Higher density proposed in new Cathedral Ridge plan

       A concrete wall, built in the last year, blocks most of the public view now, but a flat expanse on Mesa Road with some of the best vistas in Colorado Springs is being proposed for a major subdivision. One of the prime views – taking in both the Garden of the  Gods (far right) and Red Rock Canyon (far left) – that 
will be seen from houses built along the ridge above the Pleasant Valley neighborhood (lower foreground).
Westside Pioneer photo
       The Cathedral Ridge project would build 108 single-family homes on about 40 acres just south of the Garden of the Gods Club, according to the development plan submitted by the Sunrise Company. It would replace, at least in part, a lower-density plan (77 houses/ duplexes on 64 acres) that the city approved there seven years ago.
       This idea has not gone over well with the surrounding gated communities north of Fillmore Street, whose residents have sent numerous letters to City Planning. Alarms have been raised about such issues as potentially excessive traffic, loss of views (in part because of the proposed 28-foot building heights), bad alignment of the development's private streets (one on the south portion runs adjacent to the homes in the La Posada del Sol subdivision), possible denigration of the Mesa Road quality of life and alleged bad faith (people having moved to the area based on the 77-unit plan).
       On the latter point, Dr. Robert and Margaret Telander argue in a letter to the city, “We bought our property in the belief that the adjacent property to us was being developed in a responsible, attractive manner. This drastic departure from the currently approved plans is clearly unacceptable to the neighborhoods adjacent to the Cathedral Ridge property.”
       “The area is a landmark area of Colorado Springs and should be treated as such,” states a letter from neighbor Sanford Francis.
       Even the 2,500-foot-long wall has been criticized, mainly for the types of trees Sunrise planted along it, which, according to neighbors, don't meet city landscaping requirements because they will grow too close together and too tall.
       City Planning has not recommended for or against the project, but has not opposed the density. A letter that city planner James Mayerl sent this week to Dirk Gosda (president of the Colorado division of the multi-state Sunrise Company) lists some requirements and suggestions from his and other city departments and urges the developer to meet with the neighbors on their issues.

A map with three phases (formally identified as "filings" in the Sunrise Company's submittal to the city), illustrates why the city has some uncertainty as to the exact number of units in the Cathedral Ridge development proposal. Some of the lots shown as "under separate ownership" and "approved custom lots" were part of the previously approved 77-unit Cathedral Ridge plan from 2001, but it's not clear if they're in the proposed new plan. If 17 of them are, as City Planner James Mayerl suggests, that would lower the overall density because their lot sizes are mostly larger than those in Sunrise's 108-lot new plan. Courtesy of the Sunrise Company.

       In response to the wall/tree critique, Gosda said in an interview this week he had worked with City Parks officials on the layout and “went above and beyond” city demands. However, he noted that this layout was based on the 77-unit plan; if Planning Commission says it's unacceptable with the new proposal, “we'll go back to the old plan.”
       The property is part of a broad Mesa area about 2 miles by 3 miles and roughly bounded by Garden of the Gods Road, 30th Street, Centennial Boulevard and Fillmore Street. It belonged for many years to the Hill family, which developed the Kissing Camels golf course, the Garden of the Gods Club and various commercial and residential properties under the city-approved Hill Master Plan. The plan outlined where. what and how dense future construction could occur in that area.
       The Sunrise Company bought most of the Hill holdings last year, and for the most part has reduced the density when seeking to build (including the Sentinel Ridge housing development proposed this year southeast of Fillmore Street and Mesa Road).
       Gosda said Cathedral Ridge is an exception to the lower-density rule, based on market studies indicating that smaller single-family lots would work better at that location. Potential buyers are more likely to be “a mature family, a retiree, with a desire for less maintenance,” Gosda said.
       In general, the idea is to have the larger-lot homes nearer the golf course and the smaller ones farther away. Gosda also countered that the surrounding neighborhoods (consisting chief-ly of condos, duplexes and patio homes) have even higher density than what's proposed for Cathedral Ridge.
       Regarding Cathedral's private street near La Posada, Gosda said the planning belief was that if construction had to be in proximity to neighbors , they would prefer a street over a house.
       One City Planning requirement is that Sunrise apply for an amendment to the master plan because of the increased density. However, Mayerl's letter also asks Gosda for clarification on the actual project scope. The approved 77-unit plan encompassed 17 units that are not part of the current 108; plus there are “other lots that remain along the western portion of the site” [bringing the total acreage to 134 units on 64 acres],” he writes. ”If that is incorrect, please let me know. The total development needs to be made clear on the plan.”
       Mayerl's letter discusses the neighborhood concerns as follows: “There are a number of letters that I have received from neighbors expressing concerns about the proposed development. The overall development may be in the very low category for residential development based on our master plan categories (134 lots on 64.1 acres equals 2.09 dwelling units per acre); however I do recommend that you try to work with the neighbors on some of their issues. Height limitation on certain lots would be appropriate. Opening up some view corridors by reducing the number of lots should also be considered.”
       Another requirement of the developer is from the Fire Depart-ment, which wants one of the streets realigned for safety reasons (not the one that's close to La Posada del Sol).
       Cathedral Ridge's views include rare vistas that take in both the Garden of the Gods and Red Rock Canyon. The project would be built in three filings. Nine types of homes are planned on the site; depending on the lot size, location and house type, prices will range from $500,000 to $1.2 million, Gosda said.

Westside Pioneer article