The Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments hosted a public meeting Feb. 23 at Library 21c to collect feedback on drafted strategies for land use and development issues.
A year ago the PPACG began a Joint Land Use Study, gathering research and forming working groups to analyze the interaction between local military installations and public stakeholders on area issues such as stormwater, the New Santa Fe Trail and flight training routes at the Air Force Academy.
During the meeting, the PPACG requested feedback from attendees on the JLUS (so far) and other topics the organization should examine. The input will be included in the overall JLUS document that will be posted online this fall and open again for community feedback, according to JLUS Project Manager Brian Potts of PPACG.
“The ultimate goal with the study is to reflect the community and military’s interests, and find those places where there is intersect,” he said. “Where are the common community goals when it comes to land use and development so that the military can maintain [its] mission but also the community can maintain its quality of life?”’
Last October, the PPACG was awarded a two-year grant from the DoD to conduct the study which examined impacts of land uses and missions of the Air Force Academy, Fort Carson, Peterson Air Force Base and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station.
Faulty communication with the public on the New Santa Fe Trail closure last year sparked community frustration; the study is examining how communication on trail closures can be improved in the future.
About 90 percent JLUS funding comes from the Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment and is also being funded by the Department of Local Affairs and PPACG.
“It’s a community effort and we want it to reflect community interests and how the military is such a huge component in our community, whether it’s from an economic standpoint or social or cultural standpoint,” Potts said.
Last spring, nearly 700 citizens responded to a community survey the PPACG released on the JLUS; the PPACG has also attended council meetings, planning commissions and met with civic groups to collect feedback, according to Potts.
The JLUS also consists of a policy committee with elected officials and technical committee of local planning directors and land use officials.
Potts said the group is still determining the best ways to engage the public.
“We’re going to be upgrading our website so we can put more information out and increase public involvement,” he said.
The outcome of the study will be released early next year and reveal recommended strategies from a compilation of perspectives and working groups to come up with workable actions, Potts said.
“We plan to release the best recommended ways to deal with each issue, so that people have this as a tool moving forward, whether it’s a planning department, public official or citizen that wants to understand why its occurring,” he said.
The four-county study is the first in Colorado and more than 120 JLUSs have been conducted throughout the country.
“It’s recognition that this area is growing fast and that there are going to be land-use issues that occur as development gets closer to the military bases,” Potts said. “This is a chance to figure out, how do we move forward into the future as a region and as a community?”
Greg Lends, a resident of Fox Pines subdivision, said aircraft noise from the Air Force Academy’s powered flight program woke him up every day last summer at 5:30 a.m.
“Traditionally they always use to fly around Research, Briargate and the southern end of the Academy, but last year they began flying over Baptist Road,” he said.
Lends said the Air Force Academy claims they notified all local HOAs however said he never received any communication.
“As president of Fox Pines Home Owners Association, I should know. My biggest complaint is the fact that they did that without any communication, without any input, and they’re supposed to be flying at least 1,000 feet, but it sounds like they’re riding at tree-top level,” he said.
He said he doesn’t have a problem with teaching cadets how to fly, but not that early in the morning.
“It’s not like just one every 15 minutes — every minute there is one flying over,” Potts said. “If they can’t change the flight paths back to a reasonable other area, then change the time of day.”
Kathy Waits, a neighbor of Lends, said last summer she couldn’t sit out on her patio with guests because the noise was so disruptive. She said the planes would fly over in the morning and then sometimes return in the afternoon.
“One suggestion I’ve contributed is to alternate weekly routes,” she said. “I think the Air Force Academy should take turns with neighborhoods, flying over Briargate or Woodmoor so that the same neighborhood isn’t constantly bombarded by the noise.”