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Mountain Shadows neighborhood residents speak out against proposed zoning change at city meeting

The change could allow hundreds of apartments to be built
Mountain Shadows Zoning Change Request.jpg
Posted at 11:02 PM, Oct 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-08 09:03:47-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Developers are hoping the city will grant their rezoning request allowing them to add hundreds of apartments and possibly commercial buildings and homes on unused land surrounding an office building in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood. But neighbors say the city and developers aren't being transparent.

"I've been here since 1998," Mountain Shadows resident Chris Mitchell said. "It's out of place, it's completely out of place."

For neighbors in Mountain Shadows, something about the proposed zoning change just doesn't sit right.

The city has received a proposal to rezone a piece of land that's currently home to a large office building at Garden of the Gods Road and 30th Street. It's currently zoned for industrial manufacturing, which allows things like trucking terminals. But the idea is to change it into an area where restaurants, offices, and even housing units can be built.

"And what they're requesting is to change the zone to office commercial, which provides allowances for uses such as offices, restaurants, residential uses," Colorado Springs planner Katelynn Wintz said.

"Really the only area of redevelopment we're looking at right now is this location, with the potential for up to 250 apartments," said Andrea Barlow, who represented the developer at a city planning meeting Wednesday evening.

At that meeting, neighbors had plenty to say.

"Quit trying to play games with us here in Mountain Shadows," one woman said.

"The city needs to represent the residents and not developers," one man said.

"This is poorly planned, it's not thought out and it's sloppy math," another woman said.

"CIty planning has failed every resident of Mountain shadows," another man said.

Many were upset the only people notified about the zoning change request were those living within a thousand feet of the property. They're worried it could affect their property values.

"This is a master plan change. All participants in Mountain Shadows need to be included in this discussion," one man said.

Another issue being addressed-- traffic.

"The percent increase from at least the multi-family portion of the development would be minimal and well within the available road capacity" a city traffic consultant said.

He said that's based off a traffic study conducted earlier this year during the stay at home order, and they have accounted for that in their final conclusion. Neighbors say the numbers may be off because of when they were measured, and it's an issue of public safety.

"We are not going to be able to get people out of here in time if we have a fire again like happened in 2012," one woman said.

"This community's been scarred once with a fire. We don't need any more scars right now," Mitchell said.

The city and developers say they hear what the community is saying and want to reiterate nothing is set in stone yet. They say they will be sure to give residents more opportunities to give feedback.

The Mountain Shadows neighborhood association is planning to hold a press briefing on the issue at Mountain Shadows park at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

Virtual meeting to discuss rezoning plan allowing new restaurants, housing units