‘It’s a bottleneck already’: Colorado Springs City Council rejects controversial housing development following wildfire-weary residents’ concerns over evacuation routes

Jessica Duran
The proposed development area, north of Thunder Mountain Ave. Currently owned by Jericho LLC, the land is primarily used for grazing.

It’s been a long battle for a would-be housing development project in northern Colorado Springs. 

The Colorado Springs City Council on Tuesday unanimously upheld residents' appeals to stop a large housing development that would have brought in about 250 homes in the North Fork neighborhood. 

Known as Kettle Creek North, the market-rate housing project would have taken up more than 60 acres of space on the intersection of Thunder Mountain and Old Ranch Road. It was originally approved by the City Planning Committee in 2020. Residents then appealed the development back in 2021, which the City Planning Commission overturned with some conditions for developers. Still, residents were left unsatisfied. 

Residents once again appealed at the council meeting on July 25, during which about seven hours of public comment was heard. Two groups had formal oppositions and a dozen more individuals raised their own concerns. 

“We do not want to stop growth or development, we are only asking for a development that promotes the health and safety for the general welfare of the community,” said resident Sarah Knowley in her opposition to the development.

With increased housing in the area, many worried about evacuation routes. Roads in the area tend to crowd quickly due to traffic, according to Rick Sevcik, a North Fork HOA representative. The homeowners association said adding 247 additional homes with this development would only worsen the situation.

To add to their arguments, many pointed back to the Black Forest Fire of 2013. The fire burned over 500 homes in the area and led to the deaths of two people.

“I have over 10 different sets of friends that lost their house… they saw their houses burning behind them,” said resident Luellen Welch in her speech, stressing how time-sensitive evacuation situations can be. “It’s a bottleneck already.” 

Dave Dazlich, a member of the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and EDC, spoke in favor of the development. “We are short approximately 20,000 units across every income level,” he said.  

Councilmember Dave Donelson, in response, said that the need for safety overrode those concerns. 

The discussion took some seven hours of the Tuesday meeting. In the end, the council unanimously agreed to uphold the resdients’ appeal, effectively putting an end to the development. 

The land is currently being used for grazing purposes.