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Bentgrass to sprout 542 housing units

Five-acre subdivisions surround a 178-acre field west of Meridian Road and north of Woodmen Road. The field is a habitat for antelope, coyotes and hawk, but plans submitted to the county show the field may soon be covered with 542 housing units.In 2004, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners denied a sketch plan request submitted by land owners Randy Case Sr. and Ron Walthausen, citing the lack of buffering between the planned high-density urban Bentgrass subdivision and the already established rural 5-acre subdivisions of Falcon Meadows and Falcon Ranchettes.Plans for the Bentgrass subdivision were resubmitted to the El Paso County Planning Department at the Feb. 6 planning meeting. On behalf of Bentgrass, John Maynard of NES Urban Design Land Planning said he had previously received permission from the El Paso County Development Services Department to bypass the normal sketch plan process. Maynard said he had moved forward with preliminary and rezoning plans for the subdivision because he had a letter signed by the president and vice president of the Falcon Meadows Filing III Homeowners Association stating that density issues had been resolved with the residents.However, Kevin Klein, representing his interests and those of eight of his neighbors in the Falcon Meadows Filing III area ñ all who have homes that directly abut the proposed Bentgrass subdivision, expressed concerns at the February meeting about the number of units bordering their rural subdivision.The Bentgrass plan showed as many as three homes located adjacent to each home in Falcon Meadows, buffered by a fence. The actual lot sizes were not included on the plans.Planning commissioners John Vohland and Lowell Bell also questioned Maynard about the lack of buffering between Bentgrass and Falcon Ranchettes, a 5-acre subdivision established in 1973. The Bentgrass preliminary plan shows that a fence will be constructed to the west of Falcon Ranchettes, but no buffer will be provided to the north side of that subdivision. Bell also pointed to density levels of 12 Bentgrass homes bordering each 5-acre residential lot in the Falcon Ranchettes subdivision.Both Maynard and Mike Garrott, El Paso County planner, said no buffering for the Ranchettes was considered because the subdivision is “in transition” and may soon be rezoned from rural residential to commercial or high-density urban development.Henry Reitwiesner, long-range planner for Falcon School District 49, said the district is in favor of the Bentgrass subdivision if certain conditions are met. He said future plans for the area surrounding the subdivision could mean that the school district will need a 10-acre site for an elementary school. But if commercial development occurs south of Bentgrass, a school site already reserved in the Falcon Highlands subdivision, south of Woodmen Road, will be adequate for D 49’s elementary student needs. However, Reitwiesner said the district could use the 10-acre site for administrative offices. He also said D 49 could sell the land to raise money for the school district.Selling the school site would contradict state statutes, said Mark Gebhart, county planner. He said D 49 can use the land for a school only or the district can accept fees from the developers in lieu of the land.Case, who said heís waited more than two years to resubmit his plan to the county, addressed the issues raised by Klein. He offered to amend his plan. Case said home sites along the northern border of the Bentgrass subdivision could be slated for 1-acre pie-shaped lots, reducing the density to no more than two homes bordering the Falcon Meadows residents. He also agreed to buffer the subdivision with a masonry fence, instead of the cedar fence originally proposed.Planners asked Case if he would add further buffering for the Falcon Ranchettes subdivision. Case said no, but added that he would limit the size of the homes on three lots bordering the home of one Falcon Ranchettes resident, who opposed the subdivision, to one-story to protect the homeownerís view.Planning Commissioner Bob Null then made a motion to approve the Bentgrass subdivision. Before the vote, planner Vohland asked if he could make a statement objecting to the Bentgrass subdivision approval. “The commission was being asked to approve the plan on the fly, with no transition being designed for the subdivision (Falcon Ranchettes) to the south of the project,î Vohland said.However, the motion to approve passed 5-4. Plans for the Bentgrass subdivision will soon be in the hands of the county commissioners.Editorís note: Kathy Hare attended the Feb. 6 planning commission meeting, the source for the information in this article.

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