Thursday, June 13, 2019

Flying W Ranch fencing draws protests

Posted By on Thu, Jun 13, 2019 at 3:27 PM

click to enlarge The Waldo Canyon Fire destroyed the Flying W Ranch in 2012. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • The Waldo Canyon Fire destroyed the Flying W Ranch in 2012.
City Council on Aug. 13 unanimously rejected an appeal opposing city approval of a 10-foot fence around a portion of the Flying W Ranch.

The Colorado Springs Planning Commission voted unanimously on June 20 to deny the appeal, clearing the way for the fence project, unless someone appeals the commission's ruling to City Council. Planning Commission member Scott Hente recused himself from the discussion and the vote. Hente lives in the area adjacent to Flying W. Ranch.

——————-ORIGINAL POST 3:27 P.M. THURSDAY, JUNE 13, 2019—————————

The Flying W Ranch wants to install a 10-foot-tall fence around 137 acres of its more than 1,400 acres to keep wildlife out, but some neighbors are pushing back.

The city approved the fence administratively, but a neighbor, James Berdon, appealed to the Planning Commission on May 30, which will take up the matter on June 20 at City Hall, 107 N. Nevada Ave. The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m.

The Flying W, a tourist attraction for decades — featuring a western village and evening meal served with cowboy music from the Flying W Wranglers, saw 19 of its 20 buildings and most of the site's vegetation destroyed by the Waldo Canyon Fire in 2012.

Since then, it's never reopened. But the fence project signals renewed efforts to resurrect the business.

General manager Aaron Winter tells the Independent he's planning a June 29 ground-breaking ceremony that will be announced officially soon. The chuckwagon dinner venue is slated to open for Memorial Day 2020, he says.
click to enlarge Efforts to revegetate the Flying W property over the years included this event in November 2012. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Efforts to revegetate the Flying W property over the years included this event in November 2012.
Neighbors became aware of the fence plan when they noticed posts being erected a few months ago. A check with the city proved a building permit was needed, but the ranch had not obtained one, city planning staff says in a report.

Because the fence will exceed seven feet, a site plan was required, which the ranch submitted. As well, the city's zoning code requires all fences over six feet tall to be setback from the property line, in this case by 10 feet.

The fence will consist of posts and wire fencing.

From the city's staff report:
It has been explained that the 10-foot fence is required to aid in the revegetation efforts occurring on the Ranch. With the depletion of vegetation from the fire, the Ranch is replanting trees and revegetating to assist with property stabilization. This has proven difficult with the amount of wildlife in the area. The fence is designed to provide mitigation of wildlife and allow for better revegetation efforts. The fence will also serve as a safety measure for the overall agricultural and ranching operations.
But several neighbors say the fence is too large and unsightly.

"In the past, the Flying W has utilized the parcels for grazing cattle; and residents want to see the cattle return," wrote the appellant Berdon, who lives near the ranch on Wilson Road. "For six decades the cattle were contained by 4-foot tall ... posts with 4-strand barbed wire. This fence (and gates) survived the fire (albeit, in need of repair) and is more than 100 feet from the
parcel boundaries along Mountain Shadows. Since the Flying W has operated without the Wildlife Barrier for so long, there appears no need for it to be so close to the neighbors."

Another neighbor Karla Warneke, who's lived in the area for 16 years, submitted a statement against the fence, noting, "The natural aesthetic is what appeals to me. I fear the homes bordering the fence will depreciate. I also believe the fence will take away from the natural surroundings we all love."

Steve Brinkman, who's lived in that area for 32 years, wrote a letter to city planners saying he's "vehemently opposed"  to the fence, which he labeled "a huge eyesore."

Referring to a scar on a foothills mountain left from rock mining, Brinkman writes, "The huge scar (the mine) just north of our neighborhood is a huge sign that our city has let a lot of really
stupid things happen to our environment. This would be yet another example of our irresponsibility as a city."

Winter, with Flying W, says the fence is imperative to keeping wildlife out of the premises to prevent damage to the recovering vegetation.

"Wildlife has been detrimental to the efforts in revegetating the landscape," he says, noting the biggest problem is deer. "We've planted 10,000 different trees, and a lot of those have been decimated by wildlife as well as some seeding."
click to enlarge The yellow line shows where the fence would be built. - COURTESY CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • Courtesy City of Colorado Springs
  • The yellow line shows where the fence would be built.
Another reason to keep wildlife at bay rests with plans to reintroduce animal attractions on the property, Winter says. He also notes that other local attractions use a similar fence design, including the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, The Broadmoor golf courses and the Colorado Springs Airport.

The fence posts will stand from 20 to 25 feet apart, he says, with woven wire between and two strands of wire on top. But the wire will not be barbed or razor wire, Winter says.

If the Planning Commission approves the fence, opponents could appeal to City Council, which would have the final say.

Read the staff report on the fence appeal:

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