Doug Monger: Vote ‘no’ on Amendment 74
October 8, 2018
There is an extremely misleading amendment to the state's constitution on the ballot this November. As a fourth-generation rancher and 18-year Routt County commissioner, I'm urging the good people of Colorado to vote “no” on Amendment 74.
The language is, "Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado Constitution requiring the government to award just compensation to owners of private property when a government law or regulation reduces the fair market value of the property?"
On first look, how could one not support such an initiative? It's like asking "do you like babies?" We all own things. We honor ownership and are opposed to any threat to our property. All of us are staunch supporters of property rights; it is human nature to protect what we own and worked so hard to attain.
So why oppose 74? The problem comes from the vagueness of the measure and the future court interpretations that will inevitably come with the passage.
Under current law, government may not take or damage private property without providing compensation to the owner. Amendment 74 is worded to expand the circumstances in which state or local government must provide compensation in an unnecessary and costly way.
Any government regulation that provides for health, safety and welfare is at risk of a torrent of lawsuits from unscrupulous attorneys and frivolous complaints. Regulations supporting the community's wishes such as land use, water supply, water quality, setbacks, lot sizes, air quality, urban sprawl, transportation impacts, and even our right to farm, are threatened by this amendment.
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Local government's current ability to regulate particular land uses will be removed. Uses such as marijuana dispensaries, group homes, sex offender residences, confined animal feeding, landfills and gravel pits will be allowed anywhere the proponent desires, or the taxpayers will literally pay the price.
All of the things that make Routt County and Steamboat Springs the special places they are will be threatened as local governments will be unable to guide our future. Our healthy living, brisk tourism economy and open working landscapes will be in jeopardy. The well-heeled special interests pushing this deceptive amendment will make out like bandits, and the rest of us will be left holding the bag.
I encourage all to research the measure and understand its complexities, and then vote “no” on Amendment 74.