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El Paso County Colorado District 49

Developer/D 49 call truce

The rapid rise of rooftops on the eastern plains and its impact on School District 49 has concerned not only parents, teachers and taxpayers in the district, but also Colorado Springs City Council members.Last May, the City Council voted 7-0 against a proposed zoning change for 110 acres of Banning-Lewis industrial land. School district officials supported the City Council because increased growth would further strap the district.The Morley Companies Family Development wanted the area zoned for residential. Morley Co. representatives argued that 130 acres had previously been zoned residential and no industry had moved to eastern Colorado Springs in more than 15 years. They also expressed concern that buyers aren’t interested in purchasing homes next to industrial zoned sites.City Council members may soon reverse their decision.D 49 officials and D 49 Board of Education President Dave Martin negotiated a deal with Jim Morley, owner of Morley Companies Family Development: The school district would support the residential zoning for the 110 acres in trade for a financial windfall. Morley agreed to deposit $2.2 million in an escrow account to be paid to the district after the City Council reversed its earlier decision on the 110 acres zoning issue. The City Council is expected to review the issue by the end of December. Morley also agreed to pay the voluntary impact fee of $1,500 per home to the district through the Falcon Community Builders for Classrooms, the nonprofit organization established by the builders to assist the district with its construction needs. Martin presented the deal to the board in October, and it passed unanimously.Morley will have no input on how the district uses the $2.2 million. He said the money will be deposited as soon as he receives the paperwork on the rezoning.”It’s a great deal for the kids in the district and for me,” Morley said. The 110 acres will add an additional 450 homes to his development, Mountain Vista, which currently consists of 300 acres – and 750 homes – on the southeast corner of Barnes Road and Marksheffel Road. The homes will be built on quarter-acre or less plots of land, with areas designated for schools, parks and open space.According to school officials, despite the voter approved tax increase in November 2005 the district remains challenged by a shortfall of about $10 million on the planned two new high schools. The district has applied for construction grants as well. The new Falcon High School is under construction and expected to open October 2007.

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