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Right-to-die expires, wind farm approved, downtown apartments planned, and more 

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Wind farm approved

After almost 15 hours of testimony from interested parties, four El Paso County commissioners (with Commissioner Sallie Clark absent) voted unanimously Thursday, Feb. 5, to approve changes to a Calhan-area wind farm project opposed by some residents, who did not want an above-ground electrical transmission line to run near their properties ("Power struggle," News, Jan. 21).

NextEra Energy Resources is constructing the 250-megawatt project to produce electricity for Xcel Energy, which serves Denver and other parts of Colorado. Residents had complained of inadequate notice and that the lines could disrupt views, access and livestock.

The county's Planning Commission considered the matter Jan. 6 and, after lengthy testimony from concerned residents and others, voted 6-3 against the proposed change. But the Planning Commission can only make recommendations to the county commissioners. — RM

Central apartments planned

The old St. Francis Hospital on the east side of downtown is envisioned as an apartment building by Chris Jenkins, whose family bought the building for $50,000 a year ago and will re-purpose a portion of the massive structure.

The owner is 825 E. Pikes Peak LLC, an entity controlled by developer David Jenkins and his son, Chris.

"Our initial assessment is that the building floorplans work best to convert to residential apartments where approximately 160 one and two bedroom units could be configured," Chris Jenkins tells the Indy via email.

Jenkins notes that housing options are one of downtown's greatest needs.

The hospital, which sits on about nine acres, is one of three properties the Downtown Development Authority wants to add to its boundaries. The others are the former Gazette building at 30 S. Prospect St., which is to be occupied by the Colorado Springs Public Market, and about three acres of vacant land owned by Jeffry and Cinda Dunn Family LLP that's across Pikes Peak Avenue from the newspaper property.

In a Jan. 22 letter to the city planning department, DDA director Susan Edmondson wrote, "The DDA board and broader world of downtown and community stakeholders are tremendously excited by the potential of an innovation district on our downtown's eastern edge."

City Council is expected to act on the boundary change later this month. — PZ

Right-to-die bill expires

A bill to allow the terminally ill the choice to end their lives under certain circumstances died in a state House committee Friday, Feb. 6, after more than 100 people, many of whom had been touched by the issue directly, shared their views pro and con.

Democratic Rep. Dianne Primavera of Broomfield, who previously said she was on the fence and voted against the bill, testified that she was a cancer survivor who had been told, 28 years ago, that she had five years to live — "and here I am today," the Associated Press reported her saying.

The bill, modeled after Oregon's law, would have required patients to get two doctors to approve verbal and written requests to end their lives ("Making lethal, legal," News, Feb. 4). Patients would have to have had a prognosis of less than six months to live, and been found to be mentally competent and able to administer life-ending drugs themselves. The committee voted 8-5 against the bill. — RM

Mayoral pay to rise

The next mayor of Colorado Springs will see a change in the current salary of $96,000 a year, but it's unclear by how much. City Human Resources director Mike Sullivan says he'll do the "simple calculation" required by the City Charter "as soon as the final 2014 CPI-U figures are released."

The City Charter requires a salary adjustment at the start of a new mayoral term, based on the Consumer Price Index.An inflation calculator on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website shows that a bump to $101,000 would be in order. — PZ

Supermarket shutters

The Albertsons grocery chain will close its supermarket on East Cheyenne Mountain Boulevard, a spokesman for the company told the Gazette on Friday.

The store, which had been open since 1980, was unprofitable and its lease was due to expire, the spokesman told the Gazette. It will close by March 23 and continue a liquidation sale until then.

The store is just south of a Safeway grocery store — the Albertsons and Safeway companies merged in January — and just north of a King Soopers.

A retail consultant told the daily paper that the Whole Foods Market chain has expressed interest in locating on the southwest side of the city. — RM

Foundation picks Davis

Cari Davis, hired as city-owned Memorial Health System's communications and marketing chief in 2007, just after resigning from Memorial's board, has been tapped as director of the newly created Colorado Springs Health Foundation. The foundation, oversees proceeds from Memorial's lease to University of Colorado Health. It will pay Davis $115,000 a year.

City Council must approve her appointment. Assuming it does, Davis is expected to start work in March. — PZ

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