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“I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”
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  Volume No. 14 Issue No. 10 October 2017  

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    How to use rain barrels
    Falcon Marketplace update
    What’s up with wind farm complaint process
    29th Run for the Wall
    Senior fundraiser features Song Spinners
    Lawsuit ruling on Woodmen Hills election flyers
    Building and real estate update
 
  How to use rain barrels
  Breeanna Jent

   Colorado is “a semi-arid state and water is just as precious as gold,” said Andrea Manuszak, a landscape designer at Corona Designs. Manuszak led the Colorado State University Extension’s Make & Take a Rain Barrel Workshop May 13.
   
   As a master gardener with the CSU Extension, Manuszak instructed attendees on how to make rain barrels, and also touched on Colorado’s water law.
   
   “Water rights in this state are very complicated. As soon as the water hits the ground, it’s owned by someone, whether it goes into an aquifer or hits the ground on a farm,” Manuszak said.
   
   When it passed in 2016, House Bill 16-1005 made it legal for Coloradans to collect rainwater from rooftop downspouts and use it for outdoor purposes, according to “Rainwater Collection in Colorado,” a fact sheet written by P.E. Cabot, C.C. Olson, R.M. Waskom and K.G. Rein, posted to the Colorado State University Extension website.
   
   Manuszak said HB 16-1005 allows residents to use rainwater in place of house water in certain cases. However, there are several requisites.
   
   The bill limits rain barrel usage to single-family and multi-family complexes with four or fewer units. No more than two rain barrels can be used at each household, and the combined storage of the two rain barrels cannot exceed 110 gallons, according to Section 1 of the bill.
   
   The bill also states that rainwater can only be used for outdoor purposes - watering lawns, plants, gardens, etc. - at the household where it was collected, and cannot be used for drinking or other indoor water uses.
   
   The bill stipulates that the water must go back into the ground, as it would if rain barrels were not used. Through rainwater collection, “The water is still making its way back into the ground the way the rainwater would have. It’s just a delayed process,” Manuszak said.
   
   Even with the late 2015 adoption of the Colorado Water plan, the state is still governed by the former appropriation doctrine.
   
   “This doctrine ... controls who uses water, how much water may be used, the types of uses allowed, and when those waters can be used,” according to the FAQ sheet. “In our arid environment, every drop counts. ... Captured precipitation that is consumed ‘out of priority’ may deprive downstream and/or senior water right holders of their right to use water from the natural stream. ...
   
   Although rainwater collection “might only be temporary and minimal, it may still alter the nature of historic flow patterns,” the FAQ sheet states. It is highly controlled to protect senior water rights holders.
   
   Rainwater storage itself is not a water right, and the HB 16-1005 includes language that can allow the state engineer to suspend individual rain barrel usage if the senior water rights holders are negatively impacted. Rainwater storage is only legal once all water rights in the basin are satisfied.
   
   Because most homeowners won’t know at all times whether all water rights are satisfied, Senate Bill 09-080 and House Bill 09-1129 establish rules for rainwater collection from rooftops of residential dwellings, according to the FAQ sheet.
   
   The maintenance of the rain barrels once they are in use is also controlled, Manuszak said.
   
   Those who collect the rainwater will be responsible for deterring mosquitoes. “You need to empty the barrels once a month to cycle the water through, because you don’t want stagnant water,” she said.
   
   And while rainwater collection allows Coloradans to safely allocate water in a different way to benefit their homes, it can also ease the strain on the wallet.
   
   “We know the crisis our water is in,” Manuszak said. “A lot of us live in areas where using a lot of water can make your water bill go up. Using rainwater to water your vegetable areas, gardens and plants - without using drip irrigation or your own house water - can save you some money, too.”
   
   For more information on the Colorado State University Extension, and for a list of upcoming workshops, visit http://extension.colostate.edu.
  
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  Falcon Marketplace update
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On May 10, Ben Hummel, owner of Hummel Investments, held a town hall meeting at Falcon High School in Falcon School District 49 to update the community about the status of the Falcon Marketplace project, which is comprised of . 36 acres at the northwest corner of Meridian Road and Woodmen Road.
   
   Initially, the project included a right-in, right-out access point off westbound Woodmen Road, Hummel said. However, on Dec. 13, 2016, the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners voted 3-2 to deny the proposal, citing concerns about the proposed access point. At that meeting, Steve Meier, director of development for Hummel, said without the access point, King Soopers, the proposed anchor for the shopping center, would likely choose to build in another location.
   
   Without King Soopers, several businesses indicated they would not be willing to open in the marketplace, Hummel said. Those businesses include Panera Bread, UCHealth, Centura Health, Chili’s, Firestone Complete Auto Care, Wells Fargo, PetSmart, Les Schwab Tire Center, Noodles & Company, Panda Express, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Arby’s, Ace Hardware and Starbucks.
   
   Hummel said residents have taken to social media to express their views about the project, and more than 90 percent of responses have been supportive. Mountain View Electric Association is in favor of the additional access point, and Falcon School District 49 likes the idea of having a different way to route their buses during the school day, he said. With such a positive response, Hummel said his company is working to get the proposal back in front of the BOCC.
   
   “There are two ways that we can get on the commissioner’s agenda,” he said. “We can resubmit our proposal with evidence of a material change, or the commissioners can suspend the ruling and bring it back.” Hummel said making a material change is the most likely option.
   
   The proposed change would create a right-in only access point off Woodmen to a roundabout that would allow access to the shopping center, he said. The roundabout would only allow traffic out onto the frontage road, adjacent to Woodmen instead of directly onto Woodmen itself, Hummel said.
   
   Several community members voiced concern about other aspects of the project, including the potential traffic problems created by installing a traffic signal at Eastonville Road and Meridian Road. Residents living on Owl Place said they already have difficulty exiting their street onto Meridian; another light would only exacerbate the problem.
   
   Others are concerned about the state of the roads in the area, and additional traffic, without planned improvements on the part of Hummel Investments, could severely impact the condition of the streets.
   
   Hummel said the previous traffic study conducted for the initial proposal did not indicate any issues with the roads, including the ease of access onto Meridian from Owl Place.
   
   Kari Parsons, project manager/planner II for EPC, said nothing about the project has been finalized yet. “If we (EPC) get a new submittal with a right-in access, we will have to modify our traffic study at that time and then review the plans,” she said.
   
   Hummel said his company will submit the new plan soon and the county must agree that a material change has been made before the plans will be put on the BOCC’s agenda. Until then, Hummel said he plans to continue holding town hall meetings to update the community about the project and get feedback from the residents.
  
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  What’s up with wind farm complaint process
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On March 23, NextEra Energy Resources, owners of Golden West Wind Energy Center in Calhan, Colorado, went before the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners and brought in various experts who presented data about shadow flicker, infrasound and electromagnetic fields.
   
   The wind energy center became fully operational in October 2015; since then, residents have reported negative effects from the 145 453-foot-tall industrial wind turbines. The effects include decreased body temperature, headaches, dizziness, nausea and sleep disturbances. Health problems with farm and domestic animals have been reported as well.
   
   At the meeting, the residents were given time to present their concerns to the commissioners. The BOCC repeatedly asked residents who spoke out against the wind farm if they had followed the complaint resolution process put into place when NextEra and the county entered into the project’s development and improvement fee agreement Dec. 26, 2013. In each instance, the complainant said they had, although many seemed unclear about how to properly lodge a complaint according to the county’s standards.
   
   The BOCC urged residents to continue to use the complaint resolution process; they also requested the current complaint log from NextEra.
   
   Amy Folsom, county attorney, received a copy of the complaint log and sent it to The New Falcon Herald. “NextEra has tracked the complaints and what they have goes up through March 23,” she said. “However, I know there has been a problem with people complaining not through the right avenue.”
   
   The development and improvement fee agreement states the following: “Complaints by residents or others may be made through the following channels: (a) by calling the local or toll free number and speaking directly with construction or operations personnel in the field; or (b) by writing to the Developer at its local address, e-mail address, or its principal place of business. If the County received complaints, the County will forward those to the Developer as soon as practicable.”
   
   Cindy Cobb, a resident who lives near the wind energy center, said she has attempted to lodge complaints with NextEra, the county and the EPC sheriff’s department, but to no avail. “Nothing has happened after we filed our complaint on Oct. 21, 2015,” she said. “My husband talked to David Gil (project manager with NextEra) on Nov. 3, 2015, to go over our complaints, and that was the last time we talked to him.”
   
   Cobb said she is still waiting on a successful resolution to her initial complaint and has attempted to lodge additional complaints since then, but no record of those attempts appears on the log.
   
   “I can tell you that the complaint resolution process does not say that every complaint will be resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant,” Folsom said. The county is a land use authority so their power is limited to the land use agreement and the permitting agreement, she said. Complainants can always seek a resolution through the courts, if they think their property is being impacted by the wind energy center, Folsom said.
   
   According to the development and improvement fee agreement, “In the event the complaint is not resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant, or that an agreed-upon solution is not under development within thirty (30) days of receipt of the complaint, the complainant may refer the matter to a mutually acceptable mediator.”
   
   Cobb’s complaint represents one of the 85 complaints recorded by NextEra between March 28, 2015, and Nov. 9, 2016 — with the latter date, the log ends. Sixty-six of the complaints occurred during the construction phase of the project; and, according to the log, most were resolved within the 30-day time frame.
   
   Bryan Garner, communication manager with NextEra, wrote in an email to the NFH: “Since that meeting (March 23) we have not received any complaints. We also asked the few residents who have issued complaints in the past to provide any documentation they have as to their health issues, and to date we have not received anything.”
   
   Garner declined to comment further.
   
   “It (the complaint resolution process) does not work, and it will not work,” Cobb said. “The county is not doing anything to help anyone. It is like we are not even alive out here.”
   
   Folsom said she is working on an update about the information presented at the March 23 meeting, and will bring it before the BOCC in mid-July or early August.
  
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  29th Run for the Wall
  Breeanna Jent

   Curtis Road, where it meets Judge Orr Road in Falcon, Colorado, is clear of bystanders on any given day, but on Saturday, May 20 - Armed Forces Day - flags, motorcycles and members of the American Legion Riders Post 2008 lined the north side of the intersection.
   
   Dozens from the Falcon American Legion Dane R. Balcon Post 2008 family, including Sons of the American Legion, the Women’s Auxiliary and the American Legion Riders, braved the chilly breezes as they patiently waited to wave through hundreds of riders in the central route of the 29th annual Run for the Wall.
   
   Each year, thousands of riders - fathers, mothers, grandparents, veterans, active duty military, friends and family - make the 10-day trek to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., in time for Memorial Day.
   
   Riders take one of three routes on the ride, which begins in Ontario, California. Riders coming through Falcon May 20 were part of the central route.
   
   In years past, members of the American Legion Riders Post 2008 have taken part in the Run for the Wall; while no Post 2008 riders were part of the run this year, dozens came out to show their support.
   
   “For three years now we’ve been showing our support for Run for the Wall,” said ALR Post 2008 Vice President CJ “Deuce” Baker. “We are helping honor our military, and support the guys riding to Washington.”
   
   “This is a ride to educate people,” said Melissa “Bart” Dashner, a U.S. Army veteran who coordinated Post 2008’s Run for the Wall gathering this year.
   
   “We remember those who have been killed in action, those who are prisoners of war, those who are missing in action, and remember those who served and their sacrifice. We ride for those who can’t.
   
   “Last year, this was my first event (with the ALR), and I was definitely very excited to be a part of this. It’s amazing to see all the bikes come through and the camaraderie for all of them.”
   
   The event began in 1989 when Vietnam veterans James Gregory and Bill Evans traveled across the country on their motorcycles.
   
   On their way to Washington, riders participate in parades and visit schools, veteran hospitals, monuments and museums. People line the roads to cheer on the riders.
   
   James "JWilly" Williams, a member of the ALR Post 2008 who participated in the cross-country run in 2016 and 2015, came out May 20 to show his support for the riders. He recounted stories of hospitality for the riders, including the year a poor rural Arkansas town hosted a dinner for the riders.
   
   Frank “Poncho” Serrano, the ALR Post 2008 president, along with the American Legion Riders Post 38, provides a complementary lunch in Fountain, Colorado, for the central route riders. Riders refuel in Pueblo, Colorado, and the American Legion Post 1985 in Firestone, Colorado, pays for the refuel in Limon, Colorado.
   
   The Run for the Wall riders came through about 2:20 p.m. They were welcomed with cheers and waves as they rode by, many of them waving and honking in return.
   
   American flags, the Colorado State flag, the POW/MIA and flags for each of the six United States military branches swayed in the wind as the riders passed.
   
   For more information on American Legion Riders Post 2008, contact 719-749-1140 or visit http://www.americanlegionpost2008.org.
   
   For more on Run for the Wall, visit https://www.rftw.us.
  
The American Legion Dane R. Balcon Post 2008 family, including Sons of the American Legion, the Women’s Auxiliary and the American Legion Riders, gather for a photo as they wait to wave through hundreds of riders in the central route of the 29th annual Run for the Wall May 20. Photos by Breeanna Jent
 
Run for the Wall riders pass through Falcon, as part of their 10-day trek to Washington, D.C.; in time for Memorial Day.
 
(From left to right) American Legion Riders Post 2008 member Donovan “Dino” Martinez, American Legion Post 2008 member Joe Lima and his son, Michael “MJ” Lima, age 8 (center), were out to show their support May 20 for the Run for the Wall riders.
 
(From left to right) Cade Comey, a young member of the Women’s Auxiliary, and Jonathan Shay, a young member of the Sons of the American Legion, held American flags as they waited to wave on the Run for the Wall riders through Falcon.
 
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  Senior fundraiser features Song Spinners
  Breeanna Jent

   Taking the stage in flashy carnival get up, the Song Spinners kicked off the main event for the Falcon Senior Services fundraiser May 19, hosted at Meridian Point Church in Falcon, Colorado.
   
   In sparkling costumes, the Song Spinners treated local seniors to an evening of song and dance.
   The Spinners, a Colorado Springs-based choir entertainment group, took the seniors on a musical journey through time and across the continents during their hour-long family friendly performance that included jazz, swing, pop and traditional repertoire.
   
   The fundraiser, preceded by dinner and dessert, complements of the Patriot Learning Center’s culinary class, benefits Falcon Senior Services, a nonprofit that serves seniors in Falcon and other nearby Colorado communities.
   
   “This is our fundraiser for our seniors, and it’s our first year doing this dinner,” said Falcon Senior Services member Jahna Badger. “This is going to help us make some money to provide for several things, including various incidentals.”
   
   Event organizer Don Watts said the senior group hosts a myriad of activities, including a monthly luncheon on the second Wednesday of the month at Meridian Point Church.
   
   One of the seniors’ largest fundraisers is its car show, coming up in August. All of the seniors’ programs are free to get in.
   
   “The longtime dream is to build a senior center in Falcon,” said Watts, who has been a member of the senior services group for seven years.
   
   For more information on Falcon Senior Services, contact the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments Area Agency on Aging at http://pikespeak.co.networkofcare.org/aging.
   
   For more on the Song Spinners, contact Therese at 719-213-7618.
  
Rev. Greg Chandler of the Colorado Springs-based Song Spinners welcomes the crowd and opens the musical troupe’s performance at the Falcon Senior Services fundraiser.
 
Falcon Senior Services board member Phyllis Anderson and member Don Watts pose in front of the stage before the dinner portion of the May 19 senior fundraising event at Meridian Point Church.
 
Song Spinners’ Bruce Schardt “horses around” as Cowboy Joe with his fellow performers during a show number at the senior fundraising event. Photos by Breeanna Jent
 
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  Lawsuit ruling on Woodmen Hills election flyers
  By Lindsey Harrison

   On May 9, Matthew E. Norwood, an administrative law judge with the Colorado Office of Administrative Courts, imposed a fine of $23,147.86 on the political committee, Citizens for Reasonable Rational and Responsible Governance, which sent out flyers regarding the May 3, 2016, election for seats on the Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District Board of Directors. 
   
   According to the lawsuit, “The fine roughly matches the amount of money that CRRRG sought to hide from public scrutiny.” 
   
   The ruling references six individual flyers that were produced and distributed by CRRRG to both support and oppose candidates vying for board seats in the May 2016 election. The flyers contained various images, including a mug shot photograph of Ron Pace, a WHMD resident, who, at the time, was running for a seat on the board. 
   
   Matt Arnold, director of Campaign Integrity Watchdog, said the CRRRG was formed in September 2015 as the successor organization to the Alliance for a Safe and Independent Woodmen Hills. “The total membership of those two groups is not really known,” Arnold said. “But they were both funded and founded by (Benjamin) ‘Rusty’ Green and Randle Case.”
   
   Green is a developer in the Woodmen Hills subdivision area and Case was the chief executive officer of Case International Co., a real estate company, until his death in 2016.
   
   Arnold, as a non-attorney representative from Denver, brought the lawsuit against the CRRRG on behalf of the CIW, he said. “Any person in Colorado can bring a campaign finance claim and prosecute it,” he said. “After seeing what types of injustices were happening, I formed Campaign Integrity Watchdog. On one hand, I do campaign finance management to make sure companies are complying with the law. On the other side, I go after the bad guys and hold them accountable for breaking the law.”
   
   According to the lawsuit, Josh Killett, the current Woodmen Hills board president, was an officer of the CRRRG for a few months in the winter of 2015 and ran against Pace in the 2016 election. The lawsuit also states that Anthony Pizzi was also running for a seat on the board in the same election. Pizzi is married to Jan Pizzi, who, at the time, was on the WHMD board and also a member of the CRRRG. The lawsuit states that Green had asked Pizzi to join the CRRRG. Former board member Lynne Bliss was also listed as a member of the CRRRG in the lawsuit.
   
   “It was the CRRRG’s major purpose to support candidates Anthony Pizzi, Joshua Killett and Frank Gonzalez in the May 2016 board of directors election and to oppose candidates Ron Pace and Janette Hudson,” the lawsuit states. “There was no significant evidence offered of any other purpose of the organization.”
   
   Arnold said the decision by the court proved that the CRRRG essentially formed a group to influence how the election would turn out. 
   
   The most important part of the finding is that the CRRRG broke the law in multiple ways, incurred the biggest adjudicated penalty in the state and had simultaneous membership of several members of the Woodmen Hills Metro District board while this was going on, he said.
   
   “This was a collaboration meant to conceal the identities of the wealthy men behind the flyers who collaborated with people who call themselves citizens and were actually board members of the district,” Pace said.
   
   The NFH contacted Green for a comment on the CRRRG ruling. He said, “No comment,” and abruptly hung up.
   
   Pizzi and Killett declined to comment as well, but Lynn Bliss had this to say. 
   
   Bliss, who is a former WHMD board president, said the CRRRG started out with the intention to be a 501 (c) 4 organization that uses information to educate constituents. That type of activity is legal as long as you do not say whom to vote for, she said. "We strictly stayed away from that," Bliss said. "But we seem to have come up against a judge who stretched that and said what we did was still advocacy."
   
   Additionally, as a 501 (c) 4, the CRRRG was not legally obligated to disclose its donors, Bliss said. This is no different from what happens during campaigns on a national level and state level, she said.
   
   However, Norwood's determination that the CRRRG was a political committee and not a 501 (c) 4 meant those donors and that money needed to be reported, according to the lawsuit.
   
   Bliss said her actions as a member of the CRRRG organization were separate from her role as a board member.
   
   She also addressed the mug shot photo of Pace, and said they used it because it was the only photo they had of Pace. 
   
   "Everything we said in the flyers was factual," she said. "We did not make anything up. We were very careful about that."
  
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  Building and real estate update
  By Lindsey Harrison

   Falcon School District 49
   The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved a request by Falcon School District 49 for the conveyance of land from the current owner, Six Ninety Nine LLC, to the district to construct an elementary school. The parcel is at 11243 Londonderry Drive.
   
   Dream World Estates
   The BOCC approved a request by All American Land Ventures LLC for reconsideration of the expired Dream World Estates final plat. The 77-acre property is zoned residential rural and located on the north side of Judge Orr Road, at the northwest corner of the Judge Orr Road and Ellicott Highway intersection. The 22 single-family residential final plat expired, and the applicant requested a reconsideration of the expired final plat with an extension of two years. The new final plat extension date is May 9, 2019.
   
   Kellin Communications
   The commissioners unanimously approved a request by Kellin Communications for a special use to allow a 195-foot commercial tower on a 34.9-acre property zoned agricultural and located on the south side of Hopper Road, about 1 mile east of Elbert Road. The BOCC had previously approved the tower but the applicant plans to relocate it 30 feet to the north.
   
   Bent Grass
   The commissioners approved the final release of a check for public improvements to the Bent Grass East Residential Filing No. 1 subdivision for $24,914 plus accrued interest. All improvements have been completed and inspected.
   
   The BOCC also approved the final release of a check for public improvements to Filing No. 1 for $263,956.55 plus accrued interest. All improvements have been completed and inspected.
   
   The commissioners approved the preliminary acceptance of certain streets within the Bent Grass subdivision into the EPC road maintenance system, bringing the total miles of county-maintained roads from 2180.48 to 2181.46.
   
   Meridian Ranch
   The BOCC approved the final release of a check for public improvements to Meridian Ranch Filing No. 3 subdivision, which is offsite of Mt. Harvard Drive, for $11,092. All improvements have been completed and inspected.
   
   The EPC planning commissioner unanimously approved the preliminary plan and the final plat for Stonebridge at Meridian Ranch Filing No. 3, which includes 164 single-family residential lots on property. The property, zoned planned unit development, is at the southeast corner of the intersection of Londonderry Drive and Rainbow Bridge Drive.
   
   Golden West Wind Energy Center
   The commissioners approved the final release of a bond for grading and erosion control of the Golden West Energy Wind Power Transmission Line West for $573,730.40. All grading and erosion control has been completed and inspected.
  
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