‘Rural sprawl’ focus of community forum | SteamboatToday.com

‘Rural sprawl’ focus of community forum

— Rural sprawl in the Yampa Valley is not inevitable it can be managed by better planning.

That’s the idea that Steamboat officials and residents will be debating at an educational presentation tonight on sprawl.

“Everybody should be here. It is going to affect everyone’s lives the economy, the landscape, the community. People move here for these things, and they are all being threatened by sprawl right now. This is a great opportunity to ask questions and put local officials on the hot spot,” coordinator and resident John Spezia said.

The Sierra Club, an environmental group, contends than sprawl or poorly planned, scattered development can threaten a community’s environment, health and quality of life by increasing traffic, draining local resources and destroying open space.

This evening, Yampatika and Spezia will guide a discussion on the challenges and solutions of rural sprawl in the Routt County area.

A panel of local representatives and experts will be present. Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak, Steamboat Springs Councilman Ken Brenner, County Planning Director Karen Fox, Ellen H the Regional Affordable Living Foundation (RALF), and Susan Otis, an advocate for agriculture and open space, are just some of those who have been specially invited.

Panel members have been asked to prepare answers to two questions, Spezia said.

The questions are:

n What are you doing now to help control rural sprawl? and

n How will we solve these rural sprawl challenges in the future, and how do you, personally, think we should tackle them?

A showing of the video “Subdivide & Conquer,” by Bullfrog Films, will be included this evening. The film details the sprawl problems and a range of solutions for the rural West.

Ten minutes of the video focus specifically on the Yampa Valley. Ranchers Dean Rossi and Lynn Sherrod, Extension Agent C.J. Mucklow, and the Nature Conservancy’s Mike Tetreault are some of the local residents featured in the video.

“The discussion will be an educational one. This is not a political event in any way,” Spezia said. “Sprawl is something that is happening here, and we have to deal with it. It is expensive. It increases property taxes, commuting time, and decreases family and community time.”

There will be information on sprawl initiatives in several other cities and towns in Colorado.

There also will be a copy of the Responsible Growth Initiative for all to review.

Essentially, the initiative “is the state asking local and city governments to design a plan for growth. We are not being told what to do in any way, but we are being told to do something. We have to have a plan for growth,” Spezia said. “This is something that is happening all over the West.”

Spezia also has been speaking with Steve Dueer, who works for the chamber of commerce in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Dueer’s community has begun an intense focus on curbing rural sprawl.

“No one can solve this problem by fighting each other we have to work together,” Dueer said.

The city of Jackson Hole has taken serious steps to prevent sprawl from destroying their wildlife, ranching lands, open space, and community for three years in a row now, they have not been marketing, and have eliminated a head tax for marketing, Spezia said.

“They just don’t need the marketing,” Spezia said, “they do well anyway.”

The rural sprawl forum will begin at 6:30 p.m. today at the Howelsen Lodge. The event is free to the public, and will be followed by an ice cream social.

For information, call Yampatika at 871-9151.

To contact Bonnie Nadzam call 871-4205 or e-mail bnadzam@amigo.net

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