ARCHIVED  January 1, 1997

Windsor unleashed

Annexation will push town to 30,000 population

WINDSOR — This community of about 6,000 is about to bulk up. Estimates are that a recent 3,000-acre annexation will increase the population to 25,000 to 30,000 during the next 10 to 15 years.

The annexation, about two years in the making, involved citizen opposition groups, hundreds of hours of town meetings, opposition from Larimer County commissioners, fiscal studies, opposition from the mayor of Windsor, and a California investor who, in the process, met and married a local woman.

Windsor voters approved the annexation Nov. 5.

Property owners and most members of the town council see the pluses: city coffers heavy with development fees and new taxes paid by new residential and commercial properties, minimal impact on schools and no effect on Windsor water and sewer services.

“The impact will be moderate, initially,´ said Rod Wensing, town administrator. “In my opinion there are no adverse impacts, just positive.”

Windsor’s new acreage is located east of Interstate 25 and south of Colorado Highway 392. The initial buildout would be about 700 homes in about 10 years.

The area also contains a commercial strip of development at the southeast corner of the I-25/Colorado 392 interchange that will probably see the first construction. The annexation brought Windsor within five miles of Fort Collins city limits and includes land in Larimer County up to Loveland’s boundary,

“This annexation won’t drive development,” Wensing said. “It was already happening,” Wensing pointed to Ptarmigan Country Club, Country Meadows and Highland Hills as examples.

The annexation borders the south end of Country Meadows and Highland Hills. Ptarmigan is just north of Colo. 392. Established in the last 20 years, the three upscale subdivisions are within Larimer County.

Because Windsor hasn’t extended water and sewer lines as far west as the annexation area, Fort Collins and Loveland will provide the services. Further, Poudre R-1 School District, not Windsor schools, will educate most of the children of residents in the first area scheduled for residential development.

Wensing said resident children will probably be bused to Fort Collins like those who live in Ptarmigan Country Club. A new school will have to be built as the subdivision fills in.

Windsor town officials contracted Browne, Bortz and Coddington of Denver last February to study the fiscal impacts of the annexation.

Hillside Commercial group, a loose-knit collection of developers, investors and property owners interested in commercial and residential development, paid $20,000 for the study of the westernmost 530 acres of the land at the interchange of I-25 and Colo. 392.

The commercial portion of the annexation will bring in an additional $500,000 in sales tax each year – double that of Windsor’s current tax intake, according to the developers.

Opponents, including the mayor of Windsor, Wayne Miller, worried about the change. Larimer County commissioners in October 1995 said they didn’t want the project to proceed, questioning whether minimum development standards would be required. They subsequently softened their position as Larimer and Weld counties and several Northern Colorado cities began work on an intergovernmental agreement that would guide cooperation among the different governments.

Miller, who counts 17 years as head of the town council, said he’s willing to work with the new residents of Windsor. Miller voted against annexation last spring in a town meeting. He was the only one of the council who voted to keep Windsor small.

Miller maintains that because most of the annexation is in Larimer County and Windsor is in Weld County, the new residents won’t have the same feeling of community because their children won’t be going to Windsor schools.

Patrolling and protecting the far borders of the town will stretch fire and police protection, he said. Lastly, water-tap fees at $2,600 for residential and $1,300 for commercial, and sewer-tap fees from $1,900 to $22,230, won’t belong to Windsor.

“I’m not opposed to growth,” Miller send, “But that’s quite a bit of money that would have helped pay for infrastructure. And this will be sort of like another community.”

Dave Shoup, town council member, said the council didn’t go into the annexation “blind.”

The BBC study addressed major concerns and showed that the only way Windsor would lose money in the deal is if the town didn’t annex.

The annexation conditions eliminated Windsor’s responsibility for any infrastructure in the annexation area, he said. Even the streets are out of the town’s hands.

“There will be no water or sewer impact,” he said. “Part of the agreement is an ironclad contract that street maintenance is theirs. If it fails to meet our standards, the town will bill them for maintenance.”

Shoup said the biggest impact to Windsor would be having to provide police protection – although the BBC study said that in the next 10 years, the town wouldn’t have to provide more than one or two more officers and a patrol car. Larimer County and Windsor have a long-standing intergovernmental agreement to share police protection for the area, Shoup said.

Shoup said he thinks providing fire protection would cause added strain on the volunteer fire department. The developers have already agreed to give money or land for Poudre R- I when school crowding due to an influx of residents becomes an issue.

As for the town’s planning staff, “we’re working them to death already,” Shoup said. “But they haven’t requested additional staff in the 1997 budget.”

New print equipment and a computer upgrade, and contract help when needed, are the only requests the Windsor planning staff has made.

The larger portion of the 3,000-acre annexation is earmarked for residential development, but it’s the commercial land owners who are hurrying forward with construction. So far, the only subdivision plan that has been filed with the town of Windsor is the 40-acre Westgate property at the

I-25/Colo. 392 intersection. Construction of the mixed-use business park — restaurants, hotels, retail and showroom retail — should begin with Schrader Country Store in spring of 1997, said Stu MacMillan, vice president of Everitt Cos.

A well-known Fort Collins company, the Everitt Cos. has worked on a number of projects, including the OakRidge Business Park.

Annexation won’t strain the town’s budget. Water and sewer fees got a cost-of-living increase in 1995. Annexation, rezoning, subdivision and site-plan fees increased one-third to 50 percent in February, and the planning department processed 200 building permits in 1996 – a record number.

The BBC study said the annexation project could be expected to yield an additional $45,600 for the town’s park-improvement fund and $93,000 for Windsor’s capital-improvement fund.

The developers paint a rosy financial picture for the long term as well. Jon Turner, former president of the Windsor Highlands Annexation, predicts that the town could generate $350 million in sales-tax revenues over a period of 25 to 30 years from the expansion.

Turner, a former Newport Beach, Calif., subdivision appraiser, coordinated about 50 different landowners in the annexation effort. He and several other investors own 550 acres. Plans are to build large homes, priced at $200,000 and up, and patio homes.

Excluding Turner’s property, approximately 2,450 acres of the annexation is earmarked for large-density single-family housing, one home per 21/2 acres.

On the way to having his property become part of Windsor, Turner picked up a wife, Martha, a Fort Collins native. Martha Turner attended many of the town board meetings and, on Nov. 4, made calls to remind voters to cast their votes the next day.

Martha Turner said that a more immediate impact for the town (than the annexation) will occur when the higher-density residential areas further along in the town’s planning process come on line, such as the 450-home mixed-density River Ridge project south of Colo. 392 and west of the division of Larimer and Weld counties, or the Brunner Farm project, a 307-home single-family project on County Road 15.

Brunner Farm has plat approval through the planning commission and awaits infra-structure construction. The River Ridge project has been before the planning commission for preliminary consideration.

Annexation will push town to 30,000 population

WINDSOR — This community of about 6,000 is about to bulk up. Estimates are that a recent 3,000-acre annexation will increase the population to 25,000 to 30,000 during the next 10 to 15 years.

The annexation, about two years in the making, involved citizen opposition groups, hundreds of hours of town meetings, opposition from Larimer County commissioners, fiscal studies, opposition from the mayor of Windsor, and a California investor who, in the process, met and married a local woman.

Windsor voters approved the annexation Nov. 5.

Property owners and most members of the town council see the…

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