City mulling revised plan for Victorian Heights

       A scaled-back version of the 2.9-acre Victorian Heights development plan has been submitted to Colorado Springs Planning.
       The number of proposed units on the hillside property above Wilhelmia Avenue has been reduced from 19 to 13, according to the plan from Monument developer Ted Cox. The developer's new plan responds to several requests in Larsen's review letter regarding Cox's first plan last year. One of these was for a reduced-setback: The original plan called for 5 feet back from the street instead of 20. The city requirement is 25 feet. Also, Cox has agreed to provide a two-car garage in each unit, which the city had asked for.
       Asked what led him to cut back the scope of the project, Cox told the Westside Pioneer, “It's a difficult site. After looking at all the factors, I believed this revised design would work better.”
       The six eliminated units were on the western part of the property, in one of the steepest areas, he pointed out.
       However, City Planning and the existing neighborhood still have issues with the plan.
       City planner Larry Larsen has responded to Cox's new submittal with an eight-page review letter, telling him that the review items “must be addressed prior to receiving the City Planning Department's recommendation and referring the applications to the City Planning Commission.” Larsen's letter included a request for clarification of how the developer plans to stabilize the roughly 100-foot slope into which cutting is necessary to build the homes at its base.
       “These geologic hazards will no doubt be a contentious issue during future public hearings and we want to be certain the applicant/RMG can defend the proposed mitigation to everyone's satisfaction,” the letter states.
       The original proposal had been opposed by many people from the neighborhood, which is a block north of Uintah Street near Wilhelmia and 28th Street. According to nearby resident Victor Shepard, there are still neighborhood concerns related to the plan's reduced-setback requests, incomplete geologic information and the apparent inconsistency that special hill-stabilizing “soldier piers” are to be installed in a “no-build zone.” These issues override the benefits from the reduced density and the developer's acquiescence to City Planning request to have a two-car garage in every unit, Shepard said.
       “People are not pleased that City Planning is so accommodating to the developer,” he said.
       The new plan, like the original one, anticipates that the homes be earmarked for Habitat for Humanity families, Cox said.
       According to the new plan, “The piers are to be constructed under the direct support of a geotechnical engineer to verify the field conditions are consistent with assumptions made for the design of slope-stabilizing piers.”
       But putting the soldier piers in a no-build zone (the slopes behind the planned homes) “seems to defeat the purpose,” Shepard said.

Westside Pioneer article