Land developer seeks to de-annex 2,400 acres in #Fountain as it eyes #ColoradoSprings #water — The Colorado Springs Gazette

The Fountain Creek Watershed is located along the central front range of Colorado. It is a 927-square mile watershed that drains south into the Arkansas River at Pueblo. The watershed is bordered by the Palmer Divide to the north, Pikes Peak to the west, and a minor divide 20 miles east of Colorado Springs. Map via the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District.

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Mary Shinn):

One of the Pikes Peak region’s largest real estate development companies is planning thousands of homes on roughly 5,600 acres on Fountain’s east edge, but it might take Colorado Springs’ water to transform the prairie.

La Plata Communities had banked on Fountain to provide at least some of the water necessary for a new company development, known as Amara; a southern portion of the property, the Kane Ranch, was annexed by Fountain in 2008.

Now the company is asking to remove, or de-annex, the 2,400-acre Kane Ranch from Fountain’s boundaries, likely in favor of requesting Colorado Springs to annex the land.

The company framed its need to leave Fountain as a failure of the city to plan ahead for future water needs, according to documents La Plata submitted to the city. Fountain officials say they are facing unprecedented demands on the city’s water system and could not have anticipated so much growth at once.

The unusual de-annexation proposal by La Plata Communities — the Springs-based developer of Briargate, a master-planned residential and commercial development that covers 10,000 acres on the city’s north side — underscores water’s importance as the lifeblood of development in the Pikes Peak region.

In an arid climate where water is precious, developers who don’t have it can’t do business. And that’s why Colorado Springs and its vast water resources have always been appealing.

Colorado Springs Utilities is planning to serve nearly 54% more people — an increase from 470,000 to 723,000 — in the next 50 years. The agency has developed an extensive plan that includes new reservoirs, water reuse and conservation to meet future needs.

Some of the hundreds of thousands of new residents could move into new subdivisions to the city’s north, east and south.

A city of Colorado Springs map shows 158 square miles that the city would consider annexing for new development. The map is not a commitment to annex those properties, but it does help guide decisions, Planning and Community Development Director Peter Wysocki said.

A large portion of La Plata Communities’ new Amara development is considered an area Colorado Springs would annex and it would make sense for the whole project to be annexed, if the city determines it can provide services to it, Wysocki said.

The proposed Amara development is composed of two areas.

The 3,200-acre Tee Cross Ranch Properties lies in unincorporated El Paso County, east and north of Fountain; the late rancher, developer and philanthropist Robert Norris, known as the Marlboro Man because of his appearance in advertisements for the cigarette brand, owned the property as part of the more than 95,000 acres he controlled in the county.

The 2,400-acre Kane Ranch, south of Squirrel Creek Road, is within Fountain’s boundaries and at the heart of La Plata’s frustration outlined in a fiery petition the company submitted seeking to remove it from the city’s boundaries…

Fountain’s decision to ask the developers to bear the costs of infrastructure development and water storage also was “unworkable,” it said…

Fountain has faced a flood of developer requests to build — together representing 30,000 new homes across 24 projects in 14 months — more than it could immediately serve, said Todd Evans, Fountain’s deputy city manager…

It would be like the city of Colorado Springs trying to expand from 600,000 taps, or buildings needing water service, to 1.8 million, he said.

Demand just from the Kane Ranch property would have represented 25% of the demand of the city’s entire system, Fountain Utilities Director Dan Blankenship said…

The Fountain City Council will decide in the coming months whether to grant La Plata’s de-annexation request and return the Kane Ranch to El Paso County’s jurisdiction. If the property is removed from Fountain’s city limits, La Plata could ask for annexation by Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs already is weighing the annexation of a northern portion of Amara and a decision on that parcel is possible in 2022, Wysocki said.

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