Zone change sought along Centennial route

       A 48-acre rezoning proposal is being finalized that could mark another step toward completion of the long-awaited Centennial Boulevard extension.
       A neighborhood meeting on the plan by NES, a private land-planning company representing MVS Development, is scheduled Thursday, Oct. 8, starting at 7 p.m. at the Hyatt Place, 503 W. Garden of the Gods Road.
       The currently undeveloped MVS land straddles the proposed Centennial route for about a third of a mile south of the current road construction's stopping point at Van Buren Street, according to Ron Bevans of NES.
       However, it will likely be some time before homes or roads go in that area. The rezoning itself, which would change the language of the property's current planned unit development (PUD) designation, may prove controversial. It would remove a hillside overlay and leave open the possibility of multi-family homes at a density of up to 12 units an acre.
       The overlay removal would be necessary to allow significant grading that would reduce the geographical impact of a former landfill on the site and to allow Centennial to go through, Bevans explained. In the opinion of NES, the property lacks any significant hillside amenities that would merit keeping the overlay designation. “It's all been fairly denuded,” he said. “There has been a lot of use by off-roaders.”
       The landfill now has a required voluntary cleanup plan covering about 15 acres. Through grading, this could be reduced to 8 acres, which would not be built on, Bevans said.
       A 12-units-per-acre allowance in the rezoning would not mean future developers could automatically build at that density. One or more development plans, detailing how and where homes would be placed and connected with roads on the site, would have to be later approved by the city before any homes can get built, he said.
       There is another environmental overlay on the property, for stream protection, which would be retained under the rezoning. The unnamed stream flows along the property's western edge, Bevans said.
       The rezoning request also has not yet been submitted to the city. He noted that upon submission it would need to be supported by such technical materials as a traffic plan, land suitability analysis and drainage plan. Any rezoning would ultimately require City Council approval.
       There are no immediate development plans for the property, Bevans said.
       He added that one of the hopes of the property owners in bringing the rezoning proposal forward is to “prompt further discussion” on the Centennial extension.
       The roughly 1 1/2-mile route, which would provide a four-lane link between Fillmore and Fontanero streets, has been in the planning stages for many years. Under a city requirement, each development occurring along that route must include its part of the extension. But there have been only two developments, so only two segments have seen road construction so far -the Colorado Springs Health Partners property south of Fillmore and Centennial and the Indian Hills Village town-home development between Van Buren and Mesa Valley Road. From north to south, the gaps include a small property (south of the Colorado Springs Health Partners parcel) which is now owned by a bank; the Indian Hills Village segment, which was left unfinished by its original developer who went bankrupt (although the city has a bond for its completion); the MSV land; and the city right of way at the south end connecting to Fontanero Street (and from there to the Fontanero/I-25 interchange).
       The city piece, about a quarter-mile long, is a concern because the city has no money earmarked to pay for it. Based on current regional transportation funding priorities, the earliest date funding might be available for it is 2021. About three years ago, NES proposed that the city explore funding a minimal, two-lane “pioneer road,” just to get the connection in; however, Bevans pointed out this week that even in such a case the city portion would have “significant issues,” including a large hill and utility placements.
       The city had pushed for the Centennial extension as early as the 1980s, anticipating it as a way of relieving traffic at the Fillmore/I-25 interchange. However, until the road is built all the way through, the city has assured the Mesa Springs neighborhood that it will not be opened part way, so as to avoid “cut-through” traffic along neighborhood streets such as Mesa Valley and Van Buren. At the same time, however, the poor access to Centennial has hurt the marketability of the area, a real estate agent for the Indian Hills Village townhomes previously told the Westside Pioneer.

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