Mesa Springs residents grapple with MVS proposal

       In an ideal world, according to a couple of comments at a Mesa Springs Community Association meeting Jan. 12, instead of 400-some residences being built for a planned new development in the area, people would just move into existing homes that stand vacant.

Standing in front of a project map, Lonna Thelen of City Land Use Review answers a question about the MVS proposal at a Mesa Springs Community Association meeting Jan. 12.
Westside Pioneer photo

       But the reality is that the city has no such control, and in any case people owning private property have the right to build what they want as long as they're within city codes, explained Lonna Thelen of City Land Use Review.
       At issue during the meeting was a proposal by MVS Development that could lead to a 420-unit subdivision on 47 acres of rolling hills south and west of the Indian Hills Village townhome subdivision off Van Buren Street's western dead end.
       MVS does not propose building at this time, but seeks to fine-tune the requirements that will help frame eventual construction plans. Based on the meeting, the main concerns for existing residents are increased traffic, what will happen if the developer goes bankrupt (as happened at Indian Hills), the proposed removal of the hillside overlay zone and the Centennial Boulevard extension.
       Some of these concerns are related, at least in part, to a 1983 ordinance defining the present zone. The ordinance's “conditions of record” set certain constraints on how the property could be developed. However, as Thelen pointed out, not all the conditions of record are favorable to the neighborhood. For example, one condition allows maxium heights of 60 feet, but MVS is proposing much less. Also, the maximum density in 1983 was set at 12.6 units per acre (to allow 602 units in all), whereas the current plan suggests 12 per acre (to allow 420). Thelen suggested that the neighbors could propose conditions of record that they would like.
       The developer was not on hand to answer questions, but Thelen said she would try to arrange a neighborhood meeting with the developer before the proposal goes to Planning Commission (and after that City Council). She also advised the Mesa Springs association to send her something in writing that spells out its specific issues. Individual concerns are welcome, but communications from the association have particular strength by speaking for the neighborhood as a whole, Thelen explained.
  • Traffic - The current MVS plan is to initially provide access to the subdivision through a new road connecting with Van Buren Street. (Ultimately, Centennial Boulevard would be the main traffic carrier - see story starting on Page 1). One of the conditions of record is that when building permits have been drawn for 200 units, another access “satisfactory to City Administration” needs to be obtained. This would keep traffic from exceeding what Van Buren Street could handle (1,500 cars a day), according to Kathleen Krager of Traffic Engineering. But the 200-unit condition would be eliminated in the MVS proposal.
           Steve Schwartz, vice president of the association, had also written about this point in a recent newsletter to members, giving particular heads-ups to residents along Chestnut and Van Buren that “much of the traffic generated by the proposal will end up flowing through our neighborhood.”
  • Bankruptcy question - Thelen told the meeting attendees the city has the ability to require bonds to be posted to ensure that public work is done (as at Indian Hills). This could include plantings so that graded areas don't just blow in the wind, she said.
  • Hillside overlay - The developer has explained that removal of the overlay is needed to allow grading around the site's former 15-acre landfill, so as to create a usable open space of about 8 acres. Schwartz proposed allowing the overlay to be removed on that part of the property, but to leave it in place elsewhere.
  • Centennial extension - Most Mesa Springs residents seem to oppose this project because the four-lane road, when complete, is projected to carry 20,000 vehicles a day between Fillmore and Fontanero. But the city has had the road on its long-range planning list for 20-some years now, and traffic planners see the extension as necessary to relieve the crunch on the Fillmore/I-25 intersection.

    Westside Pioneer article