A combination of the I-25 and Highway 392 interchange improvement (completed in 2014) and the proposed CDOT I-25 expansion project make for prime commercial property. Courtesy www.cdot.gov

Plans ‘moving forward’ at I-25 and Highway 392

WINDSOR — New development may be coming soon to properties along Interstate 25 at the exit serving Windsor and south Fort Collins.

Plans to adopt enhanced design standards for the so-called Corridor Activity Center at I-25’s interchange at Colorado Highway 392 are “moving forward,” according to Pete Wray, Fort Collins’ senior city planner. While construction on the interchange itself was substantially completed in 2014, decisions on land use in the CAC have progressed more slowly.

“This is a complicated joint planning area and we have agreed-upon design and development standards for this CAC and an approved list of land uses,” Wray said, “so any changes to an approved use or development standards need to be jointly approved by Fort Collins and Windsor.”

The original plan for improvements to the interchange was released in 2008. “The town (of Windsor) and the city (of Fort Collins) … adopted some very basic standards into our respective codes at that time,” according to Scott Ballstadt, director of planning for the town of Windsor. “The enhanced design standards that are being discussed currently were drafted in response to a couple of different property owners’ proposals within the CAC.”

One in particular was a proposal by “Dealin’ Doug” Moreland to build a car dealership on the southeast corner of the interchange, a proposal that raised concerns with some local residents and Windsor board members. “We’re trying to make sure we mitigate any negative impacts that a dealership or any other commercial use might have,” Ballstadt said.

Windsor Mayor Kristie Melendez elaborated.

“The first corridor agreement we held with Fort Collins did not allow (auto dealerships) as a use,” she said, “so it made us go back to our standards, it made us look back at that agreement to see how we were going to make some allowance, and in doing that it made us look at the design criteria as a whole, in terms of lighting, noise, all kinds of other things that might come up.”

Much of the additional detail was added after officials received feedback from residents living nearby. “We wanted to be responsive to what those folks from the neighboring community were saying,” Melendez said.

The Fort Collins planning and zoning board made recommendations on the city’s new standards for the west side of the interchange in June, and reviewed Windsor’s updates for the east side last week. “My understanding is that both Fort Collins and Windsor liked what came out of the enhanced design standards,” Melendez said, “and so both of our boards will be looking at adopting those standards sometime in September.”

In the meantime, Moreland has given up on plans to build near the interchange.

“I believe the letter that Mr. Moreland’s team submitted essentially said that the process wasn’t moving as expeditiously as they had hoped,” Ballstadt said.

However, another proposal is under review. The owners of the property on the northeast side of the CAC have presented plans for the site that include mixed commercial and residential use.

“One part of that proposal includes single-family residential use that isn’t currently an allowed use in accordance with the inter-governmental agreement between Windsor and Fort Collins, so that aspect of the proposal would need to go before both boards for consideration of an amendment,” Ballstadt said.

Despite the delays, all parties involved feel the end result will be well worth it.

“In the event any large project comes forward in the future … we are better prepared to work with the development and project design to have a higher-quality project,” Wray said.

“I think moving forward both Windsor and Fort Collins will be taking very seriously and have much forethought about what we want there, and at the end of the day try to deliver not only the best return on investment,” Melendez added, “but I think both sides want to have something we can be proud of because both sides recognize that it’s the gateway to our communities.”

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