Colorado Springs City Council approved the annexation and expansion of a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center Tuesday after listening for hours to objections from neighbors about the impact on their rural county community.
The decision allows Peaks Recovery Centers on Old Ranch Road east of Voyager Parkway to proceed with plans to expand from the two homes it operates and build two new large buildings on its 10 acres. The center expects to serve 44 clients when the expansion is finished up from the 10 people it can serve now, said Andrea Barlow, a consultant representing the company.
The neighbors did not object to the types of services that Peaks Recovery Centers plans to provide, but rather to allowing a commercial business adjacent to rural residential homes because they fear it will open the door to more and more businesses in the area. The center will border single family homes on the east, west and south.
"We would object as vehemently if this proposal was Burger King or a Motel 6 or a strip mall," said Brian Fasterling, who spoke on behalf of the Springcrest Neighborhood.
Councilmembers in favor of the project said they saw the rehab center as a good transition between the industrial businesses to the north of Old Ranch Road and the residences. Council President Richard Skorman said he didn't necessarily see more businesses following the rehab center into the neighborhood.
"Just because we are allowing this doesn’t necessarily mean that it is going to open up the floodgates," he said.
Councilmembers voted unanimously to bring the property owned by Peaks Recovery Centers into the city limits because it would allow the center to start using city water and sewer services in a region where private wells are having problems with production.
The board split on whether the property should be rezoned and allowed to expand, voting 7 to 2 to approve rezoning of the property from rural residential to commercial and to deny the appeal filed by the Springcrest Neighborhood Alliance to block the project.
Councilmen Don Knight and Bill Murray opposed the project, but for different reasons.
Murray agreed with the neighborhood that Old Ranch Road should remain the buffer between residential homes and commercial development.
"They don’t need commercial buildings on that side of the street," he said.
Knight said he was concerned that city approval of the project could run contrary to county plans for the area or private covenants that city staff did not research.
The approval allows Peaks Recovery Centers to build a 15,000-square-foot two-story building that will provide 20 additional beds for clients and administrative offices. An 8,000-square-foot building is also planned to provide space for therapy, Barlow said. The company was interested in the area because it will allow for a residential atmosphere for clients, she said.
Kettle Creek on the south side of the business' land will provide a natural barrier between the facility and neighbors, she said. The company has also put up six-foot cedar fencing to provide a buffer.
The expansion of the center was almost universally opposed by residents of the Springcrest neighborhood who called in to the meeting speak, gathered more than 100 signatures in a petition against the project and filed a formal appeal to block it. The appeal argued rezoning the property would be a detriment to the area's health and public welfare. Neighbors also pointed out the business purchased the land knowing it wasn't zoned for a commercial use.
"This proposal destabilizes the surrounding area," Fasterling said.
Additional traffic congestion on Old Ranch Road, with one lane in each direction without shoulders, was also a concern for residents.
"It doesn’t handle the traffic right now, it is not going to handle the traffic in the future," resident Nancy Wallace said.