I am a long-term resident of Colorado Springs and a concerned taxpayer. I object to the development of a 232-unit, multi-family apartment complex on the corner of Royal Pine Drive and Union Boulevard for the following reasons.
The location of this complex requires all vehicles to utilize a single lane roundabout to exit the site. This roundabout is already shared by five businesses, their patrons, and 1,424 single-family houses within the surrounding Pine Creek Village, as well as delivery drivers and visitors. In the event of a fire emergency, as occurred in Boulder, CO (the Marshall Fire), this single egress point will quickly become a traffic chokepoint, greatly increasing the potential for loss of life.
This concentration of traffic at one exit point raises serious apprehensions about emergency vehicular access for both the residents of the multi-family housing complex and the existing community. In the event of an emergency, such as a fire, the current traffic conditions will hinder the prompt arrival of first responders, especially for the very large ladder trucks the apartments will require. This poses a significant risk to the safety and well-being of all residents in the vicinity.
The traffic study conducted for this development assumes that each of the 1,424 existing residents would only leave their houses once per day and it was done during the summer, when school is not in session, and many are on vacation. Daily routines often involve multiple trips for various activities such as work, school, errands, and social engagements. Consequently, the projected traffic volume according to the study does not accurately reflect the actual impact that this multi-family apartment complex will have on the surrounding roadways. A traffic study from 2006 showed that a single drive thru restaurant would greatly exceed the maximum trip count of 8,441. However, this developer states that the addition of 632 new people to the area will reduce traffic counts – this is impossible.
Having a large apartment complex adjacent to existing office buildings and Pine Creek Village will be a great inconvenience. Traffic in the area will nearly double and create significant delays and congestion at the single-lane roundabout. In addition, the additional traffic through the neighborhood as new residents travel on Pine Manor Drive to reach Briargate Parkway will create additional noise, light, and air pollution and place animals from the Wildlife Habitat Area crossing the road at increased risk of death or severe injury. School buses will have to navigate through increased delays and accommodate more students, in an already over-crowded, under-staffed school district. The new residents will not be in a good walking area, as the closest shopping location is a 15-minute walk across six lanes of heavy traffic. The single city bus line in the area has a stop almost ½ mile away, and only runs on Union Boulevard, whereby riders must transfer to other buses to reach any destination, taking significant time.
The great height of these apartments (50+ feet) will create privacy issues for the medical offices and residences adjacent to it. The developer states he will plant vegetation to block the apartments, yet no vegetation will block 3 and 4-story buildings or prevent their residents from being able to look directly into doctor’s offices while they care for patients or into the backyards of those near these buildings. Even with directional lighting, the light pollution from these tall buildings will create a nuisance to those living nearby and impact the nocturnal wildlife that depend on darkness for their survival. Inadequate parking for this development will mean that apartment residents will take up spaces at the five businesses and along Purple Plum Drive.
It is not in the public’s best interest to have high-density housing near the Wildlife Habitat Area, as it will negatively impact the animals this area was built to protect. The protection of endangered and threatened species is in the public interest for current and future generations. Animals often seen in the area are the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse, Lynx, Fox, Deer, Elk, Black Bear, Mountain Lion, Bobcat, Hawk, Bald Eagle, Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, rattlesnake, and Garter Snake. I have personally seen several of these animals over the past year and many have been caught on security cameras amongst our homes. There are also several imperiled and vulnerable plant speciesthat deserve continued protection.
The development will negatively impact the health of the apartment residents and adjacent residents, but also the endangered species residing in the Wildlife Habitat Area close by. The National Institutes of Health and others have documented the negative effects of urban sprawl on people and the environment. These include higher rates of chronic illnesses, increased pollution, and degraded habitats. Because this location has a very poor walkability score, these residents will have to drive to reach their destinations, thereby increasing noise, light, air, and chemical pollution, reducing exercise, and straining species already struggling for survival in a city being overbuilt. With only one bus stop nearly 1/2 mile away, residents of these apartments will likely drive, creating more traffic congestion and more pollution.
Expectations and Compatibility
This proposed development does not support the Briargate Plan or resident expectations when purchasing their properties. The residents of Pine Creek Village were told this land was for commercial uses (PBC- planned business complex), supported by a large sign on the property that reads, “Coming Soon, 45,000 ft square Medical Office Building.” Many purchased their homes to get away from the pollution and traffic associated with other parts of the city that have incorporated high-density housing.
The proposed design of the development is outside of the scope of what is considered acceptable in Pine Creek, especially considering the businesses and homeowners are beholden to specific styles and colors. The height of the planned buildings is twice what is currently in Pine Creek. Oversized buildings will be unsightly. Pine Creek Village pays HOA fees to maintain all common areas, dog waste stations, a private park, and the medians throughout the neighborhood and on Briargate Parkway. If the city wants to force Pine Creek Village to accept additional residents and the burden it will place on the common areas, the City of Colorado Springs should take responsibility for those areas and maintain them without the funds of the Pine Creek Village residents. The hard-working and diverse group of taxpayers of Pine Creek should not have to carry the financial burden of an unplanned development.
Questionable Use of Private Activity Bonds
The city of Colorado Springs voted on its intention to issue $40M in private activity bonds (taxpayer-funded) to a single, out-of-state developer. Mr. Posey’s brief on this development in May 2023 to City Council showed previous PAB fund issuances ranged between $12M-$14M and were balanced against multiple projects. However, this development will deplete all of 2023 and the remaining 2022 funds. The $40M currently identified for one project should be distributed fairly amongst multiple developments and communities. A fair and transparent distribution of funds is the best course of action, especially for those that are seeking to revitalize older areas or provide residences for seniors (a population expected to triple by 2040 according to HomeCOS).
Based on these concerns, and many others not addressed here, I implore the City of Colorado Springs to deny this development. In addition, I call on Mayor Mobolade and our city officials to do the right thing and to pause development until the city can create a viable plan for sustainability. We also need more transparency with city processes and smart growth.