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

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 could be targeted for city expansion over the next 20 years. It will focus on vacant enclaves within the city limits and identify sites in El Paso County that could reasonably be annexed.

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

The plan’s goals and criteria state that annexation is allowed “only if it is fiscally beneficial and aligned with the city’s plans.” A provision passed last year on water availability will also be a major factor in the decision-making process for possible new annexations.

City officials are expected to work closely with El Paso County officials, as required by 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 designate so-called “Areas of Planning Concern” on a map.

Generally, 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 specific goals and criteria, such as whether a project would protect municipal resources and whether development in the annexed area would be consistent with city standards, or whether it would add open spaces, parks and trail connectivity. The results of this analysis would determine whether an annexation should be approved or rejected.

The update process requires city planning staff to work with representatives of city service providers (such as police and fire) and infrastructure managers (such as 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 is scheduled to begin this summer. The process to complete the COS Annex update is expected to take between 12 and 18 months.