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Falcon debates incorporation

Citizens for a Better Falcon held its first town hall meeting Jan. 22 at Grace Community Church in Falcon. The committee was formed last year to investigate the possibility of a Falcon incorporation.Four committee members introduced themselves and answered questions.Dominic Zambrano said he was born in Grand Junction, Colo., and lived in Clifton, Colo., when Grand Junction annexed Cliftonís business district. ìAs residents, we didnít have a voice at all. So Iíve seen it happen before,î Zambrano said.Mike Hurd, committee chairman, said he and his family moved to Woodmen Hills in 2005. An experience with the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department motivated him to help Falcon incorporate, Hurd said.ìIíd been trying to get some industries out here in Falcon to help us build ourselves up as our own community,î Hurd said. ìOne of the folks (from the building department) said, ëYou guys should just stick to truck stops and storage units.íìHereís a guy who has absolutely no idea about Falcon Ö who has influence as to what our community becomes. I had to step away for a few minutes to get a grip.îHurd cited three major reasons to incorporate Falcon:* Security: The Sheriffís Office gets 15 to 17 calls a day from the Falcon area. The response time is usually good, but sometimes itís 30 minutes to two hours.* Local control: There is greater representation on the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners from Colorado Springs than Falcon.* Annexation by Colorado Springs is a real possibility.Annexation hot buttonWhether Colorado Springs could or wants to annex any part of Falcon was passionately debated.ìThis is a scare tactic,î said Shane Rizzuto, who said he used to work for Colorado Springs Utilities and a civil engineering firm that helped the city annex a portion of Black Forest.ìEvery property owner had to sign off on an annexation plat to be annexed into the city.ìIf they do annex, [the city has] to provide city services. With CSU doing the Southern Delivery System, theyíre a little short on money right now. I donít see them wanting to spend the money for it. I donít see any need for this.îLaid-off city employee Bryant McGregor saw it differently.ìColorado Springs is at our back door right now,î McGregor said. ìItís behind the shopping centers. If they annex this area, itís going to be the businesses and thatís it.ìI sat in many meetings where [managers] spoke about annexing Falcon because of the sales tax money. If we donít move on it as quickly as this committee is doing, Colorado Springs is going to annex us and weíll have no say.îJeannie Seetch said she doesnít think a unilateral annexation (where the property owners donít have to agree to annexation) would be legal.ìThey (the city) would have to completely surround us,î Seetch said. ìThey donít surround us. [Annexation] cannot happen. Thatís not legal by the state Constitution.ìNumerous service districts make this an unlikely area for annexation. Please stop trying to make people fear [annexation].î Seetch said the cityís annexation map lists Falcon as ìnot recommendedî for annexation.County administrator Jeff Greene attended as well and said Colorado Springs does not need the permission of property owners to annex.He used the Broadmoor area, which fought annexation until the courts ruled in favor of Colorado Springs in the early 1980s, as an example.Like parts of Falcon, CSU provided service to the Broadmoor area before it was annexed.Greene said he has discussed Falcon with former Colorado Springs city managers.ìThey see your sales tax base as ideal,î he said. ìWhat you really need to think about is whatís going to happen over a period of time. Youíre going to be annexed by Colorado Springs or youíre going to incorporate because the Wal-Mart out here is very, very attractive to the city.ìThey can annex your commercial properties, leave the residential, and you lose your commercial base. Case law shows you can fight annexation, but if Colorado Springs or any other city wants to annex you, they can do it.îAssistant county attorney, Cole Emmons, also present, advised the committee to seek legal advice from annexation experts. ìYou need to get some clear guidance on this issue,î Emmons said.Hurd said the committee has spoken with Widner Michow & Cox, a law firm in Denver that helped with the incorporation of Centennial, Castle Pines and nine other cities. However, money is an issue.The committee has received less than $1,000 from individuals, and none from organizations, Hurd said. Local controlLocal control was another hot topic.Sam Ayers said he moved to The Meadows from Woodmen Hills because his homeowners association was always telling him what to do.ìI donít want the city of Falcon to turn into one giant HOA that can tell me what I can and canít do,î he said.Ayers said he was also concerned about Falcon taking his water rights.ìThereís not going to be any possession of peopleís wells, water rights or septic systems,î Hurd said.Ted Baldwin, who also lives in The Meadows, said he moved there 24 years ago because itís rural. Baldwin said he and a majority of his neighbors want to remain rural and donít want to be part of a city.ìBy drawing my neighborhood into your boundaries, youíre in effect annexing my property and that of all my neighbors into the city of Falcon,î Baldwin said.ìOur mission is not to ramrod something down everybodyís throat, but to provide an informed opportunity to preserve [rural living] as long as possible,î Hurd said.TimelineHurd said the committee plans to launch two steering committees Feb. 5 to address the vision for Falcon the city, and to make recommendations about structure and how to operate the city. July 25 is the date they set to file a petition with a district court judge to hold an election Nov. 8. The petition will include the legal description of the proposed boundaries, home rule charter and names of election commission candidates.Only owners of real property within the proposed boundaries who are registered voters would be eligible to vote.ìWe will stop all efforts if, at the end of the day and all the examination, it doesnít look like itís going to be financially feasible to do this,î Hurd said. ìIf we canít do this well, if we canít do it right, then letís not do it.î

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