New subdivision would link Centennial Blvd. to I-25 at southern end
MVS proposal to Planning Commission in April
A southern extension of Centennial Boulevard to the Fontanero/I-25 interchange has emerged as part of the MVS group's proposal for a 47-acre residential
subdivision west of Mesa Springs.
Described as an “interim” road - only two lanes instead of Centennial's masterplanned four - it would be about a half-mile in length, providing a second traffic outlet for subdivision residents in addition to Van Buren Street. However, the city will not open the full Centennial extension, between Fill-more Street and Fontanero, until its entire length (about 1 ½ miles) is completed to the four-lane standard, and no one knows when that will happen, summarized Kathleen Krager of City Traffic.
Although other issues exist - including the property owners' frustration with the city over Centennial as a whole - MVS' proposal is tentatively slated for the April 19 Planning Commission agenda, according to city planner Lonna Thelen. Because the current proposal focuses only on zoning and basic planning issues, no construction can occur yet. For that, MVS would have to come back with a development plan that provides land-use specifics, she said.
The concept for Centennial was presented by Ron Bevans of NES, a private planning company that contracts with MVS, during a Feb. 22 neighborhood meeting on the subdivision proposal. Thelen had sent a review letter in January asking NES to find another traffic outlet for the development to prevent overloading the only other way out (Van Buren Street east to Chestnut Street).
In another concession to Thelen's review, MVS has agreed to reduce the number of homes on the 8.5 acres of the property that's just south of Van Buren, east of the Centennial right-of-way and closest to Mesa Springs. Formerly suggested at 12 units per acre, that area would now be 4-8 per acre - matching the existing neighborhood's single-family density - Bevans told the roughly 60 people in attendance. An identical treatment would be given to an 8.7-acre area at the south end of the MVS property, north of the existing, low-density Broadview Ranch subdivision.
However, Thelen had also suggested in her review that density could be increased west of Centennial, and NES has complied with that as well. Plans now show a density of 16-24 units per acre in a central-north 5.7-acre portion and 12-16 on 12.2 northwesterly acres.
As a result, the number of potential living units for the entire project would range from 305 to 446. In its original plan, MVS had suggested 420 units, based on all the developable areas in the property having a density of 12 units per acre.
The current zoning for the property, which MVS is seeking to change to a different type of planned unit development, allows 12.6 units an acre (and a maximum density of 602 units) under an ordinance passed in 1983.
The biggest issue for the Mesa Springs Community Association (the city-recognized homeowners group for the older neighborhood between Uintah and Fillmore streets and west of 1-25) is MVS' wish to remove the hillside overlay zone from the entire property. Association Vice President Steve Schwartz reiterated a point he'd made at a previous meeting that partial removal of the zone makes sense, because MVS needs to restore a 17-acre area that had once been a landfill (turning 8 of the acres into an open-space area). However, the association leadership also believes that key hillside areas still remain and should thus retain the hillside overlay.
Defining the MVS position, Bevans displayed a contour map indicating that central and east parts of the property mostly have slopes of less than 8 percent, while the steeper west and south areas would be protected because they are near a stream that will retain its streamside overlay zone. Major grading will be needed on different parts of the site - the hillside overlay would not allow that; however, Bevans added, “It doesn't do anybody any good to ruin the stream, because it's a beautiful area back in there.”
Thelen said she sees his point, but is concerned about what will happen to the hillside areas beyond the streamside protected areas (70 feet on either side). In any case, she said she hopes that in discussions between now and Planning Commission some agreement can be worked out.
The developers' disagreement was expressed by Lowell Hare, co-owner of the property with Ted Waterman. He complained that the city decided more than 20 years ago to align the Centennial extension through his property. “We never wanted Centennial,” he told the gathering at the neighborhood meeting. “All I ever wanted was a two-lane road. I'm as frustrated as you are.”
After the meeting, Hare elaborated that he looked on the city's plan for Centennial as “condemnation” of his land and intimated that the issue could wind up in court someday.
In addition to land for the road, city policy requires all the property owners along the Centennial right of way between Fillmore and Fontanero to build the road through their properties. In this way, the road has been slowly taking shape since 2004. MVS' required segment does not actually extend to Fontanero - that part is city responsibility. But because the city lacks the funds to pay for its segment now and MVS needs a second outlet, the development group would build that as well, under an agreement with the city, Bevans explained. The city would also credit MVS for putting in two lanes, even though not all of that would be reusable for the eventual four-lane arterial, Krager said. “Is there wasted money?” she asked rhetorically. “Yes, but it is their wasted money, not the city's.”
A few Mesa Springs residents were still concerned that the southern extension would cause traffic problems, but an MVS-contracted private traffic consultant, Jeff Hodsdon, said two lanes should be ample to handle subdivision traffic alone. He also predicted that with the extension to Fontanero, many people would use it, even those living closer to Van Buren, as a hassle-free route to I-25.
As for the extension potentially dividing the neighborhood at Fontanero, one resident asked about a pedestrian overpass. Krager said she would look at that, but reminded the questioner that the city has no money at this time.
Thelen added that other city departments will also review the development plan when it comes in, for such issues as fire safety, utilities and road layouts.
MVS has set no timetable to come back with a development plan. “We're like everyone else out there [in land development],” he said. “We're waiting for the economy. We're not just going to throw homes in there.”
Westside Pioneer article