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Vigilant neighborhood group keeps close watch on development

JANE REUTER
the gazette

COLORADO SPRINGS ” Monument developer Dale Beggs was taken aback when the Woodmoor Improvement Association objected to his use of the Woodmoor name.

Beggs takes pride in the project he plans next to Woodmoor ” so much pride he initially proposed calling the retail portion “The Village at Woodmoor.”

But the proposed design and density isn’t in keeping with Woodmoor’s covenants, and Woodmoor wanted no confusion between the two.

Beggs relented in September and renamed it “The Village Center at Monument.” But he said the association’s reaction stung.

“We’re good neighbors, and it’s just a wonderful area,” Beggs said. “They didn’t want to be associated with us, which made us feel a little bad.”

The keepers of Woodmoor’s flame offer no apology.

The neighborhood was designed as a refuge for military families. Forty years after its founding, the association works with sometimes military-style vigilance to preserve that serene image.

The only unincorporated area among the Tri-Lakes’ communities, Woodmoor is a thickly forested neighborhood of about 8,000 people next to Monument.

Unlike Monument, which straddles Interstate 25 and has a bustling commercial core, Woodmoor is almost exclusively residential and off the beaten path.

Although Colorado 105 cuts through it, Woodmoor’s private golf course and most of its middle- to upper-class homes are tucked out of sight along winding roads.

Woodmoor’s residents pay their association about $200 a year to preserve their lifestyle.

For that, the group tackles issues ranging from mountain pine beetle infestations to the architecture of proposed developments.

“Our primary charter is to protect the health, safety, welfare and property values of the community,” association president John Ottino said.

Developers who’ve worked with the association testify to the group’s diligence. Ray Marshall, chairman of LandCo Properties, said he met with the association 13 times about his plans for a 291-townhouse development in south Woodmoor.

The association’s demands were high, Marshall said, but the Walters Commons project is better because of it.

“At the end of the day, I think we came out with a product they were happy with, we’re happy with and (builder) Pulte’s happy with,” Marshall said.

The association’s dogged style can be alienating. Siblings Gary and Kathy Walters, who are trying to obtain a 130-acre conservation easement adjacent to Walters Commons, were stunned when Ottino last month wrote that the association had voted to withdraw its approval of the project.

Ottino heard through the grapevine the land might be developed instead of preserved, prompting his letter.

The matter was resolved last week, but LandCo’s Marshall wishes the situation had been handled differently.

“I think (Ottino) achieved what he was trying to get,” Marshall said. “It’s a shame it had to go that far.”

Ottino, a retired Air Force officer, said he tries to resolve issues with tact first, assertiveness second.

“Us old military guys, especially those who have served in command positions, have a reputation for being pretty hard line,” he said.

The association, he said, tries “not to be pushed around, but sometimes discretion is the better part of valor, too.”

The association employs a dozen people, including a seven-member public safety team, essentially a police force without power to issue citations. The staff also includes a full-time office manager, inspector and finance manager.

Eighteen-year Woodmoor resident Ken Ford thinks the $197 annual Woodmoor Improvement Association fee is a good deal.

“They’re always looking out for the community,” he said. “It’s a tough job.”

It’s not likely to get easier. Woodmoor is rapidly changing, which means the association must scrutinize covenant control among old and new residents. “It’s really a community in transition,” Ottino said.


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