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Controversial Garden of the Gods apartment complex takes a step forward after 7-2 vote

Posted at 10:49 PM, Apr 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-17 08:23:46-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — The Colorado Springs Planning Commission voted 7-2 during a meeting on Tuesday to recommend the rezoning and approval of a controversial apartment complex on the northwest side of Colorado Springs.

The Arrowswest Apartments would bring 222 apartment units to the corner of Garden of the Gods Road and North 30th Street. The site is right across the street from 2424 Garden of the Gods, a different controversial proposal that was struck down by Colorado Springs City Council in 2021 and again by the Colorado Court of Appeals in 2023. The plan would have added 420 dwelling units to the property already supporting commerical use.

Councilmembers who voted against the 2424 Garden of the Gods project said the plan posed a public safety risk in the event of wildfire evacuations.

Some Westside residents, including many living in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood that was affected by the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire, have brought up similar safety concerns regarding the Arrowswest Apartments. Chuck Lucas, a Westside resident, said it doesn't make sense to build another apartment complex at the same intersection that was deemed a public safety risk.

“To say it’s illogical would be kind of an understatement. It’s obvious it’s going to be the same problem," said Lucas.

Kerri Waite, a Westside resident opposing the project, said it took her two and a half hours to get out of the Mountain Shadows neighborhood during the Waldo Canyon Fire. She said adding more residents near the main arterial road is a bad idea.

“The entire Westside of this city that I love and I think is so amazing is really at a critical mass right now and I just feel like the leadership is not doing their duty in protecting our community.”

During Tuesday's Planning Commission, an attorney with the City of Colorado Springs said the Colorado Court of Appeals decision on the 2424 Garden of the Gods project does not apply to new developments in the area.

However, Commissioners Scott Hente and Martin Rickett said they voted against the Arrowswest Apartments because they wanted to remain consistent with the development decisions already made in that area.

During the meeting, Colorado Springs Fire Deputy Chief of Operations Steve Wilch said officials have significantly improved evacuation notice technology since the Waldo Canyon Fire. That was one reason other commissioners voted in favor of the project.

“I fully trust that our fire department has our safety in mind so I will be supporting the project," said Commissioner Colby Foos.

Other commissioners said they voted to recommend the approval of the apartment complex because of a need for housing in the area.

The decision will now move forward to City Council for a first reading next month.

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