The city of Fountain is concerned that thousands of new residents may move into a development on its eastern edge, adding to traffic congestion and demands for police and fire services, and it is looking to Colorado Springs for answers on how those challenges will be addressed.
The Kane Ranch, planned as the southern portion of a 5,600-acre development known as Amara, was annexed into Fountain in 2008, but developers are now asking the city to remove the property from town boundaries because Fountain cannot immediately provide water to meet its demands.
The owner of Kane Ranch, La Plata Communities, is expected to ask Colorado Springs to annex the 2,400-acre property, because it has more extensive water supplies.
The Fountain City Council recently delayed a vote on a possible de-annexation until April to seek some answers on regional challenges the new development might pose, such as greater traffic. For example, Deputy City Manager Todd Evans expects that congestion on Mesa Ridge Parkway, a main east-west connection to Interstate 25, will get worse with so many new residents.
“It doesn’t take a traffic engineer to be able to know what is going to happen to that traffic,” Evans said.
Routing traffic through the older downtown portions of Fountain could be problematic, he said.
He also expects the Colorado Springs Police Department could be slow responding to calls in the new Amara subdivision, because the closest substation is 11 miles away.
Colorado Springs cannot comment directly on the plans for the Kane Ranch property, because no plans for annexation have been submitted, Planning and Development Manager Peter Wysocki said. However, he explained that annexations are subject to highly detailed review processes that address demand on city services such as roads and police.
Colorado Springs is also open to talking with El Paso County and Fountain about regional transportation needs.
“We are definitely open to that discussion. I don’t think we have conclusions on what that will look like,” Wysocki said.
Fountain is interested in the new development paying for regional transportation investments through impact fees on new construction, Evans said. Some of those projects have already been identified through a traffic study that showed millions in investments are needed, he said.
Colorado Springs typically requires developers to invest in road infrastructure through annexation agreements, but Fountain is worried the requirements will be neighborhood-specific and not broad enough to address regional needs.
Evans noted that Marksheffel Road, a major north-south corridor for Colorado Springs, was not widened ahead of development. And in some new and developing areas of Colorado Springs, the existing fire district that served the area before city-level development arrived has continued to serve the area.
Fountain is open to helping neighbors, but it needs to be equitable, Evans said.
“Our folks in Fountain can’t afford to fund all of the public safety in places that aren’t even in our jurisdiction.”
Colorado Springs is already considering an application for annexation for the northern portion of La Plata Communities’ planned Amara development and it could be considered by the City Council in the fall, Wysocki said.
The current annexation application will take into account the potential for future annexation to the south, he said.