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Growth question headed for a vote

Aspen Times Staff Report

Volunteers have collected more than 103,000 signatures statewide in an effort to place the Responsible Growth Initiative on the ballot in November.

Supporters of the growth initiative needed 62,438 signatures to get the question on the November general election ballot, but some signatures are certain to be thrown out as invalid. A coalition of nonprofit groups called Coloradans for Responsible Growth delivered the petitions to the Secretary of State’s office yesterday, a day before today’s deadline.

Elise Jones of the Colorado Environmental Coalition said the signatures were collected in about two months.

“We used 800 volunteers from all over the place,” she said. The petitions were still coming in after midday Monday.

Jones said she can’t predict how the voters will receive the initiative, but she said the coalition has high hopes.

“The fact we were able to collect over 100,000 signatures in eight weeks is a darn good sign,” she said.

The measure would require cities and counties to draw maps indicating where they want future growth to occur and then submit the maps to the voters for their approval. The premise of the initiative is that the citizens of Colorado have the right to help shape the destiny of the communities they live in.

Other requirements of the initiative would include:

Cities and counties must describe the impacts of new development, including the cost and effects on schools, open space, traffic, air quality and water supplies.

Growth areas are limited to areas where towns can afford to build roads and central water and sewer systems within a 10-year period.

Cities must place their new growth areas adjacent to existing developed areas.

Counties and cities must consult with each other in drawing their growth-area maps, and may not conflict with or overlap their neighbors’ growth areas.

Counties with fewer than 10,000 residents and towns with populations of 1,000 or fewer residents are excluded. Counties with populations of less than 25,000 people can vote to exempt themselves. All towns in an exempt county would be exempt.

Pitkin County would be subject to the provisions if the initiative becomes law. According to the State’s Department of Local Affairs, the county’s 1998 population was over 14,000.

Family farm residences, 35-acre subdivisions and facilities necessary for public safety would also be exempt.

The move is supported by the Colorado Chapter of the American Planning Association, a professional land-use planners’ group with 1,500 members statewide.

Other groups in the coalition are: the Colorado Environmental Coalition, the League of Women Voters, the High Country Citizens Alliance, Clean Water Action, Colorado Public Interest Research Group (CoPIRG), Western Colorado Congress and the Sierra Club, Rocky Mountain Chapter.


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