West side duplex project approved by city planning; neighbors appeal

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) A southern Colorado developer is trying to win neighbors over amid their concerns about the land where he is building. But the city says he's doing everything right.

Five-four-three Robbins Place is just off an alley between North Chestnut Street and Cooper Avenue.

A developer plans to turn the half-acre of land into three duplexes, with two separate homes in each.

Neighbors are upset.

"A hook and ladder truck could not enter this alley from Boulder, and even if they managed to get in, their access code calls for a 20-foot-wide unobstructed road or alley,” said neighbor John Osborn.

City planning has approved the project under the condition the developer will widen the entrance to the alley and pave it to allow access for emergency vehicles.

The Colorado Springs Division of the Fire Marshal says because the buildings will have fire sprinkler systems in them and they believe the perceived hazards are low, the developer does not have to meet all requirements of a fire access road.

Neighbors say they're also worried about a potential landslide because of the slope of the hill.

The Colorado Geological Survey, or CGS, says the hill where those duplexes will be built has grades up to 55 percent and is similar to nearby areas with recent landslides. Documents say it should “be considered an area susceptible to future landslide activity.”

The developer tells 11 News CGS approved his plans, which include putting structural piers behind the duplexes that go 35 feet deep to prevent the land from shifting. He says he has owned the land for 14 years, and he would not build something if he knew it would fail.

The city says a geohazard study was done and they are not concerned as long as the builder follows those certain requirements.

"All of those designs tell us the project will work and all of the impacts will be mitigated,” said City Planning Manager Meggan Herington.

Neighbors say they aren't convinced.

"The developer doesn't live on the west side. We're westsiders; we're proud to be westsiders. He just wants to build, make his money and then we're left with this huge potential hazard,” Mary Osborn said.

The city says the developer has done everything right and gave him the go ahead to build.

The neighbors have appealed the project's approval.

It's now up to city council to make the final decision in September.