Reject Approval of Monument Academy Location

Reject Approval of Monument Academy Location

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Mike Morris started this petition to Mike Morris

INTRODUCTION:

I am a resident of the Preserve at Walden in Monument/Black Forest, a relatively remote location perfectly positioned between Denver and Colorado Springs. There are multiple subdivisions in the area and the land near our subdivision on Highways 83 and 105 was recently acquired and a section of the land was donated to Monument Academy for use. 

According to the submitted Letters of Intent: “The school, as proposed, would consist of approximately 55,000 SF built in phase one, and an additional 30,000 SF to be constructed in a future phase…. While most of these functions would be constructed in the first phase, the second phase would likely expand the athletic and performance arts spaces including a multi-purpose performance venue. In addition to the school functions, the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region, the largest non-profit community support organization serving El Paso County, proposes to occupy approximately 12,000 SF of phase one space that would be co-located with the school.”

It appears that in this rapid acquisition of land and desire to quickly develop another school, the architects, developers, and the School District have forgotten about the most important aspect - safety of its residents. How does a school purpose to control its attendees when you have a 'high-profile facility' such as a YMCA co-located with school age students. Have we already forgotten about the recent scare in Colorado and those that have occurred around the nation since the Columbine High School Shooting? Why would we invite more people to the place our children are most vulnerable during their learning hours?  

These additions to our community will severely effect the safety of our children (in the neighborhood and the school), impose restrictions on our commute, increase road related incidents, will increase crime and severely impact our privacy because of the significant and complex building being proposed, diminish our water rights, and decrease our quality of life. There is a fear amongst the community members that the projected ingress and egress points aren’t sufficient for a busy roadway like SH83. On a daily occurrence, this will cause commuters coming from the high school and YMCA to revert to driving through the housing community. Shudder to think that this could be exponentially compounded should there be a natural disaster, like the Black Forest Fire (2013), where community residents become trapped because of the poor construction of roads. 

The only way we can prevent the growth of this “personal” planned project for commercial application is to oppose and reject the “APPROVAL OF LOCATION” for the development of Monument Academy at the intersection of Highways 83 and 105. People of Monument and Black Forest areas, this is your future, stand up and defend it by signing this petition. 

I apologize in advance, but the remainder of the petition gets rather lengthy. I wanted to make sure that all of the facts found in submitted documentation and through meetings was presented appropriately.

DESCRIPTION:

As a several year resident of Colorado, my family has enjoyed the natural appeal of the immense wildlife, the exclusive feeling of being separated from neighbors and the relaxed tight-knit community that the Preserve at Walden has provided. With the proposed changes that are aggressively coming to our neighborhood - that could all change at the El Paso County Planning Commission Hearing at 9:00 am on May 7, 2019. The building of a school wouldn’t be a problem, had it been communicated properly to the residents of the community and had the owner not tried to sneakily orchestrate a YMCA, Commercial building, and potentially clustered homes into the design.    

The land in front of our subdivision has always been classified as Residential (RR-5) property and homes have been selling as residential properties since the members of our communities purchased homes in the Preserve at Walden (and surrounding communities). Everyone that purchased property in this area was aware that the land in front of the subdivision was for residential build out and was owned by Lewis Palmer School Board of Education (District 38).

At the time of drafting this petition, it appears the land is still owned by the purchaser (and co-developer of surrounding communities):

“April 25, 2019 RE: MONUMENT ACADEMY – APPROVAL OF LOCATION

APPLICATION PARCEL NUMBERS: 6100000245

OWNER:

83 Walker, LLC a Colorado Limited Liability Company

Matthew W. Dunston, Managing Partner

1230 Scarsbrook Ct. Monument, CO 80132

APPLICANT:

Monument Academy

Don Griffin, PhD, Executive Director

1150 Village Ridge Point Monument, CO 80132 “

According to the EPC Development Application Review, dated 19 November 2018:

“The site totals approximately 65 acres. The owner is requesting Preliminary Plan and Rezoning approval to subdivide the site into 3 parcels. Parcel 1, totaling approximately 20.75 acres, is intended to facilitate the Monument Academy high school and YMCA facility. Parcel 2, totaling approximately 16.6 acres, is intended to facilitate an office / commercial facility. Parcel 3, totaling approximately 19.5 acres, is intended to facilitate a multi-family residential community of approximately 6 du/ac. Specific zoning designations will be discussed during the EA meeting. Proposed vehicular access to the site is as follows: North - Walker Rd, West - Hwy 83, South/east - Walden subdivision via Pinehurst Drive extension.”

The Letters of Intent specifically lay out plans for an increase in homes, the development of a Charter High School, an adjoined YMCA, possible inclusion of clustered homes, and later a commercial area for Gas, shopping, food, etc.

Until recently, the community and surrounding communities have been unaware that a high school with potentially an 80,000 square-foot facility and accompanying YMCA were going to be built right in front of our subdivision. In a meeting on 30 April 2019, at the Hideaway in Monument, CO, with the subdivision co-developer and El Paso County Development Services Department residents were told that the Monument Academy would be building a portion of the YMCA attached to their building as “Special Use” during the initial phase (TRACT A). If I understood correctly, this “Special Use” classification effectively meant that the community wouldn’t necessarily have a vote in the matter of the additional space.

This appears to be an accurate assessment, according to the Letter of Intent submitted to El Paso County Development Services Department, dated 25 April 2019. 

//////////////START OF COPY AND PASTE OF LOI //////////////

“DEVELOPMENT REQUEST

The applicant is requesting an APPROVAL OF LOCATION allowing the applicant to construct and operate a middle school and high school on the site as defined and described below.

SITE INFORMATION

The 64.10 acre Monument Academy site is currently zoned RR-5 and is located within a portion of the NW1/4 of Section 15, T11S, R66W of the 6th PM. More specifically, the property is located at the southeast corner of the intersection of Highway 83 and Walker Road. Vehicular access to the site will be via two interior roadways accessing Walker Road on the north and Highway 83 on the west. See Traffic Circulation below of a detailed description of vehicular access.

PROPOSED SCHOOL CAMPUS

Monument Academy, Colorado Charter School authorized by the Lewis-Palmer School District No. 38, desires to construct a new middle/high school serving grades 6-12. The school intends to open in the fall of 2020 with approximately 600 students and anticipates growing it enrollment to 1,000 students at full build out. The school as proposed, would consist of approximately 55,000 SF built in phase one, and an additional 30,000 SF to be constructed in a future phase. The school will contain all customary program spaces such as academic spaces, athletic and gymnasium spaces, band, vocal music, art, drama and typical support spaces such as administrative and counseling spaces. While most of these functions will be constructed in the first phase, the second phase would likely expand the athletic and performance arts spaces including a multi-purpose performance venue.

TRAFFIC CIRCULATION

To support these proposed uses on the site, robust on-site traffic circulation and parking facilities are proposed. Primary access to the site will be provided by a new roadway extending south from Walker Road into the site. Based on the Traffic Study, a Tee Intersection is proposed at the intersection of Walker Road and the new north-south roadway entering the site. The proposed intersection is located at the high point of Walker Road. Depending on future development plans and traffic requirements, the access point on Walker Road could potentially be converted to a roundabout at a future time. An additional right-in; right-out access is planned to extend from State Highway easterly into the site. This access will extend east-west across the property, connecting with the future extension of Pinehurst Circle planned through the adjoining Walden Preserve 2 PUD southeast of the school site. Both the north-south and eastwest access roads will be constructed with the ultimate intention of dedication as public collector roadways in conjunction with a future subdivision application.

The applicant intends to submit a subdivision plat application for the entire 65 acre parcel within sixty days of completion of the Location Approval process. All required road right-of-way dedication and public roadway/intersection improvement construction, including CDOT permitting of the Hwy 83 right-in / right-out intersection, will be facilitated through the upcoming subdivision process. Two separate parking lots will be constructed within the school site, providing dedicated access and parking for students and faculty in one lot on the north side of the school building, while the second lot will provide drop off and loading spaces for students brought to school by parents. The second lot on the south side of the building will provide additional staff parking and visitor parking. Entrances to these parking lots will be separated by the maximum distance afforded by the site to prevent congestion during peak times. The site improvements will also ultimately include regional athletic fields and connection to a regional pedestrian and equestrian trail system.

UTILITIES

The proposed school site is located within close proximity to the central water and wastewater systems owned and operated by the Walden Corporation, which currently serves Kilmer Elementary School. The easterly boundary of the school site is adjacent to the existing Walden Wastewater Treatment Facility. The Walden Corporation will work collaboratively with the Monument Academy to provide the required central water and wastewater system connections and ensure that sufficient capacity is provided.

FUTURE DEVELOPMENT AND APPLICATIONS

In addition to the school functions, Monument Academy is currently negotiating with the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region, the largest non-profit community support organization serving El Paso County, to occupy approximately 12,000 SF of phase one space that would be co-located with the school. The YMCA program would consist of athletic spaces such as a healthy living center, group exercise class space, personal training, and other similar functions. As with the school, the YMCA envisions constructing their program space in phases. Phase two could include an expanded healthy living center, additional group exercise spaces and potentially a competition aquatic venue. While negotiations with the YMCA have yet to be finalized, if all of these envisioned uses are eventually constructed, future phases would total approximately 40,000 SF of additional space. Inclusion of the YMCA land uses will require a future special use zoning application.

Ultimately, the 64.10 acre parcel is planned to be subdivided into three parcels, one of which will contain the 19.84 acre school parcel. In order to subdivide the 64.10 acre parcel, the applicant will be required to submit a minor land subdivision application. This application will immediately follow the Approval of Location process. Long term development of the remaining two parcels, currently zoned RR-5, include the potential development of a mixed use community containing neighborhood commercial, office, multi-family residential and/or single family residential. Future development of these two parcels will require zone change and site development plan applications.”

//////////////END OF COPY AND PASTE OF LOI //////////////

Furthermore, during this same meeting, it was proposed by the owner that he was unaware what would be going into the Tract B (Parcel 2) and Tract C (Parcel 3) plans. Personally, I am struggling to believe these comments because he called the placement of Monument Academy his “vision.” All documentation on the matter thus far points to commercial application of Tract B and a good possibility of “clustered homes” in Tract C.

As evidence, stated in LSC #184820, dated 14 March 2019, Tract B of the proposal would aim for future development of a Gasoline Service Station with Convenience Center, Shopping Center, a Bank, Fast Food Restaurant with Drive-Through Window, Sit-Down Restaurant, Medical-Dental Office, and General Office Building. Meanwhile, during the submission of the initial planning checklist on 29 November 2018; it was noted that the area should be rezoned for community oriented commercial uses. 

These developments are in stark contrast to the environment which our residents currently reside and purchased their homes. These additions to our community will severely effect the safety of our children (in the neighborhood and the school), impose restrictions on our commute, increase road related incidents, will increase crime and severely impact our privacy because of the significant and complex building being proposed, diminish our water rights, and decrease our quality of life. There is a fear amongst the community members that the projected ingress and egress points aren’t sufficient for a busy roadway like SH83. On a daily occurrence, this will cause commuters coming from the high school and YMCA to revert to driving through the housing community. Shudder to think that this could be exponentially compounded should there be a natural disaster, like the Black Forest Fire (2013), where community residents become trapped because of the poor construction of roads.

Furthermore, the current projections done by LSC do not account for the high-traffic that is redirected from I-25 or the new housing developments that have been going up over the past few years (and continue). This will cause a back-up trying to get onto SH83, especially since news organizations and GPS devices redirect traffic through Highway 83 and Highway 105. Heaven forbid that there is ever a natural disaster in this area, the community would be stuck with no ability to exit. 

Additionally, per the Major Transportation Corridors Plan (MTCP) 2040 Roadway Plan, the roadway infrastructure on Highway 105 is not currently expected to expand until 2040. Meanwhile, we have not heard of an expansion to Highway 83.  Yet, according to LSC #184820, dated March 14, 2019:

“As shown in Table 1, in the short term, with development of the school and YMCA only, the site is projected to generate about 3,392 new vehicle‐trips on the average weekday, with about one-half of the vehicles entering and one‐half of the vehicles exiting in a 24‐hour period. During the morning peak hour, which was assumed to occur between 7:45 and 8:45 a.m., about 551 vehicles would enter and 344 vehicles would exit the site. During the afternoon peak hour of the school, which was assumed to occur for one hour between 2:00 to 3:00 p.m., about 228 vehicles would enter and 309 vehicles would exit the site. During the afternoon peak hour of the adjacent street traffic, which generally occurs for one hour between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m., about 121 vehicles would enter and 151 vehicles would exit the site.”

These projections will severely impact commute times from Colorado Springs to Denver (everyday) and vice versa as highway 83 is used to bypass the poor development of our roadway infrastructure. This will cause significant delays, impatient drivers, and frequent accidents on Highway 83 from housing communities coming off Baptist\Hodgen Road through to County Line Road. The current infrastructure cannot handle an influx of new commuters, especially given the fact that there is a nearby grade school that also commutes during the same times. According to LSC #184820, dated March 14, 2019:

“The signal‐controlled SH 83/Walker/Highway 105 intersection is projected to operate at a level of service D overall or better based on the 2040 background and total traffic conditions. The eastbound through and westbound and southbound left‐turn movements are projected to operate at LOS E during the morning peak hour and LOS D or better during the other hours analyzed. All other movements are projected to operate at LOS D or better. This analysis assumes the addition of eastbound and westbound left‐turn lanes approaching this intersection and protected phasing for those movements. By 2040 two northbound and two southbound through lanes and potentially dual northbound and westbound left‐turn lanes will be needed at this intersection to maintain an acceptable level of service. This intersection should be reevaluated when development plans for the future tracts within Walden North are submitted.”

We do not object to any residential development as proposed when we purchased the lots here at our subdivision; what we object to is the shopping and convenience center’s being built alongside our residential environment, the development of a recreational facility on an already congested road, the probable down-sizing of the associated land for homes (clustered homes), and most importantly the impact to the natural habitats for the wildlife (Elk, Fox, Bear, Coyote, Squirrels, Prairie Dogs, Rabbits, Wild cats, and many other wonderful creatures. The observed plans that were submitted until recently have always been “single family residential lots.” Meanwhile, the new plans represent a Tract C, which calls for 19.28 acres of Multi-family residential property, the commercial application of land in Tract B, and a YMCA recreational facility that will affect traffic and be an eye sore for our subdivision.

Furthermore, the remaining lots that have yet to be sold will be harder to sell if these complexes are built in front of the existing subdivisions and home values will be decreased significantly. If the residents of this community wanted to live in an Urban environment we would have moved into apartments or moved closer to either the town of Monument, Colorado Springs, or Denver.

Finally, I'll close with the most important aspect of the entire petition. It appears that during this rapid acquisition of land and desire to quickly develop another school, the architects, developers, and the School District have forgotten about the most important aspect safety of its residents. How does a school purpose to control its attendees when you have a 'high-profile facility' such as a YMCA co-located with school age students. Have we already forgotten about the recent scare in Colorado and those that have occurred around the nation since the Columbine High School Shooting? Why would we invite more people to the place our children are most vulnerable during their learning hours?  

As a home owner and father of children in D38, I am calling for a stop to the idea of building a school with a YMCA and a commercial shopping center in front of our subdivisions. This community is not against economic development and we welcome residential homes in front of our subdivision; but not clustered homes, homes without land, commercial buildings, or recreational facilities. The proposed project affects the safety of our families, friends, neighbors and the beautiful Colorado wildlife.

The only way we can prevent the growth of this “personal” planned project for commercial application is to oppose and reject the “APPROVAL OF LOCATION” for the development of Monument Academy at the intersection of Highways 83 and 105. People of Monument and Black Forest, this is your future, stand up and defend it by signing this petition. 

We, the people of Monument and Black Forest, call on the Colorado State representatives, Department of Education, and County Commissioners to stop the Approval of Location of Monument Academy.  

 

 

 

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At 1,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!