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"I could tell you that when you have trouble making up your mind about something, tell yourself you’ll settle it by flipping a coin. But don’t go by how the coin flips; go by your emotional reaction to the coin flip. Are you happy or sad it came up heads or tails?"
– David Brooks  
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  Volume No. 16 Issue No. 6 June 2019  

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    Sterling Ranch town hall meeting
    Drake Lake repairs delayed
    McCune Ranch town hall meeting
    Building and real estate update
    Santa’s Toy Express stops in D 49
 
  Sterling Ranch town hall meeting
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On Dec. 10, Classic Homes held a town hall meeting at Grace Community Church in Falcon seeking input related to a proposed development on the Sterling Ranch property. “The Ranch” is planned for the 610 acres surrounding the church to the west, south and east.
   
   Loren Moreland, vice president and project manager of Classic Homes, and Andrea Barlow, principal planner with N.E.S. Inc., presented the plans and took questions from the 150 community members in attendance.
   
   Barlow said the property is currently zoned RR-2.5, residential rural with a minimum lot size of 2.5 acres. But the sketch plan calls for rezoning, likely to planned unit development, which allows for smaller lot sizes and more flexibility. Per the sketch plan, the total number of homes in this development could be between 1,321 and 2,261 and could include town houses or patio homes, she said.
   
   “We sought to provide buffers and put the lower density at the perimeters to respect the Falcon/Peyton Small Area Plan and the Black Forest Preservation Plan,” Barlow said. “We are concentrating the higher density in the middle.”
   
   Additionally, the sketch plan includes a network of trails, a community park with a neighborhood commercial/community facility and an elementary school in El Paso County Colorado School District 49, she said.
   
   The sketch plan was submitted in December 2018, with a goal to have both the El Paso County Planning Commission and the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners hearings in late spring 2019, Barlow said. Assuming the plan is approved, grading and infrastructure construction will begin in early 2020, with the first homes available in late 2020, she said.
   
   The subdivision will be constructed in phases, with phase 1 likely to be the northern-most area of the property, Barlow said.
   
   Community members’ main concerns were increased traffic, housing density, water sufficiency and accessibility.
   
   Kevin Curry, community member and volunteer on the EPC planning commission, said he will recuse himself from voting when the plan reaches the planning commission. Curry asked about the fate of the development if the rezoning request is not approved.
   
   “I really do not see this property staying zoned entirely at 2.5 acres,” Moreland said. “We have to have a certain amount of units to support the cost of the infrastructure. Classic Homes has already bought the property, and we are trying to be responsible in what we are doing.”
  
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  Drake Lake repairs delayed
  By Lindsey Harrison

   Repairs to a breached embankment at Drake Lake in Falcon have been delayed because of a lack of funding. The breach occurred in mid-July 2017; El Paso County made temporary repairs to the damaged area while waiting for the funding.
   
   In November 2017, voters approved the 1A ballot measure, which allows the county to retain and spend $14,548,000 of excess 2016 revenue to invest in infrastructure projects, like the repairs to Drake Lake.
   
   After voters approved the ballot measure, Tim Wolken, director of the EPC community services department, said the county hired GMS Consulting Engineers to design the overall improvement plan, which will show what needs to be done to resolve the breach and erosion issues, he said.
   
   “We were all unsure what it (the plan) would entail and what the overall cost estimate would be,” Wolken said. The estimate significantly exceeded the funds available, he said.
   
   “We want to do it right and sometimes that takes more funding than you hope,” Wolken said.
   
   Given the funding constraints, GMS investigated a steel sheet piling option, which the county then sought approval for from the state of Colorado dam inspector, Wolken said. “We got the green light from them, and we are hoping to go out for bid in January to receive at least three bids for sheet piling,” he said.
   
   The sheet piling concept should quickly be installed and the county hopes to start in early spring, Wolken said. Frozen ground should not be an issue at that time, and the goal is to have the construction completed before spring runoff begins, he said.
   
   “Our focus right now is the embankment repair,” Wolken said. “There is another small drain that we want to take a look at in the spring of 2019 and make that repair. We are also looking at the wildlife habitat in the area and have applied for a grant for those improvements. It should be exciting to see those improvements happen if we get it.”
  
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  McCune Ranch town hall meeting
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On Dec. 4, developer ProTerra Properties LLC, held a town hall meeting in the conference room of the Latigo Trails Equestrian Center in Falcon to get community feedback on plans to develop 766.66 acres of the McCune Ranch property.
   
   Scott Smith, chief executive officer for ProTerra, and Andrea Barlow, principal planner with N.E.S. Inc., presented the plans and answered questions from the more than 100 community members who attended.
   
   The McCune property at the northwest corner of the intersection of Hodgen Road and Meridian Road in Black Forest, is currently zoned RR-5, residential rural with 5 acres as the minimum lot size,and A-35, agricultural with 35 acres as the minimum lot size.
   
   Barlow said the preliminary plan is to rezone 355.9 acres of the property from RR-5 and A-35 to RR 2.5, which is residential rural with 2.5 acres as the minimum lot size, to create 143 single-family lots and one commercial lot. The remaining acreage would remain RR-5, she said.
   
   Smith said ProTerra is renaming the project to Winsome, and the vision for the property is to meet the demand for people who want a rural lifestyle by retaining open space, providing a trail system, implementing a “dark skies” initiative that limits the amount of outdoor lighting, while maintaining community connectivity. “We want to keep this property nice and be good neighbors,” he said.
   
   Barlow said the initial submittal for the preliminary plan was made Oct. 17, and the target date for a hearing with the El Paso County planning commission is March 2019. If all goes well, she said the plan should be in front of the EPC Board of County Commissioners in April 2019, with grading and infrastructure construction in early 2020.
   
   Smith said the complete buildout of the property will take about six to eight years and the home prices will range from about $600,000 to $800,000.
   
   Community members’ main concerns focused on the increased traffic the development will bring, water sufficiency and the rezoning to 2.5-acre lots in certain areas.
   
   Kailey Bullock, a resident who lives near the proposed development, said, “This will create a city in the middle of the country.” She added that the lots should not be smaller than 5 acres and almost all community members voiced their agreement.
   
   “Changing the plan to all 5-acre lots would change the dynamic of the development,” Smith said.
   
   “You are changing the dynamic of that whole area,” Bullock responded.
   
   Smith said phase 1 of the development, if approved by the BOCC, will begin at the southwest corner of the property.
   
   Kelly Champlin said she has been a resident of Black Forest since she was 4 years old. “The view of that open area is my favorite and there is nothing like it. I am really heartbroken about this.”
  
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  Building and real estate update
  By Lindsey Harrison

   Stapleton Drive extension
   The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved a non-exclusive permanent easement to the Colorado Department of Transportation, as part of the Stapleton Drive Extensions Project. The easement will be used for maintenance, drainage, ingress and egress — related to the concrete box culvert and associated inlet protection and wing walls installed as part of the overall project.
   
   The commissioners also unanimously approved assignment of another non-exclusive permanent easement, which it obtained from Silver Star Family Limited Partnership, LLLP, to CDOT for the same project. The box culvert in this easement is located in the Highway 24 right-of-way, and the county agreed to convey its interest to CDOT, which will provide the ongoing maintenance for the box culvert.
   
   Sterling Ranch
   The BOCC unanimously approved the partial release of two letters of credit for grading and erosion control on Sterling Ranch for $138,767.96 and $216,914. Work associated with these requests has been inspected.
   
   The commissioners unanimously approved a request by SR Land Inc., for the final plat of Homestead at Sterling Ranch Filing No. 1 to create 72 single-family lots on 19.57 acres, zoned RS-5000 residential suburban. According to the EPC land development code, RS-5000 residential is “a 5,000-square-foot district intended to accommodate single-family and two-family residential development.” The parcel is located north of Dines Boulevard, south of the future extension of Briargate-Stapleton Parkway and east of Vollmer Road. It is located within the boundaries of the Falcon/Peyton Small Area Plan and the Black Forest Preservation Plan.
   
   The BOCC also unanimously approved a request by SR Land for the final plat of Branding Iron at Sterling Ranch Filing No. 1 to create 51 single-family lots on 10.55 acres, zoned RS-5000 residential. The final plat also creates eight tracts to be used for drainage, open space, trails and utilities. The parcels are located north of Dines Boulevard, south of the future extension of Briargate-Stapleton Parkway and east of Vollmer Road; within the boundaries of the Falcon/Peyton Small Area Plan and the Black Forest Preservation Plan.
   
   EPC fairgrounds
   The commissioners unanimously approved a request to recognize $48,000 in revenue from the EPC Fairground Corp. to support projects in 2019 as follows:
  • Race track improvements — $13,000
  • Enhance public address system — $10,000
  • Beer gardens’ cash registers — $1,000
  • County fair bull riding event — $8,000
  • 4H fair programming — $5,000
  • County fair entertainment — $10,000
  • Queen program — $1,000

   Mountain View Electric Association
   The BOCC unanimously approved a request by Mountain View Electric Association for a subdivision exemption to create a 5-acre parcel for a 69kV electrical substation. The parcel is zoned A-35 agricultural and is located along the east side of North Yoder Road, about 1 mile north of Highway 94.
   
   Paint Brush Hills
   The commissioners unanimously approved the partial release of two letters of credit for public improvements of the Paint Brush Hills Filing No. 13 C and No. 13 D, for $179,232 and $123,624, respectively.
  
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  Santa’s Toy Express stops in D 49
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On Dec. 1, El Paso County Colorado School District 49 held its 17th annual Santa’s Toy Express event at the D 49 bus barn. This year, teachers, counselors and administrators nominated 51 students throughout the district with special circumstances to participate in Santa’s Toy Express.
   
   The students enjoyed a hot breakfast prepared by D 49 staff before loading onto district buses and heading out to purchase gifts at the Falcon Walmart for their families. A volunteer from several organizations accompanied each student, including student volunteers from Falcon High School and service members from Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado Springs.
   
   After shopping, the students returned to the D 49 bus barn and wrapped the gifts they purchased. The students also made Christmas ornaments, had their faces painted and visited with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
   
   RJ Berry, Santa’s Toy Express coordinator and D 49 special needs bus driver, said each student also received $35 worth of presents for themselves, as well as backpacks filled with supplies, hats, coats and blankets made by the Falcon Education Foundation. Berry said it was a “crazy, successful event.”
  
Santa (Jack Pietraallo) listens to second-grader Ruby Dunning as she made a case for being on the nice list this year at the Santa’s Toy Express event. Photo submitted by D 49
 
Alexander Schlotzhauer, a third-grader, and his volunteer sponsor, Armando Delagarza, wrapped a gift Schlozhauer took home to give to a loved one on Christmas. Photo submitted by D 49
 
Nadia Juvera, age 8, colored a picture after wrapping her gifts. She said her favorite part of the Santa’s Toy Express event was going shopping at Walmart and getting good things for her family. Photo by Lindsey Harrison
 
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