Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Archer Park drainage plan given go-ahead by the city

Posted By on Wed, Jan 17, 2018 at 1:16 PM

click to enlarge A development in the Broadmoor area can move forward after the city approved a drainage plan last week that remains a point of contention with neighbors. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • A development in the Broadmoor area can move forward after the city approved a drainage plan last week that remains a point of contention with neighbors.
Back in August, we reported on the development of 4.7 acres dubbed Archer Park in the Broadmoor area. Neighbors of the proposed development had a litany of complaints, chief among them that the developer's drainage plan — still in limbo — would be inadequate and lead to stormwater flowing onto their properties.

Dr. James Albert, who lives just east of the proposed development, filed a lawsuit in July to try to reverse the city's approval of the subdivision.

The developer, Richard Delesk, on the other hand, said he has a long reputation of developing quality homes in the neighborhood and that he was upset by what he viewed as outrageous opposition by a group of neighbors intent on ruining his project simply because they wanted the land next to them to remain undeveloped.

Now, the subdivision's drainage plan has been approved by city of Colorado Springs' engineers, clearing the way for development to begin.

In the way of a little more background, from our earlier story:
At issue is a pasture in the Broadmoor area that soon could give rise to a verdant enclave of million-dollar homes called Archer Park, or, as some neighbors see it, a flood-water and traffic nightmare.

While it’s not unusual for City Council to encounter citizen outcry over developments of hundreds of homes or apartments, Archer Park covers only 4.7 acres. But the small development has drawn outsized opposition from dozens of neighbors who’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on studies, consultants and top environmental engineers to refute the developer’s claim the plan won’t flood adjoining properties and adjacent streets.

As Les Gruen, a consultant hired by the neighbors, says in an interview, “I thought this was going to be a pretty straightforward deal, and I ended up working on it for a year.”

Even the developer himself, Richard Delesk, acknowledged in an email to the Independent, “I have never seen anything like this opposition. This is well-funded NIMBYism against a development that is rigorously documented, thoughtfully planned and which has passed all regulatory hurdles with flying colors.”

But that’s not really the case. Although City Council OK’d the subdivision 7-2 on June 27, a final drainage plan remains in flux, and Council specified it must be approved by city planners before the final plat is recorded.
The Indy asked Delesk for a comment on Jan. 17 about the city's approval of his drainage plan and his next steps, Delesk says via email:

Yes we have been informed of the approval and are thrilled as you might imagine. As far as a start date on the project we don’t currently have a schedule. There is a lot of utility work that has to be designed and installed prior to starting any building. That said we are currently keeping ourselves busy with a fantastic Parade Home we’re starting construction on in our Marland Park Subdivision.

Regarding an IM maintenance plan – According to City Code §7.7.1527(C)(1), an inspection and maintenance plan “shall be developed by the owner concurrently with the design of the facility and submitted with the erosion and stormwater quality control plan for approval by the City Engineer.” So you see, one is not due yet nor is there a deadline for the erosion and stormwater quality control plan.

As far as neighbors’ concerns to future flooding, I maintain the belief that the City Engineers that strenuously reviewed and subsequently approved our plan know what they are doing. We’re going to be adding drainage infrastructure where none currently exists. I think that’s a huge positive to the neighborhood. Since the Albert's are suing the City (and City Council and myself and my company) I'm sure the validity of their concerns will be evaluated in our court system.
Albert wrote a Jan. 17 email to the Independent, saying he was not backing down.

"The city approved changing a plat underhandedly without a public process," he wrote. "They called a 250 yard by 7 foot wide by 3 foot wide concrete trench a 'minor change.' No safety fences no discussion. They are not requiring drainage easement which would allow each buyer to fill in the trench making the proposed system unless."

In a Jan. 16 letter to the neighbors' attorney, Jonathan Steeler of Denver, Assistant City Attorney Anne Turner says, "The drainage swale constructed on the property will be private infrastructure that will be the responsibility of the owner."

She also says that it "was not feasible" to grant a request from the neighbors to meet with city officials prior to the drainage report's approval.

Read Turner's letter here:
The drainage issue dates back several months as the drainage report was drafted, submitted, returned to the engineer with suggested changes and then approved.

In September, neighbor Diane Matsinger wrote to the city noting the drainage plan as initially proposed didn't contain a maintenance agreement. "At the City Council hearing," she wrote, "we were assured by the applicant’s attorney that the agreement was being drawn and would be submitted with the final drainage plan. Now he is still saying that he will do so at the time of 'permitting.' Maintenance is a serious concern and the City Drainage Criteria REQUIRES that a maintenance agreement be submitted WITH a final drainage plan."

This concern also was addressed by Turner's letter:
The maintenance plan for the storm water infrastructure is not yet due. According to City Code § 7.7.1527(C)(1), an inspection and maintenance plan (“TM plan”) “shall be developed by the owner concurrently with the design of the facility and submitted with the erosion and stormwater quality control plan for approval by the City Engineer.” There is no deadline for the erosion and stormwater quality control plan. The maintenance plan will be publicly available once it is received by the City.
In an interview last month, developer Delesk said his plans have complied with all city requirements and pointed to his long-time success record in developing housing projects that date back more than three decades. He declined to elaborate on plans to develop Archer Park at that time.

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