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Shiloh Mesa development moves forward

The Colorado Springs City Council voted unanimously in November to approve zoning and land use changes requested by Woodmen Valley Chapel Inc. for its Shiloh Mesa development.At the same time, the Council also approved an amendment to Woodmen Heights Master Plan, which establishes planning standards for the area and the Shiloh Mesa Planned Unit Development concept plan.The mixed-use urban development is planned for 113 acres at the northeast corner of Marksheffel Road and Woodmen Road. Colorado Springs annexed the land four years ago.The development is south of the 1,443-acre Sterling Ranch development – the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners has already approved its sketch plan.Shiloh Mesa plans include 23.5 acres of commercial development, 19.6 acres of residential development, 23.5 acres for public assembly and 46.2 acres of open space and right of way land.Residential development at Shiloh Mesa consists of single and multi-family townhomes, courtyard homes and senior villas and apartments. Office and retail space is planned for commercial development.The change to a PUD “gives us a greater flexibility in terms of how we develop the property as a mixed-use community,” said Les Kronfeldt, manager of the Center for Strategic Ministry, a nonprofit organization created by Woodmen Valley Chapel Inc.”We’ve done a lot of work, modeling this after the old European model, where a church was the town center and a village would grow around it.”He said the CSM will engage in activities “that are specifically nonprofit in nature.”We’re not looking at just ministry-related activities,” Kronfeldt added. “We want to be a bridge to the community, not a gated community.”They also established CSM Development and Services Corp. to conduct for-profit business activities at Shiloh Mesa, he said.”We will pay our taxes and be responsible citizens,” Kronfeldt said. “The remaining profits are intended to be used primarily in the areas of missions and ministry-support activities. A representative proportion of all of our finances and activities go to the local community. We want first to be a good member to the community.”Kronfeldt said Woodmen Valley Chapel does not intend to create a community like Ave Maria, the strictly Catholic community built around a college in Florida.”They [Ave Maria] have had some significant contention with surrounding communities and municipalities,” Kronfeldt said. “We learn from others’ experiences, and we do not want that kind of an environment with this community here in Colorado Springs.”For that reason, Woodmen Valley Chapel Inc. does not plan to market its residential offerings to its members, nor does it plan to limit access to the development’s office space to ministry-affiliated nonprofit organizations, Kronfeldt said.If a community-based nonprofit support organization applied for office space, he said they would consider it. “There are several steps we would have to go through for the approval process; and, of course, we wouldn’t guarantee anyone approval,” Kronfeldt said.A few are not happy with Shiloh Mesa.The plan “fails to provide buffering to surrounding rural neighborhoods, threatens to overwhelm the drainage systems in the area, and threatens to significantly diminish the long views that the adjoining residential neighborhoods value,” wrote Amy Phillips, chairwoman of the Black Forest Land Use Committee, in a letter to the city planning commission dated Oct. 16.Phillips also criticized the idea of modifying the Woodmen Heights Master Plan to accommodate the Shiloh Mesa concept plan. “This tactic is an affront to proper land planning and threatens the entire system of long-term planning,” Phillips wrote.Larry Larsen, a senior planner for the city, said the developer has made significant modifications, since the original submittal, to address concerns of neighbors.Most buildings will be limited to 35 feet in height, with the tallest buildings limited to 45 feet in height with a possible 60-foot steeple. Most buildings will be located in the middle or western portion of the site, he said.”Some views will be impacted but to a lesser degree than first anticipated,” Larsen said.Currently, the only entrance to Woodmen Valley Chapel is from the Woodmen Road frontage road, which has increased traffic for residents living on Mustang Road and other roads in the J-B Acres development east of the chapel.”We’re working hard to extend Marksheffel Road north of Woodmen Road so that by our Christmas Eve services, we’ll enter the property from the west as opposed to the frontage road,” Kronfeldt said, but whether that deadline is met depends on the weather.As for the future, he added, “We’re preparing plans for various projects and acquiring financing to go forward. That’s no small challenge these days.””We believe Colorado Springs remains a wonderful community to be a part of and that things are going to turn around, but none of us can predict the timing. Everything is moving slower than we anticipated. Now is the time to do the work, so we’re ready for better days ahead.”

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