Banning Lewis Ranch amended annexation agreement released

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Here's a view of the vastness of the Banning Lewis Ranch as viewed from Highway 24 looking to the west. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Here's a view of the vastness of the Banning Lewis Ranch as viewed from Highway 24 looking to the west.
The "Amended and Restated Banning Lewis Ranch Annexation Agreement" has been released to the public ahead of a City Council work session on Jan. 8 at which time it will be fully explained.

The amended agreement is a rewrite of the original 1988 annexation agreement, which has been deemed too onerous for developers in its requirements for infrastructure. Hence, developers and Mayor John Suthers argue, development has hopscotched over the city and into El Paso County to develop homes and commercial property. The city estimates it's lost billions of dollars in economic activity due to those moves into the county.

An economic impact analysis unveiled recently showed the city would gain $49 million in taxes over the next 30 years if Banning Lewis Ranch is developed.

The property has been owned by a series of owners/developers through the years and was sold via a bankruptcy auction to Ultra Petroleum of Houston in 2011. When test wells showed little signs of economic extraction of oil and gas, Ultra sold the land in 2014 — minus the mineral rights — to David Jenkins, owner of Nor'wood Development Group, the region's biggest developer, for $28 million. Nor'wood also is deeply involved in ambitious development plans in the lower downtown area.

Read the entire amended agreement here:
See related PDF DraftAnnexAgmtBLR.pdf A few notable portions of the agreement:

• Property owners will pay the city $1,631 per acre as a “Fire Protection Fee," which will be considered the owners' share of "capital costs of new fire stations and the initial apparatus purchases required to service the Property as well as adjacent areas of future annexation." Initially, property owners will continue to pay taxes to the Falcon Fire District and Cimarron Hills Fire District until those portions of the ranch lying in those districts are excluded from the districts.

• Property owners also will pay the city $677 per acre as a “Police Service Fee,” which will fund "capital costs of new police stations and the initial equipment purchases required to service the Property as well as adjacent areas of future annexation." Both the fire and police fees will be subject to a "yearly escalation factor, as determined by the City," the agreement says.

• Easements for land required for extension of utilities by city-owned Colorado Springs Utilities must be dedicated by the owners to the city. According to the agreement, "the availability of Utility Services is contingent upon the terms detailed herein and the dedication of real and personal property, public rights-of-way, private rights-of-way, or easements that CSU determines are required for the extension of any proposed Utility Service from CSU’s system facilities that currently exist or that may exist at the time of the proposed extension." This is important in light of a condemnation case in recent years that resulted in Utilities paying the biggest owner of land in the ranch, David Jenkins, some $2.5 million for land needed for the city's Southern Delivery System water pipeline.

• An owner can seek zoning changes as it's developed. "When large acreage ownership is involved (300 or more contiguous acres), the minimum acreage to be considered for a rezone request shall be approximately 300 acres. When an ownership interest is less than 300 contiguous acres, the entire contiguous ownership interest must be included in any initial rezone request," the agreement says.

If you're interested in learning more, here is the line-up of public meetings regarding the new annexation agreement.

Dec 11th— City Council Closed Session—Banning Lewis Ranch (BLR) Annexation Amendment and Restatement Negotiations

Jan 3rd – City Council Closed Session - Banning Lewis Ranch (BLR) Annexation Amendment and Restatement Negotiations (Continue presentation from Dec 11) – 3:00 to 5:00 PM

Jan 9th —City Council Work Session BLR Annexation Amendment and Restatement Presentation

Jan 11th—Parks Board—BLR Annexation Amendment and Restatement Presentation

Jan 11th—Informal Planning Commission Meeting—BLR Annexation Amendment and Restatement Presentation and Proposed Code Amendments

Jan 16th – Town Hall – City Auditorium, Lon Chaney Theatre

Jan 18th—Formal Planning Commission Meeting—BLR Annexation Amendment and Restatement Presentation and Proposed Code Amendments

Jan 22nd—City Council Work Session—BLR Annexation Amendment and Restatement Presentation and Proposed Code Amendments

February 2nd – Town Hall – City Auditorium, Lon Chaney Theatre

Feb 13th —City Council Regular Meeting—Consideration and Reading of Resolution to Amend and Restate the BLR Annexation Agreement and First Reading of the Ordinance regarding the Proposed BLR Code Amendments

Feb 27th— City Council Regular Meeting—Second Reading of the Ordinance regarding the Proposed BLR Code Amendments 

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