Don Wilson, Mayor, Town of Monument
In light of a recent project, Conexus that has been the subject of many conversations in Monument, I would like to share some insight on how the development process works in our community.
All land use development requests (sometimes referred to as entitlements) are required to go through a public process that starts with Town Staff. Town Code and process requirements are very similar to other jurisdictions along the Front Range. Most development requests, such as zoning, sketch plans, and site plans, are considered quasi-judicial. Quasi-judicial means that all information and testimony must only occur within a public hearing. Planning Commission and Board of Trustees are not permitted to review plans or make statements on plans prior to a public hearing. This gives staff the ability to conduct a non-biased technical code review and present those findings in a public forum and encourage public comment.
According to statute, staff cannot refuse a development package if all submittal requirements are included. Property owners have a right under the approved zoning to submit an application they believe conforms with the permitted uses established in the zone district. Initial submittal requires all necessary plans and supporting studies, such as traffic and drainage, that support how a proposed project meets code review criteria and other applicable standards. Again, Staff’s role is to review a submittal to ensure compliance with Town Zoning and Subdivision Code, Comprehensive Plan, and technical criteria manuals.
After the submittal is deemed complete, plans and supporting documents are sent to numerous internal and external review agencies including (but not limited to): El Paso County Development Services, utility providers, School District 38, United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Department of Transportation and Tri-Lakes Monument Fire. It is during the initial plan review that staff analyzes agency comments, reviews for Code compliance, and consistency with the Comprehensive Plan.
Once this initial review is conducted, staff sends the applicant a review letter. This letter includes all comments on plan modifications required to meet technical criteria, comments, and input from review agencies. It is then the applicant’s responsibility to address each point included in the review letter and make plan modifications as needed. The applicant then is allowed to resubmit edited plans back to staff if they choose, for subsequent review.
The submittal and subsequent plan review are repeated until plans meet all relevant code criteria and technical specifications. In general, a review process can take 60-90 days, depending on project complexity. When staff is confident all comments have been addressed, development requests are scheduled for the Planning Commission and Board of Trustees. Once hearing dates are set, staff develops a recommendation and creates a Staff Report that summarizes review criteria, technical requirements, and findings.
Now you may be wondering where is Conexus in this process currently?
Conexus submitted a Preliminary/Final PD Site Plan on June 16th. Initial staff review was completed in 30 days and a review letter was sent to the developer outlining required plan modifications and review agency comments. It is now the developer’s responsibility to address this review letter and resubmit plans and technical documentation for a re-review. The developer is currently in review and modification of the first plan submittal. No resubmittal has been made. Staff set a July 30th deadline to resubmit for a second review to happen in sufficient time for the plans to be placed on an August Planning Commission agenda. Revised plans were not received by that deadline because there are several design elements that need to be addressed and the developer is taking additional time to make thoughtful changes.
Because this is a quasi-judicial item, Trustees are sending all correspondence to staff to be made part of the public record. Trustees are limited in the responses they can give because of this quasi-judicial process. Ex parte communication could result in a need for recusal for the vote.
Again, no decisions have been made because plans are not through the review and analysis phase. When resubmitted plans are received, they will be shared on the Town Website and there will be additional opportunities for public comment before any public hearings are scheduled.
At the August 16th meeting, the Board will be asked to consider a resolution to approve the Metropolitan District (Metro District) for the Conexus property. The purposes of a Title 32 Metro District are to finance and construct certain public improvements. The formation of the Metro District is governed by State Statute and will support the installation of infrastructure required by the Town to service the property – no matter the ultimate site design. So, whether the property is developed as buildings or a recreation venue, the Title 32 process is the same. This happens prior to approval of any specific development, for the applicant to ensure the funding prior to any project they may be considered. The Service Plan sets a maximum mill levy that can be charged to property within the district. Only the property within the district is responsible for that mill levy as a portion of future property tax, not current residents of the town. The metro district takes the burden of effected infrastructure of the community and applies it solely to the new development
At the August 16th meeting there will not be any consideration of land use issues for the Conexus property, it is only for the resolution to approve the Metro District.