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Springs City Council votes to approve controversial Mountain Shadows redevelopment proposal

They discussed at an hours-long city council meeting
Proponents, opponents of controversial Mountain Shadows redevelopment proposal make final pitch to city council
Posted at 6:38 PM, May 25, 2021

COLORADO SPRINGS — Proponents and opponents of the proposal to bring hundreds of apartments to the Mountain Shadows community made their final arguments to city council Tuesday afternoon.

Tuesday evening, City Council voted 5-4 to approve the proposal.

Representatives of the developer want to add over 400 market-rate apartments surrounding the office building at 2424 Garden of the Gods Road say it would be part of solving the area’s housing crisis, bringing much-needed housing to the area.

“At the moment there;s a gulf between apartments, which there aren’t enough of, and affordable subsidized housing,” said Andrea Barlow, a representative for the Tampa-based developer behind the proposal. “If you don’t provide that spectrum of housing, providing a stepping stone every step of the way, then people get stuck in one place.”

But that reasoning is what has nearby neighbors in this largely single-family residential community crying foul.

“Market rate on some apartments in the northwest part of the city is probably more than a mortgage,” Mountain Shadows Community Association president Bill Wysong said.

And they don’t mince words.

“The developer is only focused on making the big bucks and selling the apartments down the road,” Wysong said.

A coalition of nearly 30 Mountain Shadows residents spoke out in front of city council Tuesday, presenting their opposition to the rezoning.

Their key argument being, a development like the one proposed in an area of such high fire danger is not a smart idea.

“They haven’t bothered to really think this through,” Wysong said.

Opponents cite the fact the city planners, the developer, and the city fire marshal say there’s no way to model out what an evacuation would look like.

“Not only in 2010, but also two years ago, a software modeling program was presented to city council,” he said.

They’re also concerned about traffic. the traffic count for the proposal was conducted in July of 2020, at the height of the pandemic.

City traffic engineers have adjusted their traffic models based on pre-pandemic precedent. the developers maintain traffic in the area, specifically along with Garden of the Gods Road, is not an issue.

“Garden of the Gods Road, which is a six-lane highway, with hardly any traffic on it at any time of the day,” Barlow said.

But around noon Tuesday, News 5’s cameras found a crowded road, with cars waiting through multiple light cycles to get through some intersections.

This is why for these residents, it all still boils down to one thing.

“You’re gonna pack the west side full of people, and it’s gonna be a disaster,” Wysong said.