COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO)-- The Colorado Springs City Council, has voted against a controversial housing proposal that would have rezoned the 2424 Garden of the Gods property for residential use.
The location houses the Verizon office park, and, if the rezoning is approved, would be converted to an apartment complex with 420 units.
The 5-4 vote comes after neighbors from the Mountain Shadows neighborhood and members of the group Westside Watch voiced concerns of congestion and issues being able to evacuate in the event of a wildfire.
"I'm very happy that the city council came to realize what we've been saying, and I don't know if it was just the safety evaluation or all of our concerns combined, but our team did a phenomenal job of coming together," Mountain Shadows HOA president Bill Wysong said.
Monday's vote is a change from the council's position back in May.
The council debated for a while, with some councilmen arguing in favor of allowing the developer to go ahead with the housing project, saying that growth and devlopment in the area are inevitable. Proponents of the rezoning also argued that the property is already developed and questioned the legality of telling a property owner how to use their own space.
Neighbors prevailed though, saying the proposed 420-unit housing complex would create major traffic congestion, especially during an emergency situation.
Mountain Shadows resident Howard Donaldson lost his home in the 2012 Waldo Canyon fire. He told the city council that he felt they couldn't approve the rezoning based on his experience in 2012.
"We evacuated to a friend's home in University Heights, normally a 10-15 minute drive for us, it took us over three and a half hours to get there," Donaldson said. "We cannot let this 2424 Garden of the Gods apartment complex go forward unless and until there is an evacuation model accomplished."
Colorado Springs City Council President Tom Strand added that an evacuation study is not part of a rezoning request, but a traffic study would be.
Both Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski, and Colorado Springs Fire Chief Randy Royal, told the council they would be able to evacuate the area if needed.