NIMBYism at its finest
I am as liberal as they come, but I have to take issue with the anti-development campaign being waged by the ill-informed and, frankly, just plain wrong, midvalley NIMBYs. Look, Willits is a reality; once it is complete, it will be high density (for this region) and will be on the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s bus rapid transit, making it convenient for residents to get up and downvalley without necessarily driving. To have a large parcel of land (the Tree Farm) directly across the valley’s main transportation artery from Willits and not promote dense, transit-oriented development there would be, from a long-range planning perspective, completely irresponsible.
People like Ken Ransford, who lives in Missouri Heights and complains about traffic, should do some soul searching: Are they against the Tree Farm because it is a bad idea, or are they against it because it may make their commute two minutes longer? The fact of the matter is if you want to keep traffic and sprawl under control, you need to accept dense development in locations close to services and public transportation. Traditional “rural” development patterns, like Missouri Heights, only serve to fragment the landscape, degrade wildlife habitat and permanently remove functional agricultural uses, all while forcing people into their cars.
The fact that the Tree Farm is not inside the town of Basalt is irrelevant to the traffic argument, and many of the other arguments put forth by both detractors and the town itself. The Tree Farm is within Basalt’s Urban Growth Boundary and adjacent to Willits. Whether or not The Tree Farm is within the town boundaries, the project will be served by entities independent of the town of Basalt, such as Mid-Valley Metro District (water and sewer), RE-1 School District, Eagle County Sheriff, Basalt and Rural Fire District, etc. All of these agencies would be appropriately compensated for the services the project demands. Additionally, to not acknowledge that the Tree Farm will benefit the town of Basalt is absurd. The most obvious example is the City Market and newly revived Willits Whole Foods: People living in the Tree Farm will be spending most, if not all, of their food money in Basalt. This translates into increased revenues to the town. So, it seems the actual costs to the town will be minimal, while the potential financial benefits are huge.
The bottom line is that the anti-Tree Farm campaign is not about the appropriateness of the project or even the jurisdiction under which it will be reviewed. Make no mistake, detractors will be against the project no matter what because they are clinging to an out-dated mode of thinking that assumes sprawl somehow has less impact than density. Again, if you want to keep traffic under control and preserve the environment, you need to accept compact development in locations close to services and public transportation.
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