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Homeowner's xeriscaping plans denied

Homeowner's xeriscaping plans denied

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - One Colorado Springs resident fed up with high water bills and worried about the drought said Wednesday she wanted to xeriscape the land around her new home.

Beth Ferguson-Pfeil said she soon found out her plan wasn't allowed.

"Part of the plan was a flagstone path coming down here with native grasses," said Ferguson-Pfeil as she gestured to the pile of dirt and rock along the side of her new home.

She built a home in the Wildflower at Pine Creek community. Her old house was part of a homeowners association with a high water bill. She said the community's sod and excessive watering drove up the neighborhood's monthly bill.

She said she wasn't the only person excited about her new home's landscaping project.

"My neighbors, they were pretty excited about it, they thought it was beautiful," said Ferguson-Pfeil. "We're on a common watering system with the HOA. In the long run, it would save everyone water."

The assistant community manager with Pine Creek Homeowners Association said in an email to Ferguson-Pfeil on May 3, "your request to xeriscape per plan submitted was approved."

Later that day, Ferguson-Pfeil received another email from the assistant community manager stating, "This approval is not valid at the moment."

Her developer, La Plata Communities, had to approve her landscaping plans. She said the developer would not approve the new xeriscaping project because it did not follow its 13-year-old landscaping plan. Ferguson-Pfeil felt the 13-year-old plan included too much sod that would be difficult to keep alive under current water restrictions. She also thought it was not a sustainable landscaping plan in light of the drought.

KRDO NewsChannel 13 called La Plata communities several times. A woman with La Plata Communities called back shortly before KRDO NewsChannel 13's 12 p.m. broadcast. She said the situation was a miscommunication. She said La Plata Communities must respect the wishes of all its residents.

She said Pine Creek Homeowners Association did not have the right to approve Ferguson-Pfeil's plan.

She said Wednesday was the first day La Plata Communities had had any communication with "the homeowner." However, Ferguson-Pfeil provided KRDO NwsChannel 13 with an email thread documenting communication between Ferguson's Landscaper, a member of the Pine Creek HOA and a woman from La Plata Communities' Architectural and Landscape Approval department. One email shows the Pine Creek HOA member setting up a meeting to review Ferguson-Pfeil's xeriscape plan with the La Plata Communities worker for April 30.

Ferguson-Pfeil said she was told she must follow the 13-year-old landscaping plan and lay down sod. After, she could dig up the sod and xeriscape.  She said it was "illogical."

She offered to pay more than $3,000 out-of-pocket to xeriscape. She also said she would incorporate more sod into the landscape plan as a compromise. She said La Plata Communities still wouldn't approve her plan.

"From an environmental perspective, I'm just trying to do the right thing," said Ferguson-Pfeil. "Unless La Plata changes its mind, I guess I am stuck."

The director of planning called Ferguson-Pfeil Wednesday and said a meeting would be set up on Friday to discuss her landscaping plans. She was supposed to get sod laid down this week. Since setting up the meeting, she was able to postpone it.


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