The Colorado Springs City Council unanimously approved plans Tuesday for up to 1,729 homes across almost 300 acres on the eastern edge of town in Banning Lewis Ranch, after some council members raised questions about plans for lower-density housing amid an affordability crisis.
Oakwood Homes is proposing the new neighborhood that will be bounded by Dublin Boulevard along its northern edge and Stetson Hills Boulevard along the southern edge. It is one of seven neighborhoods planned for the area that will cover 2,500 acres, said Rick Haering with LAI Design Group. This new area will have 28 acres of parks that will connect to trails, he said.
Developers asked the council during Tuesday's meeting to revise density on the property down from residential zoning that would allow for apartments to zoning that will allow for the single-family homes, townhomes, duplexes and homes that will share a driveway, known as clustered housing, according to Haering's presentation. The clustered housing allows developers to build larger homes on smaller lots and keep price points lower, said Scott Smith, a vice president at Oakwood Homes.
The more entry-level homes in the development are expected to be in the low to mid-$300,000 price range, Haering said.
Councilwoman Nancy Henjum asked why the developer would want a lower density. She noted the city needs to be moving away from designating so much property to single-family homes to encourage affordable housing construction.
Smith said the neighborhood will be more dense than the traditional single-family neighborhoods such as Briargate where density is about 2.5 homes per acre. The proposed area will have about 6 homes per acre, he said.
Councilwoman Yolanda Avila also said she was concerned about lowering the density because rezoning property to allow for apartments or other high-density housing projects often faces pushback from residents after neighborhoods develop.
"We just had a presentation yesterday that we are in housing crisis," she said.
Despite the concerns, all the council members voted in favor of rezoning the property to allow for lower density.
The proposed neighborhood will likely expand opportunities for home ownership at a time when homes under $600,000 are at high demand, Councilman Wayne Williams said
"There is certainly a huge need in our community in the price range that’s being talked about," he said.
Avila said she would like to see a certain percentage of housing in each new neighborhood set as affordable to help address the ever rising cost of housing, she said.
"If we don’t start now, when will we ever start?" she asked.