Last updated 5:46PM ET
December 13, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
Durango Comp Plan Approved
(2007-03-07)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: After one of the hottest debates and years of work, the city of Durango has a new Comprehensive plan.
The document will help steer growth and development in the city and surrounding areas.
But the final vote on the plan last night didn't come easily.
KSUT's Victor Locke reports.

ELDER: THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN IS JUST THAT, IT'S COMPREHENSIVE. I'VE SAID THIS BEFORE, IT'S SO COMPREHENSIVE THAT YOU CAN ABSOLUTELY FIND SOMETHING YOU LOVE, SOMETHING YOU HATE AND SOMETHING THAT YOU'RE COMPLETELY AMBIVILENT ABOUT THROUGHOUT THE PLAN.
That comment by developer Brad Elder set the stage for what would end up being almost four hours of debate on the Comp Plan.
The plan is what's referred to as an evolving blueprint for development, traffic, utilities, parks, and just about everything else linked to an expected 18-thousand person population increase in the city, by the year 2030.
Elder chaired a Citizens Review Committee, or CRC, which along with consultants and others, has spent two years developing the document.
Two dozen individuals spoke at last nights council hearing, most, like CRC member John Mahoney, urged council approve of the plan.
MAHONEY: THIS DOCUMENT, THIS 2007 PLAN THAT'S BEING PRESENTED TO YOU TONIGHT, IS A SMART GROWTH DOCUMENT.
Several others, like Chris Paulson, charged there was not enough public input and accused city council of rushing the process.
PAULSON: TO ACT TONIGHT CONSTITUTES AN ACT OF RUBBERSTAMPING IN MY OPINION, AND AS REPRESENTATIVES OF THE CITY OF DURANGO, I FEEL WE DESERVE MORE ATTENTION AND CONSIDERATION THAN WE APPEAR TO BE RECEIVING THROUGH THIS HURRIED AND RUSHED PROCESS.
The greatest debate, however, centered once again on the politically charged issue of the Twin Butte's, west of Durango.
The comp plan would allow clustered development on 1-thoiusand private acres that comprise the Butte's, prompting heated and politically charged criticism in the recent past.
Last night, several speakers voiced support of the clustering idea, suggesting those who've been critical of it are political opportunists.
The strongest criticisms, however, came from Councilor Renee Parsons.
Among things she questioned was a state demographer's estimate of 18-thousand new residents by 2030.
PARSONS: I DON'T ACCEPT THE NOTION THAT THE STATE DEMOGRAPHER IS GOING TO SET OUR CITY PLANNING POLICY.
She also made a motion to remove Twin Butte's from the plan saying it's inclusion could hurt future city efforts to secure open space to protect wildlife corridors.
Parsons charged Division of Wildlife officials she had asked to attend last night's meeting, had been intimidated through phone calls and email into not showing up.
That prompted this sharp exchange with city manager Bob Ledger.
PARSONS: THEY'RE NOT BEING ASKED TO COME DOWN ON ONE SIDE OR THE OTHER THEY WERE SIMPLY BEING ASKED TO PROVIDE THEIR SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION BECAUSE THEY ARE AN INDEPENDENT STATE AGENCY.
LEDGER: I'M JUST TRYING TO EXPLAIN TO YOU THAT GENERALLY SPEAKING OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AGENCIES DON'T LIKE TO PARTICIPATE IN THOSE KINDS OF EXERCISES UNLESS THEY'VE BEEN FORMALLY ASKED BY THE MAYOR OR A MAJORITY OF THE COUNCIL.
PARSONS: THEY WERE FORMALLY ASKED BY ONE COUNCILOR AND I THINK ONE COUNCILOR SHOULD HAVE, NO I'M TELLING YOU MR. LEDGER THAT THAT'S NOT THE WAY IT NEEDS TO BE, THE MAYOR DOES NOT HAVE ANY ADMINISTRATIVE REGULAR DUTIES OR ANY VETO POWER. THE MAYOR HAS ALWAYS BEEN A FIGUREHEAD KIND OF POSITION. AND YOU KNOW THAT.
LEDGER: I'M NOT SAYING SHE'S GOT ANY EXTRAORDINARY POWER.
PARSONS: AND THERE'S NO REASON, MR. HOWLEY DIDN'T HAVE ANY PROBLEM GETTING THE POLICE CHIEF TO DO SOME DATA FOR HIM ON RED LIGHTS.
LEDGER: IT'S TRUE, YOU KNOW WHY, BECAUSE HE WENT THROUGH ME.
PARSONS: OHHHHHH, THAT'S THE WAY IT HAS TO WORK, IS THAT IT, SO ONE ELECTED COUNCILOR, DOESN'T HAVE THE AUTHORITY.
LYON: IT'S DIFFICULT FOR ME TO BELIEVE THE DIVISION OF WILDLIFE WAS INTIMIDATED AND HARRASSED INTO NOT ATTENDING THIS MEETING.
That was Councilor Doug Lyon weighing in at the end.
Parsons repeatedly refused to say who she spoke with at DOW offices in Durango and Grand Junction.
Her motion to remove Twin Butte's from the comp plan failed 3-2.
Councilors then went on to okay the plan, by a 4-1 vote, Parsons voting no, the other four expressing strong support for the comp plan.
The approval clears the way for fine tuning several dozen parts of the plan that require greater clarification.
That's a process that is expected to take months, and a lot of money to complete.
From KSUT, Four Corner's Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke
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