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Proposed changes to Banning Lewis Ranch annexation agreement ax some developers' fees

January 5, 2018 Updated: January 6, 2018 at 2:16 pm
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Modifications to a 30-year-old annexation agreement for the Banning Lewis Ranch property would eliminate several fees and ease other financial requirements thrust on developers.

Correction: This article has been updated to show that the new annexation agreement would charge developers $2,308 per acre for fire protection and police services. 

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Modifications to a 30-year-old annexation agreement for the Banning Lewis Ranch property would eliminate several fees and ease other financial requirements thrust on developers.

Those requirements are often deemed too onerous for developers and have been blamed for the property's stagnation while development leapfrogs to Falcon.

Suggested changes to that agreement were published Thursday and city leaders will host several public meetings this month to workshop the changes.

The conversation on updating the annexation agreement was given new life in November when TischlerBise Inc., a national economic consulting firm, told the City Council that development in the area could generate $49 million in net revenue for the city while adding billions to its economy.

The property, spanning approximately 24,000 acres, shares about 40 different owners. It was annexed into the city in 1988 and was expected, at that time, to be home to 180,000 people.

Because of its size and potential impact, city planners drafting the annexation agreement went above and beyond their regular practices in ensuring future developers would build whatever new infrastructure the area needed or pay the city in lieu of the work. One estimate for that work exceeded $1 billion.

The new annexation agreement would eliminate off-site roadway fees and urban service extension fees, which would have charged developers for every square foot of their buildings.

Developer costs will also be reduced for the Banning Lewis Parkway, a major thoroughfare planned for the area, which will not need to be as robust as initially thought. Under the current agreement, developers are responsible for all of the parkway's costs, but the suggested changes would require them to build the road in accordance with a new master plan, which has not yet been created.

Initial plans also called for the construction of five fire stations and four police stations, all of which are to be paid for by developers. But suggested changes would charge owners a combined $2,308 per acre for fire protection and police services.

Changes to the agreement have been called shortsighted by some city leaders including Councilman Bill Murray, who has said he is uncomfortable altering the document based on projections for a fraction of the land.

The TischlerBise study was based on development projections for about a third of the ranch and Mayor John Suthers has said it's unreasonable to expect city staff to plan further ahead for such a large property.

Councilwoman Yolanda Avila has also said future development at the ranch would worsen the city's problem with sprawl and further strain its police and fire departments.

But Councilman Andy Pico, whose district includes much of the property, insists that changes to the agreement will still require developers to pay for any new infrastructure.

The council will hold a work session on the proposed changes at 3 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 107 N. Nevada Ave. A town hall meeting will be held Jan. 16 at the Colorado Springs City Auditorium, 221 E. Kiowa St.

The council is expected to vote whether to accept the new agreement in February.

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