Colorado Springs City Council members approved expanding the city’s boundaries on the northeast side by 887 acres Tuesday with plans for up to 2,900 new homes on the land along Woodmen Road.
The council unanimously approved the Banning Lewis Ranch North project proposed by Nor’wood Development Group. Earlier in the day, the El Paso County Commission voted unanimously to approve an annexation impact report for the project, but noted changes they would like to make to the annexation boundaries to ensure appropriate public street infrastructure is transferred to the city and the ownership isn’t awkwardly split between the city and the county.
In addition to the new housing, Nor’wood expects to set aside land for two schools, space for a new fire station, 60 acres for parks, 56 acres for open space and trail corridors, and 37 acres for business development close to Woodmen, city planner Katie Carleo said. Apartment complexes are planned closer to Woodmen Road and homes on larger parcels will be built closer to county properties. The neighborhood is expected to be built out over 15 years, according to city plans.
“I appreciate the trails and how they are connected to the parks and open space. … There is easy access to outdoor recreation,” Council President Richard Skorman said.
A few residents opposed to the project before it was approved by the Planning Commission last year, in part because they would like to see some roads in the area widened and improved, particularly Marksheffel Road. But the number of comments provided to the city was remarkably low, said Andrea Barlow, a consultant representing the developer.
Colorado Springs Traffic Engineer Todd Frisbie told the city council he expected Woodmen Road would need to be widened in 20 years even if the new neighborhood wasn’t built. He also pointed out that the Woodmen Road intersection with Black Forest Road is near capacity now and the city is currently designing improvements for area.
Future connections are also planned to help relieve traffic on Woodmen Road. For example, at some point the new Banning Lewis Parkway that will run north and south through neighborhood will connect to an extension of Briargate Parkway north of the neighborhood.
Overall, the neighborhood is expected to have a positive fiscal impact for the city for the first eight years because of the sales and use tax revenue it will drive. The neighborhood will cost the city more than it will generate in the neighborhood’s ninth and 10th year because the city will have the cost of maintaining roads, said Charae McDaniel, city’s chief financial officer.
The new neighborhood is expected to cost the police department from about $507,000 to about $606,000 and the fire department between $665,000 and about $795,000 to cover staffing and operations. To help cover those costs, the developer has agreed to pay $677 per acre for police costs and $1,985 per acre for fire department costs.
Cty and county officials are expected to work out some details of the annexation boundaries.
County staff want to ensure the entirety of public infrastructure it owns at two signaled intersections -– one at Mohawk and Woodmen roads, the other at Golden Sage and Woodmen roads –- are turned over to the city to streamline maintenance and law enforcement and medical response. Because of the proposed annexation boundary line near Golden Sage and Woodmen roads, only portions of the Woodmen Frontage and Woodmen roads would be left in El Paso County. There are drainage facilities related to the frontage road, El Paso County engineer Jessica Irvine said, so only a portion of those facilities would be annexed by the city.
Intersections within two jurisdictions, create problems with facility ownership and maintenance, she said. Overlap and confusion ensues when law enforcement and emergency medical services respond to those areas.
“It’s very difficult to know who is responsible for what,” Irvine said. “… We have a great relationship with the city, but agreeing on who does those improvements, who does those upgrades (and) what those upgrades are really becomes more difficult than having these areas within one jurisdiction to be able to make those decisions and address those immediately.”
As part of the Annexation Master Plan, Colorado Springs will take ownership of all easements for public infrastructure, including the physical road and/or the public infrastructure pertinent to Woodmen Road.
This is necessary for the city to appropriately maintain Woodmen and Woodmen Frontage roads, county staff said.
The city will prepare the necessary deeds to convey the easements currently owned by El Paso County to the city of Colorado Springs.
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