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4 Way Ranch back to the drawing table

In September, 4 Way Ranch Joint Venture LLC sought approval from the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners for its zoning conceptual plan for four parcels of land totaling 322 acres along Highway 24 and north of Judge Orr Road.The BOCC approved the plan by a vote of 4-0. In August, the planning commission approved the plan by a vote of 6-0.The plan rezones the property from 2.5-acre rural residential to planned unit development, with a density of three-to-five dwelling units per acre, said the developer’s representative, William Guman of Guman and Associates.There will be a maximum of 1,610 dwelling units.Guman said the overall intent is to create a development similar in character to the Stapleton development in Denver.”(Stapleton) has become a nationally recognized and award-winning model for traditional neighborhood development,” he said.Phase 1 of the development will include clusters of small lots and denser development intermixed with larger estate-sized lots, but exact lot sizes have yet to be decided, Guman said.The plan also includes a potential elementary school site, 25 acres for roads and at least 43 acres of open space with drainage areas on the parcel’s southwest and northeast corners where construction is not possible.According to documents filed with the county, the new plan overlaps the 76.74-acre commercial PUD approved by the BOCC in July 2010 and invalidates 116 of the 158 2.5-acre lots that were approved for commercial, office, medical and multi-family uses at that time.In the Eastbrook development, the parcels on Thatcher Court, which borders the new PUD, range from 2.72 to 4.25 acres.Guman said the plan should be approved because its lot sizes are consistent with Meridian Ranch, the Metropolitan Club portion of Woodmen Hills, Falcon Hills, the Gables and the yet-to-be-developed Santa Fe Springs Ranch, which was approved by the county in 2004 with a minimum lot size of 5,000 square feet.Peter Martz, representing the owners of 4 Way Ranch, said water rights for the entire 8,100-acre ranch have been adjudicated, and about $3 million in water facilities have already been constructed; including two deep wells, a water treatment plant and a storage tank.The ranch’s owners have agreed to lease water to the 4 Way Ranch Metropolitan District, but so few homes have been built in Filing 1 (Eastbrook) that the district has contracted with Woodmen Hills for operational functions and billing services, Martz said.Documents filed with the county show that Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District will provide sewer service to 4 Way Ranch Metropolitan District.With their service boundary cutting through the parcel, Colorado Springs Utilities and Black Hills Energy could both provide natural gas to the development.The development is within the Falcon Fire Protection District.At the planning commission hearing, Commissioner Robert Cordova asked how the area’s high water table would affect development.Craig Dossey, project manager for the county’s development services department, said details like that are not required at this time. “We’re trying to establish feasibility. Does it make sense to have these density ranges?” Dossey asked.By asking for PUD approval with a density range of three-to-five dwelling units per acre, the applicant runs the risk of encountering onsite hazards that can’t be mitigated, which will force the applicant to amend the plan, he said.Martz said an engineering firm has already bored holes and trenched to determine the location of the shallow groundwater, and the overall plan for the property has been laid out around the shallow groundwater areas.Documents filed with the county state that construction is likely to occur in four phases over a period of 10 years and could start in 12 to 24 months.Before that can happen, the developer has to get approval for a master development drainage plan, a PUD development plan and a subdivision plan that includes a preliminary plan and final plat, Dossey said.

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