City to set up meeting with developer and neighborhood on W. Kiowa project issues

       Colorado Springs City Council called for an as-soon-as-possible developer-neighborhood meeting Feb. 13 after hearing complaints from the West Kiowa Street neighborhood that there are unanswered questions about drainage, hillside ordinance violations, damage to Garden of the Gods-type rocks and conflicting lot lines.
       Mayor Lionel Rivera's request for a meeting “within the next day or two” will not be met, however. City Planning Director Bill Healy told the Westside Pioneer Feb. 14 (just before press deadline) that a date had not yet been arranged but should be sometime during the week of Feb. 18.
       He did say that he has had his staff go out to the site (3325 W. Kiowa St.) since the meeting and that they told him they “found no apparent violations.”
       Healy said the project - and the organizing of the neighborhood-developer meeting - are in the hands of Brett Veltman, who has been the chief planner for the 11-unit project (five duplexes and one single-family home) over the past several months.
       Four neighbors spoke to council during the “citizen discussion” portion of the Feb. 13 formal meeting. In a written document presented to council, Jenna Saunders, one of the neighbors, said the residents are not opposed to developing the property; they just believe the project is being poorly handled. She asked to “have the excavation and rock damaging stopped until the presented issues have been properly addressed and ensure that the city's hillside overlay zone (and other ordinances) are properly followed.”
       She also charged in her comments that residents have previously received little help from city staff. No pre-construction neighborhood meetings were held, and “residents have called city planners, regional and city staff as far back as June 2006 with few or no callbacks,” Saunders said.
       Neither the owners (Rick and Pat Shannon) nor the developer (Jeff Shada) were at the meeting. Mrs. Shannon has previously told the Westside Pioneer that the work is being done correctly and will eventually result in Santa Fe-style homes that fit in with the rock formations.
       After listening to the citizens, Council member Jerry Heimlicher said that he would like to “stop the bulldozers,” but short of that “we need to have this (neighborhood) meeting as soon as possible.”
       Council member Tom Gallagher, referring to a neighborhood concern, wondering how the 50-foot-wide lots would be legally divided once the duplexes are in.
       At the council meeting, Healy said he did not know the development's details, but pledged to set up a neighborhood meeting and report back to council on issues the neighbors raised.
       In the next-day interview with the Pioneer, he said he had not yet reviewed a document titled the “3325 W. Kiowa Street Hillside Grading Plan,” which was displayed at the meeting by Saunders and which is being used by City Planning and the developer to guide construction on the project. The document, signed by Denise Tortorice (one of Healy's employees) last Oct. 25, shows the westernmost duplex being built on Saunders' property just to the west. Healy said he could not comment on whether such a city-approved lot-line conflict is unusual until he (or someone on his staff) had reviewed the plan.
       Another neighborhood speaker, Richard White, lives with his wife Shirley on the property across the alley just south of the development. He alleged several violations of the city's hillside ordinance, including cut or fill exceeding four feet, the (anticipated) roof line not being below the ridge line and one of the lots (the one by the rocks) being shaped to fit the house, instead of vice versa.
       White is also concerned about drainage from the development and the developer/City Planning decision to raise the alley several feet for that purpose, requiring a roughly 10-foot retaining wall on his property.
       “I was in Korea for almost two years, defending everybody,” he said in conclusion, referring to wartime service in the military. “Now I'm here defending myself, just about alone.”

Westside Pioneer article