Paul Andersen: Basalt gets ‘screwed’ by Eagle County |

Paul Andersen: Basalt gets ‘screwed’ by Eagle County

“When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

If only Basalt could remedy the damage done by Eagle County through secession, this would be the time. By approving the Tree Farm, the Eagle County commissioners have condemned the mid-valley to a degraded quality of life.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

We, the governed of Basalt, did not consent to the Tree Farm. Despite calls for reason from the Regional Planning Commission, the Eagle commissioners have endorsed dire consequences for our community’s long-term future.

“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

The combined Willits/Tree Farm cityscape will spawn urban levels of traffic congestion certain to undermine the safety and happiness of anyone touched by the taint of an unmitigated traffic morass.

The seat of Eagle County government has long been blighted by the Interstate 70 corridor, so it stands to reason that equal traffic pressures should be forced upon Basalt.

“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

Basalt representatives are right to challenge Eagle County for bringing evils to our doorstep by approving a development scheme that at great cost transforms community into commodity, and for assuring itself the siphoning of local tax dollars to a distant government.

“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

Eagle County has made a colony of Basalt where the town’s autonomy is usurped by edicts beyond its reasonable interests. It is Basalt’s right to demand limits on growth and development within the constrained Highway 82 corridor.

The tyranny of the Eagle County commissioners has the effect of satisfying the insatiable appetites of developers whose sensitivity for the Roaring Fork community appears negligible and whose urbanizing impacts are in conflict with local values.

“To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world”: Members of the Eagle County staff advocate for developers rather than the public; county staff doesn’t properly convey the Regional Planning Commission’s positions; Eagle County commissioners ignore the Regional Planning Commission’s advice, a development moratorium is needed to hone the master plan for the Basalt-El Jebel area.

As a result of Eagle County’s acquiescence to the Tree Farm, these outcomes are self-evident for Basalt: the continued loss of rural character by the conversion of pastoral open space to homogenous, uniform, generic big-box retail, the accruing of benefits to developers through blind acquiescence to short-term material gain and long-term community sacrifices.

These truths are self-evident for those who have witnessed and lament the loss of once beautiful pastoral landscapes and peaceful, rural communities that have become sacrifice zones to rampant commercialization.

Basalt has made its Declaration of Independence — from the dictates of county commissioners, county planners, highway engineers and real estate developers, all of whom seem happy to pave paradise and put up a parking lot.

Paul Andersen’s column appears on Mondays. He may be reached at

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