Local Media Owner Sues City of Colorado Springs for Ignoring Safety Concerns During Re-Zoning Push

Last week, Tim Hoiles, the owner of The Maverick Observer, filed a lawsuit against the City of Colorado Springs.

This lawsuit is related to a July 25th decision by the Colorado Springs City Council to allow the rezoning of 4.56 acres of land west of South Nevada Avenue between East St. Elmo Avenue and East Ramona Avenue for an apartment complex. On a 7-1 vote, council members approved the rezoning of the land. The Creekwalk Apartments would be a large, 85-foot-tall, 7-story, 400-unit apartment building just west of Sprouts Farmers Market, near South Nevada Avenue. Councilman Dave Donelson was the only city council representative to vote against the zone change.

Local Developer Danny Mientka owns the land and in recent years has purchased 15 different parcels in the area to compile the 4.5 acres for the Creekwalk project. Rental prices for these apartments are expected to be in the $1500-3000 price range. The council decision was just another standard day in Colorado Springs – a developers’ paradise.

Hoiles, in his lawsuit, alleges the  following, which is taken directly from the lawsuit:

The Decision disregarded Traffic Study Recommendations

“A 221-page traffic study (“Traffic Study”) was completed in conjunction with the proposal to rezone the Subject Property. However, and within formation and belief, the Traffic Study was not included in the presentations to the Planning Commission or City Council on June 14, July 11, or July 25, 2023.”

“The Traffic Study analyzed traffic and level of service (“LOS”) near this property in December 2022 and January 2023, and identified a number of issues which justified denial of the recuring application. In addition, the Traffic Study’s conclusions regarding the effect of a zoning change were contingent upon (i) removal of a gas station at St. Elmo Ave West and (ii) realignment of St. Elmo Ave. West and East as an intersection to allow northbound travel on Nevada Ave from St. Elmo Ave West.”

“City Council improperly failed to address and duly consider the LOS issues identified in the Traffic Study, and failed to require the changes—gas station removal and intersection alignment—that undergirded the Traffic Study’s conclusions.”

The Decision Disregarded a 2010 Fire Evacuation Study
“In approving the zoning change and enacting the Ordinance, City Council also improperly failed to take into account a fire evacuation study completed in 2010 by the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (“Fire Evacuation Study”). The Fire Evacuation Study concludes that nearby Cheyenne Blvd. and Lake Ave. cannot support necessary evacuations based on traffic and population density at that time, which was 13 years ago. Traffic and density have increased since then, and the approved zoning change to the Subject Property only worsens these conditions by permitting a 400-unit apartment complex, which will make fire evacuation even slower and more dangerous for public safety purposes.”

The Decision Ignored Building Limits from a 2017 Geologic Survey
“Finally, in approving the zoning change and enacting the Ordinance, City Council improperly failed to take into account the limitations of a Colorado Geologic Survey dated January 10, 2023 (“Geologic Survey”), which recommended an updated Geologic Hazard Study due to changing development plan in the hazard waiver letter and lack of program results and test logs for the depth of the undocumented fill. The Geologic Survey’s hazard exemption pertained to 2017 and did not address the proposed development of a 7-story, 400-unit apartment building.”

Mr. Hoiles’ suit demands the decision be reversed, his costs and attorney fees reimbursed, and any further relief that the court orders are just and proper.

Our Commentary

If you know this particular area of town, you know traffic is problematic. The 2010 Fire Evacuation Study indicates that the area was dangerously congested back in 2010. It’s worse now, 13 years later, even without this 400-unit apartment development. Adding 600+ more cars to the neighborhood would be a traffic nightmare.

Fires are a reality in Colorado Springs. We don’t want to see any neighborhoods suffer through devastation and loss of life. Wouldn’t it be important to consider any possible evacuation impact from this development? Floods are also a reality, and this development is called Creekside for a reason: It’s near Cheyenne Creek. Nothing is mentioned about possible flood risk in this area, according to riskfactor.com, the property has an “Extreme Flood Factor”, meaning it’s either more likely to flood, more likely to experience high floods, or both. In their excitement to pursue their “infill” goals, build apartments on every parcel possible within the city, and also fill city coffers with development and additional tax money, city council appears to have deliberately ignored critical safety data when rezoning this area for this development. The City Council policy of “build first and maybe address problems later” persists. They continue to “infill” us into the city like sardines in a can, all while public safety takes a back seat. We are not the least bit shocked to hear of this irresponsible rezoning decision, and we are definitely rooting for Hoiles. We’ll keep watch and let you know what happens next.

One thought on “Local Media Owner Sues City of Colorado Springs for Ignoring Safety Concerns During Re-Zoning Push

  1. Agree that this re-zoning for the benefit of the city only needs to be rescinded and all safety and traffic studies need to be updated and included in considering this apartment complex. Don’t let south end of town be treated differently than when the city voted against other complex’s in north and west part of town. We need more affordable housing and not high end apartments in this town

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