City Council OKs Uintah Bluffs on first reading

       The Uintah Bluffs residential development proposal will go to City Council for second and final reading Tuesday, Aug. 14 after the body approved it on first reading last month.
       Developer Matt Craddock is seeking city approval for a plan that would allow the construction of 52 townhome units on a mesa above and west of Bristol Elementary/Bristol Park and east of a Colorado Springs Utilities property next to Manitou Boulevard.
       However, he has previously said he does not expect the project to break ground anytime soon because of the slow economy.
       According to Mike Schultz of City Land Use Review, the proposal needs two readings at council because it involves a zone change. This would be from the current R/HS (Estate Single-Family Residential with Hillside Overlay) and R-2/HS (Two-Family Residential with Hillside Overlay) to PUD/HS (Planned Unit Development with Hillside Overlay).
       Craddock is also seeking approval for a development plan that shows the layout of the 52 townhome units along a private access road that would come in from Manitou Boulevard (partly following an existing easement through the Utilities property) and for two non-use variances. One of these would allow grading on slopes of 25 percent or greater and the other would allow building upon slopes of 25 percent or greater.
       In his review, in which he recommends approval, Schultz states that the proposed project meets the city's goals for “infill and redevelopment projects that are in character and context with existing, surrounding development. Infill and redevelopment projects in existing neighborhoods make good use of the city's infrastructure.”
       Regarding the variances, Schultz' review adds that they reflect a site that is “encumbered by varying degrees of slope” and that the grading plan essentially makes the best of a difficult situation.
       The proposal also includes the creation of a public trail that would go across the 13-acre property's open space area and connect Manitou Boulevard with Bristol Park.
       A resident just south of the access point at Manitou Boulevard has argued that the project would lessen his quality of life. One concession to this concern has been the elimination from the plan of a once-suggested trailhead with parking just north of the access. Schultz's review stated that the access itself at that location “does not pose a negative impact to the property owner.”
       Council's first-reading vote was 6-0 (with one member absent). Although voting with the majority, Councilmember Jan Martin offered the only specific concern. With the recent Waldo Canyon Fire in mind, she asked if the single access into the subdivision would be safe enough in the event of a fire, with the possibility of people leaving and fire trucks coming in on the same private drive. Schultz said that the proposed layout meets city requirements and has been approved by the Fire Department (because it includes a fire truck-compatible turnaround at the end of the drive), but added that he could work with the developer on possibly widening the drive from 27 to 32 feet.

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