(COLORADO SPRINGS) – Community members in Colorado Springs are outraged after the developer of a controversial housing development proposal near the Garden of the Gods pulled out.

The proposal for hundreds of residential units and new commercial space in and around 2424 Garden of the Gods Road, was three years in the making. The final vote on the 320-unit residential and 200,000 square feet of non-residential development was supposed to happen at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Members of the community were locked and loaded to fight the development proposal in front of City Councilmembers at that meeting. Bill Wysong, who has been spearheading the opposition group of this project, says hundreds of hours and personal funds have been spent by the community to prepare for the appeal hearing on Tuesday.

One day ahead of the Tuesday meeting, the developer, 2424 GOTG LLC, pulled their entire application.

“You build up the inertia of the community… and then to have the rug pulled out from underneath us at the last minute is what is so frustrating,” said Wysong, who is the President of the Mountain Shadows Community Association, which is the neighborhood surrounding the project area.

Two members of the City Council were not present at the meeting, due to personal matters, one of which has historically voted in favor of this project. On Monday, the attorney for 2424 GOTG LLC, Steve Mulliken, explained to Councilmembers that he advised the developer to withdraw their application because he believed they should present the project to the full council.

“We have the right to withdraw the applications… It’s an important project, it needs time and we think we need a full council to hear it. That’s our preference, we think we’re disadvantaged without it,” said Mulliken.

City Councilmember, Bill Murray, called this a strategic stunt by the developer, to have the opportunity to present this before a new slate of City Councilmembers. The City’s municipal election, now less than a week away, is on April 4. Three seats on the City Council are up for election.

“It’s a play, all right. And they openly admit it. They said, ‘hey, listen, we don’t have the votes, therefore we’re not going to play here’,” said Murray, who has historically voted against this housing development.

This withdrawal means if the developer re-applies, they will have to start the whole process over from the beginning.

“That means they have to go through the administrative process. They have to go back through the planning commission, they have to go back through the City Council… A withdrawal is not the same as a pause that would have allowed them to pick up where it was,” said Councilmember Wayne Williams.

A pause was the developer’s first choice. In a letter sent to the council on March 21, Mulliken requested a delay for the appeal hearing until August, but neighborhood advocates were adamantly against this. FOX21 News was CC’d in numerous emails to the City Council from community members, the subject lines reading, “Don’t Delay & Deny the 2424 ReZone & Development Proposal,” or simply, “DO NOT DELAY 2424 REZONE.”

Many of those emails pointed fingers at current City Councilmember and mayoral candidate Wayne Williams, accusing the developer, 2424 GOTG LLC, of not wanting to negatively impact his campaign.

Although, Williams has voted in support of this project before, and is known to be supported by City developers, becoming mayor would have no impact on this vote. Whether Williams is elected mayor or not, he will no longer hold a City Council seat in April, which is the only entity that is allowed to decide on land use decisions.

“Land use decisions are made by the City Council, not the mayor, and so that doesn’t make any logical sense,” said Williams.

The community’s main concern about this housing development is wildfire evacuation. Many of them are scarred and traumatized from the Waldo Canyon fire ten years ago that tore through the Mountain Shadows neighborhood. It took upwards of four hours for some people to escape the 2012 blaze, because of the layout of the narrow roads.

Community members continue to worry that adding more people to the area will only worsen the issue.

“If there is another wildfire, or I should say, when… If you have all kinds of impediments, whether they be narrow roads or too much multi-family housing and such, you’re going to have a very difficult time getting out,” said Wysong, who is also the president of Westside Watch, a local wildfire awareness advocacy group.

FOX21 News reached out to the developer for comment and did not hear back. According to the City Council and community members, they are expected to re-apply within the next few months.