Planner says anger over moratorium `fired me up |

Planner says anger over moratorium `fired me up

Allyn Harvey

Planner Gabe Preston is leaving town, but not because of the nasty things that were said about him last spring.

“If anything, the moratorium fired me up about planning more than I had ever been,” he said.

Preston was the county planner who drew much of the anger that swept through the construction and real estate communities during last year’s development moratorium in Pitkin County. He is leaving to start a nonprofit organization.

Preston’s analysis about the effects of residential construction on the local economy was often cited in the county’s decision to enact the moratorium. The study was berated by real estate brokers, land-use attorneys, construction supervisors and some land owners affected by the partial work stoppage.

His last day at the county department of community development was Wednesday. On Thursday he and former city planning department member Andrew Klotz began work at the Rural Planning Institute, a nonprofit they formed to analyze the effects of major residential development on small, rural communities.

They are using a $100,000 grant to get the nonprofit going. The grant is to help pay for studies in Rico and Ridgway, two small towns in southwestern Colorado.

The studies will look at the fiscal impacts of large developments on fire and police protection, schools and parks, city administration, and water and sewer services. Preston said they will also analyze the impacts of the developments on wildlife.

In 1999, Rico had a population of 185 people, while Ridgway had 711.

Preston said they are also hoping to work with Pagosa Springs, Archuleta County and Bayfield, but no contracts have been signed.

Preston said he and Klotz expect to relocate to Durango sometime in the next month or two.

“I’ve made enough good pals around here to bring me back from time to time,” Preston promised.

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