West Kiowa: Mayor calls for survey resolution

       The saga of the West Kiowa Street infill project continued this week, with the following developments:
       Mayor Lionel Rivera asked the City Attorney's Office at the March 13 City Council meeting for a ruling on whether to hold off on any new building permits for the 1- acre project at 3325 W. Kiowa pending resolution of site-survey conflicts between the property and that of Jenna Saunders, who lives just west of it. He also said that no further building permits should be issued until the attorney responds.
       City Engineer Cam McNair announced plans at the March 12 council meeting to improve the adjacent stormwater network in conjunction with the project.
       At the same meeting, Springs Utilities representative Jeff Daniel explained that improvements to the adjacent sanitary sewer lines are also planned.
       City staff have scheduled a meeting with neighborhood people this week to get feedback on builder Jeff Shada's revised drainage plan for the site - the previous one had left certain unanswered questions, including the height of a retaining wall that was to go on adjoining properties.
       On March 13, Saunders told council that Shada had “yelled” at her on the phone that morning when he learned she was going to council to discuss the survey issue.
       Contacted later by the Pioneer, Shada said he hadn't yelled , but “I was a little saddened that she wanted to go back to council again.” He added that he was “frustrated” later in the day because he wanted to respond to her comments during the citizen discussion part of the meeting, but didn't sign in soon enough.
       Saunders has since called him back, and the two plan to meet on their property issues next week.
       Shada has proposed a land swap, because the survey he is using shows that a corner of her property is actually his. Saunders told council that until she has a clear idea of which survey is accurate she cannot make any final decision.
       The City Attorney's Office had previously ruled that issue was a civil matter, but Saunders said her attorney believes the developer's survey had been performed in a way that made the lots seem bigger than they actually are. “To me, it doesn't seem fair that Ms. Saunders is taking all the shortage onto her lot,” Rivera said. He added - after City Attorney Patricia Kelly said her office would analyze the conflicts and report back “quickly” - that “I think we need to get this resolved before we issue permits.”
       Saunders, also the neighborhood representative, thanked council for its efforts, on behalf of the neighborhood as well as her personal situation. “You guys have really helped me,” she said.
       Shada is continuing development on Lots 7 and 8; he has a building permit to put in a duplex on each lot.
       Brett Veltman, the lead city planner on the project, pledged that he would inform the neighborhood when Shada applies for any other building permits.
       Shada told the Westside Pioneer he hopes to apply for a permit soon on Lot 9. This is the lot on which he once thought he had approval from the city to do below- grade excavation of a red rock formation to make room for a a single-family house. He did that excavation but was given a legal stop-work last week by the city because of a legal interpretation of the project grading plan that he really only had authorization to work on Lots 7 and 8.
       In any case, Veltman told council, “He's done a good job of excavation.”
       Shada said he is hopeful that once a new drainage plan is worked out - preliminary plans are to be discussed with the neighborhood this week - he can apply for the permit. He is currently “halfway through a preliminary set of plans,” he said.
       When Shada makes that application, he pledged to call a neighborhood meeting so that all the residents can see what he plans to do. “I will make it public,” he said.
       During the council discussion March 12, council member Tom Gallagher pressed Veltman on how the buildings on the lots can be called duplexes when they share a single lot. The answer was that each duplex lot would have a single owner. If one of the “halves” was sold, a replat of the property would be required, in order to show the property line through the wall dividing the duplex sides, Veltman explained.
       Saying he thought that city staff had done a “thorough” job of reviewing the project, Veltman told council that the issue has been a “balancing act between city goals for infill, private property rights and minimizing impositions on the neighbors and the environment.”
       Richard White, a neighbor south of the project who has been consistently critical of city staff efforts, read off a list of issues to council that he believed staff has neglected in its review. These included several items on the city's Hillside Ordinance, which he believes the city staff has not followed to the letter of the law.
       Veltman has previously said the city addressed the ordinance as best it could on a project that did not need a development plan because a legal plat had existed since 1889.
       He has also argued that the city was constrained in making more demands on the developer because of this situation.
       The propery has six lots. All would be duplexes except Lot 9, which would be single-family.
       Of Lot 9, Veltman told council: “Lot 9 was hard. Because we needed to preserve the red rock outcropping, we worked with the developer and he agreed with that position. Luckily, we agreed on that.”

Westside Pioneer article