Omar M. Campbell: Put growth up to vote
January 6, 2014
Some three decades ago, at a public forum on growth, a speaker said "Grow or die. Perish." Growth is the Holy Grail of business and governments from federal to local. The more people to spend and make the cash registers ring, the better.
That's well and good up to a point. But when that point has been reached, it is time to back off. Steamboat has reached that point, mostly because its transportation infrastructure now is overloaded.
Forty years ago, a bypass was proposed to divert some local and U.S. Highway 40 through-traffic off Main Street to Yampa Street. The idea died from opposition by the downtown merchants. Because of development on each end of Yampa, it no longer is an option.
The referendum vote defeated the Steamboat 700 property annexation by 61 percent and negated the 4 to 3 approval vote of the City Council at the time. Sixty-one percent showed that a significant majority of public opinion is against big-time wholesale growth.
Three of the four council members who voted for 700 still are on the council. The ideologies of the other four newer electees are unknown. Readers in all council districts are urged to make their views on the Urban Growth Boundary known to their representatives. It is easy with e-mail. Addresses are the first name initial and full last name. For example: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Routt County commissioners in office at the time of the referendum voted 2 to 1 for the annexation. One remains in office and his bias for growth is known. The biases of the two new electees are unknown. Their addresses would be: email@example.com.
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Some tourists come here in the snow-free season to enjoy the relative "small town" atmosphere. We would be shooting ourselves in the feet to allow unrestricted growth and sprawl to become any worse than they already are.
Except possibly for some minor adjustments — such as including occupied lots joining the UGB that already are receiving city services — let's leave the UGB as it is. The council could do this in-house. In-fill should be the goal; then one house, one business at a time.
We should have learned something from the flawed West Steamboat Springs Area Plan. Having plans prepared without considering public opinion are worse than no plans at all.
If local elected officials feel that we need big-time growth again, they must put it up for a public vote.
An advocate for slow, controlled growth,
Omar M. Campbell