Colorado Officials Discuss Moratorium on Building in Landslide Zones

May 12, 2016

Colorado Springs, Colo., officials are eyeing a moratorium on building in landslide zones as owners of about 80 homes participate in the city’s third landslide-related buyout since 1995.

Heavy rains that plagued Colorado Springs during spring and summer 2015 saturated slopes and caused significant damage to public infrastructure and prompted the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to issue a Major Disaster Declaration. The heavy rains also triggered several landslides in very isolated areas on the city’s west side. There have been reports of landslide activity in some neighborhoods on the west side of Colorado Springs including Rockrimmon, Skyway and Broadmoor Bluffs neighborhoods.

Signs of damage caused by landslide activity include but are not limited to, recent significant cracks or separation along walls, foundation or flooring of the property or windows/doors may no longer open/shut properly. Many homes experience some cracking as land settles over time, however the shifting caused by landslide activity is typically fast with noticeable differences within weeks or months.

According to the Colorado Springs Transit Office website, the landslides remain active and could experience further movement. Due to the potential number of property owners impacted by the landslides, the City of Colorado Springs has been working to pursue possible options to assist impacted property owners.

In an effort to provide assistance and to implement long-term hazard mitigation measures, the City of Colorado Springs intends to file an application for the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) on behalf of impacted property owners through the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. This is a statewide competitive grant process and there is no guarantee that the City of Colorado Springs will be awarded grant funds from this program. The application is due to the State in May 2016, but the entire process from start to finish may take several years.

The Gazette reports homeowners signed on to pursue buyouts, condemnation and demolition in a program administered by Colorado and funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Councilman Don Knight is among those asking for the moratorium on new developments in landslide areas while city officials study the issue.

Council President Merv Bennett says the issue will come up for discussion at the May 19 summit with Mayor John Suthers.

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