Omar M. Campbell: Put annexation to vote

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— The "Local ballot looms in '09" article in the Nov. 9 Steamboat Pilot & Today identifies only two potential upcoming ballot issues - a property tax to fund affordable housing, and one for downtown development. The current recession and the hits we taxpayers recently have taken for approving the elaborate Bud Werner Memorial Library expansion, the new Soda Creek Elementary School, the cemetery, museum and open-space support, will surely dampen voting for a social engineering issue like affordable housing. Prediction: Like the recreation center ballot question, it will be defeated by at least a 2-to-1 margin.

The first potential ballot question would ask all taxpayers to fund affordable housing; the second would ask only downtown businessmen to vote (again) to fund downtown improvements.

Not mentioned in the proposed 2009 ballots, of course, was the really important matter of putting annexation of the wholesale growth Steamboat 700 LLC project (and 360 Village, Lyman Orton's Emerald Mountain neighborhood, etc.) on the ballot. I believe the Constitution refers to "We the people" as the uppermost governing group, not "We the City Council majority of four."

I have been hammering the right of the people of Routt County to decide their own future since March 2007, when the subject Growth Gorilla first appeared on our horizon. My constituent letters direct to City Council have been largely ignored - except that one councilperson did tell me that it was too early to address the matter. Truth is, the council majority is scared to death of a public vote on anything that might inhibit rapid growth. They have personal axes to grind, as well as satisfying their partners in the Chamber Resort Association.

Contacts with the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley also have been equally ring-around-the-rosy in nature. This organized group could apply significant pressure to council; that failing, it could easily collect the required signatures to petition council to use the ballot form of annexation approvals. One individual does not count for much - especially one too old, nearly deaf and partially blind.

A Pilot & Today "Question of the Week" indicated that 57 percent of Routt County residents favored a public vote on Steamboat 700 annexation. Yet, I see no letters to the editor or other indication that the sentiment for a vote is of concern. Does anyone out there join me in pressing council to add the issue to the 2009 ballot? Write the editor, and harass your council representatives to voluntarily put the issue on the 2009 ballot.

Omar M. Campbell

Steamboat Springs

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