Historic neighborhoods across Colorado Springs are organizing to advocate for themselves as the city ponders policy to allow denser housing and a long-term comprehensive transportation plan.
The new Historic Neighborhoods Partnership hopes to advocate for potential solutions to the challenges facing the city around issues like affordable housing in addition to protecting the look and feel of their neighborhoods, chairwoman Dianne Bridges said. The group's recently formed board includes representatives from the Old North End, the Near North End, Middle Shooks Run, Mesa Springs, Bonnyville, which is northeast of the Old North End and Pleasant Valley, northwest of Old Colorado City. The group is talking with five additional neighborhoods about membership, she said.
The neighborhoods are all more than 50 years old and don't have homeowner associations that can enforce neighborhood-level rules about architecture and landscaping, which helped prompt the formation of the partnership.
"We’re exploring what are the right avenues to protect the nature of our neighborhoods," Bridges said.
Bridges, a Near North End resident, wants to preserve the mature trees, beautiful churches and turn of the century homes that she says set the neighborhood apart. The group is ready for battle against proposals like the city's now-abandoned plan to rezone portions of older neighborhoods to allow multistory apartment buildings.
Still, she says, the group is not necessarily opposed to higher density housing that would preserve existing architecture, she said.
"The biggest concern, in a summary, is how it is done," she said.
The group is also interested in historic overlay zones or character zones administered through the city that could help protect the neighborhoods, she said. A portion of the Old North End has a historic overlay zone that governs how the exterior of old homes can be remodeled.
The city is also mulling new character overlay zones that could offer some protection as well, although they are still in development, Bridges said. Each neighborhood could help determine the specific attributes that should be preserved in their area.
The group is also concerned about how plans to manage transportation, such as the proposed bus services along north Nevada Avenue, and improving communication between the city and historic neighborhoods and among the neighborhood groups.
A big key for the group is gaining the ability to weigh-in early on city plans to smooth potential problems, rather than reacting to proposals late in the game.
"We don’t want to just complain, we want to have ideas about solutions," she said.
The model of the new organization is similar to the Council of Neighborhoods and Organization, a group that has been without a director since the end of April.
CONO Board Chair Rick Hoover said the new group was disappointed with problems at the council, but he hoped the two groups could work together in the future.
"Hopefully we can get things resolved, so we don’t have to duplicate our efforts," he said.
Those interested in the new partnership can email HNPCOS@gmail.com.