August possible for Gold Hill grading
‘Builder’s risk’ would precede Planning Commission meeting

       Gold Hill Mesa's 57-acre Phase 1 development plan is wending its way through the city review process, with revised plans calling it to go before Planning Commission Sept. 9 and City Council later that month.
        In anticipation of approval, the Gold Hill Mesa Township Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) is finalizing a grading plan - a separate process that would allow reworking the lay of the land on close to 140 acres on the upper part of the property - to start in late August or early September, LLC manager Robert Willard told the Westside Pioneer. In a view looking west from the roof of a downtown 
building, Gold Hill Mesa’s smokestack and long-time drainage scars can be seen in the center of the photo. In the 
foreground is Colorado Avenue going under I-25.
       The grading, which would involve using as much equipment as possible on a daily basis, is estimated to last close to 60 days, according to Willard. The work would include “capping” the soil to control the tailings from the one-time gold-milling operations at the site. For the most part, an existing cap is now in place, having been put there in 1955 by the Golden Cycle Mining Company, he said.
       Beginning grading work before city approval is a “builder's risk,” Willard said, but added that the LLC is ready to go forward, based on essentially favorable initial feedback to the plan from Colorado Springs Planning since its submittal in early May.
       “We didn't want to do it (grading) twice,” he said. “We wanted to be through at least the first round of city comments. Then we're not too afraid to go for a grading permit.”
       The most significant first-round comment from city officials was a call for greater width on a few streets; Willard said he and his staff are working on compliance with that direction, which involves partially reworking the plat map.
        Back-and-forth communications on issues are likely to continue up to the Planning Commission meeting.
        The months of July to October are the best months for grading in Colorado Springs, chiefly because there tends to be less wind, Willard said.
       At a neighborhood meeting May 26 at Midland School, Willard had expressed the hope of starting grading in July and to go before City Planning Commission in August, but “we're behind,” he told the Pioneer.
        The development plan shows Filing 1 - consisting of 176 homes and a town center and shops on 27.15 acres - being built north of Lower Gold Camp Road and northwest of the Crown Hill Mesa residential development, which is currently under construction. Willard's hope is to start building those homes this year. Filing 2, envisioned as 138 homes on 29.32 acres just west of Filing 1, has no development schedule as yet.
       He did not blame city officials for the delays, applauding them for being timely in their responses and providing “legitimate catches that will make things better.” In all, he said, “for a project of this size and scope, I'm not displeased with the speed of the project.”
       The full project area, more than 210 acres in all, is north of Lower Gold Camp, east of 21st Street, south of Highway 24 and west of Crown Hill Mesa and various properties west of Eighth Street.
       Project development is slated to take place in phases over a number of years, including about 1,000 homes, a commercial area near 21st Street and Highway 24 and an array of traffic-related public improvements.

Westside Pioneer Article