Gold Hill plan submission seen in midlate March

       Submission of a development plan for the first phase of the 214-acre Gold Hill Mesa subdivision has been delayed until the second or third week of March.
       Robert Willard, manager of Gold Hill Mesa Township, LLC, said he and his team “need more time to do some of the studies and reports. We've come this far - why do something and not cover every base?”
        Some of the work includes an additional soil test - “super-precautionary stuff,” he said.
        When he addressed a meeting of the Organization of Westside Neighbors in January, he had expressed the hope of submitting his plan to the City of Colorado Springs by the end of this month.
       Willard said he thinks he can make up the anticipated two-to-three-week delay in the grading stages of development, meaning that (assuming city approval) construction could start this fall.
       Phase 1, covering 45 acres in the southwest corner of the property east of 21st Street and between Highway 24 and Lower Gold Camp Road, is proposed for 300 to 350 homes, as well as a park and community center. Projections for the size of the development at buildout in 10 or more years have ranged from 1,400 to 1,800 units, plus a commercial area near 21st Street and Highway 24.
       In a phone interview with the Westside Pioneer, Willard provided a few updated details about Phase 1. The first filing will consist of 187 units and include the completed widening of Lower Gold Camp Road to 21st Street, he said.
        He does not anticipate Filing 2 to get into the ground until about 2006. That filing would be likely to include the widening of 21st Street from Lower Gold Camp to Villa de Mesa Drive, Willard said.
       He added that while the LLC had not anticipated working on the north side of the property - most notably the erosion-scarred hill above Fountain Creek - during the early years of the project, it may focus there sooner because of high public interest in that area.
       One of the unique aspects of the property is that the site was used to mill gold for the first half of the 20th c e n t u r y . Ensuing developers seeking to develop the site have researched ways to extract the gold tailings - estimated to be worth as much as $100 million - from the soil. However, a feasible extraction plan has never presented itself, and the Gold Hill Mesa LLC has instead worked out a plan with health officials to cover the ground with fresh soil and ensure that potentially unhealthful cyanide in the tailings stays buried.
       Once city staff is finished reviewing the Phase 1 submittal, the city Planning Commission and eventually City Council will hold public hearings on the plan.
       A conceptual plan for the entire development was approved by Planning Commission last April. In January, council bestowed an urban-renewal designation upon the site, which Willard had sought to ease the LLC's financial burden.

Westside Pioneer Article