Cumbre Vista is a new subdivision, recently annexed onto the northeast edge of Colorado Springs, where about 60 new houses have been built along with streets, curbs and sidewalks, a neighborhood park with gazebo and ballfield.
Below is a map of the subdivision from the El Paso County Assessor’s Website. The dark areas on map are part of Colorado Springs. The white areas are part of unincorporated El Paso County.
The new neighborhood looks like many others scattered around Colorado Springs with one exception. It features a 12-foot cliff.
The cliff was built by developer Infinity Land Corp. when it decided to obliterate Ski Lane, a country road that existed since 1956.
There is a legal question whether it was a deeded right-of-way or simple easement.
Here’s how Ski Lane looked before it was destroyed. The lane ran left to right, atop the little hill in this view facing west. The gravel road coming toward the camera on the left was Sorpresa Lane. The gravel road on the right was created by construction of Cumbre Vista.
Here’s how it looked after construction began. The developer simply cut down the hill, leaving Ski Lane hanging.
The cliff made it virtually impossible for the handful of county residents who live on the south end of Ski Lane to use their historic northern route out of the neighborhood toward Black Forest.
In fact, it took intervention by City Planner Larry Larsen to get the ugly hairpin curve built at the base and side of the cliff, to restore a reasonable access to Ski Lane.
Here’s the ugly “solution” to the cliff. Larsen said it was the best the city could do given the lack of cooperation from the two sides.
Here’s a link to a blog I wrote about the mess in October 2008.
The cliff and the hairpin curve are considered temporary. Eventually, Ski Lane will be lowered to link to the new subdivision streets. The only question seems to be when it will occur. Eventually, all the unincorporated land around Ski Lane will be developed and swallowed by the city.
Will the residents have to live with it until they die or move? Or will a pending lawsuit force the developer and Woodmen Heights Metro District to compensate them for their loss?
They are gambling on the court but don’t want Colorado Springs City Hall to jeopardize their chances by accepting Cumbre Vista officially from the developer. They fear the court would view that action as approval of the way they were treated.
They made those arguments a few weeks ago before the Colorado Springs Planning Commission. Commissioners took turns criticizing the way neighbors were treated. But ultimately they approved the plat, calling it a private legal matter.
To get in and out of Ski Lane, residents must negotiate an ugly, eroding hairpin curve onto Sorpresa Lane and go through Cumbre Vista, which sits on 115 acres south of Cottonwood Creek near Woodmen Road and Powers Boulevard.
The neighbors’ effort is being led by Bill and Maureen Marchant. In their lawsuit, the neighbors say they have a deeded right of way that dates to 1956 which guarantees them northern access route. They say the developer cannot simply move or eliminate that right-of-way.
A few weeks ago they went before the Colorado Springs Planning Commission urging them not to approve the plat. Neighbors planned to appeal to the City Council on Tuesday. But late last week Larsen withdrew his approval of the plat, citing an issue with the deed. Maybe there’s still time for the district to settle the issue and turn the ski jump back into country lane.
I’m guessing resolution will involve checks to residents with several zeroes on the end. Or Cumbre Vista will feature a cliff that may make residents wonder what kind of subdivision they really live in.