Base Village initiative creates more problems than it solves
Next Tuesday, Snowmass Village voters will be asked to decide on Initiative Ordinance No. 2.
On the face of it, the ordinance, put forward by the Citizens for Responsible Growth, seems like a good idea. It would require any development that exceeds certain limitations in the land use code to be approved by voters. Essentially, a developer would first have to convince the town council to support an oversized project and then convince voters.
Once approved by the town, large projects like Base Village would then undergo voter scrutiny. Unfortunately, the broad brush of this initiative would also catch smaller, mundane approvals as well.
Do Snowmass Village voters really want to vote on every major variance granted a homeowner or developer? If the topography of some hypothetical homeowner’s property makes a height variance logical, should every voter have a say?
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No, they shouldn’t. At least not in the manner that the Citizens have devised.
The decision to grant variances belongs with the Town Council. If the elected representatives veer too far from residents’ desires, recourse already exists under state law.
A recent example occurred in Carbondale, where voters overturned the Marketplace development along Highway 133 through a referendum. Snowmass Village residents have the same option to force a vote on Base Village or any other application.
Initiative Ordinance No. 2 boils down to a relatively simple choice between representative democracy and direct democracy. If the ordinance passes, direct democracy, requiring citizens to (hopefully) study and vote on land use matters, will be the order of the day, at least on large variances.
Citizens for Responsible Growth has played an important role in the debate about Base Village. The group has made the developer and the Town Council more attentive to the community’s concerns about the project. Arguably, both the developer and the town government still have a lot of work to do in this area.
But this election isn’t really about Base Village. Voters should recognize that and reject the initiative.
Vote No on Question 1 (Initiative Ordinance No. 2).
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