Steamboat Springs Could passage of growth-control Amendment 24, in concert with local approval of Referendum 1C, attract an influx of developers looking for easy pickings in Routt County?
That's one of the scenarios scrutinized by a panel of citizens during an election forum at Colorado Mountain College Thursday.
Bob Enever predicted developers would rush to get their projects approved if both measures pass Nov. 7.
"This could lead to rape and pillage by developers closed out of other parts of the state," Enever said. He spoke in favor of Amendment 24 and in opposition to 1C as a member of a panel that debated ballot questions.
Amendment 24 would place a provision in the state constitution giving local voters the right to approve "growth maps" created by their government officials to determine where future growth will take place in their own communities. It would also require government officials to disclose detailed information to the voters about the impacts of approving the growth maps.
Referendum 1C was placed on the ballot by the Routt County Board of Commissioners in anticipation of the possibility Amendment 24 might pass. It seizes on a provision of the amendment that allows counties such as Routt, with populations between 10,000 and 25,000, to opt out of the amendment for a period of four years. If 1C is approved, it would apply to all of the towns and cities in the county as well.
Routt County Commissioner Ben Beall, speaking in favor of 1C, pleaded for voters to give their local governments another four years to continue managing growth on their own. Then, if people think something "drastic" is needed, they can reconsider.
All of the municipalities in Routt County have already put urban growth boundaries in place, Beall argued, and Amendment 24 is actually a reaction to urban sprawl on Colorado's Front Range.
Enever, speaking on behalf of Amendment 24, said statewide surveys have already shown 80 percent of the voters in the state are in favor of some form of controlling growth, and during the last legislative session alone, four growth-control bills failed to pass.
Amendment 24 would empower the people on planning matters and allow them to make the final decision instead of city councils and planning commissions.
"The Eagle Valley is a terrible example of what could happen to our beloved Yampa Valley," if Amendment 24 is not passed, Enever said.
Amendment 24 opponent Vince Hooper said he believes the measure addresses the right issue but proposes the wrong solution.
Hooper said he read the entire seven-page amendment and found it overly long, convoluted and lacking the clarity to accomplish what it is intended to do.
Asked what would happen if Amendment 24 passes, Hooper said, "I don't think anyone can explain what's going to happen the day after, if it passes," Hooper said. Instead, he predicted it would be left up to the courts and said that's an option he's not comfortable with.
Beall urged people to vote "no" on Amendment 24 and "yes" on 1C. He predicted passage of the amendment would force local governments to reopen the West of Steamboat Plan, which has described where growth will take place for the next 20 to 30 years. Referendum 1C would assure local growth-control initiatives remain in place, Beall said.
Hooper said it is the role of elected officials to strike the proper balance among competing interests.
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