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Ballot campaign coming to Aspen

Aspen Times Staff Report

Growth-control proponents will be going door to door in Aspen, asking citizens to support a state ballot initiative for responsible growth.

The Aspen effort is part of a statewide push to collect the 62,438 signatures necessary to place a citizens initiative on the ballot in the upcoming November election. Representatives of the Colorado Public Interest Research Group (CoPIRG) will be collecting the signatures.

The initiative would attack the problem of sprawling growth by giving communities the power to reject growth in their own towns and counties. Jenny Douglass, in the CoPIRG campaign office, said under the initiative, governments could not approve major developments without a vote of the local citizens.

But the measure would not hamper individuals who want to build a family home.

“Somebody who wants to build a home on their own property, this will not stop them from doing it,” Douglass said.

A broad coalition of environmental groups, land-use planning groups and local citizens organizations are working to pass the initiative, according to a release from CoPIRG.

“We are in the process of losing the very quality of life that makes our state such a special place to live,” said Rich McClintock, executive director of CoPIRG. The organization objects to the sprawling, unplanned development that’s occurring in Colorado because it destroys open space and increases traffic congestion and air pollution, and also because the present system saddles taxpayers with the burden of subsidizing infrastructure needed for new development.

Sprawling development is covering land at an unprecedented rate of 10 acres per hour in Colorado, according to CoPIRG, and development has outstripped the rate of population growth.

“One of the biggest problems with sprawl is we’re taking over open land faster than we’re growing,” Douglass said, “and communities are powerless to stop it.”

Douglass said no one has objected to the initiative on grounds of constitutionality, so far. But the group is anticipating challenges down the line, she said.

For more information, or to help with the campaign, call (303) 449-2603.


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