MVS OK’d to plan development... if owners choose to
With no outright citizen opposition, City Council approved a rezoning Dec. 14 of a 47-acre property near Mesa Springs - an action that sets the legal framework for a
future housing development of up to 411 homes, recovery of an old landfill and the extension of at least part of Centennial Boulevard between Fillmore and Fontanero
It is unknown when, or even if any of these will occur. A development plan and plat map detailing construction plans would need to be submitted for city approval first, according to Lonna Thelen of City Land Use Review. But the property owners, doing business as “MVS,” have announced no eagerness to move ahead on the project while the housing market remains weak.
The only vote against the rezoning came from City Council-member Tom Gallagher, who felt the city was setting a “bad precedent” in terms of road construction responsibility. By requiring developers to pay for only part of of the Centennial extension through their properties, he said “it seems like the city is taking on an undue share of the project.”
Mayor Lionel Rivera disagreed, pointing out that in 2004 the public approved funding the “entire road” as one of the projects in the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA). “So I don't think we're setting a precedent.”
However, the extension is currently an RTA C-list item, meaning no public money will be available for it unless the RTA gets reapproved by voters in 2014, according to city transportation planner Kathleen Krager.
During the meeting, Krager clarified that while the city attaches increasing importance to the four-lane extension - she has previously said it would be an “A” project if a list were done now - the development would only need a collector street if the arterial-sized extension weren't masterplanned through there. The city has a code, she explained , “that says we can't charge off-site requirements for an arterial street that is for a city purpose. It would be unfair to make them pay for all of Centennial when it's used by 15,000 people a day.”
Gallagher asserted that other major streets in the city have been built by developers as part of their subdivisions. Krager's response was that there used to be a city reimbursement fund in which developers would be paid back in part for footing the bill of big roads - however, the city's recently weak economic condition has left it with zero money in its reimbursement fund.
Council asked questions about, but in the end did not object to, the MVS plan to eliminate the hillside overlay zone on the property. As explained at Planning Commission in November, the owners believe the property does not have pronounced hillside characteristics, that several acres are needed anyway to place the topsoil that's removed in the 18-acre landfill restoration and the best natural aspects will be retained through an overlay on a stream that flows through the southwest part of the parcel.
After restoration, about nine acres of the former landfill would become private open space, open to the public. In answer to a question from Johnnie Russom, a Mesa Springs-area resident, Ted Waterman, part of the MVS ownership, said it would probably look much like it does today after the restoration is done. “It will probably be a good place to walk a dog,” he said. Because the city did not want to take on the responsibility for a public park there, future homeowners in the 47-acre property would maintain it through some form of private entity, he added.
Russom was the only citizen speaker. The Mesa Springs Community Association, the city-recognized advocacy group for the neighborhood just east of where MVS would build, had submitted a written request that at least part of the property retain hillside zoning, but no association representative spoke at either Planning Commission or council.
The rezoning updates a 1983 planned unit development (PUD) zone for the site that would have allowed more than 600 homes but kept the hillside overlay.
In answer to a question from City Councilmember Scott Hente, Waterman said the principal owner of MVS is Lowell Hare with H&L Development. He said Hare has been involved with the property for about 30 years.
Through some complicated legal arrangements and a land swap, MVS going forward would allow Centennial to be completed between Fillmore and Van Buren Street, allowing access to those who would be living in the MVS property. Van Buren itself would be barricaded at Centennial to prevent traffic cutting through the Mesa Springs neighborhood, explained Krager and Lonna Thelen of City Land Use.
The city would get some right of way from MVS to allow it to finish the extension from Van Buren to Fontanero, if RTA money comes in. Krager admitted that sending any MVS residents up to Fillmore would add to that street's traffic - a potential City Councilmember Jan Martin frowned on - but Krager said this might also have the effect of making motorists realize the need for the Centennial extension, which will someday relieve Fillmore's traffic.
Westside Pioneer article