Omar M. Campbell: Growth management
February 17, 2008
I have had calls lately from folks wondering why I have written no letters to the editor lately. Shoveling snow day after day is one reason; a general malaise at the gloomy weather, old age and the state of our town and nation are probably others.
At any rate, a call Sunday has motivated me to comment on the latest city issue – to adopt a growth management plan called Concurrent Management. A much better and more descriptive title would be Common-sense Growth Control. It seems to boil down to considering the adequacy of the infrastructure to support growth. This would have been a foreign concept to past city councils, whose attitude was simply to approve every development and damn the consequences.
For example: Traffic and parking infrastructure has been overloaded for years. We passed the CDOT “comfort level” several years ago. Yet the problem was ignored in the lust for growth and ringing cash-registers. Chamber-dominated City Councils rubber-stamped everything presented, their common motto being “Grow or Die. Perish.”
An article in the Pilot some time ago quoted council and its attorney as saying they had no choice but to approve proposals as long as they met codes. What about the old precept of public health, safety, welfare and convenience? But then money and “prosperity” are the important things, as they always have been.
In my opinion, our local economy reached a sustainable level years ago. Yet the local Chamber members are never satisfied. I am sure all 8,000-plus Chamber Resort Associations would agree, as would their national office.
I agree that a strong local economy is essential to our well-being. We need the money turning over for our survival. But when is enough, enough?
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I am hoping the current council adopts concurrency planning, declares a moratorium on growth (as Snowmass did recently) and then has the political will to take it seriously. A good place to start would be with the atrocious Steamboat 700 proposal. Instead, council appears to be fast-tracking the planning process to annexation and trying to promote remodeling U.S. Highway 40 – with our highway tax funds, naturally – to accommodate 700 LLC.
Does the recent increase in utility rates portend expansion of the sewage plant to accommodate anticipated growth?
In light of the long-term drought, global warming, downstream commitment calls, etc., will there be enough water to supply further wholesale growth? Might we taxpayers end up buying very expensive water rights from ranchers to make up for the current foolishness of uncontrolled growth?
I have had no feedback at all from elected officials on my proposal to put the 700 LLC annexation up to a countywide vote.
Omar M. Campbell