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Fountain City Council faces major de-annexation request

 

Last updated 1/26/2022 at 1:50pm

Map from CITY OF FOUNTAIN WATER SYSTEM CAPACITY EVALUATION by Wright Water Engineers

Fountain City Council on Jan. 25 will begin formal consideration of a request by property owners to de-annex 2,400 acres known as Kane Ranch out of the city limits. This map, included in the application attached to the council agenda, shows the property and neighboring Tee Cross land in relation to Fountain city limits in yellow.

A proposal to de-annex 2,400 acres known as Kane Ranch from Fountain and back into unincorporated El Paso County will go before the Fountain City Council on Tuesday. The land has been in Fountain, undeveloped, since 2008.

Officials in Fountain say they have concerns about how the land might be developed if it ends up being annexed into Colorado Springs, which may permit significantly higher housing densities.

Kane Ranch is located along the south side of Squirrel Creek Road, approximately one-half mile east of the Link Road and Squirrel Creek Road intersection.

Property owners and potential developers of Kane Ranch blame the city for not addressing water supply issues in years past, leading to a situation they say makes it impossible to develop the land while in the city's jurisdiction.

Because of that, they are requesting to de-annex Kane Ranch from Fountain and back into the county. Numerous officials say they expect a future request for the property to be annexed into Colorado Springs, a process that has been initiated already for a neighboring 3,200 acres known as Tee Cross. Colorado Springs City Council has not yet held any formal hearings on Tee Cross, also referred to as Amara.

Kane Ranch representatives announced their intention to seek de-annexation in a lengthy letter to the Fountain City Council dated Nov. 4, and the El Paso County Board of Commissioners discussed the item during the Dec. 3 BoCC meeting, at which time county officials agreed to meetings with Fountain and developers to discuss various issues.

At the time, Mayor Sharon Thompson released this statement:

"There are still discussions that need to happen before we make a decision on the Kane Ranch property, and those discussions will shape our decision. Right now, we are hoping to learn more about Colorado Springs' plans for the area, because if they do annex the properties, it will impact Fountain residents, who are our main priority. There are a lot of moving pieces that require a lot of decision making and planning from multiple municipalities, the City of Fountain included."

Deputy City Manager Todd Evans said representatives from Fountain, the county, developers and Colorado Springs have held several meetings since then, and some of them have been productive. However, Evans said the city continues to have several concerns about what the future might hold if both Kane Ranch and Tee Cross – which collectively may be developed into a development called Amara – are annexed into Colorado Springs and developed at the densities permitted by that city. The areas of greatest concern are transportation, public safety, drainage and utilities. The thousands of new homes that may be built here would have a major impact on residents of Fountain, Security and Widefield.

"It's going to change the face of everything down here," Evans said during an interview in December.

Evans said additional discussions would continue to take place. Tuesday's City Council meeting is for the first reading of an ordinance to disconnect the Kane Ranch land from Fountain. The process would require two readings.

"The only way to de-annex a property, or disconnect a property, is through ordinance or through court decree," City Attorney Troy Johnson explained at the Jan. 11 council meeting.

If the council voted it down, the applicant court pursue a court decree.

Kane Ranch owners argue that the city breached its side of the original 2008 annexation agreement by not thoroughly pursuing remedies to the water situation as outlined in the 2007 Water Master Plan.

The petitions for annexation of Tee Cross, now referred to as Amara, and located south of Bradley Road down to Squirrel Creek Road near the Fountain Landfill, and west to Link Road - were presented to the Colorado Spring City Council on Nov. 23. A formal consideration by that council is expected in the near future.

The Amara property juts along the eastern border of Fountain and El Paso County neighborhoods such as Lorson Ranch.

Owners had begun efforts to bring the Tee Cross property into Fountain less than two years ago, but the city couldn't commit to providing enough water for the large development that's proposed, along with numerous other development applications already in the city's planning pipeline.

Colorado Springs, if it chooses to annex the land, would have to pipe in its own water supply.

Evans has said that the property's proximity to Fountain and Security means that local first responders might be pulled into that area for emergencies, due to mutual aid agreements. Colorado Springs' closest police substation at Sand Creek is "11 miles, as the bird flies," Evans said.

"We will work with Colorado Springs to come to the best solutions that we can to not negatively impact the Fountain Valley, but that's going to be a challenge," he said.

He suggested that area residents who share those concerns or who have ideas should be involved in the process both here and in Colorado Springs by attending meetings and submitting input along with city officials.

Tuesday's Fountain City Council meeting will begin at 6 p.m. and will be in hybrid format, both in person at 116 S. Main St., and online. Visit http://www.fountaincolorado.org to sign up for the webinar. Meetings also are available for viewing on the city's YouTube channel.

 

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