City of Colorado Springs / Commissions & Committees / City/County Drainage Board

Thursday, December 02, 2010




December 2, 2010


The City of Colorado Springs/El Paso County Subdivision Storm Drainage Board held its regularly scheduled meeting at 3:00 PM on December 2, 2010, in the City Council Chamber, City Hall, 107 North Nevada



MEMBERS PRESENT:     Brett Wyss, John Schwab, Ollie Watts, Emily Skalsky, Jeff Johnson


MEMBERS ABSENT:        Stephanie Harrison, Luanne Rubey

OTHERS PRESENT:         Tom Bonifas (City Engineering), Cheryl Callahan (City Engineering), Mike Cartmell (El Paso County), Mary Murray (City Finance), Dan Bare (Stormwater Engineering), Time Mitros (City Engineering), Robin Kidder (Interim City Engineer), Lisa Ross (City Engineering), Steve Kuehster (EDRD), Elizabeth Nijkamp (EDRD), David Mijares (Catamount Engineering), Michael Augenstein (Regional Building Dept.), Jim Morley (Ridgeview Development), Virgil Sanchez (M&S Civil Consultants)


Meeting called to order by Brett Wyss at 3:02 p.m.


Item 1:  Approval of the minutes from the September 2, 2010 Drainage Board Meeting 


Motion by Ollie Watts to approve the minutes

Motion was seconded by Emily Skalsky


Motion passed unanimously 4-0


Jeff Johnson was not present for this item.

Luanne Rubey was not present.

Stephanie Harrison was not present.


Item 2:  Discussion of December 2, 2010 agenda


Item 5 will be removed from this agenda and moved to another date.

Mike Cartmell will be including information regarding the County recommendation for the Drainage Fees for 2011. Added as 14A


Item 3:  Annual Code of Ethics Training


Ken Hodges with the City Attorney?s Department filled in for Robert Mack and conducted the annual Code of Ethics training for the board members.


Item 4: Quarterly Accounting Update


Mary Murray presented the quarterly accounting update.


Emily Skalsky asked about the surcharge for Cottonwood Creek. Ms. Murray explained that the purpose of the surcharge was for facilities downstream from the current facilities being built that would be affected by those additional subdivisions upstream. It is not something that is paid out.


Tom Bonifas added that when the study was being adopted, there were some facilities that were not adjacent to any particular development that could be included for any reimbursement cost so a cost estimate was completed for these facilities and added as a surcharge for the City to do the improvement.


Item 5:  Proposed Revision to Accrued Interest Allocation Policy


This item has been postponed for another meeting.


Item 6:  2011 Drainage Board Operating Fund Budget


Tom Bonifas presented the annual request to allocate funds for the administrative expenses for 2011 in the amount of $1,000.


Motion by Brett Wyss to approve the 2011 City Engineering Drainage Board Budget in the amount $1,000

Motion was seconded by John Schwab


Motion passed unanimously 5-0


Luanne Rubey was not present.

Stephanie Harrison was not present.


Item 7:  Reimbursement: Cottonwood Creek Tributary 1


Tom Bonifas presented this item which can also be combined with Item 8. These two items were constructed some time ago but never made it to the Drainage Board for reimbursement. These items are for two portions of Cottonwood Creek tributary that were included in the Cottonwood Creek DBPS as reimbursable items. 


Motion by Ollie Watts to approve Item 7 and Item 8

Motion was seconded by Brett Wyss


Motion passed unanimously 5-0


Luanne Rubey was not present.

Stephanie Harrison was not present.


Item 8:  Reimbursement: Cottonwood Creek Tributary 1B (combined with Item 7)


See Item 7


Item 9:  Reimbursement: Fountain Creek


Tom Bonifas explained that this item involved channel improvements along Fountain Creek adjacent to the Gold Hill Mesa development and were obligations based on the developers Master Development Drainage Plan (MDDP). In the partnering with the Stormwater Enterprise, the developer funded a portion of the facilities and that is where the reimbursement is based on.


Motion by John Schwab to approve Item 9

Motion was seconded by Ollie Watts


Motion passed unanimously 5-0


Luanne Rubey was not present.

Stephanie Harrison was not present.


Item 10:  Reimbursement: Sand Creek Bridge at Dublin Blvd.


Tom Bonifas advised the board that this item is for an arterial street bridge but is labeled as a box culvert under Dublin at Sand Creek adjacent to the Ridgeview development. This item is reimbursable under City Code 7.7.103 (C) and the Capital Improvement Program.


Motion by Emily Skalsky to approve Item 10

Motion was seconded by Ollie Watts


Motion passed unanimously 5-0


Luanne Rubey was not present.

Stephanie Harrison was not present.


Item 11:  Sand Creek Drainage Fee Adjustment


Tom Bonifas informed the Board that item 11 and 12 go together. As a result of the increase in actual construction costs that went over and above what was estimated in the Drainage Basin Planning Study (DBPS) it should be allowed for the developer to receive full reimbursement. This will involve a fee adjustment to the Sand Creek Drainage Basin of $44.24 per acre which will increase the current drainage fee to $9,632 per acre.


Item 11 and 12 can be reviewed as one: one is to increase the basin fee in Sand Creek and the other is to approve the reimbursement for Phase 2A


Brett Wyss asked if cash was involved or credits. Mr. Bonifas stated there is no cash in this basin and there are other people ahead of this reimbursement. The developer needs the credits to offset  current fee obligations in that basin.


John Schwab wanted to know if there is a plan to update the basin planning study. Mr. Bonifas said that there was not a restudy planned for this basin at this time.


Motion by Brett Wyss to approve the increase of $44.24 per acre in the Sand Creek Drainage Basin

Motion was seconded by Ollie Watts


Motion passed unanimously 5-0


Luanne Rubey was not present.

Stephanie Harrison was not present.


Item 12:  Reimbursement: Sand Creek Channel Phase 2A


See Item 11.


Motion by Ollie Watts to approve Item 12 to reimburse Ridgeview Development in the amount of $832,139.30

Motion was seconded by Emily Skalsky


Motion passed unanimously 5-0


Luanne Rubey was not present.

Stephanie Harrison was not present.


Item 13:  Reimbursement: Sand Creek Channel Phase 2B


This item is similar to item 12 with some differences. Tom Bonifas explained to the Board that when reviewing this item, the numbers were justifiable within normal construction costs but there were some constraints on recommending a fee increase to allow theses costs to become recoverable. Even though staff believed that numbers were reasonable, certain documents are missing that would help substantiate the numbers.


Elizabeth Nijkamp briefed the Board. The developer, Ridgeview, sold property to a homebuilder, Pulte, with the agreement that certain improvements would be completed and Ridgeview would pay them back and then be eligible for the drainage fee credits. In this process and with the turmoil of the economy, many offices were closed or moved within Pulte and many documents regarding this project are missing. The documents that are available substantiate a very good estimate of what it costs the developer to build. However, the numbers that staff has is a snapshot in time without a date attached to some documents. It is unclear if change orders were processed that would have increased or decreased the numbers. Staff is comfortable with the numbers; there just is no concrete documentation. Ridgeview has a contract with Pulte for $920,000 and then was changed to $940,000. Staff is in agreement that the developer should receive a reimbursement; the disagreement is with how much because of the missing invoices.


City Staff is recommending the reimbursement be based on the amount that is capped in the DBPS brought forward to the construction year dollars without an increase to the basin fee.


Brett Wyss wanted to know what will happen if the applicant finds the missing invoices; can they come back at a later date? Ms. Nijkamp stated that it is viable for them; they would just have to go back through the same procedure.


David Mijares, Catamount Engineering, informed the Board that what the cost estimate was based on was the developer?s agreement between Pulte and Ridgeview Development. This provided cost estimation at the beginning of construction on what the improvements were going to cost. Towards the end of the contract when Pulte took over the land and then got costs in order they were able to provide an update to the original estimation based on a clause in the contract that required Ridgeview to reimburse them for those costs. So what was provided was the original cost estimation of $966,000 in the agreement and the increase based on Pulte?s estimations. Some bids are missing but estimates are in the package.




John Schwab stated that staff recommendation seems reasonable and Jeff Johnson agreed.



Motion by John Schwab to approve Item 13 as recommended by staff with the stipulation that if the documents are found within a 10 year time frame the applicant may come back for another request for reimbursement with an adjustment to the basin fee.

Motion was seconded by Jeff Johnson


Motion passed unanimously 5-0


Luanne Rubey was not present.

Stephanie Harrison was not present.


Item 14:  2011 Basin Fees


Tom Bonifas informed the Board that this item is to request no increase to the Drainage Basin Fees in 2011 for the City side. The methodology used looks at cost increases in materials and labor on a local level. The staff will be reviewing fees within certain basins in greater detail and present any proposed basin specific fee increases to the Board.


Mike Cartmell, El Paso County, stated that the County agrees with the City Staff findings. They are also recommending no increase to the 2011 fees.


Motion by Brett Wyss that the City and County?s 2011 drainage fee schedule be adopted with no increases to drainage basin fees, bridge fees, or detention pond fees

Motion was seconded by Emily Skalsky


Motion passed unanimously 5-0


Luanne Rubey was not present.

Stephanie Harrison was not present.


Item 15:  Request for Variance to the Flood Plain Code


Tom Bonifas corrected the staff write-up. In the background paragraph, the second to the last sentence should read: Likewise, increasing the finished floor elevation to 1 foot above the flood elevation would not be feasible?


This request is for a variance to the flood plain code to allow for an addition to the applicant?s property for Big-O Tire. The City Code is provided to illustrate that the Drainage Board is allowed to grant variances if it so chooses but the code also specifies certain criteria that the Board needs to look for before granting a variance.


Michael Augenstein, Regional Development Center representing the Flood Plain Administrator, was given plans for an addition to Big-O Tire facility at 1611 South Nevada Ave. and the base flood elevation currently is at 5,925ft. The plans indicated that the building would be constructed at 5,921ft. The flood plain code stipulates that any new construction or additions be constructed so that the finished floor elevation of the main structure of the habitual space is no less than 1 ft. above the base flood elevation. In the case of commercial structures it could be flood proofed to the same level. Because the plan did not meet those requirements the plan was not approved and the building department would recommend that a variance not be granted for this building.


In June 2003 there was a flood plain development permit issued for this site (03054) and at that time the proposed structured was located to the rear of the property. The base flood elevation significantly decreases as it moves west to east across the property. The property is 227 feet deep and in 2003 there was the proposed building towards the rear of the property. The FEMA states that the base flood elevation for a property is determined where the highest point is that the flood plain intersects the property. So if it intersects as 5,925ft that is the flood plain for the entire property. At the time the previous application was made, and the flood plain development permit was issued, there was a proposed building with a lowest floor elevation of 5,921ft toward the rear of the property where the base flood elevation according to the FEMA map would have only been 5,919ft. The previous administrator was willing to compromise on the FEMA rules. Technically this area is in the flood fringe and a LOMR F (Letter of Map Revision based on Fill) could be secured. This would allow the applicant to build up a pad on the property that is high enough at the particular point to be above the base flood elevation and remove the structure from the flood plain.


The opinion of the Flood Plain Administrator is to flood proof the structure or move the structure toward the rear of the property would be possible solutions to keep in compliance with current code.


John Schwab asked if there were other structures for examples that have been flood proofed. Mr. Augenstein pointed out that the Cliff House in Manitou Springs had an addition built that was flood proofed to 11ft above base flood elevation. He also pointed out that this is not an inexpensive option but it is doable.


Brett Wyss wanted to know what flood proofing would entail. Mr. Augenstein informed the Board that flood proofing would entail an engineer designing the foundation walls, the walls that are below the base flood elevation, to withstand the hydrostatic, hydrodynamic, and impact forces of the flood. It would also entail all the openings that are below the base flood elevations to be water tight. There are different ways to make openings water tight.


Jeff Johnson asked which FEMA study the administrator is working off of. Mr. Augenstein stated that the 1997 maps are the ones being used. The new maps will not be coming out for about a year and a half. Mr. Augenstein also confirmed for Mr. Johnson that this area is in the Cheyenne Creek area.


Ollie Watts wanted to know who was doing the elevation certificate on the building. Mr. Augenstein stated that he has not seen one yet. The engineering firm, M&S Civil Consultants, have done a study and the letter that Mr. Augenstein received could be translated into an elevation certificate with a stamp of approval.


Virgil Sanchez with M&S Civil Consultants spoke on behalf of the applicant. Mr. Sanchez pointed out on a map the location of the Big-O Tire shop. The existing building was possibly built back in the 1960s. The development plan was approved in 2006 with the building shown at the rear of the property. The finished elevation was at 5921ft. The new proposed development plan was approved in 2008 and shows the building connected to the existing building at the same elevation 5921ft. The building has been moved but not been raised to be built above the 1ft. base flood elevation. There is an option in the code that states in order to obtain a building permit there are two options: build 1ft. above the base flood elevation which would require filling on the site or the building can be flood proofed. Both development plans in 2006 and 2008 had to assume the building was to be flood proofed because the grading plan on the development plan did not show any significant fill. Therefore the building would have to be 1ft. above the base flood elevation at 5925ft. and the building would have to be built at 5926ft. which would put the building 5ft. above the existing building. This would make adding the addition close to impossible. The lot itself is long and narrow and it would be very difficult if even possible to get close to 6ft. of fill in that location.


Jeremy Hammers presented the financial implications to the two options presented above. Taking in account the amount of fill and what would be needed to place the fill, the total would come to just over $100,000.00. This does not include retaining walls. Option two, flood proofing: there are nine over-head doors on the facility that go in one side and out the other on eight of them. There is a flood defense system called Water Wall by Flood Angel out of the United Kingdom. To fill in the nine doors to 5ft. for just the materials is $84,000.00. This does not include freight costs or installation. The installation involves placing a base plate into concrete and then a vertical beam can then be bolted down when flood elevations are rising. The problem is not knowing when those flood elevations will rise. The walk-through doors would cost more since those doors cannot be flood proofed, they would have to be water proofed. The total on flood proofing the building is close to $130,000. Either option is at the point of breaking the project financially. The owners purchased the property in 2007 with the understanding that two development plans had been previously approved so they moved forward with the project when this issue came up.


Virgil Sanchez continued by stating that the building that is being proposed needs to be taken into consideration. It is not a daycare facility, not a Wal-Mart or anything that would cause grave danger to people. Mr. Sanchez referred to RBC 313.17.2, Condition for Variance.

         Number one regarding historic places does not apply.

         Number two for an existing structure is not the case either.

         Number three explains about holding a public hearing which is happening today

         Number four: variances shall not be issued within any designated floodway if any increase in flood levels during the base flood discharge would result. If the variance is granted and the building is not flood proof the water would go in one door and out the other. This would be a zero increase in the rise in the flood elevation.

         Number five refers to approving a variance if it is the minimum necessary to afford relief. The applicant is trying to build an extension to the existing building. This would not go any lower or higher than the current building. This will be a concrete slab; there is no roof, no floor drain, and no man-pits to change oil, sump pump or anything that would have to eject flood water.

         Number six has three parts:

o   Good and sufficient cause: Big-O has several reasons why they want to protect their building and assets from a flood. It has been priced out on putting all the electrical services hung from the ceiling, they would stockpile the oil canisters and put on racks above the flood elevation, tires do not float.

o   Not receiving the variance would result in hardship for the applicant: this is true for the applicant. The cost of either option would kill the project.

o   Granting the variance would not conflict with any other law or public safety: none of it applies for this case.

John Schwab wanted to know why the earlier scenario with the building further east than the property is not feasible. Mr. Sanchez explained that is was with a different developer at the time when the building was not Big-O Tire, it was proposed to be an office/warehouse building.


Brett Wyss asked if the building wasn?t moved would it be the same issue. Mr. Sanchez stated that it would still be the same issue because the previous flood plain administrator was more generous during that time and put the base flood plain elevation at 5919ft. when it should have been 5921ft.


John Schwab wanted more explanation regarding the language of the elevation certificate. Mr. Augenstein explained that it is based on a FEMA interpretation and not local code. He further explained that flood fill can be placed on this property without increasing the base flood elevation. The location of the building shows that the building could be built and a LOMR F could be applied for with FEMA and as long as the building was at the lowest adjacent grade. Mr. Augenstein believes that the building can go in the back and remove the building from the flood plain and prevent flood insurance. FEMA is due to come out for a community visit to possible increase the chance of lowering flood insurance premiums in this area. He is not sure how FEMA looks at variances but he does know that FEMA does not like them; the affect of one variance is unknown on FEMA?s decision. Mr. Augenstein also wanted to point out that the building may not be used for the same purposes in 15 to 20 years from now so the next owner would be limited.


Jeff Johnson would like to see updated numbers on the Cheyenne Creek area before saying yes or no to a variance.


Virgil Sanchez offered some rebuttals for Mr. Augenstein?s comments. The idea of moving the building to the back or changing the shape of the building is theoretically possible. The problem with this is the cost, what the developer can afford to build and make work in this economy. The applicant currently pays flood insurance and is willing to continue to pay flood insurance. The re-study of this area has been in progress for several years and it is unclear when that study will be complete. This study is has several complications that causes the uncertainty of the study being complete. Any other plans for this location would require new development plans. The owners have been in the tire business for a very long time and have no plans on leaving. Mr. Sanchez believes granting the variance makes sense because of the type of building they are installing. It also makes sense with the uncertainty of FEMA studies and what is trying to be resolved.


Dan Bare, City Engineering Department, has been working with FEMA to update the maps for El Paso County and there have been several issues that have held up the progress. One issue was in regards to the hydrology on Fountain Creek. This has recently been resolved and it has been settled on what flows will be used on Fountain Creek which has an effect on how it proceeds up Cheyenne Creek. The other issue is that there has been a study on Cheyenne Creek to update those flows and it has changed from 13,000 to 8,000. The study has been submitted for review and is expected to be approved in the next couple of months. The hydraulics would then have to be submitted because of the changes on Fountain Creek and will be submitted and updated as part of the overall county mapping.


Jeff Johnson asked Dan Bare if Mr. Bare could tell from the proposed revised maps if the Big-O Tire shop would be in or out of the flood plain. Mr. Bare has not looked at that portion of the maps but suggested to wait for the latest flow rates are going to be based on the latest hydraulics and that would give a good indicator as to the flood plain elevations in that area.


Public Discussion:

No one from the public wished to speak.


Brett Wyss opened the discussion for the board members:


Ollie Watts wanted to know if this would be considered new construction or existing since there is an existing building but a new building is being added on.


Jeff Johnson stated that this was a gray area when he was building an addition onto his house several years ago. There have been some situations with add-ons where a flood elevation was required and other situations where none was required. This has been a questionable debate for some time.


Mr. Augenstein stated that there have been several flood plain managers in the last several years and each one has done things differently. So there have been some discrepancies throughout the years. At this time he is just trying to abide by the code.


Emily Skalsky supports the Pikes Peak Regional Department in their decision. She believes going against the code is not the way to move forward with this project.


Brett Wyss disagrees with Ms. Skalsky and will be supporting the applicant. He believes that there are times when variances are needed and there is a process in place for granting those variances. The applicant has gone through the process and the criteria have been met.


Jeff Johnson will also be supporting the applicant. There is no set board of review to review these issues and therefore, the Drainage Board was asked to look at these issues and that is why this is before the board today.


John Schwab, as far as good and sufficient cause, does not understand why a detached building further to the east on the site would not be a viable option. He believes that either through elevation certificate or LOMR F, there are some mechanisms that would allow for a preamble building at the desired finished floor elevation on the east side of the site. Until he is convinced that there is no other option, he will not be supporting the applicant. Scott with Big-O Tire responded by giving an example of a Big-O Tire in Grand Junction that was forced to have two separate buildings and the logistics are very cumbersome. The service bays were not attached to the office and the communication alone was very difficult and the transfer of tires or parts gives a lot of opportunity for theft, employees messing around, and lack of efficiency. To maintain and run this type of shop, everything must be right in front of the managing office to keep track of everything.


Ollie Watts, while sympathetic with the applicant, cannot support the variance. He believes there are other alternatives and the board needs to stay within the criteria until it changes.


Motion by John Schwab to support the Regional Buildings recommendation on the variance

Motion was seconded by Emily Skalsky


Motion passed 3-2 with Jeff Johnson and Brett Wyss in opposition


Luanne Rubey was not present.

Stephanie Harrison was not present.



Item 16:  Drainage Criteria Manual Update


Dan Bare provided an update on the latest meetings regarding the Drainage Criteria Manual updates.


Item 17:  Board Member Term Expirations


Tom Bonifas reviewed the current Drainage Board member term limits:

            Luanne Rubey and Brett Wyss are on their 2nd term and will be vacant in 2011.

            Jeff Johnson and Stephanie Harrison are eligible for a 2nd term if they are interested

                        Jeff Johnson acknowledged his interest and Tom Bonifas will confirm with Stephanie

                        Harrison as to whether or not she wishes to pursue a second term.


Mr. Bonifas will be requesting the two vacant positions be advertised so interviews can be complete.


Item 18:  Housekeeping


The Drainage Board Annual Meeting will be held on January 6, 2011 at City Hall at 12:00 with the regular meeting to follow at 2:00.



No further business

Meeting adjourned at 4:42 p.m.