11th hour deals end Gold Hill appeals

       Gold Hill Mesa's development requests were the last items on the City Council agenda Sept. 27, and this turned out to be a good thing, Ryan Tefertiller of City Land Use Review said in his opening remarks to the elected body.
       He explained that the extra time had given representatives of Gold Hill and the homeowner's association (HOA) for neighboring Villa de Mesa a chance to work out basic agreements on contested issues related to a wall and building heights.

A Gold Hill Mesa promotional sign stands beside a currently closed temporary route into the development that will eventually turn into the permanent Gold Hill Mesa Drive, allowing access from 21st Street. At left and top is the south perimeter wall (built in 2006) for the neighboring Villa de Mesa townhomes. The new Gold Hill lots whose two-story houses will slightly exceed a height limit previously agreed upon between the developers and the Villa de Mesa HOA are to be just south of the wall. A new private agreement is being worked out between the entities to address that issue.
Westside Pioneer photo

       After a representative from each of those entities confirmed what Tefertiller had said, council voted unanimously to approve all seven of the development requests on first reading. On the planner's recommendation, the votes included denials of Villa de Mesa's appeals on both issues as well as key changes that the HOA wanted. The expectation is that council will hear the matter on second reading Oct. 11, and by then the two Mesas will have hammered out the necessary legal paperwork, making that council vote just a formality.
       After the first-reading votes, Scott Hente, the council president, urged the two entities “not to change this radically. We're voting on the good faith we're hearing in this room.”
       The seven Gold Hill Mesa requests, initially submitted to the city last spring, have had somewhat of a rocky road. They were discussed at length by City Planning Commission in July and, although all were approved, Villa de Mesa residents complained bitterly about the unfinished wall around their 25-unit enclave; also, it was revealed that a Gold Hill consultant's engineering error would force the building heights for new two-story houses next to Villa de Mesa to be 5 to 18 inches above the maximum stated in a prior contract between the two entities.
       The result was that Villa de Mesa (a townhome enclave off South 21st Street, built in the 1970s) appealed to City Council. One appeal (related to the wall) would have affected Gold Hill's request to amend its concept plan for overall development of the 210-acre property; the other (related to the building heights) concerned Gold Hill's request for approval of a development plan that would allow it to start building 16 homes along Gold Hill Mesa Drive, which would be extended for the purpose, just south of Villa de Mesa.
       Another recent problem for developers was Gold Hill residents themselves, starting to complain about the proposed amendments to the concept plan, with several arguing that the new numbers would be tilted too far toward multifamily and that the development team in general had been uncommunicative. In response, Gold Hill postponed its August date with City Council for a month (at a cost of $15,000, according to lead developer Bob Willard) and held two meetings with residents, which resulted in some adjustments from the Planning Commission approval and seemed to eliminate most of the discontent.
       The new wall deal is based on Gold Hill Mesa agreeing to remove from the concept plan a note that Tefertiller had inserted (and which Planning Commis-sion had approved) that attempted to provide exactitude about Gold Hill's wall-building requirements. Villa de Mesa HOA President Jim Shearer had argued in his appeal that the note “ensures nothing” and also prevented the HOA from working out a private deal.
       Tim Seibert, of the NES planning firm (which contracts with Gold Hill Mesa), told council that after “conversations over the last few days and even the last few hours,” he was “very optimistic” that a resolution on the wall could be reached.
       The wall idea dates back seven-some years, when the HOA told Gold Hill it wanted to keep its privacy and not be incorporated into the new development. So Gold Hill agreed to build a wall around the enclave. The segments on its south side and most of its west side were built in 2006, with Willard saying then that more would go in when homebuilding took place near the unfinished sides.
       But Gold Hill Mesa never agreed to a time frame for wall completion, and the recession has slowed housing construction. The appeal proposes that “11 or 12 total years is a 'reasonable time' within which to achieve the full contract terms.” Neither Seibert nor Michael Rigg, the HOA vice president at the meeting, offered to council the time frame that is now in the works.
       As a remedy for the building-heights snafu, Tefertiller said that Gold Hill Mesa had initially proposed having 5 of the 16 homes be one-story while the HOA appeal sought 7. Tefertiller told council the two sides have now agreed on six, and this was the number that council in turn approved. The appeal had also asked the city to include a legally stated deed restriction specifying the number of one-story lots because (at the time) the HOA said it could not work out a private agreement with Gold Hill. How such details might read in the new agreement were also not revealed at council.
       The seven requests involve no major alterations to Gold Hill Mesa's existing plans to continue developing a Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) project on 210 acres south of Highway 24/Fountain Creek, east of 21st Street and north of Lower Gold Camp Road that also will have a concentration of commercial uses in its north and northeast areas. Assuming final approval of the requests, the most visible outcome for the general public in the near future will be the new lots/homes south of Villa de Mesa and a revamped access from 21st Street that will provide for the first time a permanent entrance from there into the development, connecting to the new extension of Gold Hill Mesa Drive.

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