How and where Colorado Springs should grow its physical boundaries is on the drawing board with AnnexCOS

Shanna Lewis/KRCC News
Colorado Springs City Hall on Feb, 14, 2023.

An update to the City of Colorado Springs’ annexation plan is underway. At a recent council work session to launch the process, city officials said the plan, known as AnnexCOS, will identify potential areas that might be targeted for city expansion over the next 20 years. It’ll focus on vacant enclaves within city limits and identify sites in El Paso County that might be reasonably annexed. 

The plan will seek to address how such growth could affect infrastructure such as utilities, roads and schools, as well as services like law enforcement and first responders. Additionally, the plan will cover financial impacts.

The goals and criteria for the plan set out that annexation is allowed “only if (it is) fiscally beneficial and aligned with city plans.” A provision approved last year regarding availability of water will also be a primary factor in the decision-making process for any new possible annexations.

City officials are expected to work closely with El Paso County officials as called for in an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) approved in 2021. That IGA requires Colorado Springs to develop policies to evaluate the effects of annexations on the county and to designate so-called “Areas of Planning Interest” on a map.

In general, annexations are governed by state law, city codes and policies, along with the IGA. 

The new plan will include a decision matrix that evaluates whether a potential annexation fits with specific goals and criteria, such as whether a project would protect municipal resources and if development in the annexed area would be consistent with city standards, or if it would add to open spaces, parks and trail connectivity. The results of this analysis would determine whether an annexation should be approved or denied.

The update process calls for city planning staff to work with representatives from city service providers – like police and fire – and infrastructure managers – like public works and utilities. They also intend to meet with focus groups from surrounding municipalities, the Colorado Springs Airport, local military installations, school districts and the home builders association, among others.

A series of public meetings to discuss the plan are slated to begin this summer. The process to complete the AnnexCOS update is expected to take 12 to 18 months.