It’s a classic growth story: longtime residents of a rural neighborhood in El Paso County find themselves up against a newly annexed subdivision of Colorado Springs.
The old-timers live in farmhouses on large lots with wells and septic systems and dirt roads. The newcomers live in new homes on paved streets enjoying city water, sewer and other services.
Here is an overview of the area:
Here is how the neighborhood looked before construction in a photo taken by Larry Larsen, city planner:
Scenes like this were common. Ski Lane residents Bill and Maureen Marchant drove their 1947 Ford 9N tractor to maintain the road. This view of is looking north on Ski Lane.
It’s not quite as idyllic on Ski Lane anymore. Construction has brought dozens of new homes just over the hill. And the hill has disappeared. If the Marchants tried to drive their tractor north today, they’d plow into a guardrail and over a 12-foot cliff created by developers.
Here’s a look from FlashEarth.com:
Neighbors are furious about the road being obliterated and say they are at risk because the new neighborhood configuration – and the loss of Ski Lane – makes it difficult for emergency services to reach them. They are served by Black Forest Fire Department from the north. Here is a look at the way things were:
Everything changed when Cumbre Vista developer Paul Howard’s crews started grading for the subdivision’s streets and sewers. Ski Hill was chopped in half, leaving a huge mess and a cliff where the road had been. Here’s a photo the Marchants took of construction:
Check it out from above in this view from FlashEarth.com:
Suddenly, Ski Lane ended and neighbors had to work their way west along Sorpresa Lane on a narrow, twisting road deemed too dangerous for postal employees to negotiate to deliver the mail.
Gilpin Peak Drive replaced Ski Lane north of the neighborhood. Here is what neighbors saw when they approached on Gilpin from the north:
City Planner Larry Larsen intervened on the county residents’ behalf when no one else would listen. He negotiated a compromise that included installation of the guardrail and widening of the turn required for emergency vehicles, and the neighbors, to reach Ski Lane. Here is how it looks, looking west down Sorpresa Lane:
Not only did they lose their access, residents of Ski Lane found their road wiped off the map. Here is a page out of the 2007 MacVan The Map Company map book. Ski Lane is gone:
The neighbors are in a court fight to re-establish their historic northern access route, arguing they have a deeded right of way to Ski Lane. A judge will decide if the new access created by Cumbre Vista developers is adequate or if a replacement for Ski Lane north must be created.