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Kudos to Mayor Ortega for being a "Good Neighbor" to Singer Ranch

 

Last updated 9/18/2019 at 2:13pm | View PDF

While some may not agree (as evidenced by the fact the mayor was alone in voting against denying the Singer Ranch from de-annexing from the City of Fountain) I, for one, support his vote.

The Singer Ranch, located south of Fontaine Blvd. and west of Marksheffel Road has long been a place I have enjoyed driving past, with its bucolic beauty symbolic of our heritage. My sister used to live on a neighboring property and we enjoyed watching the cows graze in their pastures, and raptors flying overhead. While I have only met one or two members of the family over the years, I would consider them to be "good neighbors" to the Fountain Valley. And whether or not I want to see their farmlands developed, that is their right to make the choice to market it. After it was explained that for several reasons, they haven't had success in doing so with the site being located in the city of Fountain, I didn't understand why city council wasn't more neighborly in granting their request to de-annex.

I was glad to see the mayor vote as a "good neighbor" to the Singer family in being willing to grant their request to de-annex. Too bad the rest of the councilmembers that were present didn't agree. Not sure where their desire to hold onto the parcel including a small commercial parcel that may or may not one day be developed came from, perhaps because of past decisions that resulted in loss of potential commercial sites? If that is the case, there are still plenty of places in Fountain that they could still focus on for commercial development... (how about that grocery store we didn't get?)

There have been a few instances in the recent past I have felt that our current city council hasn't acted as "neighborly" as they could... first, regarding a proposal to put a convenience store across the street from Mesa Ridge High School. In the beginning, they seemed more supportive of developer/proposed convenience store that wanted to located there, despite hearing concerns from the Widefield School District 3 Board of Education about potential dangers for their schoolchildren crossing the road which would have been impacted by the increased traffic brought about if a convenience store was located there... but in the end I felt the council did the right thing when they didn't approve the request- after hearing from numerous residents and students from the school. Many were glad to see they had a change of heart.

I was saddened when long-time local developers and community leaders Ted and Audrey Beckett came to the council to report that after a few years of trying (and going back and forth with city staff over various issues) they were not going to be able to bring a new Old Dominion Trucking facility to a frontage road along I-25. Audrey said the final straw had to do with not being able to install 40 foot lights in the parking lot/driving area at the site, (as opposed to shorter, I believe 20 foot lights.) I so very much wished council had risen to its feet and said they could look into the matter further to make some accommodations to make this possible!!! What a loss for our city!!! (All of this following a lengthy struggle the Becketts had with getting a hotel approved (that is now finally built on that same frontage road).

I understand the city has its standards and rules for development but there has to be room for flexibility for moments just like these. For a while, it seemed that possibly the city had learned from its past... like when the Safeway shopping center was being developed. I heard of the difficulties some contractors faced at that time, when trying to build a few of the fast food restaurants there. Had it not been so ridiculously difficult, the businesses would have been built and opened possibly six months sooner, bringing that much more tax revenue into the city. I recall a local insurance agent had to deal with similar issues at that time and nearly left Fountain because of it.

So yes, I was pleased when I heard Mayor Ortega make a point about the Singer Ranch proposal, after hearing from a member of the Singer family, his attorney and his listing broker/agent, regarding their request to de-annex from the city. They stated that when the Singer's parents originally annexed back in 1989 a portion of the 275+ acres was marked for commercial development, but because of this, they haven't been able to get anywhere marketing the land.

The mayor said he didn't know why the city would want to keep a parcel of land that was literally an island (not touching city property on any of its boundaries), when the owners no longer want to be included in Fountain, all in hopes of commercial development of a small portion that there is no guarantee will ever happen!

Props, also, to Fran Carrick for pointing out that there are other places the city could be focused on, for example, the local shoe store that closed. She pointed out there are other sites that could be bringing in commercial tax dollars much quicker than the small commercial part of the Singer ranch property. And to Darrell Couch for stating it would appear double standards were at play.

I'm not sure what the next step will be for the Singer family, but I'm sure they left the meeting with a bad taste in their mouths regarding dealing with the city council. I really don't think that's the type of reputation our city needs. As the Singer's attorney already mentioned, they have been told a few times how difficult it is to get things done in the City of Fountain.'

Again, standards and rules have a place, but like Planning Commissioner Gordon Rick pointed out- had the request come to the commission first (which it didn't by choice of the city attorney) they likely could have shown flexibility and discussed options to make developing the land in the city of Fountain more palatable. Imagine that. Hopefully, staff and council will keep this in mind for the future.

 

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