Density issue lingers as Mesa proposal goes to council

       A controversial zone change and development plan for 11 house lots on a 10.1-acre property east of Mesa Road passed Colorado Springs Planning Commission and will go to City Council Tuesday, May 23.
       Although development documents defend it as “an appropriate use and density for this infill site,” several neighbors - including commission member Mark Cunningham - fear that approval of Villas at Mesa Park would set a bad density precedent in an area that has long been characterized for its large, rural-style lots.
       “It opens the door for small lots and the subdivision of larger lots on the Mesa,” said Cunningham, who has lived in the area of Mesa Road between Uintah and Fillmore streets since 1971. “I don't believe that's how this neighborhood should go.”
       According to the plans, the largest lot would be just under half an acre, with the smallest at about 4,600 square feet. The project would go in behind an existing home at 1905 Mesa Road, off a new, private road that is to line up with 19th Street.
       The Planning Commission action followed three neighborhood meetings on the proposal over the past year. The current plan revises the original, which would have had 14 lots, torn down the existing home, built an 8-foot-high wall along the road and left about 6 of the 10.1 acres undefined. The new plan reduces the lots to 11, keeps the house, omits the wall and donates the undefined acreage to the adjacent Sondermann Park.
       “The neighbors did appreciate” these changes, wrote James Mayerl, the city's lead Westside planner, in his summary for the Planning Commission.
       Two residents spoke against the plan at Planning Commission, with several others sending letters or e-mails to the city. One e-mail was from Dianne Lloyd, who said her grandparents built their home on the Mesa in 1947, which she now lives in. “I think enough is enough up here on Mesa Road,” she wrote.
       Cunningham emphasized that he does not so much dislike the Villas at Mesa Park plan - because he thinks it will be well done as well as out of view from the road - but because other developers might use the precedent in future infill on the Mesa. In past years, the often-rough terrain has been built up typically with lots of 1 or more acres.
       Council will be asked to approve the zone change as well as a final development plan and subdivision plat.
       Under the proposal going to council, the property's present residential estate zone with hillside and streamside overlays would change to a more flexible planned unit development (PUD) with hillside and streamside.
       Designs call for one- to two-story patio homes of 2,000 to 2,500 square feet in size.

Westside Pioneer article