12.0 OTHER SERVICES AND UTILITIES
- In addition to
those which are addressed in their discrete policy section (refer
to Sections 8.0 Parks and Open Space and 10.0 Water and Wastewater
Facilities and Services) there are several other types of public
and quasi-public facilities and services which may have significant
land use implications. These are displayed in Table 12.1.
Services and Utilities Available in El Paso County
-law enforcement and detention
-pubic school districts
-colleges and universities
-cable TV and electronic networking
-emergency medical services
-telephone and fiber optic
-weed and pest management
-utility safety and design
- 12.1 Public Safety
- Within unincorporated
areas, a complete range of law enforcement services is provided
through the County Sheriffs Department. The Sheriff is
responsible for incarceration of inmates on a county-wide basis.
The Sheriff is also legally obligated to provide non-structural
(wildland) fire protection in certain unincorporated areas.
- Structural fire
protection is ordinarily provided through fire protection districts
set up under Title 32 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. These
districts may or may not have the capability to provide emergency
medical response. In any case, the County also licenses one or
more emergency medical providers who essentially have the franchise
to administer emergency care and transport those in need of ambulance
- The County also
maintains a small emergency management office which has the authority
to coordinate response to disasters.
- ISSUE 12.1 Promote
- Although the County
Sheriff provides highly professional service to all applicable
unincorporated areas, limited staff and a growing population
spread over a large territory combine to make response times
a major concern especially in the more remote areas of the County.
Legal restrictions make it difficult for specific unincorporated
areas to provide for enhanced policing and security services
at their own expense.
- Law enforcement
in the unincorporated County must respond to a unique blend of
urban and rural needs. Therefore, each individual area needs
to be considered by how well a law enforcement protection plan
serves their needs and not how well that community fits into
the overall plan. One manner of providing improved protection
in the more remote areas of the County is through staffed substations
along major transportation routes. Another approach would be
to have a staffing plan that reflects law enforcement calls for
service, rather than covering areas.
- Many factors go
into promoting public safety. Most crime prevention measures
are implemented after a crime has taken place. While often overlooked,
prevention is equally important to a rapid response or the thorough
investigation of a crime, fire or medical emergency. One of the
biggest determinative factors for crime is one of the things
we covet most, privacy. For example, burglary, while not usually
a violent crime, is a crime of opportunity where the less likelihood
of being noticed increases the chance of the burglar choosing
a specific location.
- Often more desirable
homes are located in secluded areas or in private gated communities
away from the publics view. The physical design of a community
can play an important role in deterring certain types of crime.
For instance, neighborhood watch groups have proven to be a very
effective deterrent to opportunistic crimes including residential
burglary. Homes located on cul-de-sacs are generally assured
greater privacy and traffic control. However these residences
may be at greater risk for certain crimes due to the opportunity
their seclusion provides to criminals.
- In addition to
community considerations, the actual design of individual structures
can be an issue. Many codes address fire and other hazards and
could easily be altered to include crime preventative measures
such as multi-lock windows and doors, secure garage doors and
landscape designs that do not block sight-lines of doors and
- The County recognizes
the wildland urban interface
as an area particularly at risk to wildland fires or wildfires.
While structural fire protection is legally available to most
unincorporated County residents through fire protection districts
and/or volunteer fire departments, there are some developed enclaves
and remote less-developed areas without such protection. Although
there is flexibility inherent in a system of multiple fire protection
districts, there also are inefficiencies associated with it.
Opportunities for service coordination are often available through
the use of mutual aid agreements
or contracts. Rapid response fire fighting capability is often
reduced in rural and rural residential areas due to the lack
of fire hydrants or alternative on-site water supplies; long
distances from the nearest station may result in lengthy response
- Goal 12.1 Ensure that public safety services
are available at a level which is commensurate with local needs
- Policy 12.1.1
consider all applicable public safety aspects in the preparation
and review of land development proposals.
- Policy 12.1.2
- Encourage the implementation
of area-specific enhancements of police protection in coordination
with the County Sheriffs office.
- Policy 12.1.3
- Approve new urban
and rural residential development only if structural fire protection
- Policy 12.1.4
- Encourage effective
provision of on-site water supplies (ponds, cisterns or hydrants
as applicable) for fire suppression in rural residential areas.
- Policy 12.1.5
- Encourage effective
alternative on-site water supplies, such as ponds and cisterns,
for fire protection in developments without fire hydrants.
- Policy 12.1.6
- Support efforts
to provide structural fire protection for those areas where such
protection currently does not exist.
- Policy 12.1.7
- Promote mutual
aid agreements and other cooperative efforts among fire protection
districts, municipalities and other affected entities directed
toward providing improved and more cost-effective fire protection
- Policy 12.1.8
- Develop a system
for GIS data based mapping, such as Wildfire Hazard Identification
and Mitigation System (WHIMS), to identify geological hazards
which can be used to determine the potential for site development.
- Policy 12.1.9
- Develop and implement
area-wide and parcel-specific Wildfire Mitigation Plans in zones
identified as having high wildfire potential.
- Request that all
known geological hazards, including mine shafts and tunnels,
be noted on all titles and plats.
- Promote safety
and fire prevention through on-going public education and awareness
- Ensure safe land
development practices through enforcement of applicable regulation
and refinement of regulations as appropriate.
- Encourage improvements
to substandard roads, road signage, private lane access and address
locators to aid the Sheriffs Department, local fire districts
and emergency response teams to locate and respond to emergencies.
- Request that all existing
buildings, access roads, and addresses be noted on a plot plan
and provided to the appropriate fire district for all buildings
and development occurring on lots of 35 acres or larger.
- 12.2 Weed and Pest Management
- State statutes (Article
5.5 of Title 35, C.R.S. 1973, and as amended by House Bill 96-1008)
require counties to develop and enforce weed and pest management
plans on all unincorporated lands under county jurisdiction.
- The noxious weed problem
that exist in the County is largely due to stresses placed on
the land by such practices as overgrazing, or by importation
of tainted soils to construction sites. The County does not specify
the allowable number of horses or require soil certification
(testing) for foreign fill soils brought onto construction sites.
Often residents reside on rural properties of 2.5- to 5-acres
so that they can own horses. Because there is no limit on the
number of horses allowed, in some cases the soils have been compacted
and disturbed beyond the lands carrying capacity, setting
up a situation where noxious weeds become established, and if
uncontrolled, will then rapidly spreads to surrounding properties.
- While Section 12.0 is
considered the most appropriate portion of the Comprehensive
Plan in which to codify the following policies, they apply across
- Goal 12.2 Ensure that weed and pest management
are available at a level which is commensurate with local needs
- Policy 12.2.1
- Support state and federal
legislation which encourages management of noxious weeds.
- Policy 12.2.2
- Actively participate in
state, federal and local programs directed toward Integrated
Pest Management programs for noxious weeds, and vertebrate and
- Policy 12.2.3
- Encourage all land owners
to use, Best Management Practices, which may include chemical,
fire, mechanical, biological, cultural control for weeds; chemical,
physical, and cultural control for vertebrate pests; and chemical,
biological and cultural control for insects.
- Policy 12.2.4
- Encourage the use of certified
weed free products such as top soil, fill soil, hay, mulch, gravel,
bedding material and general construction material.
- Policy 12.2.5
- Support the availability
of informational materials and assistance in developing and implementing
management plans to control noxious weeds and pests to all landowners
- 12.3 Public Education
- Within El Paso County,
17 different public school districts provide educational services
to approximately 90,000 grade K-12 students. These districts
vary along a continuum from the highly urbanized Colorado Springs
District #11, through rapidly growing suburban districts such
as Lewis-Palmer #38, to very rural districts such as the Edison
School District which serves less than 100 students in the County.
- There are potential advantages
associated with the fact that El Paso County is served by 17
different school districts. These include opportunities for local
control, customized services and the impacts of indirect competition.
However, there are also disadvantages associated with multiple
school districts, including a higher per student costs in some
districts and the possibility of greater disparity occurring
between wealthy and economically disadvantaged school districts.
When disparity occurs between individual school districts it
can have a significant impact on land values and development
decisions within districts.
- Although the County does
require dedication of school sites (or fees in lieu) at the subdivision
stage, school districts are otherwise largely autonomous from
the remainder of County government. However, since population
growth translates almost directly into the need for additional
school capacity, school districts often have a profound interest
in land use issues.
- The four major post-secondary
institutions in El Paso County are the United States Air Force
Academy, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, the Colorado
College, and Pikes Peak Community College. Together, these institutions
serve approximately 18,700 students on an annual basis. Several
small colleges and university programs and a number of private
K-12 institutions also provide services to the County, although
many of these are located within municipalities.
- Note: day care centers
are addressed in Section 7.0 Special and Unique Land Uses.
- ISSUE 12.3 Plan for
- Most financial support
for operation and maintenance of public schools flows through
the State and is equalized on per-student basis for given categories
of school districts. However, much of the financing for capital
facilities must be locally generated through property taxes.
Each additional student generates an immediate need for facilities
which is primarily financed through bond issues to be paid off
through future revenues. Maximum levels of bonded indebtedness
are established by State Statute, and these bonds are subject
to voter approval. Therefore, the rate of enrollment growth has
profound financial impact on school districts. Although developers
are technically required to dedicate an amount of land necessary
to accommodate the number of new students they will generate,
this only works directly in the case of large developments. Smaller
developments normally pay fees in lieu of land, necessitating
the districts to acquire building sites independently.
- Goal 12. 3 Recognize the importance of educational infrastructure
in the land use planning process.
- Policy 12.3.1
- Support innovative planning
approaches which allow school sites and educational facilities
to be provided in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
- Policy 12.3.2
- Designate school sites
early in the planning process and promote adjoining uses and
access patterns which are complementary.
- Policy 12.3.3
- Periodically review the
school land dedication and fee requirements to ensure that they
- Policy 12.3.4
- Encourage planning and
locating park and recreational facilities in association with
- 12.4 Energy
- The City of Colorado Springs
Utilities service area for gas and electricity extends beyond
municipal boundaries and into a number of unincorporated areas.
The other major electric provider in the County is the Mountain
View Electric Association which serves much of the northern and
eastern County including Tri-Lakes and Black Forest. Peoples
Natural Gas operates in a similar capacity in some unincorporated
areas. However, much of the rural part of the County does not
have natural gas service available. These areas rely on a combination
of electricity and propane for heat.
- Gas and electric service
providers are public utilities which generally have the authority
to condemn property needed for their facilities, and have the
use of easements which follow many subdivision property lines.
Street lighting is not ordinarily provided as a County service
and is not presently required through subdivision regulations.
Some unincorporated areas have arranged for street lighting through
special districts or developer participation.
- ISSUE 12.4 Promote
- Since the County is not
directly involved in the business of providing electricity or
gas, its most significant concern is with the impacts of facilities
including generating plants, transmission lines and distribution
systems. The County is also concerned with energy use because
of the potential for pollution and use of non-renewable resources.
Major electric generation facilities and transmission lines can
have substantial visual impacts. These are very expensive to
place underground. By comparison, it is now common practice to
bury local electric distribution lines. Gas lines are almost
always buried. Their major planning implications include safety
concerns associated with main lines and the complications associated
with easements and rights-of-way. The financial impacts of gas
and electric line extension can be substantial in more remote
areas. Energy efficiency may be a community goal, but it can
be difficult to address directly through the planning process.
- Goal 12.4 Reduce the adverse impacts and
maximize the efficiency of energy generation, transmission and
- Policy 12.4.1
- Ensure that electric,
natural gas, petroleum and other facilities (generation, distribution,
pipelines and storage) are located in a manner which is safe,
environmentally sensitive and which does not unreasonably burden
particular property owners with adverse impacts.
- Policy 12.4.2
- Encourage burial of electric
transmission and distribution lines where the cost of this activity
will provide the maximum visual benefit to the most people.
- Policy 12.4.3
- Promote energy efficiency
through careful siting, design and landscaping, especially the
use of passive solar.
- Coordinate the location
of gas and electric lines with El Paso County and State Departments
of Transportation to ensure their proper location with respect
to existing and future rights-of-way.
- Policy 12.4.5
- Encourage the use of existing
easements for utility installation in order to reduce negative
impacts in other areas.
- Policy 12.4.6
- Support the reasonable
expansion of natural gas service areas to accommodate developing
rural residential areas.
- Policy 12.4.7
- Allow for the effective
use of renewable energy resources especially where it minimizes
the local impacts on neighboring properties and non-renewable
- Policy 12.4.8
- Encourage fair and legal
compensation to private property owners when there is conclusive
proof that a taking has occurred or that their property is devalued
due to locations of facilities and services.
- ISSUE 12.5 addressing
changing Communications technology
- The level of competition
and rapidly changing technology in many fields of communications
makes it difficult to fully anticipate planning issues. For example,
a communications tower design which is necessary today may be
obsolete within a few years.
- In addition, some elements
of local regulations have been preempted by the Telecommunication
Act of 1996. As mentioned in Section 12.0 Special and Unique
Land Uses, the County is legally preempted from exercising complete
land use authority over some types of communications facilities.
- In response to the rapidly
evolving telecommunications industry, other related issues pertaining
to employment and life style choices have evolved, including
an increase of home-based businesses and cellular phone use in
- In the area of communications,
library services are provided from several facilities operated
by the Pikes Peak Library District, which is a separate governmental
entity with the power to impose property taxes.
- In most cases, electronic
communcations are provided by regulated private companies which
do not have the power to condemn property for the purpose of
installing their facilities.
- The Telecommunications
Act of 1996 contains important new provisions for local governments
and private citizens. Technology in this area is evolving rapidly,
resulting in changing facilities requirements.
- Goal 12.5 Accommodate new communications technologies
which best serve the needs of County residents.
- Policy 12.5.1
- Accommodate communications
infrastructure, developed in a manner to reasonably minimize
any adverse impacts to individual property owners.
- Policy 12.5.2
- Regularly evaluate land
development regulations to ensure that they address changing
- Policy 12.5.3
- Allow for the location
of library facilities which effectively serve all areas of the
- Policy 12.5.4
- Encourage wireless transmission
and receiving facilities when economically feasible.
- Policy 12.5.5
- Require removal of communication
towers when no longer needed.