COLORADO SPRINGS — The Colorado Springs City Council elected in the April city election were sworn in, and among the six, three members are new to the council.
Richard Skorman and Yolanda Avila won re-election for District 3 and District 4, respectively. Mike O’Malley won the District 6 seat after being appointed to it in 2021 to finish out former councilor Andy Pico’s term.
The newcomers are Dave Donelson in District 1, Randy Helms in District 2, and Nancy Henjum in District 5.
They come to a council that regularly addresses zoning matters in a city that has been growing quickly and has the momentum to continue that trajectory.
“What I want to keep in Colorado Springs is that kind of biggest-small town, to keep that family feeling,” said Donelson.
Donelson says people in his district have been concerned over the potential of a commercial building rezoned to allow the space to be used for apartments.
“We have to be thoughtful and develop in a way that doesn’t harm the neighborhood that’s already here. So, my allegiance is going to be those citizens and those neighborhoods that are already present,” he said.
Henjum looks at growth differently. She’s wary of developments that are nothing but single-family homes, thus increasing the cost of living and rapidly expanding the city’s sprawl.
She supports flexible multi-zoning to allow multi-family homes like apartments and single-family homes in the same area to allow more opportunities for affordable housing.
“There are some really good affordable housing projects that are starting to happen, and we’re looking to see how we can incentivize more of that,” Henjum noted.
Her district is in the heart of the city, from Platte Avenue north to Austin Bluffs Parkway and from I-25 west to Powers Boulevard. It covers neighborhoods that used to be at the outskirts of Colorado Springs’s growth but now is surrounded by newer developments.
Henjum says she won’t lose sight of the neighborhoods that built the city’s legacy.
“There’s a lot of concern about how are we going to revitalize; what will that look like? I’ve talked to citizens who say, ‘I want to be proud of my neighborhoods and those community spaces,'” Henjum said.
In District 2, Helms says that Colorado Springs is “going down the right roads” but is alarmed by the prices of new homes and the cost of rent.
He cites median home prices hovering around $400,000 in the city and several reports listing rent prices increasing around 10-percent, as prices that are so steep could hurt the city.
“What young college graduate or young person from Colorado Springs can buy a house? I don’t see that,” Helms said, “[We should] get more multi-family type homes so young people and college graduates will stay here.”