Uintah Bluffs developer unable to mollify nearest resident at meeting

       At a neighborhood meeting Dec. 20, Matt Craddock offered to work with people on any issues they had with his proposed 52-unit Uintah Bluffs townhome development atop the Mesa south of Uintah Street.
       But it was unclear how he might placate Ivars Mankovs, whose house is right next to the planned private drive off Manitou Boulevard that would be the sole access point for Uintah Bluffs residents.
       In addition, plans include construction of a trailhead with parking next to the access point - which Mankovs also is unhappy with.
       “I'll have asphalt on three sides of me,” he said, referring also to existing Monument Street and Manitou Boulevard.
       Craddock spent most of the lightly attended, roughly one-hour meeting at the Westside Community Center talking about what he believes are positive aspects of the development. Unlike previous plans from 2007 and 2009, the new proposal by Craddock (doing business as “Uintah Bluffs LLC”) envisions far less grading, a shorter private road, more economical use of buildable space with fourplex construction and scant involvement with unstable soils. For example, the earlier plans had called for 40-foot retaining walls, while the tallest in the new plan is just 4 feet, Craddock noted.
       The development will include private parks for the residents, as well as a “preservation area” that's as big as the built area, plans show.
       Images he presented at the meeting included possible fourplex designs for two- and three-bedroom homes in the $200,000 to $300,000 price range.
       The Uintah Bluffs plan will likely go before City Planning Commission in March.
       The new layout was termed an improvement by Mike Schultz of City Land Use Review. He referred to aspects of the previous plans (prepared for the LLC by a consultant who has since moved away) as “overextended” and even “silly.”


       But Mankovs raised other concerns. These included:
  • “Mesa Park” - This name appears on some maps (including one by the Assessor's Office) to identify an area of 10 or more acres just north of his property. Mankovs wanted to know how an access road could be allowed through a park. Schultz said that it's not really a park but land owned by Colorado Springs Utilities that's managed by City Parks.
  • Previous access agreement - Mankovs said (and the Westside Pioneer had reported in December 2007) that the Parks Board conceptually agreed to allow the access through the Parks-managed area if Craddock allowed a city trail link from Uintah Bluffs to Bristol Park (which is down the hill just east of the 13- acre property).
           Craddock's response was that no “quid pro quo” agreement had ever been reached on that. Schultz added that he believes City Parks' “interest has dimmed” on the link concept, mainly because of the steep slope between the mesa and the park.
           But that statement was contested by another meeting attendee, Ian Kalmanowitz, who lives in the neighborhood and is also chair of the city's Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) Working Committee. Craddock told Kalmanowitz he would be “happy to work with you” on a link. “TOPS can have at it,” he said.
  • Access from Dale Street - Mankovs said Dale would be more logical than Manitou Boulevard, because westbound Dale actually abuts Uintah Bluffs (at its southeast corner), while Manitou Boulevard does not. But Craddock argued back that where Dale comes in is a low point, and building a road from there up to the planned development (in the north part of the property) would be very expensive and might require unsightly switchbacks to overcome the steep grade.
  • Monument Street traffic - Mankovs said that another problem with the Manitou Boulevard access is that it will mean more motorists using Monument Street, a neighborhood street which is steep and also narrow at its bottom where it intersects Chestnut Street. But Schultz said that traffic studies have shown that the streets in that area can handle more vehicles.
  • Manitou Boulevard traffic - Mankovs said vehicles are already speeding there, and two other meeting attendees said the development will worsen the current pedestrian dangers (the boulevard having no sidewalks north of Monument Street) and traffic problem (because the access would come in at an angle to a 90-degree turn in the boulevard. Craddock said he can't afford to put in sidewalks for the neighborhood, but will try to “soften” the access point to make it as safe as possible, including erecting traffic signs.
  • Loss of view -Schultz said the developer could be required to put in screening or landscaping so Mankovs doesn't have to see the Uintah Bluffs traffic or the developed trailhead next to it. But Mankovs said he likes his present view of Mesa Park and would rather keep that.
           Talking to Craddock after the meeting, Mankovs invited the developer to his house so he could get an idea of what his vantage point is like. “I'll be there,” Craddock said.

    Westside Pioneer article