Omar Campbell: Put it to a vote

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In the Steamboat Today article dated March 12 and titled "City seeks 700 team," the question was asked of council, "Do members want to proceed with the annexation?" The answer was a unanimous "yes."

This could merely mean that the process leading up to annexation should be completed. Fair enough - any applicant is entitled to that.

But it also could be a strong clue that council has made up its collective mind to approve, or that at least a majority has.

This possibility brings up the interesting question of conflict of interest. At least five members have personal motives in seeing the 700 LLC (and other growth) proceed unchecked. These interests are basically real estate-oriented: property sales, development, construction management, contracting of all kinds, architecture, drafting and all sorts of ancillary activities. One could spend a whole career just working on the 20-plus-year 700 speculation. And just think of all the properties added to Realtors' and lenders' inventories.

Another clue to the mindset of council is the responses that some of the candidates gave prior to last fall's election. One was unequivocal in support; others ambiguous or noncommittal.

I have had no response whatsoever from any council member on my urging to voluntarily put the 700 LLC annexation to a public vote. There has been no event of this magnitude since the annexation of the massive mountain area.

A plebiscite would achieve several things:

- Allay suspicion of conflict of interest

- Find out if the constituency really wants uncontained growth

- Let local democracy work, for a change

I know that we have one supporter on council who will be in favor of a plebiscite. I made an abortive run for council in 2001, and remember a campaign ad by Loui Antonucci that all important public issues should be voted on by the people. There will probably never again be an issue so important in our future as getting a handle on the rampant growth that is taking place. Being a man of honor and of his word, I am sure Mr. Antonucci will back a public vote.

In the unlikely event that council will voluntarily allow a public vote, I have made a few inquiries into circulating a petition to invoke the initiative or referendum process to get the inevitable 700 LLC annexation on the ballot. A November election, perhaps in 2009, might be timely and not cost extra. I have made overtures to the Community Alliance, which would have enough members to pull it off, if so inclined.

Ten or so years ago, a questionnaire on growth revealed that 80 percent of respondents favored some degree of growth control. I have a queasy feeling that this might have changed with the probable replacement of tourism by real estate development and sales as the prevailing economic engine in our area. This dynamic is acknowledged to have already happened in the Aspen-Snowmass area.

The West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan now is 13 years old and outdated. Development and traffic gridlock have grown and grown in those 13 years. Like the meadow mouse whose planned home was plowed under, the best-laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley. So it is with the WSSAP.

Elected officials and other supporters of WSSAP and the 700 LLC lean heavily on "affordable" housing to justify the speculation. Nevermind that such housing is a serious growth promoter and there is no end of future demand for more and more.

I am disappointed that hardly anyone else is speaking out publicly through the press on the growth issue. Does everyone in the community worship the holy grail of growth and "prosperity"?

Perhaps if we had Sound Off (unsigned opinions) back, people would not be so reluctant about offending their bosses, coworkers, friends, etc. How about reinstating Sound Off, Mr. Editor?

Omar Campbell

Steamboat Springs

Comments

bigdog 6 years, 1 month ago

sorry, but putting every decision to voters is not what the founding fathers intended. This country is a republic, not a democracy. We elect people to office to handle the majority of the issues and decisions. If you don't like the decisions, you vote someone else in.

Agree or disagree with the with the plans to annex the property, we cant run off and have a vote for every decision needed to run the city/county/state/country. That would lead to total chaos and mob rule.

jmho

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elk2 6 years, 1 month ago

Dog, this isn't just any issue. 700 impacts the entire Yampa Valley. Mr. Campbell brings up the very questions many of us have. Ask the regular folks what they think. The city pays to do a study everytime they buy a roll of toilet paper,why not ask the very people this development will impact what we think of the 700 plan. Very thoughtful commentary as always you are right on Mr. Campbell.

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dogd 6 years, 1 month ago

Bigdog: Spoken like a developer's lapdog. This a HUGE issue. A vote is appropriate- not that there is much chance of anybody wanting to prevent the 700, just that there is a huge chance that twenty years of problems might be prevented or mitigated by forcing reasonable concessions from the 700 club. The council might not do that. Bring it to a vote. This is not just day to day council business. It is the number one issue in twenty years!

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colowoodsman 6 years, 1 month ago

Steamboat has a "home rule charter". There should be something in it to cover this issue.

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wz4now 6 years, 1 month ago

Omar, I find your stance on development and growth a bit hipocritical. You are one who has retired after doing a Steamboat residential project. Those of us who have been around for awhile recall you as a developer. I believe you live in and developed Campbell Subdivision!! My guess is that is was also annexed into the city at some point in the process.

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twostroketerror 6 years, 1 month ago

700 Club! lol! Could get some serious mileage outta that one, thanks.

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wz4now 6 years, 1 month ago

...... and without any vote of the public!!

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424now 6 years, 1 month ago

I just don't see a vote on this coming to pass with the current leadership structure in place. What we need here is a mayor.

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 1 month ago

twostroke- Based on an old, college beer drinking game- 1 shot of beer every minute until you puke or have to get up to go to the bathroom or pass out. (Usually called the 100 or # of choice Club) Not the religious stuff. I only recognized that after looking at your post, for some reason! LOL!

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Ilike2dv8 6 years, 1 month ago

Vote, are you kidding me... we did that a long time ago when we created the West of Steamboat Plan and spent the $250,000. Omar and his followers won't quit until they have driven every school teacher, firefighter, police officer, nurse, resort worker, etc. to Craig or Oak Creek. The city has had only one small annexation in 20 years (Fairview) and they have choked the local residential real estate supply until housing prices have skyrocketed. Requesting one or a couple of projects to pay for this city and county's twenty years of mistakes is also foolish. Ask for the moon and we will have to pay for it again... no more attainable housing but just another place for second homeowners. The city and the county need to take some responsiblity for this mess and lead our community. They should be driving the bus and getting SS enough housing to actually attract the best to our community instead of those who are willing to just find a way to stay... not to imply for a second that we don't have great professionals here but I hear weekly about an amazing teacher, nurse or planner excited to take a new job until they find out the average price of a modest home is $700,000 +. I'm over it... let's for once do what this community asked for when we spent $250k on the West of Steamboat Plan.

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elkeye 6 years, 1 month ago

"Vote, are you kidding me... we did that a long time ago when we created the West of Steamboat Plan"

When did the residents of Steamboat Springs ever vote on the West of Steamboat Plan?

The city council voted on the West of Steamboat Plan, however that does mean the residents of Steamboat Springs did!

If Steamboat 700 does not agree to provide significant public benefit (including upgrading the infrastructure to service their homeowners, namely US 40 as well as the water and waste water treatment systems), the City Council should just say NO.

However, I agree that the residents of the City of Steamboat Springs (not the seven members on the City Council) should have the final vote on the proposed annexation of the seven hundred acres known as the "Steamboat 700" (or any portion thereof).

R-E-F-E-R-E-N-D-U-M

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