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Citizen planners review road improvements and define sub-areas

At their meetings in September and October, members of the Falcon/Peyton Small Area Master Plan Advisory Committee discussed the creation of sub-areas and transportation issues, respectively.Defining sub-areasTasha Norman, representing HB&A, consultants to the committee, said sub-areas can be defined as areas along major transportation corridors like Judge Orr Road.Carl Schueler, manager of El Paso County’s long-range planning division, said sub-areas also can be defined in terms of existing developments and future developments. He cited Santa Fe Springs as an existing development. Future developments include Rock Springs and Shaw Ranch. Schueler also said the 6,550 acres that make up the 4-Way Ranch could be considered a sub-area, although the owners are undecided about when or how they will develop their land.

The 20 largest landowners in the Falcon/Peyton planning area:
6,551.154-Way Ranch LLC
6,114.39Santa Fe Springs, LLC
4,660.43Harmony Land and Cattle LLC
3,601.62Mountain View Properties
2,076.64Rock Springs LLC
1,952.27Beverly J. Blattspieler
1,588.64State of Colorado
1,081.37Meridian Ranch Investments Inc.
1,056.32Morley-Bentley Investments LLC
799.20Jessica L. Pavlica
773.55Plainview Properties LLC
755.20Bishop Family LLP
746.73El Paso County
743.95GTL Inc.
604.15Marla K. Manyik
531.41Banning Lewis Ranch Company LLC
476.41Dennis Kucerik

Developments are driven by water, sewer and roads, Schueler said. In consideration of the sub-areas and developments, he mentioned that Highway 24 is a main road because it is state owned, which means more money.Black Forest resident Linda Summers attended the September meeting to express her concern for the design of Falcon and Peyton developments. “I would like to see developments with more character and personality,” Summers said.”Right now, all we have are strip malls. More women need to be involved in designing. I would like more places where people can walk and gather. Kids are so disconnected. We don’t give them enough outlets to connect. I’m concerned about Falcon and Peyton. “They build old-fashioned, small-town neighborhood developments all the time in Florida, why can’t they do that here?”Meggan Yoest, from the El Paso County Development Services Department, said the committee is not responsible for reviewing that level of detail related to developments.HB&A consultant Aaron Briggs said the developers of Shaw Ranch and Santa Fe Springs are planning urban densities and creating identities within the developments.Schueler talked about the Shaw Ranch. He said Westside Properties from Denver has an option to buy and develop the ranch, but he said the company’s preliminary plans conflict with the current Falcon/Peyton plan. They are planning low-density development along the edges and urban density at the center of the development, he said.Norman said the committee needs to define the characteristics of sub-areas. “Should there be business parks and employment centers?” she asked.Lynne Bliss, chairwoman, said every community should have open space and parks. “It makes sense to have commercial areas that will mean jobs for the area instead of having to commute to Denver or Colorado Springs,” Bliss said. However, she said commercial development should not be a requirement for every sub-area.Norman used Highlands Ranch in Douglas County as an example of planned sub-areas, with each sub-area surrounded by a buffer area. “People want to live in areas that have an identity,” she said. The county uses sub-areas to align new development with existing development.Upcoming plans for roads and highwaysRepresenting the Colorado Department of Transportation, Mark Andrew attended the Oct. 10 meeting to talk about the state’s plans for Highway 24.Andrew said the state received $20 million to study widening Highway 24 to four lanes through Falcon. The study will start in a few months and be completed in one year, but he said they don’t expect to have funding for construction until 2020.The state has completed access control plans and plans for frontage roads along Highway 24, Andrew said, but they may revisit those plans when the study is finished.The intersection of Judge Orr Road and Highway 24 could change as well, so that Judge Orr Road connects to Highway 24 at a 90-degree angle, but Andrew said it’s not a high priority project. “It might jump in priority as a result of the study,” he said.Paul Danley of the El Paso County Development Services Department said that widening Highway 24 to four lanes all the way to the county’s eastern border is a long-term plan, as well as plans to make Woodmen Road a six-lane expressway. He also mentioned long-term plans to make Meridian Road four lanes to Hodgen Road.”Curtis Road to Stapleton Road to Briargate Parkway to I-25 is a critical connection that we hope happens sooner, rather than later, to relieve pressure from Woodmen Road,” Danley said.Jennifer Irvine is with the El Paso County Department of Transportation, and she said until the voters authorized the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority the county provided road maintenance only – not capital improvements. She said work on Woodmen Road, which had been expected to start this month, is now scheduled to begin this spring.Irvine said the county has hired a consultant to review the widening of Meridian Road to four lanes, from Londonderry Drive to Rex Road. The funding is in place, she said, and the work should be finished by 2011.The county also is working with Falcon Highlands Metro District to extend the new Meridian Road to Highway 24, Irvine said. Danley said the construction will be completed “in months, not years.” Andrew said the state plans to remove the signal at the intersection of old Meridian Road and Highway 24 and install a signal at the intersection of new Meridian Road and Highway 24.Land that the county owns near the Diamond Shamrock on Highway 24 is slated to become a park and ride area, Irvine said. And the new Meridian Road eventually will extend to Falcon Highway, she said.Irvine also said money to extend Stapleton Road from Eastonville Road to Highway 24 will be available in 2008, and it will take one to two years to complete the planning process before construction starts. She also said money will be available in 2011 to connect Curtis Road to Stapleton Road at Highway 24.Schueler said the capital improvement portion of the PPRTA tax sunsets in 2014; the money will run out before lower-priority projects are done.Andrew described gas tax revenues as flat. “We may have to increase the gas tax or increase the vehicle registration fee,” he said.Briggs asked if the county ever looks ahead and buys rights-of-way when the land is cheap. Danley said they have not been in a position to do so.The next meeting of the advisory committee is Oct. 24 at the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department in Colorado Springs at 3 p.m. The committee will address water issues.

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