Developer’s rejected plan sparks outcry, again

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Andrea Barlow explains a concept plan for 2424 Garden of the Gods Road.

Photo by Jeanne Davant

Jenny Courtier and her family were caught for hours in the massive traffic jam when Mountain Shadows residents fled the Waldo Canyon wildfire on June 26, 2012.

It was terrifying enough to be stalled as the flames descended upon the neighborhood, destroying 340 homes — but for Courtier, even though her home survived, the event was especially painful. Her father had passed away, and the family was unable to get his body to the mortuary before the mandatory evacuation.

“I don’t want that to happen to anyone else,” Courtier said.

That’s why she went to an informational town hall meeting Dec. 6 at the Space Foundation about developer 2424GOTG bringing a proposal — one that was already rejected last year — to build up to 420 apartments in two- and three-story buildings at 2424 Garden of the Gods Road.

2424GOTG is again seeking approval for rezoning and a concept plan for the 125-acre property, which sits just south of Mountain Shadows.

The developer originally applied for approval of the zoning change, concept plan and an amendment to the Mountain Shadows master plan in August 2020. That application was approved by the city Planning Commission in March 2021 and greenlighted on first reading by City Council in May 2021.

But on second reading on Aug. 24, 2021, councilors voted 5-4 against the rezoning and concept plan after hearing concerns from neighboring residents about potential impacts to traffic, emergency evacuations, property values and the bighorn sheep that have been spotted on the site.

Those same concerns, and especially traffic and safety issues, were expressed at the town hall meeting, which was attended by about 125 people.

Despite the fact that a district court judge in May upheld Council’s right to deny the rezoning on the basis of emergency evacuation concerns, 2424GOTG’s application will now “be reviewed objectively as a new project,” per city code. More on that later.


The concept plan being presented right now “is the same plan we finished with last time,” said Andrea Barlow, principal at planning and urban design firm NES, which is representing the developer. It does incorporate some changes that the neighbors requested in response to the first filing, including an updated traffic impact analysis and a 150-foot zone along 30th Street and Flying W Ranch Road where building heights would be limited to two stories. But it’s the same plan that was rejected in August 2021.

The concept plan describes generally how the developer intends to use the site.

It divides the property into four areas:

• the northwest area, consisting of 43.67 acres, which currently houses 750,000 square feet of office space, where no new development is proposed;

• an 11-acre parcel on the east side of the property where multifamily housing and mixed-use development is proposed;

• a 15.19-acre tract on the south at Garden of the Gods Road and 30th Street, currently unused parking, where more apartment buildings are proposed; and

• a 55-acre area along the west side of the property, too steep for development, that would be maintained as open space.

The south tract potentially is the first area that would be developed, Barlow said. 2424GOTG has had discussions with the city parks department about purchase of the open space through TOPS funding, an option that is still on the table, Barlow said.

The residential buildings would have a maximum height of 45 feet for the three-story buildings and would have a maximum density of 16 units per acre.

The plan does not call for any additional entrances and exits from the property, she said. Existing access points include one at 30th and Garden of the Gods Road and several onto Flying W Ranch Road.

Joe Hooker, project manager for 2424GOTG, said the parcels currently bear several different zoning designations that limit the uses of the property.

“One of our goals is to get it into one comprehensive zoning district,” he said.

The developer is proposing to change all the designations to PUD — Planned Unit Development — which would enable uses including light industrial, office, civic and commercial space as well as single-family and multifamily residential development.

Barlow said the concept and zoning plans establish uses of the property and general parameters but do not show any detail about what the apartment buildings would look like or materials that would be used in their construction. That information will be included in a development plan that will be submitted to the city if the concept and zoning plans are approved.

She said the developer intends to design the buildings so that they complement the existing buildings and the natural surroundings.

“Our No. 1 priority is still safety.” — Bill Wysong


“Per city code, any property owner, applicant or developer has a legal right to come back to the city and request reconsideration of their project after one year,“ Principal Planner Dan Sexton told the Business Journal in an interview. “That is what we are considering right now. It will be reviewed objectively as a new project.”

After Council voted to reject the original application, the developer appealed the decision to District Court. In May, Judge David Prince upheld Council’s right to deny the rezoning, which was based on emergency evacuation concerns. A second appeal is pending in the state Court of Appeals in Denver, where a three-judge panel will review the lower court’s decision.

None of that matters in the current planning department review process.

The lawsuit “doesn’t factor in for us,” Sexton said. “Because of how the code is structured, they can pursue both paths.”

The application is under review by the planning department, which consults with other departments and agencies including Colorado Springs Fire Department. When the review is completed, a hearing will be scheduled before the Planning Commission.

The Planning Commission will make a recommendation to Council, which will ultimately decide whether to grant the rezoning and approve the concept plan.


Earlier this year, Council decided not to amend the city code to require evacuation planning or evacuation mitigation as part of land use review, Sexton said.

Council did pass an ordinance in July that requires the creation of evacuation zones that could facilitate orderly evacuation by zone in case of an emergency. That resulted in the COS Ready project,

launched in August.

Using evacuation management software called Zonehaven, the city was divided into 665 zones and a Know Your Zone campaign was launched to educate people on the zone plan.

Bill Wysong, president of the Mountain Shadows Community Association and Westside Watch, said that’s not enough to assure residents’ safety and that potential evacuation difficulty is still a key objection to the 2424 Garden of the Gods project.

“Our No. 1 priority is still safety,” Wysong said. “If my safety is impaired because of something the city is preparing to do, that is in violation of the zoning code.”

Barlow, representing 2424GOTG, argues the ordinance “represents a material change of circumstances.” Emergency evacuation “is not the developer’s responsibility but the city’s,” Barlow said. “It is not a criteria for assessing additional development.”

Day-to-day traffic is another consideration, Wysong said.

When fully built out, the apartments would generate much additional traffic, and residents don’t think the developer has taken into consideration that another apartment development by Weidner Apartment Homes is proposed just across the street from 2424 Garden of the Gods. “Commercial [development], as it is currently zoned, would be more to our liking,” Wysong said.

Wysong said opponents of the project are concerned about how Council will vote this time and will be closely watching the upcoming city election in April. “I don’t think they will get it through before then.”

They will also continue to fight to be heard, he said.

“When this goes before the Planning Commission, we will be there in force,” Wysong said.

“We’re not anti-growth; we’re for responsible and reasonable growth.”

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