on the timing of dam repairs. Engineering firm URS is conducting a comprehensive investigation of the condition of the dam. Major repairs may not be warranted for five or more years.

Inability to provide water sample results in violation notice

Gillette informed Woodmoor directors that the district had received notice of a minor violation from the state health department. Well 2 stopped pumping in January 2006 and was not put back into constant use until December. Because the well was out of service, a nitrate sample that should have been collected during the third quarter was not taken until the well was operating again. The violation states Woodmoor "failed to monitor" the well. All previous samples have been substantially below limits.

While the violation is not considered serious and carries no fine or penalty, it must be reported in the consumer confidence report, which is distributed yearly to district customers.

Sewer lining operation nearly complete for 2007

Gillette told the board the fold’n’form sewer lining operation was proceeding on schedule. The process involves inserting folded PVC into decaying clay pipes, and heating and inflating it to provide a leak-proof barrier. He said the golf course work was complete, and the project would probably wrap up before the end of March. The district will line approximately 9,800 feet of clay pipe in 2007.

Wet weather had softened the work areas, and trucks left deep ruts in the soil. Woodmoor will repair the damage once the areas have had a chance to dry out and firm up.

Electrical pole turned water fountain sparks calls

The sight of water spraying roughly 12 feet in all directions from the top of a 16-foot-high electrical pole near the north end of the Lewis-Palmer High School practice field prompted numerous residents to call the district to alert staff of a suspected leak. Though Woodmoor has no water lines near the pole, operators investigated the reports.

Woodmoor speculated that overflow from a storm water detention basin had followed a drainage ditch and pushed through a break or hole in a buried 6-inch conduit containing a three-phase electrical cable. The pressure of the flows may have forced water up through the pole and out the top, creating the fountain-like display.

The district informed Mountain View Electric Association of the problem.

High school renovates sports complex

Shaffer said Lewis-Palmer High School is renovating its fields in preparation for becoming a regional varsity sports complex. Lewis-Palmer School District 38 decided not to hold varsity games at the new high school. Instead, the D-38 board opted to concentrate funds on upgrading the existing fields at Lewis-Palmer and use those to serve both schools.

The school is replacing playing field grass with artificial turf and will add two buildings. A structure for concession and scorekeeping will be built on the west side of the fields, and a field house will be constructed north of the new football field.

Well 20

The district is moving forward with the pump house and "down hole" equipment design. Woodmoor is in the process of obtaining the easement for the water transmission line, and has met twice with El Paso County to present its case for seeking access off Fairplay Drive instead of Ox Yoke Way. The county has not yet approved Woodmoor’s request.

Emergency Preparedness Plan update

Steininger said copies of Woodmoor’s updated Emergency Preparedness Plan were distributed to all the listed agencies for comment. The plan outlines actions to be taken in the event of an emergency involving the Woodmoor Lake dam. However, the state is changing its requirements for the document’s contents, and state dam inspector Bill McCormick has requested that Woodmoor wait a month before submitting its plan.

Once the state reviews the district’s plan and sends back comments, it will be brought before the board for approval.

Steininger told members Woodmoor is seeking advice from the state engineer on training staff and other agencies, and will eventually conduct a "tabletop" practice exercise in conjunction with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, the Monument police and fire departments, and others to familiarize all personnel with procedures and obtain feedback.

Other development news

  • Woodmoor is still waiting for written direction from District 38 on whether or not to move forward with the planning to provide nonpotable irrigation for the new high school. Because of the expense of the project, D-38 hired consultants to conduct a cost-benefit analysis.
  • After one more round of reviews, new plans for the YMCA should be finalized. The recreational facility is collaborating with D-38 to loop a water line through its site, which adjoins property belonging to Lewis-Palmer High School.
  • Cheyenne Mountain Development wants to relocate a sewer line that runs through lots the developer has recently acquired on the east side of Lake Woodmoor. Four or five lots are affected; Woodmoor may permit rerouting of the sewer main. Moving the pipe would allow for more flexible building construction to take place on the five affected lots.

The public portion of the meeting concluded at 2:33 p.m. and the board went into executive session to discuss the purchase, acquisition, or sale of water rights; to consult with its attorney on specific legal questions related to negotiating positions; and to receive advice on negotiating strategies.

**********

The next regular meeting of the Woodmoor board will be at 1 p.m. April 12 at the Woodmoor office, 1845 Woodmoor Drive.

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Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District, March 28: Legal action considered in Station 2 sewage problem

By Susan Hindman

A meeting with a lawyer to consider legal action over one of two sewage problems at Station 2 was scheduled for April 2, it was announced at the March 28 board meeting of the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District.

Director Rick Barnes, architect for Station 2, located at Roller Coaster Road and Highway 105, reported that the meeting with an independent adjustor hired by VFIS (the district’s insurance carrier) "wasn’t helpful." The adjustor was looking for a "traumatic date," meaning the specific incident that set off the problems, but "I don’t feel like we had a specific incident."

Problems with the 2-year-old station, which is on a septic system, started in January 2006, when some toilets overflowed. A plumber unclogged them, but about six weeks later, the same thing happened. This time, the plumber noticed water was flowing out of the leach field. Normally, septic tanks can go several years before needing to be pumped; but the tank was full and had to be pumped.

A plumber then looked for blockage in the sewer line and found two problems. The only way to fix it was to dig up the sewer pipe and put in new lines. During that process, workers found a block of wood causing one blockage and a rock causing the other.

But this didn’t explain why the septic tank was overflowing. In reality, there are two main problems. "Poor construction" that allowed blockages in the sewer line is one problem, according to Director Charlie Pocock. The other involves the septic tank overflowing.

It is the blockages that constitute the basis of the lawsuit against the construction company that built the fire station.

The unsolved problem is determining where the water is coming from that is infiltrating the septic tank and leach field. The leach field had been tested prior to construction, and the results were "fine," so technically, it should function properly. The assumption is that groundwater is the culprit, and, in fact, just south of the station, a new artesian well has come up. It has been examined, along with the drainage off the roof in the parking lot and other things, but there are no firm answers yet.

Meanwhile, the district has to have the septic tank pumped every three weeks, at a cost of $300 each time.

Barnes said that the eventual fix would be to install an intermediary drain, similar to a French drain that would redirect the flow of groundwater.

Renegotiated loan will save district thousands

Wells Fargo offered Chief Robert Denboske a reduction in interest payments on the current lease-purchase agreements held by the district for Stations 1 and 2. The interest payments were reduced from 5 percent to 4.4 percent, which Treasurer John Hildebrandt calculated would be a savings of $204,241 over the life of the 14-year lease-purchase.

The district will incur some legal fees, and the bank’s fees would be $6,000, which some directors felt was high. Denboske was asked to check with the bank about those fees. The refinance, which has to be done by April 15, was approved.

Impact fee monies trickling in

Pocock said the town of Monument is collecting the new impact fees and is distributing them to the district on a quarterly basis. Denboske said the district has received $18,000-$19,000 from the county. The fees are imposed on new construction permits.

The directors decided to keep the collected fees in a savings account, instead of mixing them into the general fund. In addition, the monies will be tracked separately on the monthly financial spreadsheets and will not be included with the other revenue.

Financial report shows all is good

Hildebrandt reported that the district did not have to use its line of credit to cover expenses in early 2007. Property tax and specific ownership tax collections are coming in steadily, with ambulance revenues up significantly. In addition, the state’s portion of the grant for the ambulance ($57,316) had been received.

We’re in great shape," he said.

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Rescue Authority, March 28: Merger moving ahead; public meeting April 23; name change debated

By Susan Hindman

A pre-inclusion agreement that spells out the details of the planned merger of the Woodmoor-Monument and Tri-Lakes Fire Protection Districts was distributed to members of the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority board at the March 28 meeting.

The legal document notes all the territory, an inventory of assets, Woodmoor-Monument’s pension plan assets and liabilities, and other information regarding contracts, agreements, and other liabilities. It basically paints a picture for the board members of how things look now and how business will be conducted in the future.

Director Charlie Pocock discussed the sequence of events that will occur from this point. First, resolutions of approval are needed from the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners and the Monument Board of Trustees.

There will be two public meetings regarding the impending inclusion. The first is at 7 p.m. April 23, at the Learning Center in the School District 38 Administration Building, 146 Jefferson St., Monument.

Following that meeting, the fire district boards will meet separately and vote on whether to approve the resolution of inclusion, based on public comment.

If approved, then those documents will be submitted to District Court, which will hold the second public hearing in Colorado Springs. From there, the judge can set an election date for inclusion.

Pocock said he is hoping an election can be held in October and, if it passes, for the merger’s effective date to be Jan. 1, 2008. In December, the boards would certify a decrease in Woodmoor-Monument’s mill levy, from 9.921 to 8.5 mills, which would match that now paid by residents in the Tri-Lakes fire district.

Formal dissolution of the two districts would follow the inclusion action.

Firefighters express concerns over proposed name

A new name for the merged districts had been proposed: the Palmer Divide Fire Protection District. But over a dozen firefighters in attendance were unanimous in their disapproval of that name. In communications, they said, it could be too easily misunderstood as "Palmer Lake." They much preferred using just "Monument" in the name, so that people outside the area can easily pinpoint where the district is, as opposed to using the less-precise geographical designation.

One firefighter reminded the board that the firefighters had worked hard to push the recent mill levy increase for the Tri-Lakes district, so the board members should consider the firefighters’ opinions when making their decision.

However, the board said that for "political" reasons, the name could not include just "Monument." Residents of Woodmoor would never agree to it, and the district encompasses an area much great than the Monument town limits. In addition, if other districts wind up becoming part of this district in the future, the name wouldn’t fit.

"It would be good to rename so that all are included," said Tim Miller. He liked the name Palmer Divide because it’s a well-known, well-established geographical area.

Battalion Chief Bryan Jack said that in an employee survey, there were four to five comments that "a name change would do us well," as a brand-new start, though there were no specific recommendations.

He handed the board an informational report he had prepared, titled "What’s in a Name? State of Colorado Data on Fire Agency Names." In it were the names of 380 state-recognized fire agencies broken down into three naming categories: 1) "city/town"; 2) "regional, symbolic, geographic"; and 3) a combination of the two. His data showed that 52 percent of the agencies were named for "city/town"; 34 percent for "regional, symbolic, geographic"; and 14 percent used a combination of both in their names.

In all, four names were proposed during the meeting. The board members (minus Bob Hansen, who was out of town) took an informal vote on their preferences:

  • Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Protection District: 6
  • Monument Fire Protection District: 0
  • Palmer Divide Fire Protection District: 1
  • Monument Regional Fire Protection District: 2

Chief sums up the year

Chief Robert Denboske had prepared a "2006 Year in Review" report, which he handed out to board members. In it, he touched on, among other things, personnel numbers and accomplishments, the fire inspection/plan review process, vehicle maintenance, and response times. Using the standard response time of 8 minutes or less, the Fire Authority has had an overall 91.35 percent success rate in meeting that goal; Station 2 has had an 82.98 percent success rate "due to the larger area covered and restrictive road access." A chart broke down the types of run and number of patients transported.

Denboske noted that fire prevention and public education programs saw a 60 percent jump from the previous year, reaching more than 4,500 children and adults in the community. Highlights of the year were grants received, the "great working relationship" with the Monument Police Department and with the nearby Wescott Fire Protection District, and the fact that there were no major injuries to staff or property.

Review of December blizzard operations

Jack gave a report on the blizzard operations that he was to have given in January, but the January and February Fire Authority meetings had been canceled. Firefighters rescued more than 100 stranded or trapped motorists and helped shelter more than 90 of those motorists.

Emergency personnel also delivered medications to 15 residents. Jack said King Soopers was the only pharmacy open during the first storm and willing to allow transfers from other pharmacies — and the store let firefighters pick up the prescriptions for delivery. "They (King Soopers) were great," Jack said.

He said a record for total number of responses in one month was set in December: 214 incidents, 31 percent higher than normal. He said all those who provided assistance to the Fire Authority during the blizzard operations — individuals, corporations, nonprofits, religious organizations, and other emergency service agencies — received a letter of thanks and a certificate of appreciation from the TLMFA.

Firefighter lauded for her fire prevention efforts

Jack said the Fire Authority received a $3,900 grant from the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club, which firefighter Lisa Frasca is using to expand her fire prevention and public education program. She developed the Senior Citizen Safety Program, which purchases, installs, and maintains smoke detectors; offers on-site home safety assessments; and, in partnership with Wal-Mart, created "vial of life," in which medical information is kept at the home of a senior in a predetermined location and can be accessed by any emergency personnel called to the home.

Jack pointed to the program’s popularity: "We’ve been pitching the program for one and a half months and already done 25 in-home inspections." Another 15 are scheduled.

Financial report

Treasurer John Hildebrandt reported that "We are doing quite well." Notable were the ambulance revenues, which are "almost double where they normally would be." The state’s portion of a grant for the ambulance has been received; still to come from the state is money allocated for computers.

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The Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Authority board normally meets the fourth Wednesday of each month following the meetings of the boards of the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District and the Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District. The next meeting will be April 25 at Tri-Lakes Station 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley).

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

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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, March 9: Board approves funding for Gleneagle Drive signal

By Jim Kendrick

The Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) approved funding to pay half the cost of installing a traffic signal at the intersection of Baptist Road and Gleneagle Drive by July 1. County Commissioner Jim Bensberg was absent.

Also, El Paso County Department of Transportation project engineer Kem Reliford updated construction progress for Phase I and Phase II of the widening project from the Interstate 25 interchange to Desiree Drive. Some of the points Reliford made were:

  • Construction of the first phase of the Triview Metropolitan District’s main sanitary sewer collection line for Promontory Pointe and Sanctuary Pointe has been complete. It is under the new westbound lanes of Baptist Road between Kingswood and Leather Chaps drives.
  • The Leather Chaps intersection will be completed in May or June if there are no further utility relocation issues.
  • Mountain View Electric Association has still not completed relocation of its buried electrical power cables and two above-ground power pedestals out of the Baptist Road right-of-way, causing further delays.
  • Relocation of buried Qwest and Adelphia utility cables should take six weeks, once work begins.

Planning development updates

Monument Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara reported the following town planning updates:

  • The revised plat and site plan proposed by John Laing Homes for Promontory Pointe were approved March 5 and the builder should be "moving dirt" within a week.
  • Hearings were scheduled for Home Place Ranch – Planning Commission March 14 and Board of Trustees April 2.
  • Classic Homes had not submitted an application for Sanctuary Pointe.
  • A Carl’s Jr. restaurant will be built in Monument Marketplace and there may also be a Texas Roadhouse Restaurant as well as two new retail stores, Staples and PetSmart.
  • A McDonald’s restaurant may be built in the Monument Ridge development, opposite the King Soopers center on Baptist Road.
  • The county’s Major Thoroughfares Task Force has objected to the Monument Ridge development’s right-in/right-out-only accesses to Baptist Road. The interior road circulation within the parcel is being redesigned

Board OKs funding for traffic signal

After a lengthy discussion, the board unanimously agreed to pay half the construction cost ($87,500 of $175,000) for a traffic signal at the Gleneagle Drive intersection with Baptist Road. John Laing Homes, which is building all but 19 of the 274 homes in Promontory Pointe, will pay for the other half, then recover a pro rata share from HPR LLC and Classic Homes for Home Place Ranch and Sanctuary Pointe contributions to traffic flow at the intersection.

Although initially included in the BRRTA project, the signal was dropped from the contract for widening Baptist Road. However, there is a significant saving if the signal is installed before any new pavement is installed.

Installing the signal and paying half the cost were conditions of approval for John Laing Homes’ revised plat and site plan. The signal must be operational before the first certificate of occupancy is issued for Promontory Pointe by July 1. The purpose of signal construction before county traffic warrants are met is to ensure the safety of new residents and construction vehicles while Baptist Road is under construction. The county Transportation Department will initiate the change order with the contractor, Rocky Mountain Materials and Asphalt, Inc.

During public comment, Fox Run resident Steve Waldmann objected to early construction of the signal calling it a government subsidy of the three developers. County Commissioner Wayne Williams said that all BRRTA revenue to date has come from development, though sales tax revenue will start in July. (See the article starting on page 8 on the March 5 BOT meeting for more details.)

Waldmann also noted that the BRRTA Web site had no notice of the March 9 meeting and asked for the total projected costs for the interchange, the expected Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) reimbursement, and the Piper Jaffrey fee.

Williams said the county would try to update the BRRTA Web site. Expected interest costs are $17 million plus $21.5 million for the bond issue for a total of $38.5 million if current interest rates hold. The ballot set a cap of $50 million for total costs.

CDOT will reimburse the cost of the construction contract, about $16.5 million. Williams said new CDOT Director Russ George has no firm date for payback, though the Baptist Road interchange is still one of CDOT’s projects to be completed by 2026. Williams estimated that the CDOT payment would be made to BRRTA by 2019.

The expected interest rate for the unrated BRRTA revenue bonds will be about 5.5 percent. Piper Jaffrey will receive 2 percent of the bond issue as payment, up to $430,000.

Waldmann also questioned the effectiveness of trying to increase participation by BRRTA property owners with the mail-in vote. He said that about 65 percent of voters went to the polls while only 39 percent mailed in BRRTA ballots, resulting in "a failure." He asked the board to pass a resolution to avoid mail-in voting in the future unless there are "totally extraordinary circumstances."

Interchange construction bidding updates

Bob Torres, of engineering consultant Carter Burgess, made his first presentation as BRRTA’s new I-25 Baptist Road interchange expansion contract manager.

Background: Carter Burgess was selected over four other bidders for the management contract on the recommendation of county staff and review by a BRRTA subcommittee of Williams and Mayor Monument Byron Glenn at the Dec. 8 BRRTA meeting. Subsequent negotiations between Carter Burgess and county Transportation Department staff resulted in a construction management contract proposal for $1,692,703, which was unanimously approved by the BRRTA board during an 8-minute continuation meeting Dec. 22.

Torres was appointed to manage the interchange construction contract after he retired as CDOT Region 2 transportation director and was immediately hired by Carter Burgess. Region 2 includes El Paso County. Torres and CDOT Executive Director Tom Norton were instrumental in providing assurances to the BRRTA board, as well as to county and Monument staff, that CDOT would pay off the bond principal for the privately financed expansion of the Baptist Road interchange, if possible, by the end of the 2007-12 Transportation Improvement Plan. Norton and Torres were also instrumental in drafting the formal CDOT payback agreement with BRRTA.

The motion to approve the payback agreement at the Aug. 17 CDOT Transportation Commission meeting was made by CDOT’s District 9 Transportation Commissioner Terry Schooler, who is also the consultant land planner for Landco’s 117-acre Promontory Pointe residential development on Baptist Road, and represents El Paso, Park, and Fremont counties on the Transportation Commission.

A temporary 20-year, 1-cent BRRTA sales tax was approved by BRRTA voters in November to pay the principal and interest on BRRTA transportation bonds until CDOT pays back the promised $16 million construction costs for the interchange. The bonds will be issued later this spring. Should CDOT never reimburse BRRTA, the sales tax revenue is expected to be sufficient to pay off all principal and interest by 2027. When the bonds and all associated termination costs are paid off by CDOT reimbursement or tax revenue, the 1-cent sales tax will end. The 1-cent BRRTA sales tax will begin July 1. (See http://www.ourcommunitynews.org/v6n5.htm#brrta for details from the April. 14, 2006 BRRTA meeting)

"We are still experiencing some frustration in acquiring right-of-way and environmental clearances" required before the interchange construction can begin, Torres said. All affected property owners have received their donation paperwork, but several properties are being sold. CDOT right-of-way specialists have contacted the prospective owners to begin the donation process.

Torres said he met with representatives of Total Petroleum regarding right-of-way issues at the Diamond Shamrock fuel station on the northwest corner of the interchange. The existing access to Baptist Road will be eliminated and a new access will be provided on the west side of the Total property. He also met with the owners of the Foxworth-Galbraith property and the vacant Timbers at Monument commercial parcel to discuss right-of-way donations. The Foxworth-Galbraith building will be torn down and the Struthers frontage road eliminated to make room for the dual-lane northbound on-ramp.

Torres also noted that the disintegrating, single-lane concrete "Old Denver Highway" between I-25 and the Santa Fe Trail had been declared a "historic resource" that needs to be preserved. It was not included in the environmental assessment. The new access for the Diamond Shamrock station had been planned for this location. Torres said that a "workaround" for the first phase of expansion west of I-25 would be designed until CDOT could resolve the issue with the federal Department of the Interior. He estimated a minimum six-month delay in resolving the unexpected preservation issue and access for the fuel station, adding that this "may be optimistic based on my experience."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reviewed the interchange proposal and indicated that a written approval of the biological opinion on protected mouse habitat and wetlands within the CDOT property would be issued before the end of March. This approval will allow CDOT to take over managing all environmental issues west of Jackson Creek Parkway for the Baptist Road approaches to the interchange. There are unresolved issues for a substitute wetland mitigation area after the original proposal was rejected by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Mountain View Electric Association provided plans for relocating its power lines. Some will have to be relocated in mouse habitat.

Advertisements for construction bids could go out in early April and construction might begin in early June, Torres said. Glenn noted that Monument has collected traffic impact fees of about $500,000 to build additional lanes between Jackson Creek Parkway and the Struthers frontage road.

Bond issues clarified

BRRTA attorney James Hunsaker, of Grimshaw and Harring, P.C., discussed timing issues for the sale of the BRRTA transportation bonds for financing the interchange expansion. The state needs 45 days notice to begin the BRRTA sales tax on July 1, requiring the bonds to be sold not later than May 15. In November, BRRTA voters approved a maximum bond issue of $21.5 million. The size of the actual bond sale must be determined in early April, based on the bids received by construction contractors, to meet the May 15 sale completion deadline while avoiding borrowing more money than is needed.

There could be a delay in construction because of contested right-of-way or some unforeseen environmental issue. While there will always be some uncertainty, knowing the actual construction contract cost and start date will lead to a lower interest rate.

The board unanimously approved a preliminary offering statement and trust indenture documents drafted by Piper Jaffrey & Co. for the bond sale. The documents are scheduled to be approved at the next regular BRRTA meeting April 13.

Questions raised on ownership and maintenance of interchange improvements

Hunsaker said CDOT Policy Directive 1601 requires that BRRTA and CDOT create an intergovernmental agreement for cost-sharing for construction, mitigation, operations, maintenance, and ownership of BRRTA’s major improvements to the state’s interchange and that BRRTA initiate construction within three years. (For details, see http://www.dot.state.co.us/AccessPermits/PDF/1601-0%20Interchange%20Approval%20Process%2012%2004%20final.pdf)

In its draft agreement, CDOT will operate and maintain the through-lanes, ramps, and signals within 500 feet. The county will be responsible for maintaining Baptist Road and the new eight-lane bridge over I-25 within CDOT property for 50 years. Williams said BRRTA’s probable life span is less than the 50 years CDOT wants for the life span of the agreement, and the county should not be responsible for replacing CDOT’s bridge deck at the end of its 30-year life span.

The board approved five payments totaling $131,230:

  • $5,030 to Carter & Burgess, Inc. for construction management.
  • $12,376 to Grimshaw & Harring for legal services.
  • $5,575 to King & Associates, Inc. for engineering services.
  • $87,456 to PBS&J for engineering services.
  • $20,793 to R.S. Wells LLC for budget, management, and election expenses.

The board also unanimously approved:

  • Rehiring low bidder Dawn Schilling to perform the 2006 audit for $3,800.
  • Scheduling the remaining 2007 regular meeting dates as May 11, Aug. 10, and Nov. 9.
  • BRRTA meeting notices will again be posted at the Baptist Road King Soopers bulletin board, Monument Town Hall, and the Board of County Commissioners building.
  • Election of Mayor Glenn as BRRTA president.
  • Election of Commissioner Williams as vice president.
  • Election of Trustee Dave Mertz as secretary-treasurer.
  • Elections of Commissioners Dennis Hisey and Jim Bensberg as assistant secretary-treasurers.

The meeting adjourned at 3:40 p.m.

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The next meeting will be 2:30 p.m. April 13 at the Board of County Commissioners third-floor hearing room, 27 E. Vermijo St. in Colorado Springs.

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El Paso County Planning Commission, March 6 and 20: Cherry Springs preliminary plan approved

By Steve Sery

The El Paso County Planning Commission approved two applications for subdivisions in the northern part of the county in March.

The preliminary plan for Phase 1 of Cherry Springs Ranch is adjacent to Peaceful Pines on the north side of Highway 105 between Roller Coaster Road and Highway 83. This phase of the PUD consists of 75 acres and 16 single-family lots. Average lot size is 4.67 acres.

The PUD zoning for the entire project allows 43 single-family lots on a minimum lot size of 2.5 acres with 37 acres of open space. Since Phase 1 fit all the requirements of the PUD, it was on the consent calendar and approved unanimously.

Sanctuary in the Pines: Calculating Density

The other item was a rezone and preliminary plan for Sanctuary in the Pines. This project is a bit out of the OCN area of interest, but the major point of contention could apply anywhere. This is a 2,378-acre parcel located north of Shoup Road and east of Vollmer Road in the Black Forest Planning Area. The parcel includes 1,040 acres that is in a conservation easement. The Black Forest Preservation Plan (a small area plan like the Tri-Lakes Plan), states the average density is to be a minimum of one dwelling unit per 5 acres.

The issue here is whether the conservation easement can be included in the density calculation. In other words, do you divide 5 into 2,378 acres (about 475 homes) or into 2,378 minus 1,040 (about 267 homes)? The developer was proposing 390 single-family lots.

There were a number of other issues, particularly the reconfiguration of the conservation easement that enlarged the area and, most important, changed it from a private to a public entity. This would be turned over to the county and become the largest park in the northern part of the county.

The county attorney advised that consideration of the entire 2,378 acres in the density calculation was appropriate; the Black Forest’s attorney disagreed. Nothing in the original easement documents extinguished the development rights. Apparently, more recent easement proposals would do so.

After lengthy discussion, the Planning Commission approved the project on a 5-4 vote, allowing the developer to use the entire acreage in calculating density despite Black Forest’s objections. Assuming the Board of County Commissioners goes along with this, it will only help those wanting to incorporate Black Forest to gain better control over development.

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Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board Meeting, March 15: Board names new high school Palmer Ridge

Photos by John Heiser

Below: Superintendent Ray Blanch (standing) and David Porter (seated at front) from Strategic Resources West present the revised boundary scenarios and solicit public comments at a meeting at Lewis-Palmer Middle School March 21.

Web site exclusive: Click here or on the photo to zoom in and view scenarios or download the presentation

Click on the photo to zoom in

Below: LPMS student Ryan Smith presents his extemporaneous speech, "Should There be a Moment of Silence at the Beginning of the School Day?"  

Below: Eighth-grade students Theresa Pucci and Austin Feldmann presented "The DMV Tyrant" for the board.

Below: Marie Jackson, Tim O’Grady, Terri Ann Snediker, and Candy Torrance presented a petition from the Prairie Winds Elementary School Building Accountability Committee encouraging the board to support starting a foreign language program at the elementary school level.

Below: Bonnie Irish (L) received a commendation certificate for her dedication in providing catering for meetings scheduled by all departments of the District Administration Office. Dr. Laura Douglas, executive director of Special Populations, presented the commendation.

By John Heiser

The Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board at its March 15 meeting unanimously approved Palmer Ridge as the name of the new high school being built between Woodmoor Drive and Monument Hill Road north of Lewis-Palmer Middle School. Board member Gail Wilson noted that the name refers to a major geographic feature of the district. The board thanked the 725 people who submitted suggestions for naming the school as well as the committee who gathered, sorted, and presented seven suggestions for the board to consider.

Citizen comments

Tom Harder and Jim Vicars expressed concerns about the poor condition of the district’s athletic fields.

Marie Jackson, Tim O’Grady, Terri Ann Snediker, and Candy Torrance presented a petition from the Prairie Winds Elementary School Building Accountability Committee encouraging the board to support starting a foreign language program at the elementary school level.

High school status reports

Jeffrey Chamberlin of RLH Engineering presented a status report on the Palmer Ridge High School (PRHS) project. Some highlights:

  • User groups have been focusing on the cafeteria/kitchen, site, career explorations project lab, and budget reconciliation.
  • Polished retro-plate concrete flooring offers cost savings in installation and maintenance and is being considered to replace rubber and sheet vinyl in some areas.
  • Bids have been received for demolition of the existing utilities and buildings on the site, including the Hunter Run Farm buildings. That project is to begin April 9 and be completed by April 27. Fiore & Sons submitted the low bid of $88,000.
  • A NORAD trunk line phone cable was discovered bisecting the site from east to west. The cable is no longer being used and will be removed during site excavation.
  • Recommended approval of a $30,000 proposal from Tetra Tech to design offsite roadway improvements at Monument Hill Road and Misty Acres Boulevard. The construction is to be done during summer 2007.
  • Recommended selection of Officescapes as the furnishings, fixtures and equipment provider.
  • Grants are being sought for the geothermal heating system and the raw water irrigation project.
  • Groundbreaking is planned for May 5.

Chamberlin presented a status report on the Lewis-Palmer High School (LPHS) work. Some highlights:

  • Saunders construction was to begin work on-site March 26 with bleacher demolition and earthwork being done over spring break.
  • Work on the track, Jackson Creek Parkway, and the athletic field will be postponed until summer.
  • Recommended approval of the $22,000 proposal from Felsburg, Holt & Ullevig for Jackson Creek Parkway roadway and traffic signal improvements for the new access to LPHS.

Chamberlin noted that due to the credit worthiness of the district, the bonds issued by the district brought a premium of $8.1 million, so the total bond proceeds were $65.1 million. Invoices paid and contract commitments as of March 15 were $6.31 million.

Carl Janssen, chair of the Facilities and Enrollment Committee, presented the committee’s initial report to the board. His presentation showed that the budget for the PRHS project totals $60.6 million, consisting of $6.2 million for site acquisition, $8.3 million for site preparation, $42.3 million for construction, and $3.8 million for furniture, fixtures and equipment. The budget for the LPHS project is $4.5 million. The total for the two projects is $65 million. He also noted that the committee is beginning to look at the $4 million-per-year mill levy override approved in 1999 for educational programs.

Building contracts approved

The board approved Chamberlin’s recommendations to award a contract to Fiore & Sons to demolish existing facilities at the PRHS site; accepted the proposal from Tetra Tech to design offsite roadway improvements at Monument Hill Road and Misty Acres Boulevard; selected Officescapes as the furnishings, fixtures and equipment provider for Palmer Ridge High School; and approved the proposal from Felsburg, Holt & Ullevig for Jackson Creek Parkway roadway and traffic signal improvements for the new access to LPHS.

Other matters

The board addressed a number of other topics, including:

  • Extension of administrator contracts – The board approved extending the following administrators’ contracts for the 2007-08 school term: Ted Belteau, executive director of Personnel & Student Services; Laura Douglas, executive director of Special Populations; Cheryl Wangeman, chief financial officer; Mark Brewer, principal, Lewis-Palmer High School; Dianne Kingsland, principal, Creekside Middle School; Terry Miller, principal, Lewis-Palmer Middle School; Paula Mooney, principal, Lewis-Palmer Elementary School; Julie Jadomski, principal, Palmer Lake Elementary School; Aileen Finnegan, principal, Prairie Winds Elementary School.
  • Resignations – Board President Jes Raintree announced that Keith Jacobus, executive director of Learning Services, and Tanya Carter, principal of Kilmer Elementary School, have each accepted positions for next year in Douglas County and that Alexis Miller Gibbore, principal of Grace Best Elementary School, has accepted a position in the Harrison School District.
  • Student highlights – Virginia Monroe, sponsor, announced that the Lewis-Palmer Middle School (LPMS) Speech Team won the state Speech Tournament this year. LPMS student Ryan Smith presented his extemporaneous speech, "Should There be a Moment of Silence at the Beginning of the School Day?" Eighth-grade students Theresa Pucci and Austin Feldmann presented "The DMV Tyrant" for the board.
  • Commendations – Bonnie Irish received a commendation certificate for her dedication in providing catering for meetings scheduled by all departments of the District Administration Office. Douglas presented the commendation.
  • LPHS Student Council report – Rob Shearer, LPHS student body president, reported Prom will be held May 8 and After-Prom will be held this year at LPHS. Five Student Council groups have been given $5,000 each to help organizations around the world and will finish their projects in May.
  • Library Automation System – The board approved updating the 20-year-old library system with features such as Web-based catalog searches and textbook cataloging and approved an agreement with Follett for the new Library Automation System. This is a joint project among the library media specialists, the Technology Department, and Learning Services.
  • 2007-08 Capital Reserve budget approved – The board approved the 2007-08 Capital Reserve budget in the amount of $1,286,000, contingent on it being included in the overall budget adoption in June. Wangeman said that at $677 per student, the fund is well above the $289 per student required by state law. During her presentation, she noted that the Capital Reserve budget includes $92,000 for repair of the LPHS football field as part of a rotating program for athletic field improvements. Wangeman said the request for early adoption of the Capital Reserve budget is needed to expedite equipment orders and perform more maintenance work over the summer break.
  • Monument Academy to offer full-day kindergarten – In accordance with a recommendation by Jacobus, the board unanimously approved the needed changes to the contract between the district and the Monument Academy.
  • District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) Report – Co-chair Becky Yoder reported five schools presented their annual reports at the March DAAC meeting. The remaining four schools will make their presentations in April. Election of DAAC officers for two-year terms beginning in 2007-08 will also occur in April.
  • Boundary report – Superintendent Ray Blanch reported that following three public meetings in February, a new elementary boundary scenario was created. Two additional public meetings are being held to present the modifications. The committee will report to the board in April, presenting three proposed scenarios with data including community feedback and attributes and deficiencies of each of the scenarios.
  • Board member comments –Wilson noted that the governor is proposing changes in the way property tax mill levies are assessed. She also said that she supports moving forward with discussion of site-based management and stressed the importance of clarifying roles and responsibilities of the superintendent and school board. Dee Dee Eaton complimented the schools on their presentations at the DAAC meeting and encouraged people to check the district Web site for information about the building program budget. Stephen Plank commended Wangeman on her work with the district’s finances, saying, "This has been a huge step forward in the budget process." LouAnn Dekleva remarked on the poise and capabilities of Palmer Lake Elementary School second-graders during their Famous Americans presentation and requested a report from the audit task force. Raintree requested information regarding meetings Plank and Wilson conducted with high school staff.

At the end of the meeting, the board held an executive session with Blanch and Wangeman regarding personnel issues.

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The Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education normally meets on the third Thursday of each month at the Learning Center in the Lewis-Palmer Administration Building, Second and Jefferson. The next meeting is 7 p.m., April 19.

The district’s Web site is at www.lewispalmer.org. Meeting highlights from the district’s Web site were used in preparing this article.

The Monument Academy Web site is at www.monumentacademy.net.

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Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board Workshop, March 22: Board considers ways to address citizen comments

By John Heiser

At the Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board workshop March 22, board members LouAnn Dekleva, Dee Dee Eaton, Stephen Plank, and Gail Wilson discussed changes in the conduct of board meetings. Board president Jes Raintree was absent.

Plank was concerned about the lack of immediate response to citizen comments. Other school districts give some sort of immediate response besides "Thank you for your comments," he said.

Wilson echoed Plank’s comments, saying, "If there’s no closure, it’s insulting."

When addressing citizens at board meetings, "Some of us like to speak off the cuff without all the information," said Dekleva. "We need to be cautious. We aren’t experts."

Eaton suggested, "If we’re the least bit unsure, get the citizen’s name and phone number and say we will get back to them."

The district should put the results on the record, Plank said. He suggested that a summary of the actions or results should be reported at the next board meeting.

The district’s policy, Dekleva noted, is that the board president has the responsibility to answer questions immediately or refer them to the staff or superintendent for later response. Lack of response is often due to time constraints during the meeting, she said.

Superintendent Ray Blanch suggested that he be given the opportunity to respond to those comments that he can at the meeting and for the other comments he would provide a response at the next board meeting.

Dekleva proposed that the results be reported during the citizen comments period near the beginning of board meetings.

Blanch said comment cards could be helpful for those citizens who are reluctant to speak from the podium.

Survey to determine need for comments throughout meetings

Plank noted that some other school districts allow citizens to comment prior to votes by board members.

Dekleva suggested a time limit devoted to citizen comments and that the limit must be applied consistently. She suggested that since the agendas are posted in advance of meetings, citizens should prepare their comments and provide them during the citizen comment period near the beginning of the meeting.

Plank replied, "The citizens might need to hear the presentation first. There is so much information presented at the board meetings, why wouldn’t [citizens] have an opportunity to comment?"

Dekleva said citizens can call the district staff to get the information they need.

Blanch said he receives calls regarding agenda items. He also noted that there was a question-and-answer session with audience members after Jeffrey Chamberlin’s March 15 presentation on the status of the high school construction projects.

"I would hate to see us get to the point where we have citizen’s comments after every agenda item," Dekleva said. "Is there any hard data that this is a problem?"

Plank suggested that the district conduct a survey to see how citizens feel about it.

The board agreed to postpone including citizen comments at additional points on the agenda until the results of the citizen survey are available. Blanch suggested the survey be concluded by June.

Adding information to the meeting agendas

Plank proposed that additional information from the board members’ packets be included on the agenda. He suggested that it also be noted when items have been covered during prior workshops so it is evident that the board members have thoroughly reviewed the topics.

Since the workshops are publicized, Dekleva said, citizens could come and get more information on the topics.

Blanch said he would include more narrative in the agenda.

Handling of executive sessions

Plank expressed concern that the board has sometimes gone into executive session and then, often hours later, come out of executive session and taken action after the media and all members of the public have left the meeting room.

"The door was open," Dekleva said. "We didn’t violate the sunshine law."

Plank said, "It ruins the intent of the sunshine law. It’s not kosher to do it that way. We need to say we are going to have an open session after the executive session."

The executive session after the March 15 board meeting lasted three hours, Eaton said. She suggested that in those instances, the action should be placed on the agenda for the next meeting.

Blanch noted that after the March 15 meeting some items were decided then and some were placed on the agenda for the next meeting.

Meeting plans

Plank proposed that the regular board meetings be held to 2½ hours from 7 to 9:30 p.m. with the executive sessions, if any, held at the beginning. At 9:30 p.m., the board could vote to extend the meeting or table the remaining items.

Dekleva noted that when another district tried that, "stuff stacked up. I want us to get our work done. We should have a commitment to get through the agenda."

In response to a suggestion that student performances might be scheduled differently, Dekleva said, "As long as I am on the board, we will have student performances at every meeting." She added that it is important to remember that everything the board does is about educating children.

Eaton suggested that the student performances be limited to 10-15 minutes. Blanch said he would convey that guidance to the principals.

Other matters

  • A new policy on the signature authority of the school principals and staff is being prepared for board approval.
  • Blanch announced that the original list of eight candidates for the position of principal of Palmer Ridge High School has been narrowed to four.
  • Monument resident Robin Adair Benton has been hired as the new full-time district community relations manager. She will start work April 9.
  • Blanch reported that he has talked with Monument Town Manager Cathy Green about converting vacant land adjacent to Grace Best Elementary School into a park. He added that the town is interested and there may be some grant money available.

**********

The Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education normally meets on the third Thursday of each month at the Learning Center of the Lewis-Palmer Administration Building, 2nd and Jefferson. The next meeting is 7 p.m., April 19.

The district’s Web site is at www.lewispalmer.org.

The Monument Academy Web site is at www.monumentacademy.net.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association, March 26: Knollwood development plans include bank, print shop, possibly restaurants

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in and view or download the concept site plan

Below: Artist’s rendering of the planned development at the northeast corner of Highway 105 and Knollwood Drive.

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Chris Pollard

Dave Jones, a land planner representing Copper Knoll Investments, presented a map of a new development planned for the northeast corner of Highway 105 and Knollwood Drive. The plans call for three separate buildings. At an earlier stage of the development, there was originally a buffer area north of the development which, because of the existence of Preble’s mouse habitat, has been expanded to 50 feet. To compensate for the loss of area, the developer is proposing to replat more land to the west.

In a previous proposal for the same area, the developer had adopted a series of usage rules for businesses occupying the development. Not only did this limit the type of business, but it also set restricted hours of operation of 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. However, because of all the recent commercial development in the area, particularly south across Highway 105, they felt that in order to be competitive with the type of development planned, they need to extend hours of operation. The original development also proposed two-story buildings, but if they were allowed to extend the hours of operation to allow restaurants they felt they could build with only a single story. If they were not able to get the extended hours, then they may pursue the two-story structure for the longer central building so it could be used for offices. They want to keep some of the trees already on the site and plan to add more to serve as screens. Screens also would be added to minimize the effect of car headlights in the parking lots.

The building farthest west, next to Knollwood Drive, is the proposed site for an American National Bank. The building to the east is proposed for Trilakes Printing. The middle long building has no proposed tenants, but restaurants are a possibility. This building is expected to be up to 18 feet tall.

In response to a question from WIA Executive Director Cammi Mottl as to whether the developer would use fill to level the site, Jones said they expect not to raise the level but lower it.

Questions were then invited from Woodmoor residents:

Q. Would the developers be happy with a 12 midnight restriction?

A. The developers want to restrict nuisance uses like bars.

Q. What would be visible to residents who are on the other side of the valley and above the development?

A. Air conditioning equipment would be on the roof but screened.

Q. The planning proposal for the strip mall built on the southwest corner of this same junction also assured local residents that there would be screening and suitable lighting but actually turned out to have extensive colored neon signs. How would this development be different?

A. Lighting for this development would mostly be on the Highway 105 side, away from Woodmoor residents.

Q. What improvements would be made to the roads and what will be done to accommodate dumpsters and retention ponds?

A. There will be a right deceleration lane on Highway 105 to turn into Knollwood and another turning lane on Knollwood. There are two retention ponds planned, and all dumpsters will be properly screened.

One of the development representatives asked the board if it could have a decision soon on the opening hours. In response, Hans Post, WIA president, said he expects the board to make a decision at the next meeting after talking with residents.

Jake Shirk appointed director of Woodmoor Public Safety

Jake Shirk, currently chief of Monument Town Police and also a Woodmoor resident, asked to speak before the board. He suggested that if the WIA director of Public Safety position were to become vacant, he would be interested in taking over the position for the remainder of the term. He had already discussed the matter with the Town of Monument and the Monument town manager. Because the post is unpaid and Shirk is a Woodmoor resident, there are no potential conflicts of interest, he said.

As someone with an extensive police background, Shirk said he can offer useful training to the group. He felt that he had a good relationship with El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, and had also worked with Kevin Nielsen, chief of Woodmoor Public Safety.

In a later item, Bryan Osterholt, current director of Public Safety announced his resignation, effective May 1, as he planned to move out of Woodmoor. After some discussion as to whether to wait and canvass for other candidates from Woodmoor, Bryan made a motion to appoint Shirk to the board to fill out his remaining term, and the motion passed.

Public safety report

Nielsen, chief of Public Safety, gave a brief update on security issues in the area. A vehicle left outside with the engine running was stolen. There were also two thefts from vehicles and one from an open garage. He asked WPS officers to ask residents to keep their doors closed. He plans to send two officers to a bear and mountain lion safety class in preparation for the summer. He also plans to study how to better control use of Toboggan Hill in the winter on busy days.

Nielsen said he surveyed area road conditions and sent the results to the El Paso County roads department in early March.

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March Weather Wrap

Below: Photo taken March 24 by Bill Kappel east of Highway 83 at the intersection of Walker Road and Woodhaven Drive.

By Bill Kappel

After a very snowy and cold winter, our normally most "active" month turned out to be pretty quiet. Temperatures were well above normal for most of the month and precipitation was below average. However, because of the vast quantities of snow we have received so far, we have plenty of moisture stored in the ground for our soon-to-be-growing plants.

March began on the cold side, as highs stayed below freezing from the 1st through the 3rd and with snow on the ground from the snowfall on the last day of February. Overnight lows were chilly as well, dipping below zero on the first three mornings of the month. However, as is typical for this time of the year, the cold air didn’t stick around too long. Signs of change began to show up on the afternoon of the 4th, and then much warmer air moved in for Monday the 5th. Highs jumped back into the mid- to upper 50s on the 5th, and the stronger March sun began to melt a lot of the snowpack. Of course, that was a mixed blessing, adding lots of beneficial moisture to the soil but also creating a muddy mess.

The second week of the month witnessed a brief return to winter surrounded by dry and seasonal conditions. A quick-moving storm raced through the region during the evening of the 10th as an area of low pressure developed in eastern Colorado. Moisture began to work into the region during the late afternoon, starting off as plain old rain, then switching to wet snow soon thereafter. Most areas around the Tri-Lakes picked up a quick 2-4 inches of snow. But this storm moved out very quickly, and the next day was sunny and dry, melting all the new snow that had fallen and leaving behind the old winter snowpack. Temperatures quickly warmed into the 60s from the 12th through the 14th under mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies. Once again, however, this warming trend was ever so briefly interrupted by a cold front on the morning of the 15th. This dropped temperatures into the 20s and 30s with plenty of low clouds, fog, and a few flurries. Warmth returned rapidly, with highs reaching all the way to the upper 60s and low 70s on the 17th and 18th.

The official start of spring saw a continuation of the quiet and mild weather, but again with one exception. Tuesday the 20th through Friday the 23rd had high temperatures in the 60s under partly cloudy skies. A few sprinkles developed during the late afternoon of the 22nd as a later spring/summer-time pattern developed under the stronger March sunshine, creating afternoon cumulus clouds. More moisture became available the next afternoon as a storm approached out of the desert Southwest.

Rumbles of thunder were heard for the first time this season around 3 p.m., and then as the storm came closer and rain began. Most areas received a nice soaking of a quarter- to half-inch of rain from the afternoon of the 23rd through the morning of the 24th. Because this storm’s origins were far to the south over Southern California and northern Mexico, there was very little cold air with it. Therefore, it took awhile for the rain to change to snow, but this eventually happened around 8 a.m. on the 24th.

Snow fell in heavy, wet spurts through the rest of the morning and into the early afternoon as the storm moved through. But this was a quick mover, and everything was over by mid-afternoon. Snow levels never dropped much below 7,000 feet, and once you got below the tree line of the Black Forest, there wasn’t much accumulation. Temperatures were chilly that afternoon, holding in the 30s and low 40s for highs. But this was short-lived, as mild air worked back in quickly, returning highs back to the low 60s on Sunday the 25th. This, combined with the stronger March sunshine, quickly melted the new 2-4 inches of snow, leaving behind a few winter remnant patches of drifted snow.

A mixed bag of weather returned to the region through end of the month with a storm system moving in late on the 28th. This brought much colder temperatures to the area along with 2-5 inches of fresh snow. Highs held below freezing on the 29th and as skies cleared that night, morning lows on the 30th were in the single digits for many areas. Probably not what our newly growing plants were hoping for.

A look ahead

April is known for a wide range of weather conditions in the Tri-Lakes region. We can see 80-degree temperatures one afternoon and blizzard conditions the next. April 2005 saw more than 50 inches of snow and more than 5 inches of rain; then just last year, less than 10 inches of snow fell and less than an inch of rain was received. After the mild and dry March we just had, it’ll be interesting to see what April has in store. The official monthly forecast for April 2007, produced by the Climate Prediction Center (http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/), is calling for equal chances of above or below normal temperatures and equal chances of above or below normal precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit http://users.adelphia.net/~billkappel/ClimateSummary.htm.

March 2007 weather statistics

Average High 51.1° (+1.3)
Average Low 23.4° (+2.1)
Highest Temperature 68° on the 17th/18th
Lowest Temperature -3° on the 1st/3rd
Monthly Precipitation 1.46" (-.74)
Monthly Snowfall 8.4" (-15.7)
Season to Date Snow 161.4" (+75.0)
Season to Date Precipitation 25.13" (+14.09)

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

Remember, weather affects all of us every day and is a very important part of life for us 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 billkappel@ourcommunitynews.org.

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident

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Letters to Our Community

Coverage disputed

Normally I would not comment on news reporting and reporters. However, on two occasions your reporter, Jim Kendrick, has made several relevant omissions and downright misstatements when reporting on Palmer Lake Board of Trustees meetings.

The focus of my disappointment is his reporting on discussions about an ambulance support agreement for the town. Based on both his current and past reporting, there is no question in my mind that Kendrick has a severe bias against Tri-Lakes Monument Fire District. He simply refuses or is incapable of reporting factually on matters related to the District.

The first time his grossly inaccurate reporting and shameless spin appeared in the OCN— same subject incidentally—I passed on my astonishment and disappointment directly to him. I then excused his inaccuracies and clear reporting bias to his having a bad day.

And then, here we go again. His article in the March 3, 2007, edition ("Police Chief Gilliana announces 24-hour police coverage") put him directly in the role of making editorial comment vs. reporting. Could it be that he has a chip on his shoulder because he had to print an extensive correction in the OCN about his erroneous reporting in an earlier edition? Same subject by the way.

While reading the article, I found numerous errors and omissions. Because of limited space in this section, I will gladly share those examples with anyone interested in the hearing truth, including Mr. Kendrick.

The bottom line is that Mr. Kendrick should have the moral courage and intellectual honesty to remove himself from reporting on any and all matters related to the District. It is with a great deal of regret that I make these comments because I know how difficult it is to find hard working and dedicated volunteers. Notwithstanding that, even volunteers must meet certain standards. This is particularly true in the business of news reporting.

Richard Allen
Trustee, Palmer Lake Town Council

Editor’s note: Reporter Jim Kendrick records all meetings. He also uses information from previous meetings as background to aid readers in understanding an issue. In the article referred to above, there was an unintentional error. The sentence regarding Si Sibell should have read:

"Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District board member Si Sibell said he had a heart incident at the Depot Restaurant and it took the Larkspur ambulance 23 minutes to respond. Normally, the response time is 12 minutes, but it was snowing that night. In addition, the ambulance did not respond at high speed with sirens and flashing lights, so the ambulance took 19 minutes to arrive."

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Disappointed in D-38 board

I just wanted to let you know that I and my wife have both signed the recall petition for District 38 board president.

Your management of District 38 has been abysmal and you have shown a distinct disregard for rules/procedures and OPEN and HONEST government. Furthermore, I will do everything I can and support all actions meant to defeat any mill levy increase request to support the operation of the new high school.

In addition, very soon I expect to see information that shows bad faith in the district’s handling of the design and construction of the new high school. This concerns scope reductions to maintain the budget. Superintendent Blanch should recall that I, as a VP for a major engineering and construction company in Denver, warned him in an e-mail that the budget did not include sufficient contingencies to cover all unknowns in this hastily thought-out plan for the new high school. The only known way to address increased design and/or construction costs is to:

  1. Reduce scope or
  2. Increase the budget.

I think the board knows that any action to go to the voters for more money will be defeated, so the only available option is to cut the scope of the new high school. It appears that you are doing this now – under the radar screen. Very soon I expect to see a "Spin Campaign" by the board to start softening up the populace to a reduced scope for the high school campus. The voters are smarter than that, as you know from last election.

Do not take us for granted.

Lynn Feldmann

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: "The Book Club"

By the staff at Covered Treasures

Once a month all over the Tri-Lakes area, groups of people get together to talk about a particular book. Book clubs or reading groups, in which a book is selected and the participants read it and then meet to discuss it, have become popular across the country. And they are for all ages and types: We have book clubs in schools (for students as well as for teachers); there are clubs that include men and women; there are clubs that are more social than literary; and there are those that get down to business and pretty much keep the discussion on track. Members enjoy the "read" as well as the "talk," saying that the club encourages them to read books they may never have selected on their own. Here are a few favorite book club choices:

The Glass Castle: A Memoir
By Jeannette Walls; Scribner Book Co., $14

Walls has written a stunning and life-affirming memoir about surviving a willfully impoverished, eccentric, and severely misguided family. Jeannette and her siblings grew up with parents whose stubborn nonconformity was both their curse and their salvation. As the family became ever more dysfunctional, the children had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents’ betrayals. Though it portrays an incredibly hardscrabble life, the book is never sad or depressing, and we’ve had great positive feedback from those who have read it.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
By Lisa See; Random House, $13.95

In 19th-century China, when wives and daughters were foot-bound and lived in almost total seclusion, the women in one remote Hunan county developed their own secret code for communication: nu shu ("women’s writing"). Some girls, such as Lily and Snow Flower, the main characters of this book, were paired in emotional matches that lasted throughout their lives. They communicated by painting letters on fans, embroidering messages on handkerchiefs, and composing stories, thereby reaching out of their isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. From the tender age of 7, through years of famine and rebellion, they reflect upon their arranged marriages, loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. With the period detail and deep resonance of Memoirs of a Geisha, this lyrical and emotionally charged novel has many women commenting that they are glad not to have been born a woman in 19th-century China!

March
By Geraldine Brooks; Viking Books, $14

From Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, Brooks has taken the character of the absent father, March, and added adult resonance to portray the horror and moral complexity of war and a marriage tested by the demands of extreme idealism. A small book, it is nevertheless very densely written, with complex characters and situations. It is a good glimpse of the Civil War from a bit of a different angle.

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter
By Kim Edwards; Viking, $14

A blizzard forces a doctor to deliver his own twins. The first, a boy, is healthy and "perfect," but the twin girl is born with Down syndrome. The doctor asks his nurse to take the baby to an institution and tells his wife that the baby died shortly after being born. Instead, the nurse disappears into another city to raise the child herself in this tale of redemptive love and long-buried secrets that unfolds over a quarter of a century. This is an absorbing tale with parallel story lines and strong characters.

The Year of Magical Thinking
By Joan Didion; Alfred A. Knopf, $13.95

Didion chronicles the experience of losing her husband, writer John Gregory Dunne, to a massive heart attack, just weeks after the two of them watched as their only daughter was put into an induced coma to save her life. This is Didion’s search for answers, for relief, and even the wish for a chance to change the course of events. Filled with insights, honesty and passion, the book explores this intensely personal yet universal experience.

A Thread of Grace
By Mary Doria Russell; Random House, $14.95

Set in Italy during the dramatic finale of World War II, this historic novel tells the little-known but true story of the network of Italian citizens who saved the lives of 43,000 Jews during the war’s final phase. Thousands of Jewish refugees scrambled over the Alps toward Italy, where they hoped to be safe at last, now that the Italians had broken with Germany and made a separate peace with the Allies. Italy, however, was anything but peaceful, as it became overnight an open battleground among the Nazis, the Allies, resistance fighters, Jews in hiding, and ordinary Italian civilians trying to survive. A result of five years of meticulous research, this is an ambitious, engrossing novel of ideas, history, and marvelous characters.

Cottage for Sale, Must Be Moved: A Woman Moves a House to Make a Home
By Kate Whouley; Commonwealth editions, $13.95

This is a memoir of a single woman who moved a one-room cottage 25 miles and attached it to her three-room house, to make more room for her life and her work. Town politics and construction mishaps tested her patience but Kate’s persistence and attitude helped her dream of a home come true. Along the way, she received help and support from a group of eccentric friends, an army of tool-wielding men, and her bossy gray cat.

Whether your reading preference is general fiction or mystery, nonfiction or lighter fare, there is probably a reading group for you! Until next month, happy reading—and discussing!

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High Country Highlights: Building a new garden

By Woody Woodworth

Building a new garden is an exciting and rewarding experience. Just follow a few guidelines and basic principals for a successful garden. Plants you choose play a key role in determining how full your garden will appear right now and what it may look like in the near future. Below are a few suggestions to help you along the way.

In selecting a site for your new garden, consider the amount of sun or shade exposure your plants will get. Observe the new site by watching the morning, mid-day and evening light. In Colorado, five to six hours of sun is considered full sun, two to five hours is thought of as sun to partial shade, and less than two hours, more shade. Most shade-loving plants desire less than one hour of sun in our hot, dry climate. Use plants that thrive in proper light conditions to ensure success.

The single, most important thing you can give your new garden is good soil. Plants live in various soil types but will thrive if you amend your soil with a composted material. The type of soil you have will determine which compost you will need. Clay soils need to be broken up to provide more air to the plant roots; sandy and rocky soils need to retain more moisture in the root zone. Consult with your local garden center for information on the many types of soil amendments and which ones are best for your location.

Consider height and color of flowers or foliage when selecting plants for your new site. Set taller plants toward the rear or off to the sides of the garden if it backs up to a fence or structure. Place tall plants in the center of the garden if the site can be viewed from all directions. Use raised beds to achieve an greater height or select plants that grow tall such as vines and ornamental grasses. Some variegated foliage mixed in with flowering perennials offers a unique look. Mix wide-leaf and slim, narrow-leaf plants for texture and depth. Pick colors that complement one another as you would if decorating in your home. Splashes of purple or blue next to yellows and oranges make beautiful combinations.

Group plants with the same water consumption to make watering easy. Most succulents and sedums are drought-tolerant and require little water, and should be planted in the same areas. Provide drip lines or efficient sprinklers on timers to avoid over-watering and wasting precious water. Simple, battery-operated timers and drip irrigation supplies are available at most garden centers to help you convert sprinkler lines to drip irrigation.

Use natural bark mulches to help keep moisture levels up and weeds in control. Adding 3 or 4 inches of fine forest mulch will reduce the amount of watering needed to maintain plants at the root zone. Use small, medium or larger cedar bark mulches around perennials, shrubs and trees to help control unwanted weeds and to make pulling weeds easy.

Add flair to your new garden with a piece of statuary, birdbath, unusual rock or other natural products as a focal point to complement plants. A small fountain is easy to maintain — the running water is soothing to the ears and it will attract birds and wildlife to your garden. Too many rocks will add more heat to your garden, so be aware of increased evaporation rates.

Be sure to think of the future and know how large your plants will grow as they become mature. If you overplant, you can always move those that are crowding others to a new garden and start again.

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, March 15: The story of the Monument Tree Farm

Click here or on the photo to zoom in

Below: Preparing the seedbed at the Monument Tree Farm, ca 1930. Monument Rock appears in the background. Photo courtesy of the Palmer Lake Historical Society

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Diane Sawatzki

The faces of the men stare at you from the photographs: They’re young, fit, grinning, and glad to be working outdoors. Glad to be working at all, in fact. They’re planting trees, eating in the mess hall, and building the Mount Herman Road in knee-deep snow. According to presenters Brian Grossman (editor of the Tri-Lakes Tribune) and Brian "Chip" Fleming (former president of the Preserve), the Forest Service started the Monument Tree Farm around 1904.

When the Depression hit, President Roosevelt introduced the Emergency Conservation Work act and the Civilian Conservation Corps, with a twofold purpose: to employ out-of-work men and maintain the environment. By 1933, men were flocking to the CCC, which became the largest mobilization of workers in peacetime. Much like men in the Armed Services, they slept in barracks, awoke to reveille, and wore uniforms. Nationally, the CCC taught 40,000 illiterate men to read and established 150 camps in 48 states. In Monument, they lived on the Tree Farm, planting and harvesting trees, digging irrigation systems, and constructing the Mount Herman Road.

By 1942, the CCC was dismantled, but its members had built 97,000 miles of fire roads and planted 3 billion trees. It was claimed that the work it provided for the unemployed had reduced America’s crime rate by 55 percent. The Monument site continued as a nursery until the 1950s, and more than 17 million trees were harvested from it. In the early ‘50s, it began housing the Pikes Peak Hotshots, an elite crew of firefighters who battle forest fires throughout the West.

Most of the Preserve is open to the public, with hiking and biking trails, some original buildings, and the Memorial Grove that honors fallen firefighters. The Friends of the Preserve provide brochures at the entrance, located just west of Monument on Mount Herman Road. Membership includes a CD of historical photos and a movie.

The Palmer Lake Historical Society presents free programs and refreshments in the Town Hall the third Thursday of most months. The meeting at 7 p.m. April 19 will feature "Come Dizzy," about the creation of the bronze statue of Palmer Lake’s German shepherd, by its artist Donna Arndt.

Membership in the Society is $10 per year for individuals, $15 for families, and family membership comes with two mugs (plhist@aol.com or 559-0837). The Society maintains the free Lucretia Vaile Museum in the basement beneath the Palmer Lake library across from the Town Hall. Winter hours are 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us/plhs/

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Cedar waxwing

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in

Below: Drawing by Elizabeth Hacker of Cedar waxwings. 

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

Spring is the time to see unusual birds. A few weeks ago, Gleneagle residents John and Christiane Poltenovage spotted a flock of wandering cedar waxwings and e-mailed me photos of what looked to be 50 or more birds in a tree near their house. John said that the waxwings were eating hips from their wild roses near the ground.

After talking to John, I spread a package of frozen berries on the ground near our wild roses and knick-a-knick plants in hopes of attracting these wanderers. Today while raking, my husband heard a whistling sound and looked up to see a flock of cedar waxwings in an aspen tree. They seemed to be flying down to our lone cedar tree, ignoring the berries I had put on the ground. Unlike robins, another bird that relies heavily on fruit, the waxwing is vulnerable to fermented fruit and avoids it, which may explain why it is now coming to yards to eat dried fruits (I learned this after I had spread the berries). Like John, we lamented the fact that these birds stopped only briefly and after they found what they were looking for; in a flash they were gone.

Waxwings are highly social, migratory, nomadic, and "irruptive" birds. Irruptive is a term used by scientist for flocks of birds that for no specific reason will invade an area, and explains as well as any why the waxwings are here this winter. In the spring of 2005, I wrote an article on the Bohemian waxwing after several readers called to report sightings. No one called in 2006 with a sighting. The waxwings may or may not have been here because these wandering birds do not follow migration routes.

The Bohemian and the cedar are the two species of waxwings that migrate across much of North America. Both species are medium-size woodland songbirds, 6 to 8 inches in length, a little larger than a bluebird but smaller than a robin. They are distinguished by the crests on their heads and their black bandit-like masks. They are sleek-looking birds with light-grayish plumage on much of their backs and wings. Cedar waxwings are gray, darker on top, with yellow highlights on their breast feathers. The Bohemian waxwing is slightly larger and rusty in color, with white upper wing tips. Both varieties have yellow tail bands and short, slightly curved bills used for plucking and eating fruit. The name "waxwing" originated from the waxy red "droplets" found on the ends of the adult’s secondary flight feathers.

The waxwings’ diet consists largely of sugary fruits with the addition of insects for protein during nesting season. They flock to fruit-bearing plants, but the cedar waxwing was named for its preference for cedar berries. Interestingly, slight color variation can exist depending on the type of fruit available in different locations. Unlike robins, waxwings are vulnerable to fermented fruit, which can be lethal, and that may be the reason they had not been reported here in the fall.

he waxwing digests a large quantity of fruit, and the carotene from this fruit becomes concentrated in the bird’s feather veins. As they age, concentrations of carotene are excreted from the veins and form those red waxy droplets at the wing tips. The exact purpose of these deposits is unknown but it is thought they play a role in mate selection.

Because of their reliance on fruit, waxwings mate later in the year than other birds, sometimes as late as July, when fruit begins to ripen. The male courts a female by performing a hopping-like dance and passing her fruit. If she is interested, she will accept the fruit and dance along with him. As I observed the flock of waxwings in our tree today, I saw them passing fruit. Because early spring is not reported to be mating season for waxwings, I assume that passing fruit may be a common social behavior.

Once a pair leaves the flock to mate, the female chooses a nest site and together the pair builds a cup-shaped nest made of bark, twigs, moss, pine needles, and grass. Waxwings are often observed nesting in conifer forests near a source of water where fruiting plants and insects are plentiful. Greater numbers of waxwings are found nesting in more northerly climates such as Canada, where insects and fruiting plants are plentiful. While waxwings are known to nest in Colorado, I have not seen or heard of them nesting on the Palmer Divide.

A female cedar waxwing will lay four to six eggs, light blue in color with dark spots. The female incubates the eggs for about 12 days while the male brings her food and guards the nest. When hatched, the chicks are blind and featherless. The parents work tirelessly feeding the chicks for the next two weeks, at the end of which they fledge the nest. The parents teach the chicks to fly and forage for food for yet another week, and then they rejoin the flock.

Birds flock to work together to locate food and keep an eye out for predators. John Poltenovage observed robins mixed in with the flock of waxwings in his yard, and it is common for different species of birds to flock together.

Speaking of predators, just a week ago early one morning my husband Randy spotted a great horned owl perched high in a ponderosa in our backyard. You should have heard the ruckus the crows and Steller’s jays were making to harass that poor bird off its perch. It was amazing that the owl stayed long enough to let me capture a 15-minute clip. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to grab my tripod so my clip will not make it on "The Planet’s Funniest Animals." As I held my camera up to film it, the owl maintained a careful eye on me and the hordes of birds dive-bombing it by rotating its head. Although my clip was shaky, I filmed the owl turn its head at least 180 degrees. I’ve read that owls will attack humans, but the crows proved to be too much of a nuisance for the owl and it silently took flight.

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On the Trail: Trails still snow-covered or wet

By Tim Watkins

Despite the warmer weather, not all of the area trails are dry. They are mostly in good shape, but it’s important to stay on existing trails even if they are mucky. Do not create trails directly next to existing ones as it leads to erosion. It is, of course, best to stay off all muddy sections entirely. This is very important to caring for the trails we have.

The Balanced Rock Road is still snowbound in places just above the first reservoir, and more so just behind the second reservoir. Limbaugh Canyon is still completely snowbound, and the access issue at the east-side exit is not resolved. The U.S. Forest Service and private landowners as well as Friends of Monument Preserve are all working toward resolution and access. Learn more about this group at www.FOMP.org.

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Art Matters: Earth Day and Plein Aire Art

Below (L to R): Jan Santino and Janet Sellers enjoying a good time at the Mar. 9 opening reception of Bird and Blooms: the art and photography of Linda Hauff and Elizabeth Hacker.

By Janet Sellers

The natural choice for Earth Day involvement is to be aware of local ecology issues, or at least be willing to learn about them. Much of fine art that focuses on nature and natural themes creates awareness of these issues just in our appreciation of them, and often via the artists themselves. These artists have a deep appreciation and interest in nature and the health of the natural world.

So, what does Earth Day mean to art these days? Besides the children’s celebration of nature and creatures, Earth Day still has the purpose of keeping us aware of our stewardship for this planet. This can be hard to keep in focus without exceptional reminders of what nature is in its power and beauty. Art does that for us via the tenacity and devotion of its practitioners, namely, artists.

Nature artists must know the biology, habitats, and many details of the natural world and its creatures. I once had a good friend who was an illustrator for some Cal Tech biologists. At the time, her job was to dutifully record the lemurs being studied at the biology department. She had to understand their habits and physiology all the way down to their toenails and endless fur patterns. She took a vacation after that assignment, to rest from all of her hard work. Now she is famous for her hilarious cats-and-old-ladies monoprints, capturing the nutty interaction of mythical seniors and their myriad kitty capers. Although a big switch, it’s been a lucrative move, and from napkins to calendars, Erika has the bead on fun and profit via natural behavior.

Our local artists are having art shows this month, focusing on their passion for nature and creatures.

Winter Gallery: They are celebrating the birds and the flowers in abundance.

Linda Hauff and Elizabeth Hacker are showing their natural side with their flower photography and bird paintings this month. Both artists have an extensive art-making history with their subjects.

Linda’s photography show focuses on the beauty of flower images printed not only on paper but on canvas as substrate for her artwork. These are intimate studies of exotic flowers that beg for close attention and are worthy of admiration.

Elizabeth has included her watercolors and mixed-media paintings of her inimitable bird imagery of the Palmer Divide. My favorites are the chickadees and her lovely watercolors of the amaryllis. She also includes some prints of these works as well as many note cards, the proceeds of which help sustain the local arts and ecology

efforts on behalf of the birds.

Local Earth Day Art Show – Monument Library: Students of the Monument School of Fine Arts exhibit their watercolor and pastel paintings of waterfowl (ducks and swans) that represent endangered creatures of U.S. wetlands habitats. The extensive and elaborate works serve as an in-depth study for students to create personal awareness of wetlands habitat and ecology issues. With such study, they can share much with their local community and expand awareness of these important issues to protect our Earth.

Every year, the U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, holds a design contest for what has come to be known as the Federal Duck Stamp. Artists from all over the United States enter their best artwork of the current year’s qualifying ducks, geese or swans.

Top award winners then exhibit their works in a traveling exhibit around the country, with the top award resulting in the Federal Duck Stamp for that year. The funds from the purchase of this stamp are used to buy and preserve wetlands natural habitats.

While the artwork and exhibitions are worthy efforts in and of themselves, a munificent benefit of royalties from publication in prints and products of the artwork is possible for the savvy artist with a winning image.

For more than 10 years, the Department of the Interior has also sponsored a Junior Duck Stamp Design contest for students in grades K-12 at state and national levels. The entry requirements are not quite as strict for the student design contest, but the competition is stiff and the artwork superb. Students spend up to a year preparing their art for the contest.

Last year, the Colorado awards were presented by Sen. Wayne Allard, and the artwork was exhibited to an audience of more than 18,000 patrons at our very own Monument branch library in April, as well as at the Parker Wildlife Museum in May and June.

So be sure to visit these local art shows and enjoy the imagery of nature this month. All of the works are available for purchase, so you can take some wild things home and enjoy them, too.

And remember, the Plein Aire Painters meet every Saturday at 2 p.m. outdoors when the weather permits – usually at least 60 degrees – to draw and paint the wild local scene. A short, free demo precedes a fun practice session. Contact Janet at 488-8280 for details.

Next month, Plein Aire vacations for your inner artist’s wild side.

Janet Sellers is a Tri-Lakes-based artist, writer, and teacher.

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Special Events and Notices

By Judy Barnes, Editor Emeritus

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

Creekside Middle School’s Carrabba’s Night and Silent Auction, April 11

Creekside Middle School invites the community to its annual Carrabba’s Night and Silent Auction April 11. The first seating for dinner starts at 5:30 p.m. and the second seating starts at 6:30 p.m. Dinner is $11 for adults and $6 for children if paid by April 10. You are welcome to come as a walk-in for an additional $1 per person for adults and children.

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D-38 seeks community input by April 15

Lewis-Palmer School District needs your help in improving communication with the community. Please take a brief assessment survey at: www.zoomerang.com/recipient/survey.zgi?p=WEB2269J9KGEG6. Paper copies of the survey are available at the D-38 office, 146 Jefferson St. in Monument.

The deadline for completing the survey is April 15.

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Classical Concert at TLCA, April 15

Hausmusik String Quartet will perform April 15 at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA), 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. The concert is sponsored by The Wine Seller. Doors open at 2:30 p.m.; the concert begins at 3 p.m. Hausmusik is composed of members of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic who have been performing chamber music together for 14 years. The quartet will perform works from Beethoven and Mendelssohn. Tickets are $12 TLCA members, $15 nonmembers, and $5 senior/student. Tickets are available at The Wine Seller in Monument, 488-3019, and TLCA, 481-0475, in Palmer Lake.

If you are interested in attending only the Silent Auction, there is no charge and the auction tables open at 5 p.m. There will be three sections of items to bid on. Bidding on the first table will close at 6:30 p.m., the second table will close at 7 p.m., and the third table will close at 7:30 p.m. There will be door prize drawings as well and tickets are $1 each. U.S. Taekwondo Center, Queen Anne B&B, Buca di Beppo, Famous Dave’s, CTMH, Queen’s Nails & Spa, Covered Treasures, Veda Salon, CompUSA, SteinMart, and Woodmoor Pines Golf & Country Club are a few of the businesses that have donated items for the silent auction. Creekside Middle School is at 1330 Creekside Drive, Monument. For information, contact Amy Fournier at 231-1350 or by e-mail at amy.Fournier@gmail.com.

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Friends of Monument Preserve Annual Meeting, April 18

The Friends of Monument Preserve will hold its annual membership meeting at 7 p.m. April 18 in the classroom in the Fire Center Administration. Members also will elect a governing board to direct FOMP activities and, as your representatives, interact with the community and the U.S. Forest Service.

If you or someone you know is interested in a board position, or just want to be more involved in defining FOMP’s goals and operational plans, please plan on attending. To reach the classroom, take the first left after Mount Herman Road turns to dirt and follow it in to the parking area. Active FOMP members are eligible to vote.

FOMP is a nonprofit, volunteer organization that was formed to work with the U.S. Forest Service to protect and preserve the historic artifacts and recreational opportunities available at the forest service Fire Center. All donations are tax-deductible and go toward supporting the preservation of our invaluable local resource.

Visit www.fomp.org for information.

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Rocky Mountain Music Alliance Concert, April 21

Enjoy classical music in the Tri-Lakes area at 7 p.m., April 21 at Forestgate Presbyterian Church, 970 Northgate Road, as the Rocky Mountain Music Alliance concludes its second season. The concert features Renatto Premezzi and Dr. Michael Baron, piano, who will perform classics for two pianos as well as some pieces with four hands on one piano. Tickets are $22, general admission; $18, students. For information, phone Pam Brunson at 484-0192.

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AARP Mature Safe Driving Program at Monument Library, April 21

The AARP Mature Safe Driving Program is the nation’s first and largest classroom driver refresher course specially designed for motorists age 50 and older. Graduates may present their course completion certificate to their insurance agents for a discount. Class size is limited and registration is required. The course will be 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. April 21 at Monument Branch Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Drive. Bring a lunch. Cost for the eight-hour course is $10. To register, call 488-2370.

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Pine Forest Antiques Show and Sale, April 21 and 22

Mark your calendars for the popular Pine Forest Antiques Show and Sale April 21-22 at Lewis-Palmer High School, 1300 Higby Road, Monument. The show will feature 55 antiques dealers from several states. Antiques appraisers in several specialties will provide verbal appraisals from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, at $5 for each item with a limit of three items per person. New and returning vendors will offer something for everyone, from furniture, jewelry, glassware and pottery to antique claw-foot tubs. The Country Café will serve breakfast and lunch items including the ever-popular steak soup, and the Bake Sale will offer delectable desserts.

This is the major annual fund-raising event for the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club. Proceeds benefit local nonprofit groups. During the past 30 years, more than $470,000 has been awarded to District 38 schools, fire and police departments, senior citizen groups, and other nonprofit 501(c)3 organizations that provide services to community residents. For information, visit the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club Web site at www.tlwc.net.

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D-38 Student Chess Tournament, April 21

All District 38 students, grades K-12, are welcome to participate in a free chess tournament from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 21 at Creekside Middle School, 1330 Creekside Drive, Monument. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and the first round starts at 9 a.m. There will be four rounds, and the tournament should end by 1 p.m. Chess sets will be provided. Participants should bring their own snacks. Pizza and soft drinks will be available for purchase, with proceeds paying for custodial help for the event. Parents may stay at the tournament, or they can return to the school near the end of the tournament. Trophies or medals will be awarded to all participants. To assure that enough trophies and medals are ordered, RSVP to Steve Waldmann, Creekside Middle School Chess Club Coach, at 488-9887 or huskerco@comcast.net.

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Volunteer Tutors Needed

Help adults improve their reading, writing, or language skills. Tutors work individually with an adult learner two to four hours a week; meeting times and locations are flexible. Free training is held at Penrose Library, 20 N. Cascade Ave. Participants must attend all sessions to become tutors. Call 531-6333, ext. 2223 for information or to register for training held from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays, May 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30 at Penrose Library, Colorado Springs.

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Talk English! Facilitator Training, May 5

Volunteers are needed to lead informal conversation groups for adult English language learners. Groups meet for two hours once a week for 14 weeks from May 14 through July 27. Call 531-6333, ext. 2224, or ext. 2223 with questions or to register for training held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 5 at Penrose Library in Colorado Springs.

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Gleneagle Sertoma Presents ‘Spirits of Spring’, May 11

Explore local history, spring wines, microbrews, and international beers at the Gleneagle Sertoma Club’s fund-raiser event featuring wine and beer tasting and silent auction at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry, 6-8:30 p.m. May 11. Proceeds benefit Tri-Lakes Cares and other local charities. Plentiful food will be provided by The Place, Cunningham’s Catering, The Cookie Bakers, Domino’s Pizza, Big City Burrito, Buca di Beppo, California Pizza, Rotelli’s, Serrano’s Coffee, Rosie’s Diner, Bella Panini, and Casa Diego. Look for the Sertoma banner at the entrance to the museum, located at 225 North Gate Blvd., just off of I-25 at the Gleneagle exit 156A, across from the north entrance to the U.S. Air Force Academy. The cost is $35 per person, $60 per couple. For ticket information or silent auction donations, phone 488-0653 or 488-8474 or visit www.trilakeschamber.com/sertoma.htm.

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Help for Gardeners at Monument Library, Wednesdays

The Colorado Master Gardeners and the Cooperative Extension, El Paso County will offer a help desk at the Monument Public Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Drive. Help will be available 2:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesdays throughout the growing season (April-August). Specific times and dates will be posted at the Monument Branch Library. Gardening can be difficult in our area. The Master Gardeners working at this help desk live and garden in our community and want to help answer questions from local gardeners about how, what, and when to plant. Walk-ins are welcome. Bring in examples of your insects or disease problems, or drop by to brag about your successes. For more information, phone 488-2370.

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Senior Safety Program

Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Authority and Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership, Senior Alliance, have developed a new Senior Safety Program. The free service includes installing and maintaining smoke detectors, a fire department evaluation of seniors’ homes to identify and correct safety hazards and address seniors’ safety needs, and Vial of Life for in-home storage of medical information in case of emergency. For information, call Lisa Frasca, 488-3304, or e-mail lfrasca@tri-lakesfire.com.

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County Accepting Batteries and Electronics at Waste Facility

The El Paso County Household Chemical Waste Collection Facility will now accept household batteries (AA, AAA, C, D and 9-volt) and many types of electronic equipment including computers, printers, small televisions, stereo and video components, and VCRs. More than 40,000 tons of electronic waste is discarded yearly. Some electronics contain lead, cadmium, broken glass, and mercury and can threaten the environment if not recycled. The Household Chemical Waste Collection Facility is open year-round and accepts items such as paint, lawn and garden chemicals, automotive chemicals and products, and household products and cleaners. The facility is at 3255 Akers Drive, and is open for drop-off from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday-Friday. For more recycling information, call 520-7878.

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