A dispute over vacant land where School District 49 has intended to build a new middle school has caused a nearly yearlong impasse between the Pikes Peak region’s third-largest school district and a Colorado Springs homebuilder.
“There’s been no movement from the stalemate,” D-49 spokesman David Nancarrow said.
D-49 is ready to progress on constructing a new middle school — identified as the district’s most pressing need, Nancarrow said, on a 22-acre site northwest of Woodmen and Marksheffel roads at the intersection of Forest Meadows Avenue and Cowpoke Road.
The land was noted as dedicated to the school district in a 2003 master plan filed with the city of Colorado Springs, he said. So for the past 16 years, D-49 has earmarked the site for a new school.
However, the land became part of a bankruptcy filing that another company, Aspen View Homes, bought last fall.
As the new owner, Aspen View Homes submitted an October 2018 request to the city’s planning department to change the master plan and asked D-49 relinquish the school land dedication, as stipulated in the master plan, city spokeswoman Kim Melchor said.
The planning department told the builder to “work it out with the school district,” she said.
Since then, there’s been no headway.
As per the agreement, “The land either moves forward as dedicated for a school, or the developer pays fees in lieu in turning over the land,” Nancarrow said.
“At this point, the group is still holding onto that land and has not paid anything to the district to live up to either end of that,” he said.
Aspen View Homes did not respond to requests from The Gazette for an interview.
All of D-49’s middle schools are operating overcapacity, Nancarrow said.
“The persistent unprofessional and predatory behavior of Aspen View Homes signifies a willing effort to work against our school district and stand in the way of serving the very students who live in the homes sold by Aspen View,” he said. “We are discouraged by the lack of cooperation from what could be a valuable partner in the local business community.”
The school district has money from a voter-approved 2018 mill levy override to proceed with building a new middle school, Nancarrow said, which takes about two years from conception to completion.
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