MONUMENT • The city’s board of directors was due this week to consider newly developed supplemental design standards for the city’s land use code.
Efforts to create a project to amend the land use code with additional design standards have been underway by the city’s planning department since the beginning of the year, but the director of planning, Meggan Herington, who will leave the post, said staff had hit a wall. in the writing process she hoped to create.
Herington turned to the board for direction during the presentation portion of its March 14 meeting. Seeking stakeholder input to create a draft of additional design standards, Herington said staff held a meeting last January, which was attended by two administrators, along with developers and three representative citizens. After that, only one citizen provided comments before a draft of the land code usage amendment was posted on the city’s website.
Herington said that aside from one-person feedback, staff were only able to gather feedback from developers and landowners, in the case of the Falcon Commerce Center as well as the industrial estate north of Baptist Road. , who said they would rather negotiate design standards after submitting a preliminary PUD plan for each individual property than have additional land use standards as an umbrella.
The planning director said she was unable to move the effort forward with the minimal feedback she had at the time.
“Without any input from others, we’re building a project that’s basically picking fruit off a tree,” Herington said. “It’s really at the discretion of the board how you want to handle the next steps.”
Administrator Ron Stephens asked if the city should update its overall plan, possibly its land use code. The cost of doing so was also discussed when considering the options. The council agreed that some kind of protection for the city was still needed and the citizens expected the council to do something about it.
Herington noted that an update to the city’s comprehensive plan simply sets a vision for the future, but changes to the land use code would provide current and future planning department staff with the tools to execute. specific design standards for future development.
After further discussion, the board decided to review the amendment as drafted at a special business meeting on March 21 so that the planning staff could develop new direction on what they must be presented for examination.
Later, during general public comment, Monument City Home Rule Charter Commission Chairman Steve King participated in efforts to create a land use code amendment and said that he agreed with Herington that establishing additional design standards was the most effective way to help establish boundaries on an update to the overall plan.
“I wouldn’t want to change the overall plan and I wouldn’t want to throw out the code either,” King said. “But a lot of municipalities are changing the code with design pits, and that’s the route we were going, and that’s the route I think we need to go.”
He also noted whether administrators felt confused about the process of development and land use to imagine how confused citizens might also be. Later in the meeting, Mayor Don Wilson asked planning staff to relaunch his Development 101 resources, a short-term education program for citizens and city leaders about the municipality’s development process. . King said if public input was needed, he could make sure the city got it, but the reason citizens aren’t showing up for stakeholder meetings could be confusion about the process.
“I can get people to show up if you want people to show up,” King said.
Among other matters, the council approved the annexation of 1.48 acres known as unaddressed North Front Street, commonly known as Limbach Park, within the city limits. The land was deeded to the city by the Union Pacific Railroad Co., but was in unincorporated El Paso County and whose zoning was unknown. The council also approved the zoning of the acres as public, designated for public or quasi-public properties and structures.
In addition, the board approved a memorandum of understanding with the other regional partners involved in the El Paso County Loop Project to bring renewable water assets to the south end of the county to those who have needs there. rights to the north end of the county, including Monument. A memorandum of understanding is required from an agency when the funding includes explicit non-financial collaboration with partner organizations and provides documentation that the agencies involved have coordinated and consulted with their grantmaking activities.
Director of Public Works Tom Tharnish said this is the first step in the process in terms of establishing a defined group that represents the four regional partners involved in the project and assists the efforts of grant funding as opportunities arise.
“I think it’s a long time coming,” Stephens said. “This will add to our portfolio of desperately needed renewable water resources that won’t require as much water from our wells.” I think this is a positive step in the right direction.
Mayor Wilson agreed with Stephens and said the partnership was profitable for the community and the “right way forward”.