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Our Community News - Home Vol. 4 No. 11 - November 6, 2004

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Woodmoor/Monument FPD Board fires Chief David Youtsey, Oct. 26

Click on the photo to view a photo of the W/MFPD stationView a photo of the W/MFPD Station

By Jim Kendrick

On the afternoon of Oct. 26, Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District (TLFPD) Chairman Charlie Pocock was at a meeting of the Palmer Lake Town Council Water Committee and said that Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District Chief David Youtsey was about to lose his job. That is just what happened at the Woodmoor-Monument board’s meeting that evening.

The meeting was attended by most, if not all, of the W/MFPD firefighters and many of their spouses, along with TLFPD Chief Rob Denboske, Assistant Chief Ron Thompson, recently promoted Battalion Chief Bryan Jack, and a number of TLFPD firefighters, resulting in an overflow crowd.

Unadvertised agenda items

Major agenda items were not included in the public notice or the printed agenda for this meeting. Board President Si Sibell called for two unadvertised executive sessions. The termination procedure was also not listed on the agenda, even though firefighters of both districts were aware of the impending dismissal, having planned a reorganization throughout the preceding week.

However, no one had told Youtsey—who was responsible for preparation, posting, and printing of all the public announcements and agendas—that any of these actions were scheduled, leading to his complete surprise when Treasurer Bob Hansen read him the termination letter.

The meeting began with an executive session regarding a personnel matter and lasted 45 minutes. A second executive session, also on personnel matters, was called for at 8:10 p.m., at the conclusion of the 25-minute public meeting.

When asked, Sibell made it clear there would be no further public business conducted after that second executive session. However, after the press and public had departed, the board cancelled the executive session and resumed public business in a second unadvertised portion of the agenda.

None of these changes in the agenda was announced, moved, voted on, or approved by a vote of the board at the start of the meeting, as is standard practice for public meetings of special districts, municipalities, cities, or the county. At the September meeting, the W/MFPD board similarly adjourned the board meeting, then went back into an unannounced session after the press and citizens in attendance had left the building.

Youtsey’s surprise notification

After the public session was called to order, Hansen took the floor and read the following letter to Youtsey:

"I regret to inform you that your employment with the Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District is hereby terminated due to a layoff for operational efficiency and economic reasons related to the planned formation of a fire authority with the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District, which fire authority shall perform all of the services currently performed by the District.

"The District would like to assist you as much as possible in your transition to new employment and, in this regard, offers you a separation package equal to three months of continued salary and benefits, as detailed fully in the attached Separation and Release Agreement. If you decide not to accept the Separation and Release Agreement, your employment with the District is terminated as of the date of this letter. We will make arrangements for your final paycheck once you make your decision regarding the Separation and Release Agreement. Please coordinate the return of all District-issued equipment and property with me.

We thank you for your service to the Fire District and wish you luck in your future endeavors.

Sincerely,

Si Sibell

Chairman of the Board"

Hansen then told Youtsey he had three options:

  • Resign with three months of continued salary and benefits

  • Be terminated by the board with three months of continued salary and benefits

  • Be terminated with no continued salary and benefits

Youtsey said he would like to check with his attorney before making a decision. Hansen replied that the district’s legal counsel had advised them that if Youtsey did not make an immediate decision, the board would be authorized to terminate him with no severance package whatsoever. Hansen immediately made a motion to terminate Youtsey with no severance; it was seconded by Vice President Rod Wilson. The vote was 3-1, with Secretary Bob Harvey opposed. Harvey did not say why he opposed the motion.

Youtsey and Harvey both said during the recess that they were never informed about the board’s plans or that termination discussions had taken place. This appears to violate Title 24 of Colorado Revised Statutes that states:

"All meetings held by members of a state public body … to consider the appointment or employment of a public official or employee or the dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion, or compensation of, or the investigation of charges or complaints against, a public official or employee shall be open to the public unless said applicant, official, or employee requests an executive session."

Mission accomplished?

Those voting to fire Youtsey–Sibell, Wilson, and Hansen–were all on the May election ticket that was supported by the W/MFPD International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) members. The Tri-Lakes board also endorsed this ticket by approving a resolution of support.

Hansen, who lost in the special district elections in May, was subsequently appointed to the board when board member Russ Broshous resigned this summer. During the election campaign, Hansen submitted a statement to OCN that said firefighters "do not have confidence in their chief. They have presented the current board with letters of no confidence twice, and the board chose to disregard their concerns. I believe it is time to start, ‘protecting the people who protect us.’ As a board member, this will be my mission."

Jeremy Diggins, who recently resigned as Woodmoor/Monument’s treasurer, did not attend this meeting. Sibell had said that each of the three in favor had "polled Jeremy and he agrees with this direction." However, when he returned from being out of state, Diggins told Harvey he did not know Youtsey was going to be fired.

Youtsey’s years of service: Youtsey served the district for 15 years, nine of them as chief. During his tenure, the entire apparatus fleet was replaced, a major renovation of the fire station was completed, and additional apparatus was obtained. During a time of major population growth, the district was reevaluated by the Insurance Services Office and the rating improved nearly two points. Additional personnel were hired and an Advanced Life Support engine company with a full complement of four firefighters became the standard level of service.

In addition, major improvements were made in reducing the wildland fire risk in the Wildland Urban Interface so prevalent in the area. As the result of Youtsey lobbying the local homeowners association, combustible roofing was eventually prohibited, the Urban-Wildland Interface Code was adopted, and the district became one of the first in the state to authenticate a Firewise safe home parcel.

His tenure was also highlighted by the highest personnel certifications and qualifications in the region, as well as the highest pay and most individual qualification incentive pays.

The controversy over the second letter of "no confidence," which was presented to the previous board on Sept. 22, 2003, was promptly resolved when the board found no basis in fact for any of the allegations. The letter had been written by Captain Larry Garner and signed by eight other IAFF firefighters. All the complaints raised were resolved through a standard confidential grievance process in accordance with district, county, and state policies.

Rob Denboske, the chief of the Tri-Lakes district, has assumed the position of acting chief, even though he is not an employee of W/MFPD and is not certified as a Fire Officer, as required for all W/MFPD officers.

Agenda items

In routine matters, the board approved the September financial report. Hansen, who recently replaced Diggins as treasurer, had some questions about two figures that had changed in the monthly cash recap. The total amount of money allocated to pay and benefits for employees, line item 60210, had to be changed because of the unusual amount of overtime paid due to the unfilled personnel positions. Turnover remains high.

The other two figures changed by $40,000 because the expense for purchase of the new Tahoe administrative vehicle was moved out of the administrative capital equipment line to the major equipment purchases line, as suggested by the auditor. Although Hansen had been directed to reduce the proposed pay raise for employees from 5 percent to 3 percent in the 2005 budget—because TLFPD Treasurer John Hildebrandt said his district could not afford to keep up, would not respond in kind with their firefighters, and wants to keep the two districts’ firefighters’ pay similar—the issue was not discussed at this meeting.

There was a pin-on ceremony for recently hired firefighter Janaka Brandon. He is certified on the national registry as a Firefighter II and a paramedic. His fiancée Laura pinned on his badge and bugle insignia.

The board tabled a revision of the modified/light duty policy, and then tabled it for further review to ensure that it complies with all related state and federal laws and regulations.

The board then recessed to go into a second executive session regarding personnel issues at 8:10 p.m. Sometime later in the evening, the board decided not to go into executive session. In the public session that followed (at which only the board was present), Captain Larry Garner was appointed to the new position of battalion chief in accordance with a new organizational chart that was never discussed or voted on at a public meeting. Denboske was appointed acting chief at that time.

There has been no public discussion of, or vote on, any of the changes in personnel policies or district regulations that would be required to describe the duties and powers of these positions, nor has there been any vote on what these positions imply in terms of changes in pay or benefits. The 2004 budget does not account for them, and there has been no action to amend it in a public meeting.

Follow-up—Harvey resigns

In a letter dated Nov. 2, Harvey resigned from the W/MFPD board, effective after the joint Tri-Lakes-Woodmoor/Monument board meeting scheduled for Nov. 4. In his letter, he stated his concern about meetings that he was not notified of and what he believes to be violations of Colorado statutes by the other directors:

"To the Citizens and Board of Directors WMFPD,

Please consider this to be my letter of resignation from my position on the Board of Directors for the Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District. As of November 4, 2004 I will no longer conduct business for the district in capacity as Board Member or Secretary of the Board.

There are several reasons I feel that I can no longer be effective in this position and feel that in my own mind I must separate myself from an organization that conducts business in the manner in which I have observed over the recent months.

On several occasions I have reminded the board that we must conduct business in compliance with state laws governing special districts, that decisions were being made and action being taken from what are known as executive sessions, which are to be used for informational purposes only. All actions in governing a district must come from an open, announced and posted meeting. Your actions (Sibell, Wilson, Hansen) indicate to me that a meeting had taken place at another place and time that was not posted to discuss the termination of Chief Youtsey, as I was clearly the only member of the board that needed to review the organizational structure chart or even asked about the termination package offers.

The action to utilize the law firm contracted to review the merger agreement with Tri-Lakes in preparing the opinions and termination packages for Chief Youtsey appears to be in violation of state statues, I cannot find record of a board meeting discussion including this as services they should provide. The only conclusion I can draw from this is that a meeting to decide this course of action took place that was not announced or published and open to the public, a meeting of which I was excluded from, perhaps the October 21, 2004 TLFPD meeting when you (Hansen and Wilson) joined in the executive session that followed? In using a law firm in this matter without a board meeting is in violation of the law, which requires a board meeting to approve specific legal expenditures. In regards to this practice you have excluded me as a board member and constituents of the district in an inappropriate manner.

As to honor and ethics, during the executive session I asked if Mr. Diggins was aware of this action, Mr. Sibell made the statement that Jeremy was not present but had been polled and he was in agreement with this action, during a conversation with Mr. Diggins on October 29, he stated that he was unaware that this action would be taken at this time, it was perhaps discussed as a possibility in an executive session where I (Harvey) was not in attendance. During one of the first joint meetings it was promised that no personnel would lose their job because of this merger, some individuals may have different positions or work in different locations or have different responsibilities, but no one was to lose their job, this promise has obviously been violated with the termination of Chief Youtsey under the guise of operational effectiveness and economic consideration.

To the question of who is running the Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District, How can the chief of the TLFPD be named as acting chief when both departments have not signed the IGA and or the fire authority documents, or has this too already occurred without my knowledge?

Robert Harvey"

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Tri-Lakes FPD Board, Oct. 21

By John Heiser

At its regular meeting Oct. 21, the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Board of Directors promoted three lieutenants to the position of captain.

The board also held a hearing and then unanimously approved inclusion of a 20-acre parcel east of Highway 83 belonging to Herman and Eleanor Polich and unanimously approved accepting a petition for inclusion of the 43 lots in Whistler Ranch Filing 2.

At the end of the meeting, the board held an executive session with Rod Wilson and Bob Hansen, two members of the Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District Board, to discuss details for the proposed agreement to form a joint fire authority as announced at the Sept. 16 meeting of the Tri-Lakes district board.

Director John Hartling was on vacation.

Financial Report

Director and treasurer John Hildebrandt reported that year-to-date receipt of ambulance revenue has exceeded $200,000, which is about 60 percent over budget. He projected ambulance revenues for the year might top $225,000.

Hildebrandt reported that as of the end of September, expenditures stood at 73 percent of the budgeted amounts, which is 2 percent less than the anticipated level for this point in the year.

Hildebrandt also noted that the final audit report for 2003 carries a notation that the district spent $102,271 in excess of amounts budgeted, which is a violation of Colorado law. Hildebrandt said the additional expenditures were due to additional revenues received. He said the district should have made a budget adjustment in December 2003 to account for the additional revenue and expenditures.

District president Charlie Pocock suggested that when the audit report is approved at the Nov. 18 meeting, a notation be added explaining the situation.

Chief’s Report

Chief Robert Denboske reported as follows:

  • During September, the district responded to 114 calls, bringing the total calls so far this year to 896, 8.5 percent greater than the same period in 2003. The 114 calls during September were as follows: 60 medical, 24 fire, 21 traffic accidents, 7 public assists, and 2 hazardous materials; 47 people were transported to area hospitals.

  • The district has 86 personnel.

  • Captain Rick Simmons is resigning to take a job with AMR. He is planning a transfer to Florida. Until he moves, Simmons will serve as a TLFPD volunteer. Pocock commended Simmons for his skills, enthusiasm, service, and loyalty during his 10 years with the district.

  • Max Mayberry, John Vincent, and Chris Mola were recommended for promotion to captains. The board unanimously approved the promotions and associated pay increases, effective Nov. 1.

  • Bryan Jack, who was previously promoted to Battalion Chief, was unanimously approved to receive the increased pay starting Nov. 1 instead of Jan. 1 as originally proposed.

  • The first of two Smeal pumper fire trucks is on schedule to be delivered the first week in December.

Pocock noted that the district previously paid for dress uniforms for the paid staff and two more paid firefighters have been added to the district. The board unanimously approved $450 each for dress uniforms for the new hires.

EMS Report

Ron Thompson, assistant chief and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Coordinator, reported as follows:

  • Memorial Hospital EMS provided training to the EMS staff on patient assessment.

  • Flu shots have been given to responding personnel.

  • Ten residents have been trained and certified in CPR; 10 more will be trained in the next few weeks.

  • Reports showing the status of ambulance service billing were presented and will be updated each month to help the board track collection of ambulance revenue owed to the district.

Thompson stressed that the terms paid versus volunteer not be confused with professional versus amateur. He said, "Because someone is a volunteer does not mean they are not total professionals."

Station 2

Director and architect Rick Barnes reported as follows on construction of Station 2 on Roller Coaster Road near Highway 105:

  • The construction contractor is correcting a number of problems.

  • There has been a problem with cycling or hammering of the well pump. The well being used belongs to the Great Divide Water Company and is a deep aquifer well. Barnes said the plumbing is being reworked to fix the problem, "so we don’t kill the well."

  • The fire pole is deflecting 18 inches when someone is on it. The specification was for a 6-inch deflection. The manufacturer is the only fire pole manufacturer in the United States and is providing a replacement pole.

  • Furniture is due Oct. 22.

  • The firefighters are expected to move in the last week of October.

Inclusions

The board held a hearing on the petition for inclusion of a 20-acre parcel at 6555 Echo Ridge Heights owned by Herman and Eleanor Polich. The petition was unanimously approved.

The board unanimously voted to accept a petition for inclusion of the 43 lots in Whistler Ranch Filing 2. The petition was signed by all of the property owners.

Denboske noted that Whistler Ranch Filing 1 is already in the district. Petitions are being circulated for inclusion of Filings 3 and 4.

Executive Session

Pocock said the purpose of the executive session with Wilson and Hansen was to review the intergovernmental agreement with the Woodmoor-Monument district to form a fire authority. However, no formal motions have been passed during public sessions to authorize negotiations for creation of a fire authority or to specifically allocate funds for the legal work associated with preparing the documents.

**********

The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District board normally meets at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the district firehouse, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley). The next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 18.

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

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Donald Wescott FPD board, Oct. 13

By Jim Kendrick

After years of discussions about unification with neighboring fire districts, the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) board’s agenda for the Oct. 13 meeting focused primarily on internal matters, specifically preparation of the 2005 budget and expansion of their headquarters on Gleneagle Drive. All members of the board were present for this session.

Ritz gives unification status report: After the minutes were approved, Chairman Brian Ritz told the board about a discussion he had with Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District (TLFPD) board member Keith Duncan at the Special District Association convention a few weeks earlier. Ritz said he told Duncan that Tri-Lakes Chairman Charlie Pocock’s characterizations of Wescott’s role in unification discussions and the closest force response plan were unfair and incorrect. Ritz said Duncan agreed with him and said Wescott had no choice in the matter regarding being excluded from the fire authority negotiations between Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District (W/MFPD).

Wescott argued passionately for inclusion in a closest force response plan for medical calls within the Tri-Lakes district south of Higby Road; however, talks fell apart when the other two districts decided to merge and exclude Wescott from further discussions. After W/MFPD’s vote Sept. 26 to terminate the Memorandum of Understanding on merger that it had with Wescott, Woodmoor’s board member Bob Harvey asked how any of his or the Tri-Lakes board members could look a Creekside Middle School parent in the eye and explain why Wescott is not allowed to respond to their school (which would take three minutes) when neither of the other districts can drive there in under seven minutes. Wescott still has not received written notification that W/MFPD dissolved the MOU.

Ritz said the Wescott board remains firmly committed to the concept of closest force response, but cannot move forward on the matter.

Tax revenue higher than expected

Treasurer Dennis Feltz reported that an additional $20,000 in special ownership taxes had just been received, bringing the total for the year to date to $54,000 over the budgeted amount. There is no way to predict how much this source of revenue will provide from year to year, so budget estimates tend to be conservative to prevent overspending. The board approved $7,700 for additional training in December for seven firefighters.

Station 3 expansion out for bids

Director Kevin Gould showed the drawings for the expanded parking lot, then noted that the district’s advertisement for bids had been published. The expansion is budgeted for $264,000 in 2005 to provide an additional engine bay, new offices, a conference room, and more storage space. The parking lot would cost an additional $21,000 to $24,000, which will be added to the 2005 budget if the board approves it.

 

First draft of 2005 budget presented: Chief Bill Sheldon discussed the first draft of the budget that contains working numbers for most of the line items for the board to review and discuss at the November meeting. Sheldon will provide additional information and the rest of those figures before then. Some of the specific budget items he wants board concurrence on included:

  • Adding disability insurance options for employees, which would require participation by at least five employees to qualify for most insurance providers.

  • New tires for the fire trucks—$2,700.

  • Purchase of two additional CPR training mannequins—$1,860.

  • A new district computer system that is compatible with newly required reporting systems—$6,600 including all the required upgrades of operating system software.

  • New required radio communication hardware—$3,500.

  • Maintenance costs for Station 32 on Sun Hills Drive—$2,500 for materials; volunteer manpower would be donated by district personnel.

  • Purchase of new bunker gear for five volunteers (no specific figure was discussed).

The board voted to have the December board meeting on Dec. 8 instead of Dec. 15 because the budget has to be submitted to the state no later than business hours on Dec. 15. The amended budget for 2004 and mill levy certifications for 2005 are also due at that time.

The board went into executive session at 9:42 p.m. to discuss personnel matters. The public meeting resumed at 10:47 p.m. The board announced that they will study three options for a pay increase for 2005—3, 5, or 7 percent—but the exact percentage will have to be determined at a later date, after all the other budget numbers are firmed up. The meeting adjourned at 10:48 p.m.

The next board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Nov. 10 at Station 2, 15000 Sun Hills Drive. The 2005 budget hearing meeting will be held at that time.

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Big trucks, little kids meet for open house at Wescott, Oct. 16

Click on the photo to zoom inBy Jim Kendrick

Over 400 people visited the Gleneagle Drive station of the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District to observe an array of fire, ambulance, and rescue equipment from regional North Group fire districts and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. The Wescott and Antelope Trails Elementary School parking lots were filled with millions of dollars worth of big ladder trucks, pumpers, tenders, brush trucks, a helicopter, a Hummer, and a low-pressure tracked rescue vehicle for blizzards.

It seemed every child in attendance wanted to sit in or climb on them. Smoky the Bear hugged everyone who came near, and AMR’s huge teddy bear made the youngest attendees happy. There were also CPR training mannequins in infant and adult sizes.

Emergency agencies offered advice, information, and training courses for individuals and groups on topics from CPR to fire-resistant building materials to best insurance options. Two highlights were the arrival and display of Centura’s Flight-for-Life helicopter and a training exercise showing how occupants "trapped" in a Datsun 280Z would be extracted with the "jaws of life."

The Smoke House trailer showed kids how to get out of smoke-filled rooms. Kids also learned what firefighters look like in their protective equipment and breathing masks, so they would not be afraid and hide from them in a real fire.

Lunch was served by the county’s Fire Rehab volunteers, who typically set up shop at the command staging area of big fires and training events to feed the firefighters.

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County election results available on-line

Detailed election results for El Paso County are available at http://car.elpasoco.com/elemain.asp.

A few highlights:

  • 236,873 (66.9 percent) of the 354,059 registered voters cast ballots in the election Nov. 2.

  • By majorities that varied from 62 percent to 70 percent of the voters, all four Lewis-Palmer District 38 school board measures (3A, 3B, 3C, and 3D) were defeated.

  • County Question 1A creating the rural transportation authority funded by a 1 percent sales tax and County Question 1B regarding funding for the County Department of Health both passed with a 55 percent majority.

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County Planning Commission, Oct. 19 and 26

By Steve Sery

Four items involving northern El Paso County were presented at the Oct. 19 and 26 meetings. Both items on the agenda for the first meeting were on the consent calendar:

  • Final Plat Tall Pine Ranch. This is a 40-acre subdivision zoned RR-3 (Rural Residential) and includes six single-family lots. It is located on the southwest corner of Shoup and Herring Roads in the Black Forest. This fits the zoning, the Black Forest Preservation Plan, and the surrounding properties. There were no issues.

  • Minor subdivision, Winkleman Estates. This is a 14-acre parcel located west of Highway 83 near Stagecoach Road. It is zoned RR-3 and was proposed for two lots of 5 and 9 acres. Again, there were no issues.

These two items were approved unanimously.

The Oct. 26 meeting had two "regular" items in our area:

  • Minor subdivision, Hay Creek Reserve. This was a request to subdivide 16.56 acres into three lots. The property is zoned RR-3 and is located about 2 miles west of I-25, adjacent to Hay Creek Road. Due to the topography, a waiver of the requirement for a minimum 30-foot frontage on a public street was requested. There were no issues, and it was approved unanimously.

  • An amendment to the PUD (Planned Unit Development) and preliminary plan for High Pines. This is an 11.247-acre parcel located south of County Line Road, approximately ½ mile east of I-25. This was originally approved for 42 patio homes and one single-family on 14 acres. It is now being changed to 19 patio homes and 7 single family on the 11-plus acres. Six patio homes have been approved under the original PUD on the balance of the 14 acres.

There were some objections to the proposal by residents of The Heights Homeowners Association. Meetings with the developer and the residents and subsequent discussion at the planning commission meeting resolved the issues. Both the amendment and the preliminary plan were approved unanimously.

The planning commissioners will have meetings Nov. 16 and Nov. 23. It appears the developers are trying to get all their projects approved before the membership on the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners changes as a result of the Nov. 2 election.

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County Water Authority looks to conjure up some water

View photos of CSU water injection experiment

By JoAnn McNabb

CSU experiments with injecting water into the aquifers

Do you know where your water has been? Residents whose faucets ordinarily bubble out water from the Denver or Arapahoe aquifers may be surprised to find out the real source of their water, if tests run by Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) are successful.

The tests, now being conducted, will determine if "foreign" water can be injected into these aquifers. CSU wants to use the aquifers for storing water for its customers. The theory is that excess water available in the wet years would be pumped into the aquifers so it will be available for CSU customers during dry years.

If that storage occurs, the groundwater that usually comes out of taps in northern El Paso County households will be mixed with some trans-mountain water. That water will have traveled from the Twin Lakes and Homestake Reservoirs, on to the Otero Reservoir, and down to the Rampart Reservoir. It makes a stop at the Air Force Academy for treatment at the Pine Valley or McCullough Treatment Plants. Then it will be stored in a large holding tank such as that at the Northgate Pumping Station. Finally, it will be injected from the tank into the aquifer.

Cortney Brand, who manages the Storage and Recovery Project for CSU, is running tests to make sure the water evenly disperses into the aquifer and does not build up in just one area. Each test involves extracting the water from a holding tank and pumping it into a well drilled into the aquifer. Brand says the first test in the Arapahoe aquifer was successful.

The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for the quality of the water that results from the intermixing of transmountain and aquifer water sources. Valois Shea of the EPA was contacted about the EPA’s oversight of the water injection process. She said no EPA personnel are present for aquifer injection testing.

While the EPA is responsible for ensuring that the water meets drinking water standards, the Colorado Division of Water Resources (CDWR) is supposed to ensure that CSU does not withdraw more water than what they have stored. CDWR representative Heidi Frey said they monitor extraction quantities. Rules are defined in the 1995 "Denver Basin Artificial Recharge Extraction Rules" (www.water.state.co.us/pubs/rule_reg/denbasinrechgPDF.pdf).

Jim McGrady of CSU discussed this effort, called the Water Storage and Recovery Project, at the Oct. 6 meeting of the El Paso County Water Authority. It is one of many approaches to water acquisition being discussed.

Statewide Water Supply Initiative (SWSI)

SWSI (pronounced swa-zy), a 15-month project of the Colorado Water Conservation Board to ensure adequate water sources throughout the state, has identified large water deficits in its latest studies. Projecting out to the year 2030, SWSI had believed 90 percent of the state’s water needs would be available.

Water Consultant Gary Barber said the latest SWSI analysis, presented at the September Water Authority meeting, indicates large water "gaps" have been identified in the projection for the future. Slides from SWSI indicate that the Arkansas Basin may be short of its projected water supply by 17,400 acre-feet/year, roughly 6 billion gallons.

Barber said that the supply may have been overestimated because different areas around the state may be relying on the same sources. He also noted the assumption had been made that the Denver Basin groundwater would still be available for pumping.

The final SWSI report will be presented to the Colorado Water Conservation Board Nov. 16 and 17.

Water Magic Show

With population growth projections going up and water availability projections going down, members of the Water Authority were left somewhat to their own devices to make water appear.

Barber presented ideas for increasing water supply to Water Authority providers. The Water Authority gave him the go-ahead to send them on to the SWSI. These include:

  • Using satellite wells in the northern El Paso County area

  • Fallowing of agricultural acreage

  • Using treated effluent (sewage) to recharge the Black Squirrel Groundwater Basin

  • Negotiating with CSU to get into the Southern Delivery System.

"There is a lot of dialogue going on at the Southeast Pueblo Board of Water Works, Colorado Springs Utilities, and the City of Aurora about regional cooperation. I think that has been one of the benefits of this SWSI thing, to have all the players in the room together," Barber said.

Transit Loss Model Funding

The real trick for the Water Authority is to convert money to water, if they can just get the money.

To this end, funding for the Monument Creek/Fountain Creek Transit Model Project was discussed. Funding is $55,000 short of what the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) needs to perform the work. This model that the USGS will develop should help decrease water loss going downstream. Currently the state assumes an average loss of roughly 30 percent of the water returned to Fountain Creek by upstream sources before it reaches the Arkansas. Water Authority members contend that a higher percentage is actually being delivered into the Arkansas than they are being credited for, hence the need for the study. If the new model shows a significantly lower loss (projected to be possibly as low as 10 percent), sanitation districts may sell or lease the difference (as much as 20 percent).

Ideas were presented as to how the monetary shortage could be made up. Donala Water and Sanitation District Manager Dana Duthie suggested a percentage assessment on those entities participating in the Water Authority. The percentage assignment would need to be worked out.

"We’re building the bridge as we cross it," said Barber. He said Steve Miller of the Colorado Water Conservation Board is trying to get money from the state budget for the Transit Model project. The good news, Barber said, is that the USGS will cover 40 percent of the cost for 2004.

Southern providers and interested parties will meet to discuss funding and cooperation on the project on Nov. 12 at 10 a.m. at the City of Fountain Administration Building.

Barber said the state engineer should notify everyone he administers that they have the opportunity to help finance the Transit Loss Model or "build their own mousetrap."

McGrady said they have been in contact with a number of well users that use Fountain Mutual Irrigation Company as a source of water augmentation. He said Fountain Mutual and its members have some financial obligation because the majority of the company is using that water to augment wells.

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The El Paso County Water Authority normally meets the first Wednesday of each month at 27 E. Vermijo St., Colorado Springs, 3rd Floor Hearing Room. For information, call 520-6300.

View photos of CSU water injection experiment

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Palmer Lake Town Council workshop, Oct. 7

By Tim Hibbs

Mayor Nikki McDonald called the meeting to order at 7:06 p.m. All members of the Town Council were present. The council first convened as the Liquor Licensing Authority, and presentations were heard from Jan Vaughn of the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts and Kathy Wentzel of the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club.

Vaughn noted that six permits had previously been authorized for the center. Events are scheduled for Nov. 19 and Dec. 2, for which permits are to be used. Town Manager Della Gray suggested that Vaughn have the actual liquor licenses in her possession at each event.

Wentzel requested a permit for the 3rd annual Wine and Roses event to be held at the Pinecrest Event Center on Nov. 4. Proceeds from the event are used to fund various not-for-profit organizations in School District 38. Both requests were unanimously approved. The Liquor Licensing Authority adjourned at 7:10 p.m., and the Town Council Workshop was convened immediately afterward.

Committee Reports

McDonald requested reports from each of the standing committees.

Water: Trustee Chuck Cornell reported that the Water Committee was still meeting regularly and stated that the group would be ready to report its results within a month. The committee’s next meeting was scheduled for Oct. 12 at 4:30 p.m.

Parks and Recreation: Trustee Trish Flake stated that Town Engineer Paul Gilbert discovered that the clay bottom to Palmer Lake had been compromised, which could explain some of the water loss. Soil testing is being planned to help assess the problem.

Community and Economic Development—Buildings: Trustee Max Parker commented that sound systems are currently being evaluated as replacements for the system in the Town Hall building.

Police: Trustee George Reese reported 117 calls for service, compared to 134 in August. Six custody calls and 27 cases were reported for September, which matched the totals for the previous month. September showed a decline in traffic citations, from 23 in August to 14 in September. There were no water or dog citations, or traffic, water, or dog warnings for September.

Fire: Trustee Brent Sumner reported the following calls for September: 2 fire, 10 medical, 2 public assist, and 4 mutual aid. There were no traffic accidents or wildland calls for the month.

The Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department is preparing for the annual chili supper and star lighting on Nov. 27. Sumner noted that the mobile chipping program was successful this year, with over 70 homeowners utilizing the program.

Most of the equipment from the 2004 FEMA grant has been received, including extrication equipment, ventilation saw, port-a-tanks, nozzles, hose, and a variety of adapters. He also stated that four members of the department attended the national Fire Academy weekend in Snowmass.

Roads: No formal report was offered. Roads Supervisor Bob Radosevich stated that he was waiting on information from the Colorado Department of Transportation on the access permit and drainage plan for the bowling alley. The council agreed by consensus to vote on this issue at the Town Council meeting scheduled for Oct. 14.

New business licenses

The council reviewed several requests for business licenses.

  • Owners Steve and JoAnn Klevenberg of S & J Welding requested a new business license. The business, located at 707 County Line Road, is a portable welding and fabrication operation.

  • Robert Weekes, owner of Rock City Music, at 780 Highway 105, Units E, F, and G, requested a license to open a retail music store and recording studio. Trustee Gary Coleman expressed concern about noise from the studio bothering neighbors, but Weekes said that the studio is soundproof and no noise carries outside the building. He plans to open his business on Dec. 1.

  • Douglas Warner requested a license for NACCO Windshield Repair, located at 790 Highway 105, Unit F.

McDonald said all three business license requests would be added to the consent calendar for the following week’s Town Council meeting.

Board of Adjustments ("Variance Board") modifications suggested

Ordinance 6-2004 was proposed to change the membership of the Board of Adjustments to include three citizens, one member of the Town Council, and one member of the Palmer Lake Planning Commission. The reasons for this change are, first, it has been difficult to recruit citizens to participate on the board, so quorums for meetings often were not met. Also, adding members from the Planning Commission and Town Council would increase the level of communications among the three town entities.

McDonald noted that the ordinance would need to be an agenda item at the next Town Council meeting.

Blue Dolphin Construction Requests

Developer Tim Shank of Blue Dolphin Construction requested a road construction permit for the south fork of Shady Lane. Gray stated that she wanted to ensure the application was "by the book" and told the council that a motion to approve or deny the permit was needed at next week’s Town Council meeting.

The council then discussed proposed Town Ordinance 5-2004, Shank’s request to vacate the alleyway between parcels 71051-12-006 and 71051-12-008. This alleyway borders the south side of Page Street between Columbine Road and Highway 105. Gray stated that the ordinance will be ready for consideration at next week’s council meeting and is only awaiting an exact legal description for the property.

The town owns the 30-foot strip of land on the south side of Page Street, and Shank has offered to develop that strip as an off-street parking and drainage area. The council expressed a need to retain an easement for access to the utility poles, which line the northern edge of that land.

A discussion of the value of the property ensued, with the town wanting an appraisal of its fair market value and Shank contending that an accurate appraisal is very difficult and expensive to obtain. He said that a decision needed to be made soon to allow him to begin bringing in dirt to raise the property out of the floodplain. He expects to spend around $50,000 for 8,000-10,000 cubic yards of fill to get the property ready for building.

Flake noted that each parcel is already assessed at $19,500. Gray expressed concern about citizen reaction if the property is sold below the assessed value.

Application for a road construction permit: Circle Road extension

Coleman addressed this application for the council. He said that he had reviewed the application with the Roads Committee earlier in the day, and that Radosevich had filled out the permit. Two conditions were attached to the permit: The first is that asphalt is to be laid to the end of lot 13; the second is that a 4-inch layer of asphalt is to be laid on top of a 4-inch gravel base, instead of 3 inches of asphalt on top of a 6-inch gravel base.

Development Plan Review and Road Construction Permit Application—RKJ Construction

The rest of the meeting was devoted to Randy Jones’ development plan for the extension of Meadow Lane and access to Westward Lane. Jones of RKJ Construction was present at the meeting with his legal representative, Al Johnson. Jones provided copies of subdivision plan documents to each of the council members and, with Johnson elaborating, addressed each of 17 points of concern noted by the Palmer Lake Planning Commission at its previous meeting.

Jones contended that a storm water discharge permit issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health (DPH) adequately addresses erosion control and revegetation issues identified by the Planning Commission. He said DPH will issue a permit for developments under 5 acres. His build schedule of approximately one to two houses per year at one-eighth acre per house, plus the three-fourths acre for the road, will keep his development well within the DPH permit limits.

Replatting the lots in the development, another concern raised by the commission, is an issue for the town attorney to deal with, said Jones. The need for possible replatting is only due to the Army Corps of Engineers’ request that the road be moved 30 feet east of its planned location to accommodate the wetland area to the west.

Jones agreed that an updated Preble’s meadow jumping mouse study is warranted for the area and agreed to apply for another study.

He disagreed with the idea of paving the road extension and its connection to Westward Lane. He contends that the town cannot adequately maintain its existing inventory of asphalt roads, much less any additional pavement. He said that the existing extension to Meadow Lane, a dirt road, is in good shape because of the application of magnesium chloride for dust mitigation. He contended that there is no risk of pollution affecting the wetlands if the chemical is applied according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Johnson said that additional pavement would increase runoff flows. He said paving the road will add $32,000 to $35,000 to the cost of the development and would impact its goal of providing affordable housing for the community. Flake stated that $32,000 is not really an inordinate incremental amount for a development of 18 houses.

Johnson further stated that the Planning Commission’s suggestion of cross-culverts placed at 100-foot intervals along the roadbed is something the town engineer should address. He said representatives from the Regional Floodplain department maintain that culverts should not be the main source of water flow to the wetlands area.

Another issue raised by the Planning Commission is the need for multiple access routes to and from the development. A second access road would connect Westward Lane with Meadow Lane at the south end of the development. Jones stated that his development is small enough—at 18 units accessed from Meadow Lane—that a second access road is not needed.

Neighborhood residents were allowed to voice their concerns. Several maintained that the road connecting Meadow Lane and Westward Lane was not really a second access road to the development, but a second entrance to the single road leading into the properties.

Resident Tim Nolan stated that if the Douglas County road standards, which the town adopted, specify asphalt for new roads, "then why are we even discussing this [issue of dirt road versus asphalt]?" Gray stated that the standards provide for flexibility on a road-by-road basis, and asphalt with curb and gutter construction defines the high end of the standard.

Coleman said he would like to see a drainage study done of the area. He said the cost for such a study could range from $500 to $5,000.

Town resident Gary Atkins, who is also a member of the Palmer Lake Planning Commission, echoed Coleman’s concerns about drainage and resident concerns about a secondary access road to the development. He said that the Planning Commission strongly recommended paving the road to eliminate the problem of magnesium chloride washing into the wetlands. He further noted that the commission recommended returning the application to the planning department for rework and formal approval by the town engineer.

As citizen comment abated, Johnson again addressed the council. He concluded by reiterating the development’s goal of quality, affordable housing and emphasized Jones’ willingness to abide by all conditions established for the development.

McDonald adjourned the meeting at 10:13 p.m.

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Palmer Lake Town Council, Oct. 14

By Tim Hibbs

Mayor Nikki McDonald called the meeting to order at 7:06 p.m. Tom Wiens, a candidate for Colorado State Senate District 4, gave a short presentation about his candidacy to the council and the 20 or so members of the audience.

Roger Kort, Director of Public Relations for Aquila Gas, presented an overview of the process of extracting natural gas and delivering it to the consumers in Palmer Lake. He discussed the reasons for the 13 percent increase in the price of natural gas this year.

Kort said the price consumers pay per hundred cubic feet of natural gas is made up of four components: a monthly facility charge, local distribution costs, gas commodity cost, and an upstream demand cost. Two of those components, the monthly facility charge and local distribution costs, are set by the Public Utility Commission and have not changed since 1992.

The largest part of the cost increase is due to an increase in the gas commodity component. For 2003, the cost was $0.52860 per hundred cubic feet, which increased to $0.59269 for 2004.

The upstream demand cost is what Aquila pays to have the gas transported through high-pressure lines from the wellhead to its local distribution centers. The upstream demand cost increased from $0.05264 per hundred cubic feet in 2003 to $0.09526 in 2004. The total cost for 100 cubic feet of natural gas is $0.85998 for 2004, up from $0.75327 in 2003.

Reports

Community and Economic Development – Buildings: Trustee Max Parker reported that the Fire Department building has a small leak in its roof. Parker and Fire Chief Julie Lokken asked for volunteers to assist with repairs.

Parker read the text of a proposed agreement between the town and Access Construction regarding the construction at 835 Highway 105. Access is requesting that the town approve the project with 30 parking spaces, a smaller number than provided for by standards. In return, Access will agree to only rent the lower floor of the facility as a single unit with no subleasing. A motion to send the agreement to the mayor for signature passed unanimously.

Parks and Recreation: Trustee Trish Flake said that work continues on sign maintenance.

No reports were given for the Water, Fire, and Police Committees, nor was the Mayor’s report given.

Fountain Creek Watershed. Bob Miner reported on developments with the Fountain Creek Watershed. He said a presentation was made the second week of September to the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG). The presentation identified a concern that the watershed study, contracted with the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), did not have enough funding to be completed. Senator Wayne Allard’s office has been asked to investigate the funding issue on behalf of the local governments participating in the study. Background information on the study can be found online at http://www.fountain-crk.org/ACE%20Watershed%20Study/ace.htm.

PPACG: Miner also attended the PPACG meeting on Oct. 13. He said that during that meeting, questions were raised about the need for environmental projects in the study area. He asked the council to consider if there was any area along either fork of Monument Creek where an environmental project could occur. Parker asked who would fund such a project. Miner noted that several funding sources are available, such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the ACOE, but that he could not speak on behalf of any of them.

Ordinance 6-2004—Modifications to the Board of Adjustments

The ordinance proposes that the composition of the Board of Adjustments be changed to include a total of five members, including one member from the Town Council and another member from the Palmer Lake Planning Commission. A motion to accept the ordinance as written was made by Trustee Chuck Cornell and seconded by Trustee Gary Coleman.

Miner returned to the podium to address several points of the proposed ordinance. He noted that four citizen members are currently serving on the board and that adding the council and commission members would require one current board member to leave. He further suggested that the chairperson and vice-chairperson positions on the board be occupied exclusively by the citizen members. Also, since the number of members would increase by one, he stated that the board’s quorum should be raised to three.

The council generally agreed with Miner’s points, and McDonald said that the ordinance would be rewritten to incorporate those changes. She said that the revised version would be available for public review and discussion at the next council workshop in November. In response, Cornell withdrew his motion for acceptance of the ordinance as written.

Other agenda items

Blue Dolphin Construction: Developer Tim Shank of Blue Dolphin Construction submitted an application for a road construction permit for the south fork of Shady Lane. Coleman moved, seconded by Trustee George Reese, to issue the permit. The motion passed unanimously without discussion.

Ordinance 5-2004 to vacate an alleyway at Shank’s request was also approved unanimously by the board.

Coleman then made a brief presentation on the proposal to transfer a narrow strip of land on the south edge of Page Street from the town to Shank. The strip borders two parcels of property owned by Shank and varies in width from 21 feet on the west to about 14 feet on the eastern edge. The area of the strip is about 5,350 square feet. He has offered to develop the strip in exchange for the town deeding the property to him and stated that the property would be used only for drainage and off-street parking.

The council continued their discussions, begun at the Oct. 7 town workshop, on a price for the property. After comparing the costs for a detailed appraisal against the costs involved in developing the property to the standards defined for the town, an amount of $4,000 was agreed upon. Shank agreed to perform that amount of work to develop the property, subject to approval by town Roads Supervisor Bob Radosevich. Parker moved to accept the proposal, which was seconded by Trustee Brent Sumner and unanimously approved by the council.

Road construction permit application–Circle Road extension: Developer Brad Kunkle requested a permit to extend Circle Road, which was formerly a portion of Circle Drive. He noted that this request was not being made to change anything and was intended to finish the design platted in 1955.

Resident Gary Atkins, who is also a member of the Palmer Lake Planning Commission, asked that the council consider a requirement to extend paving for the extension beyond the original request of 450 feet to include an additional 250 feet. Atkins owns lots 14 through 17 in the development, which border the additional 250-foot length. He noted that, although he has no plans for access to his properties from the extension, paving the additional length would eliminate dust and maintenance concerns. He indicated he’s willing to work with Kunkle to come to an agreement for cost sharing on the proposal.

Cornell moved, seconded by Flake, to accept the application as submitted. The council approved the motion unanimously, and Kunkle agreed to work with Atkins outside the meeting to come to an agreement on paving the additional length of road.

Road construction permit application–RKJ Construction

Randy Jones of RKJ Construction continued his efforts to secure a road construction permit for an extension to Meadow Lane. He reviewed his actions to date and voiced some frustration at the number of requirements placed upon his development plans by the council, the Planning Commission, and other governmental agencies.

Town Manager Della Gray prepared a summary of discussion items for the project, which served as a framework for council members to review. The summary noted four items that are required of Jones to proceed with development:

  • A storm water discharge permit from the Colorado Division of Public Health (this has been received).

  • An updated Preble’s meadow jumping mouse study or letter indicating compliance.

  • A letter from the Army Corps of Engineers indicating formal acceptance of the project plan.

  • A letter of plan approval from the El Paso County Regional Floodplain Department.

Several residents expressed concerns that construction not be allowed until all aspects of Jones’ plans were listed in detail and approved individually. Town Attorney Jim Kin advised that the council’s deliberations on the project were "on the right track" and that they simply needed to determine what work they were willing to allow Jones to do now and what parts needed to be held back.

McDonald stated that Jones has the legal right to develop his property, but the town has a responsibility to ensure that the project meets applicable standards and follows approved plans.

A continuing point of discussion is the need for a connector road between Meadow Lane and Westward Lane to provide additional access to the development. Not enough information was available to the council to decide this issue. After a great deal of discussion, the council determined that Jones needed to provide an updated set of project plans that reflected all changes made to date.

Parker moved to table the permit request until next month’s meeting, which was seconded by Flake. A verbal count was taken, with Parker, Flake, Sumner, and McDonald in favor of the motion and Coleman, Cornell, and Reese opposed. The motion passed, and the meeting was adjourned at 11:25 p.m.

The next Town Council meeting is Nov. 11, 7 p.m., at Town Hall.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Oct. 4

By Jim Kendrick

At the Oct. 4 meeting, the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) approved the final PD Site Plan amendment requested by Electric Propulsion for its proposed laboratory building expansion on Synthes Avenue. However, the board continued the hearing on the first building for the neighboring Monument Rock office warehouse development after 95 minutes of debate.

The board also approved the Big Mama’s hot dog cart/kiosk business application, the placement of a second antenna array on the pole in Foxworth-Galbraith’s interior parking/storage lot, and two liquor license renewals.

Trustee George Brown was absent.

Trustee Tommie Plank observed that the new format of the minutes, about half as detailed as before, was preferable to those of previous months that have been nearly 50 pages long. Due to the high number of annexations and new subdivisions proposed, the semimonthly board meetings have been lasting up to four hours. At previous BOT meetings, several trustees had asked that the staff limit the amount of discussion details reported.

Gilliana steps down from Police Advisory Committee

Police Chief Joe Kissell presented a certificate of appreciation to Dan Gilliana and noted that he was a five-year charter member of the committee. He formally left the committee in September.

Final Lariat Ranch phase ratified

The board ratified the ordinance for the Final Plat and Final PD Site Plan for Jackson Creek Filing 3 that had been approved at the Sept. 20 BOT meeting; Trustee Gail Drumm voted against the ordinance. This is the final phase of the Lariat Ranch Subdivision and was already well under construction northwest of the intersection of Leather Chaps and Kitchener Way before the planning commission and BOT approved it.

The controversy created by unapproved earth work and water and sewer line construction led to several limitations and conditions placed on this phase of construction. Also controversial in the view of adjacent Lariat Ranch residents was the failure by developer Colorado Structures and the BOT to protect their mountain views. They had paid thousands of dollars to builder Keller Homes to have these views protected, but Rick Blevins of Vision Development, Inc. told the BOT that his development company was under no obligation to honor these contracts. Town Attorney Gary Shupp had also said on Sept. 20 that the town was in no position nor obligation to limit the height of adjacent Filing 3 houses.

The board limited some lots in Filing 3 to ranch homes but did not insist the developer modify already installed water and sewer lines whose existing stubs would have to be moved if the lots were redesigned for ranch homes. However, the board did change construction regulations to prevent most grading and the installation of water and sewer lines in the future until the BOT has approved the project.

The list of conditions for Filing 3 imposed by the board includes:

"The developer shall incorporate changes requested by town and metro district staff and consultants to the satisfaction of town staff.

  1. "As recommended by the town engineer, the developer shall add notes to the final PD Site Plan regarding measures to control … noise, dust, and other blowing materials, erosion, sedimentation and drainage.

  2. "The developer shall indicate on the site plan and in notes any limitations to preserve views, such as restrictions on type (e.g. ranch style houses) or height of structure.

  3. "Prior to the next filing which the primary access route is through the intersection of Baptist Road and Leather Chaps, the developer shall make provisions for a traffic signal at Leather Chaps and Baptist Road that are acceptable to the board of trustees.

  4. "To eliminate sidewalks south of Kitchener Way and build a retaining wall and additional landscaping.

  5. "That certain lots be restricted to ranch-style homes, Lots 18, 20, 21, 59, 62, and 63.

  6. "Delay the trail located just west of Oxbow Drive and going south from the park until they can properly place it with a financial guarantee to the town."

(Correction: In the Oct. 2 issue of OCN, a typographical error listed Jackson Creek Filing 3 lot 8, instead of lot 18, (as noted above) as being restricted to a ranch-style house to preserve view of existing adjacent Lariat Ranch homes.)

Big Mama’s Dogs resumes operations after four-month review

The board unanimously approved Claudia Whitney’s request for a kiosk-type business license for her hot dog cart operation in the parking lot of Paradise Ponds & Landscaping on the northwest corner of Washington and Second Streets. No citizens commented on Whitney’s proposal.

Written comments submitted to the planning staff by neighboring business owners noted the positive effect her business had by attracting customers before she was forced to temporarily cease operations.

The town now controls parking lot businesses, having adopted and modified the innovative regulations written last year by Karen Evans, owner of Chick and a Windshield. Her business, which performs windshield repairs in the parking lots of the Baptist Road King Soopers and the Big O Tire store on Highway 105, served as the prototype for parking lot businesses and established the precedent for the new regulation.

The regulation defines several classes of kiosk-type businesses and imposes differing constraints, limits, and controls on each type. Some subsequent applicants have withdrawn from the review process because of the length of the review cycle or the new requirements and constraints placed on parking-lot operations.

Trustee Frank Orten expressed concern over the four-month-long process Whitney had to follow to gain approval of an already existing business. He said it was "pretty silly to fill out so much paperwork for something so simple" as a hot dog cart business. Whitney was required to submit substantial paperwork to and undergo hearings by the town advisory committees, the town planning commission, and the BOT. Currently, there is no requirement for an equivalent review of food vendors at the town’s summer farmers’ markets or downtown events.

Whitney was also obliged to mail notices to adjacent property owners soliciting comments, post notices on the property, and wait while each successive hearing on the license request was advertised in the paper.

In all, a minimum of three months of public hearings are now required before a license to operate a food cart can be obtained. Town Planner Mike Davenport said the BOT may wish to consider allowing his staff to grant temporary administrative approval for hot dog carts to begin operation if the business owner had all the other required approvals, including but not limited to:

  • Colorado health department license

  • Colorado sales tax license

  • Monument business license

  • Peddler’s license

  • Business site plan

  • Landscape plan

  • Copy of agreement with the owner(s) using the parking lot where the cart is to be operated

  • Copy of agreement with the owner of the parking lot

  • Copy of agreement on which business’s building will provide lavatory facilities

  • Required paving and sufficient parking

  • Certification that the cart will be removed from the site at the end of the business day

  • Concurrence by all reviewing agencies or departments

  • Copy of an adequate insurance policy listing the applicant as the insured party

  • Copy of the title to the cart that is used in the hot dog business

The town planning staff would also have to provide temporary approval regarding signage, hazardous materials, environmental impact, architectural standards, building code, standards, foundation requirements, and traffic flow study.

Davenport said the board may wish to delegate approval to the planning staff and not require any hearings at all by modifying the regulations. Trustee Tommie Plank said that administrative approval was "okay." Drumm said that he wanted all such businesses to be approved in a hearing.

Whitney said that over the four-month hearing cycle, she could not get answers to any of her questions on when she could resume operations. She said she ceased operations when it was clear that she would not receive prompt approval. She gave no estimate of how much revenue she had lost. She asked if she had to return to the next BOT meeting when the ordinance confirming her license approval is considered. Glenn indicated she did not and apologized for the delay.

AT&T wireless antenna approved

Davenport reported that AT&T has agreed to share an existing 60-foot pole owned by Sprint CMRS within the fenced-in loading dock area behind Foxworth-Galbraith on Struthers Road. The size of the Sprint equipment area will increase from 600 to 900 square feet to house additional electronic support equipment for the new AT&T wireless antenna. However, Sprint’s desire to keep the 18-inch section of barbed wire currently on top of their 6-foot chain link perimeter fence proved to be quite controversial.

The board unanimously approved an ordinance and major amendment to the final PD Site Plan for the Foxworth-Galbraith parcel, which is owned by developer Tom Watt. A condition of approval was that a note be added to the amended site plan specifically approving the array of barbed wire at the top of the chain-link fence currently surrounding the antenna and related electrical support equipment. The barbed wire is not electrified.

Public Works Supervisor Tom Wall said that the current town regulations only allow barbed wire at industrial sites, not at commercial properties. He added that there is existing barbed wire throughout the town at a number of "grandfathered" sites, particularly at town utility facilities. Mertz said there was no need for a fence within a perimeter fence behind the store, but Davenport noted that there may be a federal rule associated with anti-terrorism that requires the additional protection.

The second wireless antenna did not require a revised landscaping plan since the location cannot be seen from outside roads or buildings. Steve Tuttle of town traffic consultant SEH said the site’s "traffic is anticipated to be well below the threshold for a traffic study. No transportation issues have been identified."

Jackie Hall of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) concurred with Tuttle and said that new drainage and environmental studies do not appear to be required, though she cautioned that any new signage on the installed equipment must comply with the Colorado Outdoor Advertising Act.

Susan Linner, Colorado Field Supervisor for U.S. Fish and Wildlife, determined that the existing loading docks and surrounding pavement were "not likely to adversely affect any federally listed threatened or endangered species or adversely modify any designated critical habitat."

No one spoke in favor of or opposition to hanging the second antenna on this pole. There was one written comment opposing the installation. ADK Monument Developers, LLC; The Timbers at Monument, LLC; and Hammers Construction, Inc. wrote that they were "adamantly opposed" to the "additional unsightly features" of the existing wireless facility and said it was "simply not consistent" with protecting "the aesthetic integrity and quality of development under way at the northeast quadrant of that major highway interchange." These entities plan to develop the commercial property between Foxworth-Galbraith and the King Soopers shopping center.

Davenport did not address this objection in his presentation of the 30-page staff report on the antenna installation. No trustee concurred with the developers’ assertions.

Electric Propulsion Expansion Approved

The application by owners Graeme and Martha Aston for a "Major Amendment to their existing Final PD Site Plan" to allow an expansion of one of their two buildings on Lot 1 of Monument Industrial Park Phase 2 was unanimously approved by the board. The ordinance includes these conditions that require Electric Propulsion to:

  • Have their drainage plan formally approved by Town Engineer Tony Hurst after they provide additional information on their engineering plat for a larger downstream area, from Old Denver Road to the Air Force Academy.

  • Amend the plat to address the issues of the drainage needs of downstream landowners and the Air Force Academy.

  • Provide written evidence that they have notified the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prior to using any cranes on the site.

  • Regrade the site to add a berm that prevents drainage flow downhill to the west side of the railroad tracks by directing it to the detention pond.

  • Leave all site trees—except one that must be removed—where they are.

The business’s 4,000-square-foot painted metal Laboratory Building will be expanded by 3,000 square feet to the north, along Synthes Avenue. The addition will also be 40 feet deep and 75 feet wide.

There were no citizen comments for or against the proposal, nor any written comments opposing it. Davenport reviewed the comments and conditions from other agencies. He noted that the Air Force Academy had requested more extensive storm water runoff requirements than were in effect when the lab building was initially constructed. The Academy also requested that the use of cranes be coordinated with the Federal Aviation Administration. Davenport said Town Engineer Tony Hurst had not reviewed the drainage plan yet, but requested that the BOT prevent issuance of a building permit until he could review them.

The Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District’s Fire Marshal requested that an access lane for fire vehicles be added to the site plan on the north side of the expanded building. U.S. Fish and Wildlife said no mouse habitat would be affected. All conditions were met or specified in the ordinance.

Drumm said he had inspected the east side of the railroad tracks next to Valley Ridge Patio Homes, Pastimes, Santa Fe Trails, and Village of Monument subdivisions because of continuing drainage issues. Watt’s driveway off Old Denver Highway, just north of Soc-N-Roll, crosses under the railroad tracks at a trestle bridge south of these existing subdivisions. At past town meetings, he has described severe sedimentation flow from the Pastimes and Santa Fe Trails subdivisions under the trestle and showed pictures of erosion on the east side of the railbed.

Davenport said these drainage problems led to the town’s recent adoption of the more restrictive Volume II of Regional Building’s Drainage Manual, which covers sedimentation and erosion. However, they do not apply to the applications considered at this meeting because they were submitted prior to adoption. Volume II drainage restrictions will apply to all buildings constructed in the future.

Drumm noted that the town engineer has had difficulty contacting a railroad representative regarding ongoing drainage problems causing washouts under the eastern tracks. He added that he couldn’t approve the building expansion because of these problems.

Davenport said the expansion could be conditionally approved pending Hurst’s positive finding on the drainage report. Town Attorney Gary Shupp observed that Drumm’s concerns had nothing to do with the Electric Propulsion proposal. Shupp said the Electric Propulsion proposal meets all requirements.

Drumm asked that the applicant’s plan to save all but one of the trees on the property be added as a condition to the ordinance and that the amended site plan should have an added note stating this requirement.

Davenport said that Electric Propulsion had already proposed this in their initial submission and is already growing a grove of trees on the property for future screening requirements when they build.

Drumm then asked for a condition requiring an amended plat note that states that Electric Propulsion would be required to notify neighboring property owners about their drainage plans when they build their other buildings.

No decision reached on Monument Rock Business Park

After 95 minutes of discussion and two failed motions, the Monument Rock Business Park proposal for the northeast corner of Synthes and Mitchell Avenues was neither approved nor rejected. The trustees did not like the orientation, colors, doorways, or ornamentation of the building and continued the hearing to the next BOT meeting.

The session left the representatives and two owners of applicant SDK1, Hermann Spielkamp and John Dworak, frustrated and without concrete suggestions on what the board needed to see in order to approve the first of three buildings in the project. The other owner, former Monument Mayor Betty Konarski, did not attend the hearing.

The proposal calls for three identical 12,579-square-foot buildings, with precast concrete and polished stone tile facades facing south on the 4.72 acre parcel. The buildings would house seven businesses, each with front door and window access on Synthes Avenue and seven rear drive-in garage door openings for deliveries. A town-owned 100-foot-wide undeveloped strip of land between Mitchell Avenue and the railroad tracks separates the industrial development from the Trumbull Lane residential subdivision to the north as a buffer.

There is a similar style five-suite building nearing completion at 259 Beacon Lite Road, between Second and Third Street. Its rear garage doors open onto a rear driveway next to the Santa Fe Trailhead parking lot. However, there were no objections to this essentially identical building, in contrast to the SDK1 proposal. The gray cinder block J. Kerr Addition building under construction on the northeast corner of Second Street and Mitchell Avenue has only raised, same-color, cinder block ornamentation on its façade and no sidewalks, but was not controversial either.

SDK1’s plans call for construction of one building per year starting in 2004. Sewer easements through some adjacent residential lots on Trumbull have already been negotiated by the Monument Sanitation District. Although the vote at the Sept. 8 Planning Commission was 4-2 in favor of the project, its recommendation was that only an administrative review by the planning staff be required for the second and third buildings, if they comply with existing regulations. Davenport then went through an extensive review of issues and comments that his department had received regarding this proposal. The major issues were:

  • The Air Force Academy requires that the project will not violate the most recent town revisions to drainage or storm water runoff requirements, that the FAA be notified before any crane operations during construction, and that all future occupants will be told that they will be subject to continuous Academy aircraft noise.

  • Public Works Supervisor Tom Wall asked that the developers be required to install sidewalks, curbs, and gutters along Synthes Avenue. None of the other existing businesses on that street have these.

  • Fire Marshal Tom Eastburn of Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District requested an additional fire hydrant at the entrance to the business park and that another fire hydrant and water main be added to the site plan as a condition of approval for construction of the third building (forecast for 2006).

  • Written comments from nearby property owners varied, with concerns including traffic, noise, lighting, architectural character, and property values. However, the land was zoned for planned industrial development (PID) in 1986, long before any of the adjacent homes were planned or built. In addition, traffic studies all show no significant impact on Synthes or Mitchell Avenue; all building exterior lighting will be downcast and shielded, and a streetlight will be built at the corner of Mitchell and Synthes; and the developer will be replanting some trees and planting new fir trees as screening for the nearby residences.

Guman said later that the Planning Commission had asked that a berm be built north of the rear parking and driveways so the trees and shrubs would be further elevated. SDK1 had offered to plant twice as many trees and shrubs as required by regulation to ensure a complete visual screening of the garage doors for neighboring residences, as well as place some on adjacent town property so they could sit atop the berm that the Planning Commission had asked for to further raise the height of the natural screen. No decision on this was made by the BOT.

Trumbull Lane residents Louisa and Neal Taylor asked why the 21 rear garage doors had to face the rear of their homes, which are over 200 feet away. Guman said that this layout worked best for the type of businesses being sought by his client. The Taylors said that their other concerns had been addressed by changes Davenport had recommended and the developer had accepted.

Trustee Dave Mertz asked about the traffic flow in the development. Guman said there would be a clockwise flow and the only access would be on Synthes. He said trucks will drive to the site from I-25 along Second Street to Mitchell, then south to Synthes.

Mertz set the tone for the rest of the evening’s discussion when he said the buildings were "one of the ugliest designs I’ve seen" and that he was "surprised it got through the planning commission." Drumm agreed and also complained about the garage doors being on the north side of the building. He suggested moving the doors to the east end, without explaining how trucks would reach those businesses in the middle of the building and adding stone facings to break up the wide flat surfaces.

Guman said that in an office warehouse business park, business owners typically place their reception area and offices by the front door, where the windows are, and place storage in the rear. Davenport said this arrangement of having storage in the rear of office warehouse businesses, also called flex space, is common and is the overwhelming preference of tenants.

Drumm asked that a Mitchell Avenue driveway for cars only be added at the west end of the property. Guman said that would only be about 100 feet north of Synthes Avenue and that southbound left turns would enormously complicate rush hour traffic on Mitchell. Consultant Engineer Rick Schindler of Tri-Core Engineering said that Davenport and SEH had strongly recommended against having any access onto Mitchell Avenue for this reason. Schindler reiterated that these are garage doors for small trucks, not loading docks like those at the other industrial buildings on Synthes.

Mertz said the buildings would set a precedent for other office warehouses in the PID areas all along I-25 in town. However two other new office warehouse buildings (next to J.J. Tracks on Beacon Lite and the J. Kerr Addition building at Mitchell and Second) do not meet most of the minimum standards that the trustees were attempting to require for the SDK1 buildings.

Glenn said the "color scheme was pretty ugly" and several other trustees agreed in turn. The proposed color of the building was the same as that of the rocks in Garden of the Gods park.

A four-foot-square section was displayed showing the colors of the pre-fabricated concrete wall sections, the decorative stone tiles, and the pre-cast character line grooves/reveals. The color on the plan sheets was darker than the display section that none of the trustees had previously noticed. Guman said the color on the plans was not meant to be an actual depiction It was simply the closest color available in the AutoCAD software used to draw the planning documents.

Drumm later asked Guman if he had coordinated the building’s color scheme with the adjacent owners of the steel industrial buildings to gain their approval. Guman asked, "Why?" and noted the building was private property and that having the other businesses select the exterior design of the SDK1 property was not appropriate. Drumm said that doing so was "just being a good neighbor."

Drumm asked if Hurst could have the Santa Fe Trails subdivision drainage issue added to the drainage report. Wall replied that the Santa Fe Trails’ detention pond is south of the SDK1 property and has nothing to do with this application. Guman said that SDK1 drainage will never cross the railroad track and join the Santa Fe Trails outflow. He noted that Hurst had approved the SDK1 drainage plan for handling all requirements including 100-year storms.

Glenn asked if a letter could be required that notifies neighboring property owners about the SDK1 drainage. Davenport said the town has no regulations or standards for letters to downstream owners. Town regulations do require that neighboring owners and businesses be notified by mail of the project and that each of the project hearings also be posted on the property and advertised in the paper. Neighbors are encouraged to provide written comments and are advised that they may speak at the town’s public hearings.

Guman said he had been surprised by the town’s "no-notice demand" for sidewalks on Oct. 1, one business day before the hearing. He said no other developer or business in the area had been expected to build one and that the planning staff had never asked for a sidewalk in all the discussions it had with SDK1. He asked, "If SDK1 puts in 350 feet of sidewalk, who benefits?" He said the Planning Commission, which had just approved the project, had not told Electric Propulsion to put in sidewalks.

Orten said that unless all the other businesses on Synthes were required to also build sidewalks, this was an unfair requirement. Davenport said that each new building for each company will lead to sidewalk installations and this would just be the first to be required by a new regulation. However, no sidewalk was required along the frontage of the J. Kerr building as a condition of annexation on April 5. Trustee Scott Meszaros said that the adjacent portion of Mitchell Avenue is dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists because it also lacks sidewalks.

Glenn said he wanted a study of Second Street traffic and a drainage easement across the adjacent commercial property south of the SDK1 parcel. Schindler said, the traffic "problem" is actually a railroad crossing problem rather than a service level problem on Mitchell or Synthes, as defined by traffic regulations. Schindler added that at buildout, SDK1 traffic would be at most 20 percent of the Synthes traffic and a negligible fraction of the traffic on Second Street.

Glenn then suggested that the town require additional traffic studies for the second and third buildings to include Second Street. Schindler noted that Electric Propulsion had not been required to do a traffic study that included Second Street flows to I-25.

Davenport said he wasn’t sure the town could compel such a drainage easement under current regulations. After more discussion, no decision was made about whether or how to require drainage easements and/or storm drains on the SDK1 parcel. However, because of the uncertainty, Glenn and Drumm remained reluctant to approve the proposal even though it meets all regulations according to the applicant’s and town’s consultants.

Orten made a motion to approve the proposal. It died for lack of a second. Meszaros repeated his concerns about sidewalks and traffic. Drumm repeated his demands for upgraded landscaping and architectural design. Mertz repeated his concerns about the need for architectural design upgrades as well. Glenn said a high-cost exterior design with many features like parapets, gables, and pitched roofs would stick out like a sore thumb next to all the plain steel industrial buildings nearby. Mertz said that residents were right next to the SDK1 building and the comprehensive plan requires these features. Orten disagreed, saying there was a town-owned buffer that provided the desired transition to the industrial development and the features were only recommendations, not ordinances. Guman said the SDK1 office warehouses were not steel buildings but they are still just warehouses, not office buildings for professionals.

After much more discussion, Mertz made a motion to deny the application. Plank seconded the motion. The vote was 3-3, and the motion failed. Mertz, Drumm, and Trustee Scott Meszaros voted to deny the proposal, while Plank, Orten, and Glenn voted against denying it.

Representatives of the applicants said the trustees’ new demands were unreasonable and had no basis in terms of law or of customary development review and approval practices.

Guman said the board had not given them adequate direction and that the time and money spent changing the aesthetics of the building could be a waste of their resources. He asked Mertz to cite the reference in the Comprehensive Plan on architectural standards, but Mertz could not do so; he asked Davenport to provide the information. Glenn agreed with Guman that revising the design would incur substantial cost and there was no guarantee that these trustees would find any other proposal offered to be less unacceptable.

Orten then made a motion to continue the discussion at the next BOT meeting, on Oct. 18; Drumm seconded and the motion passed unanimously. During the brief recess that followed, each of the applicant’s representatives said the board appeared to want to personally design their buildings and pick the colors and that, in the absence of any firm guidance, they did not know what they should do next to get the project approved.

Financial Matters

Disbursements over $5,000: The BOT unanimously approved two disbursements over $5,000: $23,059.55 to GMS for engineering consultant services and $7,705.25 to Specialty Resources, Ltd. for water system maintenance.

Moving Well 1 treatment and controls building: Wall said that moving the treatment and controls facilities from the Fifth Street right-of-way onto town-owned property will cost about $8,400, which the board endorsed unanimously. This expense was not part of the Public Works facilities upgrade budget; the additional expenditure will come from the budget line for "Water Fund-Board Contingency." D&J Quality Electric, Inc. will do the electrical installation of the equipment. The other Public Works facilities in the Fifth Street right-of-way will remain.

The board also approved $47,800 for purchase of a new prefabricated metal garage building from Portland Systems. Wall said that engineer-stamped foundation plans are included in the building price, which will allow the town to proceed with the site preparation for the building.

The garage will be 50 feet wide, 120 feet deep, and have 14-foot walls. There will be five garage doors and two regular doors.

Well 9 raw water transmission line payment: Wall and engineering consultant GMS recommended approving payment of $87,785.45 to T. Lowell Construction, Inc. for work done along Old Denver Highway Sept. 3-28. In his Sept. 30 letter requesting payment, Lowell stated that 64 percent of the work had been completed as of Sept. 28. The bill included two change orders, which reduced the amount by $4,225.35.

Liquor licenses considered

There had been a question about whether or not the restaurant to be built in the expanded portion of the Pankratz Art Gallery at Beacon Lite and Second Streets was too close to District 38 facilities to qualify for a liquor license. Town Clerk and Treasurer Judy Skrzypek said that the proximity rule of 500 feet does not apply to the "Big Red" administration building and that Grace Best Elementary School was outside the restricted area. However, no action was taken on the proposed license.

The board unanimously approved a renewal of the Mandarin House Restaurant’s liquor license. (This item was not listed on the published agenda.)

Skrzypek said she had still not received any indication of what the sales tax revenues from Home Depot would be to help firm up the 2005 budget proposal. The store opened on July 1.

Committee/Staff Reports

It was noted that the Historic Monument Merchants Association would be sponsoring their Fall Festival on Oct. 9. Retired Major William Tolbert was scheduled to speak at Town Hall at 11 a.m. on a book entitled Threads of Honor, about the U.S. flag of Boy Scout Troop 514 that rode on the Challenger space shuttle. The town was to be presented a replica of this flag after the presentation and flag ceremonies by the Monument Troop 17. Orten said he would accept the flag on behalf of the town at that ceremony. [See the article on this event on page 39.]

Glenn said that Rick Blevins of Jackson Creek Land Company and Superintendent Dave Dilley of the Lewis Palmer School District had indicated that a possible settlement to their lawsuit over additional land dedication on Higby Road may be settled quickly.

Traffic impact fees

In closing public comments, former Trustee Glenda Smith expressed concern that the traffic impact fees paid by new residence owners may not have been used efficiently given the condition of town roads and Old Denver Highway in particular. She said the additional turn and through lanes that have been built by the entrances of the four subdivisions do not appear to meet code requirements.

Wall said that some portions of the highway lie outside the town limits and town funds could not be used to widen or repave the road after the Well 9 raw water line construction is completed. He noted that the town owns the portions next to the Valley Ridge and Pastimes subdivisions, but not the portion next to Santa Fe Trails and further south. Sonnenburg said there is a specific list of town roads for which the impact fees are designated. He said all the roads on the list are now completed as two-lane roads, but eligible roads could be widened to four lanes with any remaining and future impact fee funds.

Orten asked if traffic impact fees are collected for new homes in Jackson Creek. Sonnenburg said no, because the Regency Park intergovernmental agreement of 1987 allowed the Triview Metropolitan District to veto the traffic impact fee when it was passed in 2001. Davenport said the 2001 plan called for widening roads with the impact fee funding rather than improving or rebuilding existing ones. Glenn said the board needs to revise those priorities because Old Denver Highway should be rebuilt first, then widened if there is money left over. Drumm said that the town doesn’t own enough of Old Denver Highway to make a drastic impact and that all of it needs to be four lanes. Smith agreed.

At 9:40 p.m. the BOT went into executive session to discuss Limbach Park property appraisals, personnel matters, and the Masse concrete batch plant lawsuit. After momentarily returning to open session, the meeting was adjourned at 10:05 p.m. There were no announcements after the executive session.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Oct. 18

By Jim Kendrick

On Oct. 18, the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) held an unexpected special meeting, prompted by Chief Joseph Kissell’s resignation effective Nov. 5, to discuss current issues and future of the department. At their regular meeting, the board reversed their opposition to the Monument Rock Offices/Warehouses development, renewed all their professional consultant contracts, and approved a waiver of some of the construction-related fees for Tri-Lakes Cares’ new building. Trustee George Brown was absent.

Special Meeting

Mayor Byron Glenn said he called the special meeting to listen to input from the members of the police department on "what to do and where to go from here." Kissell said his decision to make a career change after nearly 29 years in the police force was a family decision that would enable him to spend more time with his children and grandchildren.

He added that he will be taking a job directing Community Correction (COMCOR), a non-profit transitional facility under contract to the Department of Corrections.

Glenn asked Kissell to help select a new chief. Sgt. Rick Tudor will take over as interim chief. Trustee Frank Orten urged current members of the department to apply for the position. Board members and police department staff spoke glowingly of Kissell’s contributions to the town.

Regular Meeting

Public comments: Paul Durbin, a parishioner of St. Peter Catholic Church asked what procedures he should follow to erect a 30-foot flagpole by the church’s school. Town Planner Mike Davenport said his staff would approve the land use permit if the foundation plan is adequate. Glenn suggested that Durbin contact Regional Building for further guidance.

State Representative Tom Wiens introduced himself to those in attendance. Orten and Glenn said they wanted to work with him, State Representative Lynn Hefley, State Senator Randy May, and County Commissioner Wayne Williams on funding for Baptist Road improvements.

Lee Kilbourn, chair of the Tri-Lakes Economic Development Committee, gave an update on the Tri-Lakes Region signs to be built on I-25 by the new Highway 105 bridge. The town has contributed $10,000 toward completion of construction. He has made an agreement with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to be responsible for the landscaping of the installation. He said he hopes to get the landscaping and construction completed by Thanksgiving. The board unanimously endorsed his negotiations with CDOT to have the town take over the responsibility of landscape maintenance for the new park and ride facility at Highway 105 and Woodmoor Drive. Kilbourn will try to change the types of vegetation that CDOT will install. The town will be responsible for sign lighting, irrigation system installation and maintenance, and the water bill.

Annual consultant contracts for professional services were renewed for the calendar year 2005 with Krassa and Miller, Lytle Water Solutions, Short Elliot Henderson, Benefit Design, and Wittier & Shupp.

The contract with the Humane Society was continued and approved at the Nov. 1 meeting. The renewal of the contract with GMS, Inc., which expires May 1, 2005, was deferred until spring. The board agreed to renew at that time only through December, so that the GMS contract has the same New Year anniversary date as all the others.

Jim Burgeron and John Dominowski asked the board to waive all fees and taxes for Tri-Lakes Cares new building. Davenport estimated the taxes and fees to be about $26,000. The board unanimously agreed to waive all the impact fees and tap fee, but will still require the "commercial" land use permit base fee ($100) and the use tax ($2,406). Town attorneys said the board could not legally waive these taxes. The building will be constructed behind the Abundant Life Church.

Margaret French asked the board to approve a new comprehensive plan for senior centers and appoint her director of services. The board thanked her for her presentation but declined to take action due to budget constraints.

Monument Sanitation District petition

Dominowski and Ernie Biggs asked the board to express a position on their petition drive to have eligible electors within the Monument Sanitation District (MSD), which is separate from the town government, vote on dissolving the district to have another entity take it over. They are advocating that the town take over the district, of which a little over 70 percent lies within the town boundaries, and asked the board to vote on a motion supporting that goal.

Biggs and Dominowski made several charges about district operations and asked the town to remedy them by a takeover. They said:

  • "Special districts were never meant to exist on their own" and the town should take over the sanitation district when it is solvent

  • "They don’t own a shovel and they contract for all their work"

  • More than 80 percent of the district lies within the town and should not pay for their "empire building"

  • Residents at the south end of town should not be paying for sewer lines "running to the north"

  • The district could pay off bonds costing $40,000 per year in interest

  • The town would not have to buy the district’s assets because it would be taking over operations

  • "They won’t negotiate in good faith and have budgeted $50,000 for attorney fees"

  • "The district’s attorney is making statements that will make new laws"

They added that they will not back away from their petition drive unless the town tells them that they do not want to take over the district. Dominowski said that if they get enough petition signatures, the district "comes up with a good service plan" which the judge approves. He and Biggs are asking that the district pay off its debt and be taken over by the town, because there are "too many kingdoms" and this would be one "entity that does not need to be separate." The town should keep it as an asset and send out one bill for water and sewer.

Glenn asked if bills would go down. Biggs said "There is a possibility the monthly fee could be lowered" after the mill levy to pay for the bonds goes away. (The bonds will be paid off in December 2007.) Glenn asked Public Work Supervisor Tom Wall if he could take over. Wall said he and another water technician have the required licenses.

Orten asked about paying for the sanitation district’s easements. Shupp said he could not answer without having seen the documentation for each of them. Treasurer Judy Skrzypek said she didn’t know who audits the district and had not looked at their financial records. She later said that the district does not use the same computer software for billing but her department could take over the billing process. Plank disputed Biggs claim on the amount of the district that lies within the town saying it may be up to 85 percent. Glenn reminded him that the town could only take over the district if more than 85 percent was contained and he was sure the current figure is less than 80 percent.

Plank said the petition language was presumptive and that voters could not expect the town to automatically take over the district because there are too many unanswered questions regarding expenses and easements. Shupp proposed that the board agree to take over the district but only if each of their questions can be answered in a positive manner so that there are no lingering questions on costs, easements, or legalities. Plank suggested a joint meeting of the BOT and MSD boards. Glenn said he didn’t know why the district’s board "had to hold on to the district."

Lowell Morgan, chair of the district as well as the Monument Planning Commission, then addressed the board. He said that there were other logical entities that could take over the district, such as the other two equal-share owners of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) on Mitchell Avenue. The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District currently operates the facility for the joint use committee that directs its operations. Palmer Lake Sanitation District is very much like Monument. Either would be a good candidate for takeover due to familiarity and long-established working relationships.

Morgan said that contrary to Biggs assertion, his district was planning to extend sewer lines to Wakonda Hills because the county had requested them to do so to solve the serious problem of failing septic systems for the houses there that are 30 to 40 years old. He said the mains would run across the Zonta property, which the town had failed to annex when requested by owner Doug Barber. He said that sewer lines are also being extended south to the Trails End subdivision, which the town later annexed. Morgan said that half the capital reserves of over $1 million will be used for these projects in 2005.

The joint use committee is facing a copper problem in their discharge which has cost a quarter million dollars to fix already and the discharge standards are expected to become more stringent for the new WWTF license. New nitrogen extraction regulations may require a new investment of $1.5 million. He said it would be "ridiculous" to pay off the facility expansion bond with needed cash reserves while facing so much new debt. He said he wasn’t surprised that Biggs and Dominowski didn’t know about these things or tell the BOT about them because they don’t attend district board meetings.

Glenn asked why the district owns a third of the facility when it only has a fifth of the flow. Morgan said both WWTF’s in the region and many others are owned in equal shares, because no district can match their flows with the others. Morgan added that it would be silly to have equipment and staff onboard that would only be used a small fraction of the year, so they contract out most of their work just like the town does.

He said that Dominowski’s statement that most towns do their own water and sewer services is wrong. Sanitation districts are usually much larger than a town and there are thousands of special districts in Colorado. He said his district was created in 1962 because the town could not afford to provide the service for so small a population base. The town abandoned its plan for takeover in the recent past when more than 85 percent of the district still was within its boundaries. The WWTF has enough flow capacity for the next 13 years following the recent expansion, but that can change if growth rates continue to accelerate.

Morgan proposed a joint board meeting to discuss the issues. The trustees asked a number of technical questions about plant operations, bonding, and dissolution procedures. Wall concurred with Morgan’s answers. Shupp said he would have to check on relative bonding capabilities.

The motion to approve the takeover if it was completely free of problems for the town passed 4-2 with Plank and Meszaros opposed.

Monument Rocks

SDK1 owner and former mayor Betty Konarski and designer Bill Guman returned to seek approval of the proposed office warehouse development at the northeast corner of Synthes and Mitchell. Most of the previous opposition to the proposal faded as Konarski let the trustees pick the color of the building from four alternatives and promised to extend grooves/reveals in the front of the building across the precast concrete sections used on the sides and back of the building.

She agreed to escrow amounts for additional landscape screening along the back of the parcel of about $6,120 in lieu of the tall screening fence required by town regulations. However, split rail fencing will now be required to soften the view of the homes nearby on Trumbull Lane. The berm that the Planning Commission had asked for along the back of the lot was added back to the landscape screen requirement.

However, she objected to building or providing escrow funds of about $13,000 for 350 feet of sidewalks, curbs, and gutters. She did agree to the condition on the final plat that the town may mandate their construction at some time in the future. No funds for these will be escrowed and the sidewalk will not be built at this time.

Drainage issues

Town Engineer Tony Hurst discussed drainage issues along the east side of the railroad tracks by the four subdivisions on Old Denver Highway south of Santa Fe Road. Hurst is working with the developers of Santa Fe Trails and Pastimes/Peak View to get them to fund drainage improvements. In the past, their drainage has eroded the ground underneath easternmost tracks and dumped tons of sediment into Mike Watt’s driveway where it goes under the railroad trestle bridge near Soc-N-Roll.

The developers have asked to be released from their bonds with the town to use the money to pay for the improvements. Glenn asked Hurst to try to obtain overhead photos of the drainage easements along the railroad tracks and consult with the railroad on the proposed improvements.

Financial Report

Skrzypek reported that cemetery costs have exceeded sales revenue by $26,000 so far this year. Wall said the plot fees were just raised so it is difficult to balance revenue with expenses when only eight to ten plots are sold each year. The board unanimously approved the report and a transfer payment of $15,707.71 to Triview for their share of sales tax revenue collected by the state.

The board unanimously approved two county building proposals without comment; revision of the personnel policy manual regarding exempt employees who discover errors in their payroll deductions or paychecks; liquor license renewal for Tri-Lakes Liquor; and a 2.6 percent pay raise for Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2004.

Reports

Davenport noted that the Monument Marketplace developer submitted plat amendments for a big box superstore building on pad A for administrative approval. The name of the tenant has not been disclosed although the building plan is very similar to the Baptist Road Wal-Mart building plan rejected by the Board of County Commissioners July 15.

Wall said the town was now using a guideboard leveler to eliminate the washboards that have occurred in recent paving jobs.

Sonnenburg noted for the record that Chief Kissell was resigning and a search will be made for a replacement. Sgt. Rick Tudor will serve as interim chief.

The board went into executive session to discuss the Limbach Park land acquisition and to receive legal advice on an insurance claim. The meeting adjourned at 10:30 p.m.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Nov. 1

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Board of Trustees unanimously approved the subdivision improvement agreement (SIA) for Monument Rock subdivision, the contract with the Humane Society for 2005, and the Triview Metropolitan District’s request for a voluntary $5,000 contribution to traffic control improvements on Leather Chaps Drive for Creekside Middle School on Nov. 1. There was also cake and punch to commemorate Police Chief Joe Kissell’s last BOT meeting. Trustee Frank Orten was absent.

The board also had a working session special meeting to begin the line by line review of the 2005 budget, which was mostly a technical review of what the various names and items referred to or how they were accounted for in various parts of the document. Town department heads responded to questions from the board. There were no unusual changes; nearly all the items listed reflected "business as usual" for the coming year. More special sessions will be scheduled prior to the final budget hearing in early December.

Humane Society contract goes up

The contract fee has been unchanged for the past several years and was increased 23 percent to reflect the growth in the town and the actual number of calls made. The contract calls for staff members to be in the area during the day to shorten dispatch times. Trustee Gail Drumm asked why they do not pick up raccoons or dead skunks. Director of Operations Leslie Yoder said that routine nuisance calls, such as removal from a woodpile, were the responsibility of the Division of Wildlife or the property owner. However, if a non-domestic animal appeared to be a threat to children or diseased, then the Humane Society would make an emergency call. The number of requests has risen from 144 to 243 over the past three years. Kissell supported her by saying that their staff’s response to "barking dog and dog-at-large" calls freed police officers to do real police work, which was needed and appreciated by his staff.

School crossing

So far Triview has spent $23,403 for engineering ($2,000), striping and signage ($9,648), and flashing signals ($11,753) to improve traffic control during arrival/departure times at Creekside Middle School. District Manager Ron Simpson said the new controls already installed have eliminated the hazard of parents parking in the middle lane of Leather Chaps while waiting for child pickup. Simpson also received $5,000 from the Round-up Fund of Mountain View Electric Association.

Glenn supported Simpson’s request as the kind of cooperation needed to ensure reciprocal support in extending water and sewer services to commercial property next to the east side of I-25 that was annexed within the past three years. Developer Mike Watt, who owns the commercial property under and around Foxworth-Galbraith, is currently asking the town to provide these services as required by the annexation agreement. Glenn said it would be best for the town to have Triview provide the services to Watt’s property, with or without annexing the property into the district, rather than have Watt de-annex the property from the town. Skrzypek said approval of the donation to Triview would drop the board’s contingency fund from about $17,000 to about $12,000.

Monument Rock SIA

In addition to the standard information, the SIA includes copies of the easements the applicant has requested the town to grant. The sewer easement goes across the 100-foot wide town-owned property that separates the Trumbull Lane residential subdivision and the SDK1 Monument Rock parcel at the north end of the Synthes Avenue industrial park. The landscape easement allows SDK1 to fulfill the town requirement, as recommended by the Parks & Landscape Committee in early September, to build a berm under the required landscape screen across the north boundary of the property. The 30-foot easement along the south boundary of the town’s strip of land will give workers room to install and maintain the required visual screen of vegetation and drip irrigation system.

The office/warehouse buildings will be five feet below the grade of the town-owned property and the berm will further raise the installed trees and shrubs so they more effectively screen the seven garage doors across the rear of each of the three proposed buildings. It will take a few years for the vegetation to mature and fully block the view of the north facades. SDK1 volunteered to install a double row of plantings. The berm will immediately screen the Trumbull Lane residences from delivery truck headlights while the vegetation fully matures.

Approvals

The board unanimously adopted a resolution calling for the town to follow state archive rules. The board also:

  • Approved payment #3, $71,611.60, to T. Lowell Inc., for work performed installing the raw water line from well 9 at the south end of the Village at Monument subdivision to the Well 8 water treatment facility at Second and Beacon Lite.

  • Approved payment #2 of $15,837.36 to contractor Applied Control Equipment, Inc. to install automated control system replacement components.

  • Approved a monthly payment of $9,456.20 to GMS, Inc. for engineering consultation fees.

Downtown Entry

The cost for the construction of the landscaping portion (plantings and irrigation system) of the downtown entry sign at Second Street and Highway 105 soared beyond the amount budgeted due to the recent change to cold weather. The three bids ranged from $72,348 to $81,750 while the "warm weather" budgeted amount was only $27,414. The board unanimously continued the proposal for a re-bid when the weather warms.

Members of the Parks & Landscaping Committee and the Historic Monument Merchants Association were disappointed that the completion date of this project has slipped almost a year, from mid-summer to late spring of next year. Before the bids were received, plans called for completion before Thanksgiving. Bidders balked at the contract requirement to start construction within five days and complete it within 30 days of contract award.

Town Manager Rick Sonnenburg reported that the town received a $3,000 Division of Local Affairs grant for a two-day workshop with consultants from the Colorado Community Revitalization Association to develop an action plan for the improvement of downtown Monument.

The meeting went into executive session at 7:30 p.m. to discuss Limbach Park property acquisition negotiations. The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 15 at Town Hall, 166 Second Street.

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Monument Planning Commission, Oct. 13

By Jim Kendrick

After satisfying concerns about the high density and drainage problems of his proposal, Developer Kim Catalano, FYEG, Inc. got the go-ahead from the Monument Planning Commission for the modified site plan and final plat approval of Trails End and for annexing the Frances R. Labib property into the Town of Monument. The unanimous vote in favor reversed the unanimous vote against both issues at the Sept. 8 meeting. The Oct. 13 approval vote will now go to the Board of Trustees as a recommendation for them to approve both as well.

Commissioners Jim Thresher and Eric Johnson were absent.

Town Planner Mike Davenport reviewed the changes made by Catalano and his consultants. The Labib property runs from Old Denver Highway on the east along the south and west edges of the Village at Monument Subdivision, then west across the railroad tracks to the east edge of the Electric Propulsion property on Synthes Avenue.

The portion of the Labib parcel that runs along the south boundary of the Village of Monument resembles the narrow section of a flag lot, thus most of the dwellings will appear to be behind the existing subdivision, when viewed by motorists traveling on Old Denver Highway. The 13 acres of the property on the west side of the tracks are now proposed to be sold to Electric Propulsion, which will maintain nearly all of it as open space, with a small portion set aside for a single training center building.

The number of lots proposed was reduced from 136 to 103, of which 86 would be for single-family houses. The commercial lot along the south side of a "flag lot" access road on the southeast corner of the property was changed to residential (plans had called for a church to be built there), making the entire parcel east of the tracks completely residential.

There was a lengthy discussion of how the trail down the center of the main residential area would connect to the subdivisions to the north. Adjacent homeowners in subdivisions to the north did not want a trail running parallel and next to the tracks. The commission reluctantly agreed to the proposed trails after Catalano explained their safety features designed to protect children.

The drainage issue was resolved when adjacent rural landowner Mike Watt spoke about Catalano’s drainage plans. Watt said he is also a developer and he believed that Catalano’s proposal was quite satisfactory, as long as the detention pond delivered clean water free of sediment to his driveway, which goes under the railroad tracks at the trestle bridge next to the pond. Watt said the sedimentation filter in the detention pond design should work.

Watt assured board members that his legal issues focus primarily on the developer of Santa Fe Trails. "Everything I’ve asked of Catalano, they’ve done. Safety issues were addressed also."

Watt asked the town to monitor the construction site, saying that silt fences blow down easily and are not effective unless they are maintained. Watt then asked how Grace Best Elementary School, where his children go to school, could absorb all the children in this new proposal plus all those from other recently approved developments. Davenport said that as a policy, District 38 never makes comments regarding new developments.

Some of the commissioners expressed concerns about the smaller lots of about 7,000 square feet. Others wanted attractive split-rail fencing with a vinyl color chain-link mesh that would match the color of the vegetation to blend in. The purpose of the chain link mesh is to keep children and pets out of the extensive mouse habitat and wetlands on the southwest side of the parcel. Catalano agreed to build a fence to planning staff specifications.

Catalano said there would be a single builder, Richmond Homes, to ensure effective landscaping, park and trail standards, and a viable homeowners association that the builder will manage.

Brad Larson of Richmond answered questions on the features and type of models that would be built. He noted that the larger lots dictated larger homes to offset the loss in revenue. This compromise is inevitable, he said, and the large lot sizes required by the town make it very difficult to offer entry-level "affordable" new houses under $175,000, which the BOT desires. The houses will be consistent with, or more expensive than, existing adjacent homes to the north.

Davenport said that the revised drainage plans would have to be approved by Town Engineer Tony Hurst to ensure that Watt’s and the railroad’s drainage concerns were addressed before building permits would be approved. The plans were unanimously approved with this condition.

Other projects

Davenport then reviewed a number of projects awaiting administrative approval by the planning staff. The projects were:

  • Monument Marketplace 3rd Amendment. This is the plan for a 200,000-square-foot big-box superstore (Pad A) that Vision Development is developing on its own with the expectation that a retailer (yet unnamed) will lease it. It awaits approval by Davenport.

  • Rocky Mountain Oil and Car Wash. This business on the northwest corner of Highway 105 and Second Street will be completely renovated and greatly expanded into a two-story building.

  • Expectations Salon. This Washington Street business is being expanded, and the landscaping is also being upgraded.

Commissioner Kathy Spence said that the Monument Marketplace plans that Davenport distributed did not look pedestrian- or bicycle-friendly, a continuing concern since the center was first proposed. Davenport said he would analyze the drawings in that regard.

Davenport added that although he knew Spence and others would have preferred that the pad be used for a theater, as developer Rick Blevins once suggested might be an option, he never believed it was a good option. Now that a theater is going to be built by the Interquest exit of I-25, he said it is unlikely that one will also be built in Monument Marketplace.

Davenport also said, when asked, that there is currently no town regulation preventing the overnight parking of recreational vehicles and campers on the lot adjacent to this big box, and suggested that the commission may wish to recommend the BOT create one. Town Attorney Gary Shupp concurred, saying that the regulations currently prohibit living in an RV on a public street but not a retail parking lot. Commissioners noted that an occupied RV had just been observed overnight at the closed Rite-Aid Drugstore on Highway 105. It has since been moved.

The commission unanimously recommended endorsement of these three projects. The meeting adjourned at 8:15 p.m. The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 10 at Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month.

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Monument Parks and Landscape, Oct. 12

By Jim Kendrick

On Oct. 12, the Monument Parks & Landscape (P&L) Committee unanimously approved a plan by local business owners for improvement of the landscaping of downtown parks. The committee also reviewed landscaping for the new town sign and the extensive renovation of Rocky Mountain Oil & Car Wash, both at the intersection of Second Street and Highway 105. All members of the committee were present.

Historic Monument Merchants Association Proposal

While he was still a member of the Board of Trustees (BOT), George Case recommended that P&L seek donations to improve downtown playgrounds and parks, to include money, playground equipment, plantings, and outdoor furniture. Woody and Kathy Woodworth, owners of High Country Store, and Lucy McGuire, owner of Folk Art Gallery, presented the comprehensive plan they had given to some members of the BOT in September.

Woodworth requested that the town provide $22,500 for proposed improvements for five downtown areas. Woodworth said he could provide up to about $60,000 worth of labor and materials—to be contributed by other merchants as a "match"—if the town would fund his request and provide one-time Public Works construction help and assurance that a town employee would be hired who would keep the gardens alive. Woodworth described his plans for the five areas to include:

  1. Well 8 building at Second and Beacon Lite ($8,500): By inserting mass planting along the hillsides plus a few boulders, a new look can be created along one of the busiest intersections west of Highway 105. The old landscaping would need to be removed first.
        Planting Russian Sage was suggested as a way to help hide the electric utility box. The different textures and colors of the landscape would soften the harshness of the large building in the background.

  2. Historic Monument Arch on Third Street by the post office ($5,000): Triple X plants (or xeric, requiring little water) as designated by the Denver Water Board were suggested for this sunny location. Small river rock would surround the gardens, and a new "Welcome" sign could be placed on the north side of the road.

  3. Limbach Park ($4,000): Using colorful annuals mixed with perennials in a xeric garden would be easy to maintain. River rock walls would be installed in place of the existing planter, and the old wood sign would be upgraded to an etched piece of stone.

  4. Lavelett Park ($4,000): Suggested were mass plantings of ornamental grasses, shrubs, and a variety of perennials to make the area more inviting. These gardens could be accented with a few large boulders and surrounded by a variety of decorative rock. The Town of Monument would have to provide a water source to this location. Some detailed attention would be given to the park sign by possibly moving it slightly and elevating it for better exposure. Gardens would contour along Third Street between Woodworth Street and Beacon Lite Road.

  5. Town Hall ($1,000): Combining "water-wise" annuals and perennials in the narrow strips would enhance the currently simple landscape.

Estimated man-hours (volunteer and town), necessary landscaping materials and plants, and sprinkler requirements were all detailed in the extensive report.

McGuire proposed that the town hire a half-time employee to maintain these five gardens to keep down costs of wages and benefits. Woodworth added that the plantings at Old Colorado City are maintained every day by a gentleman he sees at work during their commute from their home by Manitou Springs.

Town Planner Mike Davenport said that Public Works Supervisor Tom Wall would like a full-time employee to perform these duties and also maintain the town cemetery. McGuire said that Wall has always said he needs three more employees for parks, streets, and the cemetery, but would settle for one to get this project approved.

Wall also proposed a list of potential donations for each of the five areas. The committee unanimously endorsed the proposal after noting that many on the committee had been proposing something like this for a decade or more. They tabled it until their next meeting for further study by the planning staff. The improvements to Limbach Park will need to be added to current plans to expand and improve Limbach Park with Greater Outdoors Colorado state grants won earlier this year. Woodworth’s proposal will be scheduled for inclusion in the Planning Commission and BOT hearings on the 2005 budget .

Expectations Salon

The committee unanimously approved the landscape plan for the expansion of the Expectations Salon at 283 Washington St.

Rocky Mountain Oil Change Center

They also unanimously approved the landscape plan for the renovation and expansion of Rocky Mountain Oil Change Center and Car Wash. Committee Chair John Savage and owner of this business recused himself from these deliberations. Savage will voluntarily install and maintain vegetation in the Colorado Department of Transportation right-of-way and around the downtown entry pillar sign that is planned for the northwest corner of Second Street and Highway 105 in the near future.

Trails End subdivision

After considerable discussion about trail connections, open space maintenance, and fencing, the committee continued their review of the landscape plans for the now annexed Trails End housing subdivision between the Village at Monument and the railroad tracks until their next meeting. The subdivision will have an entrance similar to a flag lot. The area along the south side of this access road was changed from commercial to four residential lots. The portion of the Labib parcel west of the railroad tracks will be sold to Electric Propulsion, which has more resources to maintain it than the proposed Trails End homeowners association.

Marketplace big box pad site

Davenport reported on the plans that Vision Development has developed for the big-box pad A of the Monument Marketplace. While the planning staff is authorized to approve the application if it stays within town-approved shopping center architectural guidelines, he said he wanted to seek committee comments on Rick Blevins’ proposal. Davenport said the name of the applicant for the superstore has not yet been announced.

Entry sign

Davenport reported that bid sets had been distributed to bidders for construction of the downtown entry sign. The proposal called for the installation to be substantially completed by Thanksgiving as requested by HMMA.

He then reviewed some 2005 budget issues for the committee. He noted that the town was providing $64,000 and Greater Outdoors Colorado was matching with $96,000 to buy the railroad land that surrounds Limbach Park to the south to Monument Addition 5 and west to Mitchell Avenue.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m. The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 9 at Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month.

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Monument Sanitation District, Oct. 14

By Jim Kendrick

On Oct. 14, the Monument Sanitation District (MSD) Board swore in Chuck Robinove to fill the seat vacated by former Chair Connie DeFelice. The board also discussed issues regarding the presence of heavy metals in the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility’s (WWTF) discharge water, the status of construction projects, and the draft budget for 2005.

Robinove Appointment

The newest member of the board, Robinove has expertise in the conceptual design of space sensing systems for Earth observation, the application of space data in hydrology and related fields, digital processing of satellite images, the application of artificial intelligence techniques in earth sciences, and exploration for groundwater. He is retired, with 30 years of employment with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Reports

The minutes and secretary’s reports were approved unanimously. Treasurer Ed Delaney reported that the district received $243,760 in fees for 39 taps through September, had a total cash assets balance of about $1.4 million for construction and reserves, and that the valuation of the district was about $4.3 million. Annual bond payments for principal and interest are due in December; the bonds, which were used to finance the expansion of the WWTF in 1998, will be paid off at the end of 2007.

Spending remains higher than budgeted for 2004 for required testing for heavy metals concentrations in the effluent from the treatment facility that MSD jointly owns with Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District and Palmer Lake Sanitation District. Two test results earlier this year had shown relatively higher, though still miniscule, concentrations of dissolved copper, exceeding the daily maximum of 17.6 parts per billion maximum. However, those results have not been duplicated since.

There is still no explanation for this "excursion" above the normal amounts, which average significantly less than the maximum 30-day average allowed of 12.0 parts per billion for dissolved copper.

The board remains concerned, however, at the possibility of Environmental Protection Agency fines of up to $10,000 per day. Testing at these extremely low concentrations requires radically different procedures than have been used in the past, and the industry is still undergoing a learning curve with the new procedures.

The budget for testing and laboratory operations will be increased substantially for 2005 due to more stringent state and federal regulations that reduce the allowed concentrations of dissolved metals. The board expects the regulations to become more restrictive in the near future, which may prompt capital outlays for the WWTF and higher operating costs. The 2005 expansion plan for the facility’s administration building includes a larger, more capable laboratory to respond to the high likelihood of these new regulations.

There was a lengthy discussion of the technical processes that are used at the WWTF and its long-range capital plan to educate the new board members. Budget decisions for 2005 will be made in November and early December to finalize the document by the state deadline of Dec. 15.

The district will include a $50,000 line item in the 2005 budget that will cover the estimated cost of attorney fees for the proposed dissolution of the district. This could be an ongoing expense.

Legal issues regarding dissolution petition

Background: There continues to be controversy over the wording of the petition that will be circulated by business owners Ernie Biggs and John Dominowski requesting that citizens be able to vote to dissolve MSD. Currently Biggs and Dominowski favor having the town of Monument take over MSD operations and its assets. However, state law directs the MSD board to make a good-faith effort to determine which entity is best suited to take over the district.

A district court judge will decide if MSD should be dissolved and, if so, which entity would take it over. The MSD board thinks the wording of the petition may mislead potential signers by implying that the town is the only takeover entity the MSD board or the district court would consider.

Numbers of eligible electors at issue: State law requires that the lesser of 250 or 5 percent of the eligible electors of the district must sign the petition to dissolve the district before the process begins. What exactly that number is has been a matter of contention.

In his letter of June 30, Biggs asked MSD to "please, provide me with the number of eligible electors of the district." MSD Secretary Glenda Smith responded in a letter on July 21 that the definition of the number of eligible electors is found in Colorado Revised Statute (CRS) 32-1-103 (5)(a)(I)(II) and wrote, "The district has not computed the total number of eligible electors to date. We are in the process of doing so and hope to have the number sometime within the next 90 days."

On Oct. 4, Biggs wrote again: "We are still awaiting the copy of the electorate that will be eligible to vote or sign the petition. Please provide us with the list. It has been over the 90 days that you promised."

Smith asked the attorney for MSD, Larry Gaddis, to respond to this request, which he did on Oct. 5, saying, "I would direct you to El Paso County … (for) … a list of registered voters available and … a list of property owners available."

Gaddis wrote another letter to Biggs and Dominowski on Oct. 21: "We … caution you not to misrepresent to the Town of Monument or to persons who may sign the petition that the … District will only negotiate with the Town of Monument to take over the sanitation district. If you disagree with this position, then it may behoove all of us to seek a declaratory judgment from the court as to the answer to that issue before proceeding. … [P]lease do not misrepresent the law to people who may be asked to sign the petition. If you do, it may well invalidate those signatures."

Gaddis said the board had not promised to provide a list and was not required by law to give Biggs and Dominowski the requested list. He said that MSD probably could not provide a 100 percent accurate listing anyway and could not afford to be responsible for giving out the wrong number of eligible electors. He said the difficulty in making such a list is knowing for a single day not only the eligible electors listed on a bill or as a property owner or renter/lessee, but also the spouses of each of these and/or their co-owners/co-renters or those having a power-of-attorney, etc.

Director Jeremy Diggins said he district could get a list of voters from the county, but Gaddis said that this list was not the same since a voter list would not include landowners within MSD who live out of state or outside El Paso County. Diggins rents the space for his restaurant from Dominowski and his wife works for Biggs. MSD Manager Mike Wicklund sent out a letter of explanation to district customers explaining the situation. (The letter is printed on page 34.)

Gaddis was also consulted about whether the Joint Use Committee that directs operations of the WWTF on behalf of the three owner districts was a legal entity and whether it could be made a separate special district for legal or tax purposes. Gaddis said it was a legal entity but would check with other attorneys in the area for their advice on the wisdom of forming a WWTF special district.

Building sewer lines across the Zonta parcel to Wakonda Hills

Owner Doug Barber has resumed planning with MSD of sewer mains and stubs for future residential and commercial lots on his parcel of rural property south of Wakonda Hills between Beacon Lite Road and the Santa Fe Trail. Some of the parcel is south of Monument’s northern boundary and the rest is in the county.

Barber made presentations in May to the town’s Planning Commission and Board of Trustees regarding annexation, but was told he would have to pay about $2 million for a new well, treatment plant, and storage tanks. Barber has now decided not to seek annexation.

After Wicklund reviewed the history of and need for sewer lines in the Zonta property and the Wakonda Hills subdivision, the board agreed he should move forward on planning construction of the main lines and stubs to begin in early 2005.

Wicklund also discussed plans to provide sewer service to Wolf business park, between Beacon Lite and I-25 across from the Zonta parcel. Specific businesses and locations for the parcel have not yet been determined, but construction will begin in 2005, tying into already installed mains along Beacon Lite that run all the way up to the north end of Wakonda Hills.

The meeting adjourned at 9 p.m. The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 16 at the district offices, 130 Second St. The 2005 budget hearing will be on Dec. 14 at 6:30 p.m.

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Triview Metro District, Oct. 27

By John Heiser

At its regular meeting Oct. 27, the Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors discussed the status of various developments within the district and reviewed revisions to the draft 2005 budget.

Water and sewer service near Baptist Road

At the beginning of the meeting, Monument Mayor Byron Glenn told the board that state law requires that the properties near Baptist Road and I-25 that the town forcibly annexed Jan. 6, 2001—including the parcel occupied by Foxworth-Galbraith—must be provided water and sewer service within three years. He said that since the time limit has passed, the property owners could petition for deannexation. He noted that the town has no facilities in the area and asked if Triview would be willing to extend service to the properties.

Triview manager Ron Simpson said he would talk with Mike Watt, owner of the Foxworth-Galbraith parcel and adjacent parcels. Simpson agreed to prepare a list of pros and cons of the various ways service might be extended to the properties. Simpson said those alternatives will be discussed at the next Triview meeting, Nov. 17.

Steve Stephenson, Triview board president, cautioned the board that this sort of task not directly related to management of the district might be overburdening Simpson.

Development status

Rick Blevins, representing Vision Development, Inc., reported as follows:

  • Phase G1 to extend Jackson Creek Parkway and Leather Chaps Drive and provide water and sewer service to the Marketplace is nearly complete. Final payments are being made. A detailed breakdown of costs and explanation of the approximately $600,000 overrun on the $8 million project will be discussed at the Nov. 17 meeting.

  • One of the remaining issues with the project is recent damage to erosion control facilities. Blevins said the damage was caused by changes on a neighboring property. He said Vision is seeking to recoup from the owner of the neighboring property the costs for repairing the damage.

  • The $1 million to $2 million in Baptist Road interim improvements that include an additional lane in each direction between I-25 and Jackson Creek Parkway as required by the town as a condition for approving the Marketplace project continue to be delayed awaiting approval of the associated Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat conservation plan (HCP). Blevins said the property proposed in the HCP for habitat mitigation for the road project showed up in another HCP submitted to the state. He said Vision Development is seeking a different property for mitigation and will submit the revised application.

  • Lariat Ranch Filing 3 has been renamed Settlers Ridge. Blevins said paving, including Kitchener Way where it meets Leather Chaps Drive, will be completed "in the next couple weeks." According to the Subdivision Improvement Agreement, the cost for all the associated infrastructure improvements for Settlers Ridge is estimated at about $3.2 million. For its portion including construction of Kitchener Way, the district has budgeted $1.475 million to be funded by a developer loan.

  • Vision Development is exploring reclaiming 2.3 acres of designated mouse habitat land for development. Blevins said it might require reopening the district’s HCP, which took three years to gain approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Blevins said that to gauge the likelihood of success, the district may submit a request for opinion prior to submitting a formal application.

WWTF

The Waste Water Treatment Facility (WWTF) is jointly owned by the Triview district, the Donala district that serves Gleneagle, and the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District that currently does not have any users.

Chuck Ritter of Nolte and Associates, engineering consultant for the district, reported that the WWTF expansion working group is discussing what kind of account to use for construction contract funds and when to hire a construction contractor. Triview’s 52 percent portion of the cost of expansion is estimated at $4.4 million.

Ritter said that after a two-year wait, Union Pacific completed the work needed to allow an at-grade crossing of the tracks for access to the WWTF. The current crossing goes under the tracks using a trestle that will not accommodate the construction equipment needed for the expansion of WWTF.

Ritter added that Mountain View Electric has quoted $13,700 and an 8- to 9-week delay to relocate a power line as part of the project. He noted that the project is still awaiting approval of the associated Preble’s mouse HCP.

Monument planning

Mike Davenport, Monument assistant town manager and town planner, reported as follows:

  • The town received a site plan and traffic report from Vision Development for Marketplace pad A, a 200,000-square-foot retail site north of the Home Depot. Pad A would accommodate a super Wal-Mart or other big-box retailer.

  • The developer of The Timbers, a proposed 58-acre retail development east and north of Foxworth-Galbraith and west of Jackson Creek Parkway, is involved in discussions of cost-sharing on Baptist Road improvements.

  • The town expects to receive an application from Transit Mix for a proposed concrete batch plant west of I-25 and south of Baptist Road near the WWTF.

  • The town is looking into homeowner concerns about drainage during construction and from lot to lot.

Blevins, who submitted the Marketplace pad A site plan, said later that Wal-Mart has not signed a contract for the site and is continuing to consider alternative sites.

Interest rate increase on the Phase G bonds

Sam Sharp, vice president of Kirkpatrick Pettis, the district’s bond agent, said the rate on the $15 million in municipal bonds the district issued in 2003 to fund Phase G is subject to an annual rate adjustment. He said the initial underlying rate of 1.375 percent will increase to 2.1 percent on Nov. 1. He noted that the district must also pay 1.625 percent as a letter of credit fee to Compass Bank and 0.25 percent marketing fee to Kirkpatrick Pettis. The total new rate on the Phase G bonded indebtedness is 3.975 percent.

Sharp characterized the new rate as "fantastic for a district with a lot of outstanding debt and a lot more to go." He later added, "This district has a colorful past in terms of your debt."

Stephenson asked what the rate would be if the district elected to lock in a fixed rate.

Sharp estimated the underlying rate at 3 to 3.5 percent. He added that the Compass Bank letter of credit comes up for renewal in 2007. He said, "Before we get there, you will be borrowing more money to get improvements built."

Stephenson asked why the marketing rate is so high. He said a rate of 0.125 percent is typical. He noted that if the district locked the underlying rate, it would save the marketing fee.

Sharp replied that the Triview situation requires "a lot of underlying credit work." He added, "We are helping you do your debt management."

Sherman and Howard was confirmed as bond council for the district despite some questions about a possible conflict of interest. The firm is also representing Lewis-Palmer District 38 in its lawsuit against several parties, including the Triview district.

Peter Susemihl, attorney for the Triview district, noted that the school district has indicated it does not object to having Triview removed from the suit.

Water and sewer rate increase approved

Rick Giardina of Rick Giardina and Associates, who has been doing financial analysis for the district since 1995, presented his water and sewer rate analysis. This is an update to the comprehensive study he completed in 2003. Giardina reported:

  • The analysis assumes the roughly $21 million in currently outstanding subordinated debt is to be paid off as if it were a fixed obligation rather than treating it as the "pay as you can" developer loan it actually is. He added that an additional $5 million bond issue is anticipated in 2006 or 2007 to pay Triview’s portion of the WWTF expansion.

  • The analysis also assumes 60 days of working capital as an operation and maintenance reserve. He noted that this is less than the typical 90 to 160 days of reserve.

  • Separate analyses were performed for wastewater services and for water/reuse water services and then for the combined services.

  • The water/reuse water services satisfy the assumptions if a 9 percent increase in water rates is implemented in 2005 and then that rate is held constant through 2009. The average monthly residential bill for water services would go from $35 to $38.60 in 2005.

  • The wastewater services are more problematic. As a first alternative, Giardina assumed a 9 percent increase each year through 2009. By 2009, that alternative resulted in a net deficit of $1.8 million. The second alternative was a 9 percent increase in 2005 and 20 percent increases from 2006 through 2009. That reduced the 2009 deficit for wastewater services to $1.3 million.

  • By using the water/reuse water services to subsidize the wastewater services, Giardina showed that in 2009, using the 20 percent wastewater rate increase alternative would cut the net deficit to $975,000. Under that scenario, the average combined monthly residential bill would go from the current $55 to $83 in 2009, a 51 percent increase.

Stephenson said the district should be looking at a 20 percent, rather than a 9 percent, increase in wastewater services in 2005. He added, "We have deferred what we need on wastewater for a long time. The more we postpone it, the worse it is."

The board unanimously approved increasing water rates by 9 percent and wastewater rates by 20 percent starting January 2005. With this action, Giardina said the average monthly residential bill in 2005 would go from the current $55 to $63.

Creekside Middle School traffic improvements

Blevins reported that $23,403 has been spent on middle school traffic improvements.

Simpson said the district received $5,000 in grant money from the MVE Round-Up program. He said he will ask the Monument Board of Trustees on Nov. 1 to contribute.

Simpson said Lewis-Palmer School District 38 has made changes in signage and striping but needs to make some additional changes to improve traffic flow on the middle school property.

Geographical Information System (GIS) data

Dale Hill, administrator for the district, noted that Nolte and Associates has proposed having a student intern enter GIS data for the district. The total cost for 2004 and 2005 would be $96,740.

GIS data is used to record the date and cost of construction of district pipes and other equipment and to precisely map where those facilities are located to avoid confusion and expense later.

Blevins asked if there is a mandate for collection of GIS data.

Simpson replied that it would help the district with insurance and in satisfying Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) statement 34. GASB 34 is to be implemented by the district in 2005 and changes the way depreciation of district assets is calculated. Simpson said that under GASB 34, each district facility—including roads, curb and gutter, and pipes—must be separately identified with completion date and construction cost.

Stephenson added, "As you become larger, it [keeping track of district assets] becomes a major nightmare."

The expenditure for the GIS work was unanimously approved.

2005 budget

Simpson reviewed proposed revisions to the draft Triview budget for 2005. Some of those revisions are:

  • The $50,000 budgeted for GIS data was increased to $70,000 to cover the work just approved.

  • The $47,760 budgeted for street sweeping by the town was increased to $60,000 to cover four additional sweeps.

  • The $12,000 budgeted for repair and maintenance of signage was increased to $15,000.

  • Repair and maintenance of street striping was increased from $25,000 to $45,000.

  • The budget for dues, publications, and subscriptions was increased from $33,600 to $50,000. This category includes costs for the El Paso County Water Authority, the Palmer Divide Water Group, and the Water Conservation Board.

  • The budget for water system electric utilities was increased from $80,000 to $90,000.

After the changes are incorporated, the total 2005 district operational budget with contingency exclusive of debt service is $2,205,869, an increase of about $152,000 over the initial draft. With anticipated revenues of $3,296,810, that leaves approximately $1.1 million for debt service on the $15 million in Phase G bonds and the approximately $21 million in subordinated bonds. Simpson estimated roughly $500,000 would go toward each category. Since the subordinated bonds are at a substantially higher interest rate than the Phase G bonds, it means that during 2005 the district will accumulate significant additional unpaid interest on the subordinated bonds.

A formal public hearing on the 2005 budget will be held at the Nov. 17 meeting.

November and December meeting dates

The board set its meeting dates as Nov. 17 and Dec. 9, a change from Dec. 8 as approved last month. Simpson said the final budget will be adopted and the mill levy set at the meeting Dec. 9.

**********

The Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors normally meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month, 4:30 p.m., at the district offices, 174 N. Washington St. The next meeting will be Nov. 17.

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

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, Oct. 20

By Sue Wielgopolan

The Donala Board of Directors again reviewed 2005 budget working numbers, including anticipated expense and income increases, and considered capital expenditure proposals at their Oct. 20 meeting. All members were in attendance.

Donala board president Charlie Coble presented the Employee of the Quarter award to maintenance technician Troy Vialpando, along with a gift certificate to the Cactus Rose restaurant, in recognition of his superior service, exceptional work ethic, and dedication.

After their review of the September financial statements, the board continued budget discussions, focusing on anticipated expenses and income. General Manager Dana Duthie estimated Donala would receive 100 new home service requests, resulting in additional district income approaching $1,500,000. No budget items were finalized at the October meeting.

El Paso County Water Authority update

Duthie reported on the Oct. 6 meeting of the El Paso County Water Authority. The Authority plans to commission a Transit Loss model, which would be used by members to calculate how much of the treated water they return to county streams can be credited for use or sale.

Currently the state assumes an average loss of roughly 30 percent of the water returned to Fountain Creek by upstream sources before it reaches the Arkansas. Water Authority members contend that a higher percentage is actually being delivered into the Arkansas than they are being credited for, hence the need for the study. If the new model shows a significantly lower loss (projected to be possibly as low as 10 percent), sanitation districts may sell or lease the difference (as much as 20 percent).

The El Paso County Water Authority has promised a grant of $55,000 toward the study, to match a $55,000 grant from the Water Conservation Board. Estimated cost of development for the Transit Loss Model is approximately $600,000, to be spread over five years. Water Authority members hope the opportunity to use additional water will motivate other sources to subsidize the remainder. Gary Barber, Water Authority executive agent, is attempting to identify potential buyers for the additional water, who may be persuaded to participate in funding as well.

Duthie and board member Dale Schendzielos plan to attend a legislative luncheon sponsored by the Authority, scheduled for Nov. 10 at the Antlers Hotel in downtown Colorado Springs. The luncheon will give Authority members an opportunity to meet newly elected state legislators and discuss concerns related to their districts.

Duthie also briefed the board on Barber’s presentation, detailing one of the possible alternatives to be included in the Environmental Impact Statement for the Southern Delivery System (the controversial pipeline between Pueblo and Colorado Springs). Though all Donala’s water requirements are adequately met at present through its system of wells, members are exploring options for alternative water sources for future needs.

Sequencing Batch Reactor plans moving forward

Roger Sams, consultant from engineering firm GMS, Inc., initiated work on the new waste plant expansion by arranging a meeting with the Colorado State Board of Health to review preliminary plans and solicit comments. The next step is submission of a site application to local agencies.

Work has begun on construction of the new at-grade railroad crossing leading to the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Facility (WWTF). The new crossing is needed to accommodate expansion construction equipment, which is too large for the current access road, which goes under the trestle bridge next to the WWTF. On Oct. 7, the railroad installed three prefab concrete pads across the tracks at the new location.

At present, the WWTF is still awaiting approval from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat plan submitted by WWTF co-owners Forest Lakes and Tri-View. Mouse habitat borders the plant on three sides; approval is necessary in order to finish the railroad crossing and expand the plant. Construction of the road connecting the crossing can only start after the habitat plan is accepted and Mountain View Electric moves its lines from under the road route.

Discussions continue on funding for the plant expansion. The current Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with Triview and Forest Lakes specifies that all monies necessary for project completion must be deposited in the construction account prior to the start of construction. Donala has sufficient funds to cover its share of the plant, but wants assurance that its partners, in particular Tri-View, are able to meet their financial obligation by April 2006, when construction is slated to begin.

Well and pipeline updates

Well 1A, located near the Gleneagle shopping center, has been redrilled sooner than the original project plans called for. The well abuts currently vacant property owned by Vision Development—which is building Paradise Villa townhomes on nearby lots—who allowed Donala to use the abutting lot during operations. Had construction on that lot begun, there would not have been sufficient room to place the large drilling rig, which measures over 80 feet in length. The pump, transformer, and other equipment needed to make the well operational will be installed at a later date.

Well 8A, located in Fox Run Park near the Brown Ranch, has been drilled and the pump installed. Donala is waiting for Mountain View Electric to deliver and install the transformer.

The Baptist Road pipeline, budgeted for fiscal year 2004, has been pushed back until 2005. Capital expenditure slated for this project will be carried over until next year. GMS is designing the pipeline, which will run between Tari Drive and the Holbein plant. Once completed, it will provide additional capacity in transporting the water pumped from Wells 8A and 12A.

New backup generator proposal:

The draft 2005 budget includes expenditures for a backup generator. In the event of a major Mountain View Electric power outage, operations could be disrupted.

At present, the existing backup system could power the plant on Holbein Drive and pump enough water from the wells to supply consumers downhill of the plant for around half a day at normal consumption rates. But the current generator would not be able to concurrently pump water uphill to the storage tank near Fox Run Park, which gravitationally feeds homes above the Holbein plant.

The proposed generator would be able to deliver enough power to pull water from the existing wells, then treat and pump to all storage tanks. Though water would have to be restricted to household use only, the generator could supply water indefinitely. Estimated cost for the purchase and installation of a diesel backup generator is approximately $130,000.

CAD software proposal

Also included in next year’s budget proposal is an allowance for the purchase of CAD software to be used to convert all current service files and drawings to computer records. Present records consist of a mixture of computer files and paper copies.

Conversion to computer drawings will make accessing information easier and faster, and records can be revised and updated as they are entered. Technicians will be able to more easily fill customer requests for line locations and even e-mail the information to the homeowner. In addition, maintenance records of equipment such as hydrants will be easier to monitor, since pressure, overhaul, and maintenance schedules can be attached to individual hydrant locations within the computer-generated drawing.

A firm in Fort Collins submitted a bid price of about $85,000 to do the work. Due to the high cost of contracting the work out, Duthie wishes to purchase the software and do the conversion in-house instead. He estimates the total cost for the software, installation, and training at about $30,000. The conversion should take about six months.

Development updates

The board unanimously approved inclusion of three lots in Chaparral Hills within the Donala Water District. Owners Gerry Donohue and Ed Ellsworth petitioned El Paso County to subdivide each of their larger lots into two 3-acre lots. Donohue requested annexation for his current residence and the new lot, while Ellsworth only requested annexation for the newly created lot.

To avoid conflict over whether the 300- or 100-year water rule applied to the subdivided properties, Donala required that the owners obtain a waiver from El Paso County exempting them from the 300-year rule before Donala would agree to include them in the district. The county commissioners approved the waiver.

Donala will supply water only; all three properties will use septic systems. In addition, Ellsworth and Donohue agreed to pay for a hydrant and the 8-inch service main from Donala’s line, which is large enough to service future subdivided properties in Chaparral Hills. Costs would be recovered later as new homeowners hook into the line.

Negotiations continue with James Barash to establish location of an easement across his property to provide sewer service to Gary Erickson of Executive Consulting Engineers for a planned two-story, 30,000 square-foot-office/retail building to be located on the west side of Struthers Road, across from People’s National Bank. Though Barash has tentatively agreed to allow the easement, the exact location and legal description remain to be worked out.

Insituform’s job finished

Insituform has completed its five-year contract to line all of Donala’s existing asbestos pipe, eliminating the annual $250,000 to $300,000 contract fee. The lining has a minimum life of 40 years, but should last substantially longer.

During installation of an uphill section of lining, Insituform inadvertently blocked sewer access for three homes, causing backups and damage. The company settled two of the insurance claims to the homeowners’ satisfaction. The third claim is still outstanding, as the homeowner and Insituform have not reached an agreement on the amount of the settlement.

Duthie assured the homeowner he will be fairly compensated. He said Donala would withhold the amount of the difference between Insituform’s offer and the homeowner’s claim from Donala’s final payment to Insituform if necessary.

Reminder

As winter approaches and the days shorten, hard freezes become more likely. The district has sent out mailings and posted signs to help remind all Donala residents to drain and empty their sprinkler systems at the earliest opportunity.

The meeting adjourned at 2:50 p.m., and the board went into executive session to discuss legal, financial, security, and personnel matters.

**********

The Donala board will not meet again until Dec. 6 at 1:30 p.m., at 15850 Holbein Drive. The 2005 budget, including tap fee and water rate increases, will be finalized at that meeting.

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Donala Comments and Corrections

District Manager Dana Duthie provided the following comments and corrections regarding the article in the Oct. 2 issue of OCN ("Donala Water and Sanitation District, Sept. 13").

Jet Aeration Technology: The Operations Coordination Committee of the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility made the decision regarding the type of technology that would be installed in the plant’s Phase II expansion. The jet aeration technology proposed by U.S. Filter was selected instead of the fine bubbler diffusers and "airborne decanter" system proposed by ABJ of ITT Industries. Duthie reported that decision to the Donala board. He said decisions still have to be made on what process will be used for disinfection.

This committee consists of the district managers for each of the three special districts that own the wastewater plant: Donala, Triview Metropolitan District, and Forest Lakes Metropolitan District. The Donala board approved the overall expansion project but not the specific design, having delegated that decision to Duthie, who is a member of the Operations Coordination Committee.

The Operations Coordination Committee normally meets at 8 a.m. on the second Tuesday of the month. Donala board meetings are normally held at 1:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month, not the second Wednesday as reported.

El Paso County Water Authority Participation: The El Paso County grant that subsidized district membership fees for El Paso County Water Authority participation over the past three years has run out. Dues for membership by special district in the authority will be raised 20 percent next year to cover expenses previously covered by the grant. It is possible that some members of the authority will decline to pay the full fee to retain membership.

Duthie explained that the authority is coordinating the creation of a transit loss model for the upper reaches of Monument Creek that more accurately credits the actual amount of wastewater delivered to the stream. Current credits are believed to be lower than the actual amount returned to the creek after use by the districts. The model will also aid those claiming augmentation water and exchange credits in the Arkansas basin.

Baptist Road Water Tank Easement Agreement: This involves shared used of the access road leading to the district’s water tanks just east of the Donala district headquarters. There are two homes with adjacent Holbein Drive addresses. The driveways for the Montemayor and Patton residences branch off the water tank access road off Holbein Drive.

Financial Statement: Former employee Phil Loper resigned from Donala when his spouse took a new job out-of-state. Even though Loper chose to quit, he sought unemployment compensation. The State of Colorado initially proposed that Donala give him six months’ unemployment compensation because he could not find a "suitable job" at his new residence. Duthie challenged the six-month claim and was able to reduce it to one month’s salary, $361. In the article, the amount of the check was listed incorrectly as $6,717; in fact, the remittance to the Colorado Department of Labor was check number 6717.

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Lewis-Palmer School Board, Oct. 21

By Tommie Plank

Superintendent Dave Dilley announced that Lewis-Palmer School District has achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in compliance with the No Child Left Behind Act for the second year. District 38 is the largest school district in Colorado to be listed as having made AYP two years in a row.

Dilley explained that this is very difficult to achieve and credits the unique three-way partnership of having students who come to school ready to learn because they have parents who believe in the importance of education, combined with educational professionals who help them achieve in their classrooms.

He complimented Director of Special Education Linda Williams-Blackwell and her staff and the English Language Learners staff for their extra efforts in assuring that all children have every opportunity to take special assessments so that no children "fall between the cracks." Dilley said he is "very proud of District 38 students and staff."

The Board approved renewal contracts for 2004-05 with Tri-Lakes Community Preschool and Sunshine Village under the Colorado Preschool Program. This program serves 3- and 4-year-old at-risk children who do not qualify for special education services.

In reports, Dilley said that the October student count, pre-kindergarten through grade 12, indicates a 3.27 percent increase in enrollment. He assessed this as a healthy rate of growth, neither falling below the 3 percent level needed for bonding for fast-growth districts, nor exceeding it to the point of appearing alarming or out of control.

Lewis-Palmer High School Student Council officers Johnie Watkins, Codi Carubia, and Ed Givens presented an overview of projects they are working on this year. Grace Best Elementary School fourth-grade teachers reported how the Professional Learning Communities approach is benefiting the students in their school.

District Accountability and Advisability Committee chairman Karen D’Amour said that their October meeting consisted of listening to presentations regarding the District 38 ballot questions.

Chuck Holt, of Monument Charter Academy, discussed their progress with the 11th grade curriculum. They are applying for accreditation from the American Academy of Liberal Education and to become a member of the Colorado High School Activities Association. The school will have a visit from the International Baccalaureate organization in January. Holt noted that 10th graders at Monument Academy are finding physics particularly demanding and have found transitioning to the higher expectations of a high school setting to be difficult.

The Lewis-Palmer School District has been granted exclusive chartering authority for charter schools within the district by the Colorado Department of Education. The district must reapply for this authority annually.

The next regular meeting of the Board of Education will be Nov. 18 at the district’s Learning Center in the Administration Building.

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WIA Oct. and Nov. meetings

By Chris Pollard

Mountain Pine Beetle outbreak in Woodmoor

One major topic got extended coverage at both meetings. Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) Forestry Director Jim Woodman has been working hard to uncover the extent of a major infestation of Mountain Pine Beetles. This has shown up as a major die off in Ponderosa Pine trees in an area mostly around Augusta Drive and the Woodmoor Pines Golf Course, both in North Woodmoor. Not only are there large numbers of dead trees, which in many cases turned brown in a matter of days, but many others that showed evidence of this beetle’s attack by the easily recognizable pitch tubes present on the lower part of the trunk. These pitch tubes resemble a small clump of popcorn about an inch or so in diameter. Some that have more pine pitch in them appear to be "dribbling" down the tree. In almost all cases where these pitch tubes occur the tree will die from a fungus that appears in the cut tree as a blue stain. Tree’s that have not already turned brown may delay this more obvious sign of infestation until June of the next year. Mature beetles fly from the tree only a few weeks later in July leaving very little time to eradicate the beetles and prevent the spread.

Woodman, with the help of other tree monitors, identified 78 residences in Woodmoor that showed signs of this problem with as few as 3 trees infected to some with 50 or more on a lot. Over the summer about 80 to 90 trees were removed from the Woodmoor common areas and evidence was seen of the problem in smaller areas of WIA responsibility such as the small islands at the end of some cul-de-sacs. The residence tree problems were mostly identified without going onto the properties. In the course of the search, it was clear that the problem also existed in areas neighboring Woodmoor. In fact, according to some reports, about 200 trees were removed from Woodmoor Pines golf course.

Woodman recommended that all residents in the area check their Ponderosa trees for this condition and take action to remedy the problem. Woodmoor residents are welcome to call Woodman through the WIA office to discuss the subject. Advice for others is available through the State Forestry Service.

Volunteers needed

Another timely subject is the issue of volunteers to serve on the Board of the WIA. With the upcoming annual meeting, several positions will be vacated at that time. Some of the positions have been filled during the course of the year but the WIA is looking for Woodmoor residents to fill an open position. It was suggested that those interested submit their resumes to Camilla Mottl, the Executive Director at the WIA office.

At the November meeting, Betty Hutchinson appeared before the board of directors to volunteer for the Treasurer position that becomes vacant at the end of the year. After presenting her resume and submitting to a brief question and answer session the board unanimously approved her appointment to the position. Betty has been a resident of Woodmoor since 1992, is an accountant with CPA certification and served as board member and treasurer of the Tri-Lakes Community Preschool from 1998 to 2000.

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NEPCO Annual Meeting, Oct. 2

By John Heiser

The Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO) held its annual meeting of homeowner association (HOA) representatives Oct. 2. Some highlights of that meeting:

  • Beth Courrau, Bob Swedenburg, and Walter Paul were elected to two-year terms, filling the three open positions on the board. Continuing board members are Rob Carrigan, NEPCO treasurer, and Tom O’Malley, head of the land use committee.

  • O’Malley reported that since April 2004, the committee has reviewed five project proposals for the county planning department and 18 for the Town of Monument. He asked for volunteers to help the committee review proposed projects.

  • Suggestions for possible programs for the future meetings included: Commissioner Wayne Williams discussing county issues; El Paso County Sheriff Makita, the Monument police chief, or the district attorney discussing law enforcement issues; a representative from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) or the County Department of Transportation speaking on transportation issues; HOA best practices on covenant enforcement; HOA best practices on assessment and fine collection; the pros and cons of using professional management companies; a Colorado Forest Service speaker on pine beetle infestation and noxious weed control; and the Greenland Open Space in south Douglas County.

NEPCO meetings are held every other month. The next meeting will be Dec. 4, 9:30 a.m., in the Woodmoor Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Drive.

For further information about NEPCO, contact President Beth Courrau at 488-0284 or bethcourrau@adelphia.net.

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October Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

With the exception of two wet, cool periods, most of October was dry and mild across the Tri-Lakes region. The first week was one of the exceptions, as a cold rain, with low clouds and fog, greeted us on the first day of the month. Highs struggled into the 40s, as .25 to .50 inch of rain fell throughout the region. A few rumbles of thunder were also heard during the evening.

Over the next few days, afternoon and evening rain and weak thunderstorms moved across the region and temperatures remained near seasonal averages. Plenty of sunshine returned from the 7th through the early afternoon on the 12th, but some big changes were about to roll in to the region.

A strong cold front came through the Tri-Lakes area around 10 p.m. on the 12th. Winds gusted as clouds filled in and rain began to fall. Soon after midnight, that rain turned to snow at elevations above 7000 feet. Light to moderate snow fell throughout the morning, with 2 to 3 inches accumulating above 7300 feet, making for a beautiful wintry scene mixed in with brilliant fall colors. The sun returned by afternoon and melted the snow, but temperatures remained on the chilly side as highs remained in the upper 30s to low 40s.

Quiet weather returned the next day after a cold start, as lows dipped into the upper teens and low 20s. Mostly sunny conditions continued through the rest of the month, with cool mornings and mild afternoons. Gusty winds also became more common during the second half of the month—a sure sign of the changing seasons along the Front Range. This occurs as the polar jet stream (strong winds around 30,000 feet caused by the interaction between cold air from the north and warm air from the south) becomes stronger and shifts position closer to Colorado.

The only change in the weather pattern during the last couple weeks of the month was a dry cold front that blew through the area on 22nd. This brought in cooler temperatures and gusty winds, and when combined with the clear skies on the morning of the 23rd, led to lows in the teens and low 20s.

The final shot of cold weather moved into the region just in time for Halloween, something that seems to be a pretty common occurrence for Tri-Lake residents. A strong cold front blasted through the region around 7 p.m. on Halloween, with snow and wind. By midnight, blizzard conditions were common throughout the region, with 4 to 8 inches of snow and treacherous travel.

A Look Ahead

November is generally a dry, cool month, but snowstorms can affect the region. This November looks to start off with below-normal temperatures as several cold fronts affect the Tri-Lakes area. Chances for snow through the first two weeks of the month appear to be higher than average as well.

The official monthly forecast for November 2004, produced by the Climate Prediction Center (http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/), is calling for a better-than-average chance of below-normal temperatures and normal precipitation—good news for those of you hoping for a quick start to winter. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, visit http://users.adelphia.net/~billkappel/ClimateSummary.htm.

October 2004 Weather Statistics

Average High 59.5°
Average Low 32.4°
Highest Temperature 69° (on the 17th)
Lowest Temperature 18° (on the 30th)
Monthly Precipitation 1.35"
Monthly Snowfall 10.9"
Season to Date Snow 13.7"
Season to Date Precip. 10.36"

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

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

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Letters to Our Community

An Open Letter to the Residents of Wakonda Hills

A petition will be circulated by some business owners in Monument to dissolve the Monument Sanitation District and turn over its facilities, operations, and finances to the Town of Monument. The Town Council has already voted to take over the District if it is offered.

Residents of Wakonda Hills have been offered sewer service by the District at very attractive financial terms. Almost 50 percent of the property owners have been included in the District, and it is likely that more will include themselves in the District, thus enabling the District to begin engineering planning for the sewer system. What will happen to those hoped-for plans if the Town of Monument takes over the District?

The Town of Monument is under no obligation to serve any areas outside of the Town limits. Would it renege on the District’s offer to serve Wakonda Hills? Maybe, maybe not!

Has the Monument Sanitation District done a good job for those people it serves? Yes, it has provided safe and constant service and its finances are in extremely good condition. It also has additional presently unused but well-planned sewage treatment capacity for the Wakonda Hills expansion. Indeed, it will pay off all of its bonded indebtedness in 2007, eliminate completely the taxes for all served properties, use some of the approximately $1.3 million that it has in reserve to plan and construct the Wakonda Hills sewer system, and provide Wakonda Hills property owners with all this at a no-interest loan.

This can only be done because the District is well run, both technically and financially, and has the capability, capacity, and desire to serve its constituents in a solid respected manner.

Would the Town of Monument run the District as well as it has been run? If your sewer system was run by the Town of Monument, it would have to compete for operating funds with everything else the Town does. Would your sewer service rates have to be raised? Would there still be cash reserves in case of emergencies? Would the Town offer a no-interest loan to the property owners to make paying for their service practical and affordable? Maybe, maybe not!

The takeover of the Monument Sanitation District is a bad idea. It does not solve any problems; it creates them. It could put well-thought-out and needed plans on hold and may destroy them altogether. It is not needed and is not in the best interests of the residents of Wakonda Hills or those already served by the District.

If you are asked to sign a petition for the dissolution of the District, please refuse to sign it. And ask your neighbors not to sign it either. If, however, the proper number of signatures are obtained, the petition for dissolution may go forward for a vote of the property owners in the District. If this happens, please vote against it! We know we will be well off if the District remains as it is. If it ceases to exist, our future is not only uncertain but will be in the hands of those who do not have our interests at heart. Remember, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Charles J. Robinove

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To the Monument Sanitation District Customers

This letter is to inform you that there is a petition to dissolve the Monument Sanitation District circulating in the community. The reasons for this action and the consequences of this action are not quite clear to anyone at this time. If successful, this action will affect your sewer service in the future.

Two local businessmen have filed an "application to dissolve a special district" with the Secretary of the Monument Sanitation District, under Title 32, Article 1, Part 7 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. The statute requires the applicants to collect the signatures of five percent of the eligible electors of the district.

The "Full Text of Proposed Measure" in the application submitted states that one of the "requirements for dissolution" be "provisions for continuation of services within the District by the Town of Monument." The district has been advised by the district’s attorney, that if you are led to believe by the applicants, or those soliciting signatures, that this is the only option of the Monument Sanitation District, it is a misstatement of the Colorado Revised Statutes.

If the applicants are successful in obtaining the required number of signatures, the district Board of Directors, will be required, by statute, to devise a plan, in good faith, "specifically providing that services be continued within the special district by one or more regional service authorities, municipalities, counties, intergovernmental authorities…or other special districts, or any combination thereof" to dissolve the district. The statute requires the Board of Directors to petition the district court for dissolution and submit the plan to the court.

If the court rejects the plan, the court can ask the district to amend its plan. The court can also reject and dismiss the dissolution entirely. If the court accepts the plan of the Board of Directors, the court will call for an election by the eligible electors of the district. The Board would look at plans in the best interest of the entire district (not just a few land owners), which options could include Palmer Lake Sanitation District, Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, and the Town of Monument.

If you have any questions regarding this matter and how it may affect the continuation of your sewer service, please call me at 481-4886. You may also contact any of your board members to discuss this matter: Board Chairman Lowell Morgan, 481-1305; Ed Delaney, 481-3448; Glenda Smith, 481-8957; Jeremy Diggins, 650-3540; Chuck Robinove 481-8974.

Michael M. Wicklund
District Manager

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To the residents of the Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District

After having served as your fire chief for the past nine years, I wish to express my gratitude for your support and confidence in your fire district. That support has resulted in what has been called the "premier" fire protection district in El Paso County’s north end. This does not mean that the other fire protection agencies are substandard or lack the desire to provide "premier" levels of service. However, high levels of reliability, proper training and certification, adequate equipment and staffing all require appropriate funding.

You have indicated you expect the best by supporting the funding necessary to provide the level of service you have come to expect. That has been my goal over the past nine years: to see that you were provided with quality emergency services delivered by skilled and qualified personnel. When you hire such personnel, I discovered everybody else wants them. Yes, we have had a high turnover rate, but we have never lowered our standards to avoid that.

I have supported the consolidation effort since its inception; I believe that it is an eventuality. However, your past boards of directors members and I have supported the concept, stated by the Emergency Services Education and Consulting Group’s (ESECG) study of consolidation, that any consolidation should result in at least the same level of service or improve it. We felt that to allow any degradation in service would be a dereliction of duty on our part, in your behalf.

As we began to realize that support for maintaining high levels of certification, knowledge, skills, abilities, experience, professional conduct, and funding were not being supported, we began to stand firm on those issues. Once we did, progress stalled. In May of 2004, the complexion of the board changed dramatically. The candidates, who stated that they supported the firefighters, were elected. As the year progressed, I observed that they did, in fact, support the firefighters and their agenda. However, the oath the new board members took and the statutory obligation they have, is to support and represent the district as a whole, particularly the residents and taxpayers.

As I began to see that the service levels and things mentioned earlier were going to be affected, I began to speak out in behalf of the residents and my support for the consolidation began to erode. My job description made it clear to me that I was to provide "support and achievement of (Woodmoor/Monument) District goals and objectives through understanding and active support of (Woodmoor/Monument) District policies, philosophies and values in personal and professional interactions with employees, citizens and customers."

Our goals and objectives—in fact, our organizational focus—have always been the prevention and control of fire and providing quality emergency medical services, which needs to be supported by the entire administration of the District. The ESECG’s survey of the district’s organizational focus shows that the Tri-Lakes organizational focus was "internalized social atmosphere." While that is important in maintaining morale and spirit, the philosophical differences are evident.

The current board has made it clear that the consolidation will occur "at all costs" and that there will be "no new taxes." You will need to determine if the "cost" will be a reduction in service levels and staffing. You will need to determine if a reduction in taxes will also result in a reduction of service.

The taxpayers of the Woodmoor/Monument Fire District are in an admirable financial position and have no debt. The funds in reserve are adequate to replace capital expenditure items according to the capital improvements plan, on schedule, without acquiring debt, for years to come. What will become of those reserves under a fire authority or consolidated district? Will they be used to reduce the debt of the companion to this merger?

By design, a democratic government is to be "by the people, for the people"; that is accomplished through representation by elected officials. I encourage you to speak to your elected board members and get to know them. Ask them if they intend to continue to conduct public business (your business) in private. Ask them where they stand on service levels, staffing, qualifications, philosophies, and district organizational focus. Tell them what you expect and insist on their responsiveness. Ask for the current service plan, organizational chart, staffing levels and qualifications roster, job descriptions, and mission statement.

Then ask them for the same items for the new consolidated district and compare the two. If they are the same and you can conclude that the fire authority or consolidated district will not result in diminishing your confidence in your emergency services delivery, then support all that they do toward consolidation.

David Youtsey

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The real problem

Passing 1A was a mistake, because it doesn’t address the root causes of our congestion and infrastructure problems. As we all know, the pro-1A campaign was heavily bankrolled by the growth industry, because RTA overcharges the citizens so that we might continue to undercharge new developments for their impacts.

The best "thank you" the growth industry and elected officials can give the citizens who approved 1A is to start working on the major causes of our congestion and backlog. We need them to:

  1. Stop approving developments that outpace our road network capacity

  2. Require new developments to fully fund their impacts

  3. Require new developments to be pedestrian-, bicycle-, and transit-friendly.

If they don’t tackle these issues, then I predict—even with RTA—our congestion will be worse in 10 years, not better.

RTA was a battle about growth subsidies. The Pikes Peak Region cannot sustain the current level of underfunded growth and maintain our quality of life. Our time wasted in traffic congestion is an "off-the-books" cost of growth. The projects on the RTA list give us a better picture of the hundreds of millions of dollars in road network capacity enhancements growth is costing us. We can add that to the hundreds of millions in utility infrastructure growth subsidies revealed to us earlier this year.

These costs of growth are hidden from us because the growth industry wants the community to continue subsidizing its costs of doing business. But the citizens are catching on to the deception, and they overwhelmingly say they do not want to subsidize growth.

SavetheSprings will continue to spotlight and publicize growth subsidies, to educate elected officials about how ill-advised these subsidies are, and to wrest control of the decision-making about growth impacts and our future from the growth industry and put it back in the hands of the community. SaveTheSprings is a grass-roots advocacy group formed to preserve our quality of life in the Pikes Peak Region.

Dave Gardner
Founder, SaveTheSprings

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Just "Durn Good" Reads

By Judith Pettibone

It occurred to us at Covered Treasures that some of our favorite books just didn’t fit into any neat and tidy theme. Therefore, since we can’t stand the idea of you missing out on some of these treasures, we are presenting you with some "durn good" selections. Note that these titles are just in time for winter snuggling in front of the fire, for holiday gift buying, and for vacation planning.

Birth of Venus
By Sarah Dunant, $13.95

If you have been captivated by the recent spate of art-themed novels such as Girl with a Pearl Earring and Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier and Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland, then add this title to your list. The real star of the book might be 15th-century Florence during the rise and fall of the pious "Puritanical" monk Savonarola as he tries to tamp the humanist spirit of the Renaissance. This fascinating tale almost needs no fiction to make it live, but Dunant manages to add to the real tale by casting her protagonist as a 16-year-old wealthy daughter of a cloth merchant—enormously clever, undauntingly sassy, and, most important, with an unacceptable-for-the-time passionate desire to paint. This desire drives her life in most unpredictable ways: an arranged marriage, a fascinating relationship with an artist monk commissioned to paint the family chapel, and a continued effort to develop as an artist. With a mysterious, haunting beginning, you may not be able to do anything else but read once you start this book.

A Long Way from Chicago
By Richard Peck, $5.99

Set in Chicago during the Great Depression, this charming Newbery Honor Book is a great read for young and old alike. It’s not-your-typical-grandchildren-visit-grandma-for-the-summer book, one in which each chapter is a rollicking adventure far flung from baking cookies—stealing boats, fishing illegally, and almost committing blackmail, just for instances. The grandchildren are continually amazed at their grandma, who breaks every mold! They laugh out loud, and so will you.

The Kite Runner
By Khaled Hosseini, $14.00

"I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975." These are the opening lines of The Kite Runner, a novel set in Afghanistan just before the country’s revolution in the 1970s. Amir is the privileged young narrator, and Hassan is his loyal friend. These two young boys are raised in the same household and share the joys and competition of the annual kite-running festival. The two are inseparable until a tragic accident, kept secret for years, changes their lives forever. The book chronicles unimaginable sacrifices as friendships are made and destroyed in a country whose way of life is so loved, before the Taliban turns it into a place of horror. Ultimately, this is a tale of loyalty, love, and redemption, and as one of our customers said, "It will stay with you forever."

Coastliners
By Joanne Harris, $13.95

By the same author of Chocolat and Five Quarters of the Orange, Harris’s latest offering will please her many fans. France is always a main focus of her books, and Coastliners, set on an island off the coast of France with beautiful descriptions of place, is no exception. One’s hair seems tangled and one’s face salty after reading a passage about a sea storm on the small island of Le Devin. A feud of sorts has developed between two towns on the island, one down and out, one more prosperous. As the novel unfolds, the feud takes on humorous and mystical elements. Add a dash of romance and you are in for a reading treat.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
By Mark Haddon, $12.00

"This will not be a funny book. I cannot tell jokes because I do not understand them." Christopher Boone is autistic and does not understand jokes. He does not understand much about the world in the way non-autistics do. Nonetheless, he has a literal sense of life that is poetic, touching, and surprisingly humorous. Touted as the first fictional piece in the voice of an autistic person, this coming-of-age novel is sparely yet beautifully written, keeping faith with this young man’s personality. Mark Haddon has worked with autistic young people, and he creates a most fascinating journey for the reader into this intriguing way of perceiving life. Christopher is learning on every page and takes you right along with him. The title alone makes you want to read this book, doesn’t it?

Easter Island
By Jennifer Vanderbes, $13.00

Here’s a surprising novel told by two women separated by six decades. The first is Elsa, a new bride, accompanying her husband and troubled sister on a National Geographic Expedition to Easter Island in 1913. The second is Greer, a botanist, who arrives on the same island in 1973 to do research on its puzzling ecosystem. It is no small feat that Vanderbes manages to create a tale that weaves the two women’s lives, both with painful pasts, as they each discover the secrets of Easter Island. The fact that this island is one of the world’s most unique places may be reason enough to read this novel. However, a more compelling one might be because, as the San Francisco Chronicle says, it is "exquisitely imagined … one of those rare novels that appeals equally to mind, heart and soul."

Hopefully, some of our "durn good reads"—which we’ll offer again in the spring—will become your favorites as well. Until next month, when we will preview holiday books, happy reading and happy hunting for your next, not-to-be-missed book.

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High Country Highlights: November Tips for Gardeners

By Woody Woodworth

We had a beautiful October, with a couple of hard freezes that took care of most of the annual plants. Snapdragons and Supertunias held on the longest, giving us flowers until the cold snap on Halloween weekend. It’s time now to rid your flower boxes, pots, and gardens of those annuals by uprooting them and putting them on your compost pile.

The perennials are also looking a bit weather-worn and they require a bit of care. Right now is a great time to harvest seeds. Most plants will have seed pods where the beautiful flowers used to be. Hold your hand or a collection bucket under each flower and gently rub and shake the flower head. Although Mother Nature drops and spreads the seeds now, I prefer to store the new seeds in a paper sack until next spring and plant them then.

After harvesting seeds, I give the plants a good drink of water and apply two or three more inches of mulch around the general area of the flower beds. Mulch will help keep the ground frozen, so the plant isn’t tricked by a warming trend into budding prematurely and gives it a better chance to survive through winter.

Many gardeners trim their perennials back right now and tidy up the beds for winter. I prefer to leave them alone and trim them in the spring. I believe there is a lot of energy within the plants’ stem and foliage still available to the root system. Cutting them back may deprive the plant of those resources. I also enjoy the beautiful winterscape the gardens give me when we get a heavy frost or light snow.

I usually rake the leaves off the turf areas to avoid mold and smothering the grass, but I always let the fallen leaves compost right on the perennial beds. In the early spring, I’ll break up soggy leaves and work them into the soil along with additional compost. I use the leaves I collect on the turf areas in the compost pile. The great brown matter helps add air and moisture to the compost bin and will keep the compost healthy.

A little housekeeping is always in order in the late fall. I like to sharpen my pruners, clippers, and shovel, and then I rub a light coating of cooking oil on them to keep them in working order and to prevent rust. I drain and coil up the garden hose and keep it handy so I am prepared to water on one of those 55-degree days during the winter. All of my pots and window boxes are emptied of their potting soil and tipped upside down to store through the winter.

Return all of the black pots you don’t need to your favorite garden center to get the clutter away from your potting bench. Most garden centers recycle the pots for another good use.

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

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Sparrows

By Elizabeth Hacker

As winter approaches, many summer migratory birds are moving south to their winter homes. I was a bit surprised to see migrating flocks of western bluebirds along the Santa Fe Trail in late October. On closer inspection, I noticed that there were a number of juveniles still in training (probably from second or third hatchings), which may explain why they were here so late in the season.

As the summer migrants leave, other birds that summer in northern climates come to winter in our mild climate. Two members of the sparrow family can be found here in winter. They include the white-crowned and white-throated sparrows. These are native sparrows and should not be confused with the European weaver finch, more commonly known as the house sparrow.

The house sparrow was introduced as a means of pest control to save the trees in New York’s Central Park that were being devastated by green inchworms in the 1850s. It has since made its way across our continent and is considered a pest.

The white-crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) can be seen perched on fences along the Santa Fe Trail and is similar in size to the bluebird: approximately 6-7 inches in length. It is easy to spot because of the contrasting black and white stripes on its head. Crown stripes may be brown in juvenile birds. It has a gray neck and under parts, a tan back, and brown wings with two white wing stripes. The white-crowned sparrow has a pinkish-yellow beak and a beautiful song. They are abundant and often frequent feeders in the Tri-Lakes area.

A similar, but less frequent, sparrow species is the white-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis). They do not winter here but can be observed migrating southward along the Front-Range flyway. Similar in size and color to the white-crowned sparrow, they are distinguished by a well-defined white throat patch, with two pencil-thin black stripes under their reddish-pink beak. They are also a darker brown, have dark gray on their cheeks, and their upper breast is dark gray with stripes. In contrast, white-crowned sparrows never have stripes on the breast. Another distinguishing feature of the white-throated sparrow is its "old Sam Peabody Peabody Peabody" song.

Last month, a reader asked me to recommend a pair of good birding binoculars. The binoculars on my wish list are the 8 x 42 Celestron. Their superior optics assure sharp delineation at a relatively affordable price, and this model provides for good range while still allowing for closeup focusing.

However, my Bushnell 7 x 35 has served me well for more than 20 years. I like them because I can clearly focus 6 feet from a subject, but I don’t get quite the distance I’d like. To assure comfort, I always use a shoulder harness as opposed to a neck strap. My recommendation would be to try several styles and then choose one that is comfortable and affordable for you.

Elizabeth Hacker is an artist and freelance writer. E-mail your questions and bird finds to her at editor@ourcommunitynews.org.

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Christmas concert to raise money for Tri-Lakes Cares

Click on the photo to zoom in

For the Tri-Lakes Music Association, creating music during the Christmas season is a way to give back to the community. "We hope that families leave our concerts ready to celebrate the Christmas season with joy in their hearts," said Bob Manning, the association’s founder and co-director.

The Tri-Lakes Music Association, formed six years ago to develop and perform a benefit Christmas concert, is preparing to present Phil Barfoot’s "Portraits of Christmas" and other holiday selections at Lewis-Palmer High School on Dec. 10, 11, and 12. As in past years, the proceeds will be donated to Tri-Lakes Cares, which provides food and financial assistance for needy families.

The program will feature selections performed by the full band, the children’s choir, a featured local church choir, and the Tri-Lakes Community Handbell Choir, as well as a performance of "Portraits of Christmas."

Admission is free and on a first-come, first-served basis. A free-will offering will be taken during the performance.

"The performers spend countless hours preparing for and putting on a very entertaining and festive concert," said Manning. "We are not professional performers but are members of our local community who have a need, a desire to give back to the community in which we live.

"Tri-Lakes Cares has done so many good things in the community of Monument and is always in need of additional funding. The first annual concert raised approximately $2,600 and the last two raised about $4,000 each. We would love to top that amount this year but need everyone’s help if we are going to be successful."

This event is funded by several local churches, community members, and businesses. For further information, visit the Tri-Lakes Music Association web site at www.trilakesmusic.org, or contact Bob Manning, 481-3883, or Nichole Murphy, 481-3903.

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Threads of Honor

Below: The Challenger flag displayed by members of Boy Scout Troop 514. From left to right: Drew Baker, Troop Committee Chairman; Eagle Scout Billy Grovenburg; Scoutmaster William Tolbert; Life Scout Colby Baker

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Tim Hibbs

What do a Boy Scout troop, an American flag, and the space shuttle Challenger tragedy have in common? They are all part of a fascinating, true story that began in 1985 with the founding of Boy Scout Troop 514 in Monument.

The troop’s first Scoutmaster, Major William Tolbert, USAF (Ret.), told the story at a presentation at Monument Town Hall on Oct. 9. He described the flag’s journey from its manufacture at the Valley Forge Flag Company in Spring Valley, Penn., to its place on the stage of the Town Hall building that Saturday afternoon.

The new troop had been given the flag by Colorado Congressman Ken Kramer in February 1985, after it had been flown above the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. Because of his connections to the space program, Tolbert, along with his Scouts, conceived the idea of having the flag flown on a space shuttle mission.

The process of obtaining flight clearance for their flag was littered with disappointments, setbacks, and delays, but their persistence ultimately paid off. The flag was added to the group of items being carried aloft on shuttle mission 51-L.

On Jan. 28, 1986, at 9:38 a.m. Colorado time, the engines of the Challenger roared to life and carried the troop’s flag, along with the seven astronauts, skyward. History records the national tragedy that followed little more than a minute later with the explosion and loss of the shuttle and its crew.

Tolbert later inquired about the possibility of recovering whatever remnants of their prized flag remained. He was stunned to learn in September 1986 that the flag had been recovered and was being returned to the troop.

At a ceremony at Falcon Air Force Station on December 18, 1986, astronaut Colonel Guy Bluford presented the flag to Tolbert and the scouts, still in its flight package. The package was opened and the flag was unfurled, completely untouched by the events of the explosion and a months-long rest at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

Word of the flag’s journey quickly spread and soon reached U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger’s office. Burger designated it the official flag of the bicentennial of the ratification of the Constitution. The flag soon became a touchstone of the Challenger astronauts’ courage and a symbol of hope for a grieving nation. The troop was invited to present the flag to the nation at the nationally televised We The People 2000 Constitutional Gala celebration on Sept. 17, 1987.

The flag now resides with Troop 514 under the careful watch of its Eagle scouts and its first Scoutmaster. It continues to evoke the memories of the astronauts who carried it aloft, the pain of a nation wounded by tragedy, the healing knowledge of its survival, and the pride of those Scouts and their leader who continue to protect it with respect and reverence.

The events of the story are documented in the book Threads of Honor, written by Gordon Ryan and published by Mapletree Publishing Company. Copies of the book are available at the Covered Treasures Bookstore in Monument.

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Reflections: Burning Down the House

By Chase Davis

I’m not your typical man. Oh, I have a Y chromosome, love things that explode, and leave dirty underwear around. But I like to cook (don’t tell my wife). I actually enjoy cooking. I know I didn’t get this trait from my dad, because he sets the standard for all other men when it comes to kitchen illiteracy. I heard him once say, "I can’t make ice because I lost the recipe." (A true story.) But if scientists prove that enjoying cooking is genetic, I would believe it, because my grandfather loved to cook. Perhaps that is where I got the trait. I have also developed a theory to try and explain why most men don’t like to cook. I’ve titled it "Kitchen Blindness."

The following scenario will explain what I mean by Kitchen Blindness: A man and woman get married. They buy a house and live there for many years. They raise their children and live their lives to the fullest. One day, the man enters the house after a hard day of golfing. He looks around, surveying what he and his wife have accomplished in the house. This is where he taught his son to play football, where he taught his daughter to dance. He remembers the times at Christmas when he stayed up all night putting toys together, only to watch the children play with the boxes instead. He reminisces about walking his daughter down the stairs at her wedding and how the house smelled of flowers. He remembers his son’s laugh echoing down the hallway, usually late at night when he was trying to sleep.

And then, what’s this? He looks and discovers something different. A new room has been added to the house. To his wife’s amazement, the husband discovers their house has a kitchen! Now why is this? It must be the same line of thinking that if I don’t go to the doctor, there won’t be anything wrong with me. If I ignore it, I won’t have to deal with it.

The fact that men can only think about one thing at a time supports this theory. When someone is cooking, usually there is something in the oven, something on the burner, something in the microwave, or maybe something rising on the counter. For our hypothetical situation, there are four things to think about at once and just way too much for the average man to accept mentally. The ordinary man thinks simple things like this:

Eat. Sleep. TV. Sex.

Granted those thoughts aren’t usually in that order, but you get the idea. These simple one-at-a-time activities—or "thoughts," if we stretch the definition—don’t require much external prompting. Women, on the other hand, are usually thinking: Get the kids up, dress them, get husband out of bed, brush kids’ hair and teeth, get kids ready for school, dress myself, get husband up, make everyone a lunch, realize forgot to make brownies for kindergarten class so will buy donuts at the store, get husband up, soccer for son at 3:30, dance for daughter at 3:45, how to get them to their respective places on time (figure out on the way), get husband out of bed, feed both dogs, pay bills, buy groceries...get self out of bed.

(I put the commas in for readability; they typically aren’t there.) As a side note, if I had all that going through my head before I even got out of bed, well ... I probably wouldn’t.

So, ladies, the next time you see your husband in the kitchen looking lost, remember he has no idea where he is. Just walk over to him slowly—don’t make any sudden movements—and guide him through the mental fog that has enveloped him.

As always, theories need proof. Read the following and you decide:

My father-in-law was making popcorn using the stove burner one night. (Right here he is ahead of the curve, not only knowing where the kitchen is but also knowing how to turn on the stove. Turning off the stove is another item, but I get ahead of my story.) Anyway, his brother phoned so he went into the living room and sat down. (Please don’t snicker; you’re getting ahead of the storyteller.) A few minutes later, he smelled smoke and in the reflection of the television he saw flames coming from the kitchen. His house was fine, and he was fine, but my mother-in-law now has security measures in place to prevent unauthorized entry into the kitchen.

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View photos from the Creative Crafters Showcase, Oct. 23

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Special Events and Notices

By Judy Barnes, Editor Emeritus

Pine Creek Holiday Bazaar

More than 125 vendors will offer creative crafts Nov. 6 at Pine Creek High School, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This annual event is a fund-raiser for the Pine Creek High School band program. Enjoy live music, a bake sale, and Grandma’s Kitchen! Admission is free. Take I-25 to Exit 151(Briargate Parkway), north on Highway 83, east on Old Ranch Road three miles (past Lexington Dr.) to the school. For information, call 488-6787 or visit www.geocities.com/pcbazaar.

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Annual Chili Supper at Palmer Lake

This popular event is held every year on the Sunday following Thanksgiving. This year it will be Nov. 27, 5–8:30 p.m. at Palmer Lake Town Hall. All proceeds go toward maintaining the Palmer Lake Star on Sundance Mountain, which will be lit at approximately 8 p.m., as part of the Chili Supper festivities. There will be a door prizes and a bucket raffle. One lucky raffle winner will be the one to light the star! To donate prizes, or for more information, call the Palmer Lake Town Office, 481-2953.

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Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts: Icicles and Mistletoe 2004 Benefit

The annual holiday benefit will be held Dec. 2, 7-10 p.m. at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, 304 Hwy 105 in Palmer Lake. A silent auction featuring donations made by local businesses and artists will be held while enjoying desserts, wine and music. Tickets are $20 in advance at various local merchants and TLCA or $25 at the door. Info: Jan Vaughn at 487-0064 or info@trilakesarts.com.

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Monument Small Town Christmas

Get into the holiday spirit Dec. 4 in historic downtown Monument. Activities throughout the day include crafts for kids starting at 10 a.m. at Monument Town Hall, a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus at 10:30 a.m. in Limbaugh Park, historical walking tours departing Limbaugh Park at 12:30 p.m., hayrides 11 a.m.-1 p.m. leaving from High Country Store, carolers throughout the day, and other family activities. For information call 884-0147 or 481-4880.

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Annual Yule Log Pot Luck Dinner at Palmer Lake

Bring a dish to share and come enjoy the festivities Dec. 7, 5 p.m. at Palmer Lake Town Hall. For information, call 481-0475.

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Annual Yule Log Hunt at Palmer Lake

This popular event takes place Dec. 12 at 1 p.m. at Palmer Lake Town Hall. It is recommended that hunt participants arrive between 11 a.m. and noon. The winner will ride the Yule Log back to town and get the first cup of wassail. Those not participating in the hunt can stay indoors to help make wassail and enjoy a holiday program and other fun activities. For more information call 481-0475.

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Tri-Lakes Music Association’s Community Christmas Concert: Portraits of Christmas

The annual TLMA Christmas Concert will be Dec. 10 and 11 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 12 at 2 p.m. at Lewis-Palmer High School. The concert will feature the Tri-Lakes Community hand bell choir, the TLMA children’s choir, adult choir, and orchestra. All proceeds benefit Tri-Lakes Cares. For more information, visit www.trilakesmusic.org.

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