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The Poncha Springs Planning and Zoning Committee (P & Z) opened its Monday July 8 meeting, with a public hearing on setback variances for Spartan Heights Lots 9 and 10. Spartan Heights is a housing development going in on land donated by the Salida School District, located at the intersection of Hulbert and Nickerson. Lots 9 and 10 have been given to Habitat for Humanity, with the understanding that the units they will build will be affordable housing for teachers and other school district employees, and that Salida High School students will be part of the building crews.

Dale Shoemaker made the presentation on behalf of Chaffee County Habitat for Humanity. The plan is to build two single-family, one-story houses on the lots. The proposed homes are 24 feet wide on a 45.7-foot lot, leaving 21.7 feet for setbacks. He was requesting a variance in the 12-foot minimum rule for the front setback, to 9.7 feet, to fit the houses on the lot. He also asked that the addresses be changed from Nickerson Avenue to Spartan Alley since the homes will be facing Spartan Alley.

Mayor Ben Scanga brought up the issue of parking, asking whether there was a plan for garages on the lots. Shoemaker replied that there would be no garages, but that a gravel pad for parking could be put on each lot, to minimize on-street parking in Spartan Alley.

After some further discussion, Dave Ward made a motion to recommend approval of the lessening of the setback to 9.7 feet, to change the address of both homes to be Spartan Alley, pending efforts to add two parking spaces to the properties. Adrian Quintana seconded the motion, which carried 4-0.

In other business, P & Z considered and passed Ordinance #2019-1, an amendment to the town’s land use code, to include a policy for painted curb requirements for fire lane designation around the town’s fire hydrants.

The meeting concluded with a discussion led by Town Manager Brian Berger on a P & Z “wish list” for long-term planning for capital improvements, and a review of the status of current projects.

At the top of the wish list were two highway-related items: an eastbound entry sign for U.S. Highway 50, and further development of the intersection of Highways 50 and 285, including pedestrian walkways. In answer to public comment, Berger said that the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) needs to complete a traffic study before going further on the development of the U.S. 50/U.S. 285 intersection: “We have contacted CDOT about it, and have also commissioned an engineering study on (the town’s) end.”

Other potential projects highlighted by P & Z members included a second RV dump at the Visitor’s Center, additional digital speed limit signs, a trail system to connect Halley Avenue to the new Town Center development, more support for the community garden and beautification of West Park, and curb and gutter for the sidewalks along the bus route.

In response to resident Kathy Gates’s question about the status of the dog park at the Visitor’s Center, Berger reported that fencing was underway, and Ben Scanga led a discussion of future enhancements for the dog park, including surfacing options and a possible water feature.