Vote NO on Amendment 74: The Taxpayer Loses on All Fronts!

Amendment 74 is the most dangerous ballot issue in decades. It would require compensation of property owners for any reduction in their property value as a result of government regulation. If it passes, Colorado will completely lose the ability to protect the environment and public health. Proponents always claim that such measures protect private property rights. In actuality, however, they elevate one class of property over all others.

Environmental regulations are nearly always among the first targeted by this kind of action, because compliance with a regulation costs money. Any money an industry must spend to protect the environment is a direct reduction in profit margin, thus a reduction in “fair market value.” Amendment 74 would allow industry to claim payment for its loss from the government involved (ie. from us). In order to enact or enforce any regulation protecting public health and the environment, government would have to pay the polluter or developer to comply. Since no level of government – state, county, municipal – operates at a surplus, they wouldn’t have the funds to pay polluters, thus the only option they have is to eliminate regulations.

Some examples:
Land use regulations requiring buffer zones and green space for wildlife? Gone.
Requirements for companies to reclaim land they have mined? Gone.
Scrubbers on smokestacks to reduce acid rain and snow? Gone.
Regulations requiring berms around construction sites to prevent sedimentation of streams? Gone.
Regulations to protect water quality from discharges by mines, breweries, drycleaners, construction sites, feedlots or agricultural facilities? Gone.

Amendment 74, however, isn’t specific to just environmental regulation. It targets ALL regulations. Restaurant health regulations cost money, so those would be eliminated. Zoning regulations that limit certain uses in close proximity to others would also be off the table. We could see adult book stores or pot shops next to schools, oil and gas operations next to hospitals and schools.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that the amendment only applies to private property owners, which in itself increases costs to the public. Governments themselves would still need to meet standards and in fact could face significantly higher costs to do so. For example, federal drinking water standards and wastewater standards would still apply to public water providers; so Denver Water and others would need to provide a safe product. The water flowing into their facilities, however, would be significantly more impaired as a result of the lack of regulations on upstream industries. Guess who will have to pay the increased costs of water treatment to a safe standard? You, the consumer, once again!!

In its purest essence, Amendment 74 requires the people of Colorado to pay industry not to pollute the environment or poison the citizens of the State. Given the extreme threat to public health, our air, water, lands and wildlife, Amendment 74 is the most damaging issue to appear on the ballot in over 20 years. It’s imperative to defeat it in November. Vote NO on Amendment 74.

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Appeal Hearing for Martin Marietta Material Permit

In 1998, Boulder County approved a special use permit to allow gravel mining on 881 acres of property owned by Western Mobile in the St. Vrain River Valley east of Lyons. River valleys are often targeted for gravel mining due to the accumulation of gravel and other sediments that build up in floodplains.

In 2011, the land was sold to Martin Marietta Materials Inc., which is now seeking to continue gravel mining operations on the property. Included with the mines, they’re also planning to build a number of accessory structures within the 100 year flood plain of St. Vrain Creek.

The special use permit included a clause that the permit will lapse if no activity authorized under the permit has been conducted for a continuous period of 5 years or more. On April 11, 2018, Boulder County ruled that the permit is still valid. However, prior to the onset of mining operations, the Boulder County Board of Adjustment must hold public hearings on the proposal.

The first of such public hearings is scheduled for Wednesday, June 6, 2018. The appeal hearing begins at 4:00 PM at the Commissioner’s Hearing Room, 1325 Pearl St., Boulder, CO 80302.

You can find more information about the public hearing here.

Gravel mining on St. Vrain Creek upstream of Longmont would likely increase the risk of flooding, both within the city and in surrounding areas downstream, which would completely defeat the purpose of the Resilient St. Vrain flood mitigation project that Longmont is currently undertaking. This 2014 conference paper by Anthony R. Ladson and Dean A. Judd explains the short and long-term risks of floodplain gravel mining, particularly the likelihood that such mining may alter the flow of flood water and change river channels. As stated in the paper:

A literature review found 37 examples where rivers had broken into gravel mines and the resulting river response had led to bed and bank erosion and threats to infrastructure.

A river is likely to jump tracks into a gravel pond because water follows the path of least resistance. When this happens, it increases the likelihood of damage. In 2013, this was perfectly illustrated when St. Vrain Creek diverted through the former gravel pits at Pella Crossing Open Space in Hygiene as described in this Times Call letter to the editor by Richard Cargill.

Please consider attending the public hearing on Wednesday, June 6 to voice your concerns regarding Martin Marietta’s gravel mining operation.

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Take the Survey for the Longmont Open Space Master Plan

The Longmont Natural Resources department has posted an online survey for citizens to provide their input regarding the Open Space Master Plan.  You can find the survey here .

A second community workshop for the master plan update is scheduled for Thursday, March 22, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM, at the Sunset Campus, 7 South Sunset Street.  You can find more details here .

See you there!

 

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Open Space Master Plan – 1st Workshop Notes

If you were unable to attend the first workshop on February 22 for the Longmont Open Space Master Plan update, you can find the notes for that meeting here at this link.

The next workshop will take place on Thursday, March 22, 2018, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM, at the city’s Sunset Campus, 7 South Sunset Street.  The theme of the workshop will be “Examining Options.”

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Longmont Open Space Master Plan Update

Natural Resources Announcement:

The department of Public Works and Natural Resources is in the process of updating the City’s Open Space Master Plan.  The intent of this comprehensive plan is to evaluate our community’s open space needs so we can proactively plan for the future.

The City has engaged the services of GreenPlay LLC, a nationally renowned park/open space and recreation consulting firm, to help in analysis and development of the updated plan.  GreenPlay LLC drafted the initial Open Space and Trails Master Plan in 2002.

As a component of the planning process, City staff and GreenPlay are working together to conduct a community needs assessment.  This will take shape in two forms, surveys and workshops.

A survey will be distributed via mail to a random selection of households across Longmont in early-mid February.  This survey will be used to produce a statistically valid sample and results.  If your household receives this mailed survey, your participation is greatly appreciated.  A web questionnaire will also open in mid-late February for the general public until mid-March (watch for another announcement when it is live).

In addition to the surveys, two public workshops will be held on the evenings of Thursday, Feb.22 and Thursday, March 22.  These meetings will consist of a presentation and interactive work stations.  Participants will be asked a variety of questions to evaluate Open Space accomplishments over the past 15 years and to assess the needs of the community that should be addressed in this updated comprehensive plan.

We thank you in advance for participating in our master plan update and encourage youth participation in this process, too.  As well, Spanish translators will be available at both public workshops.  Your input will help guide the future of the City’s Open Space program-improving the quality of life in our community for generations to come.  Find details on the public workshops more at bit.ly/openspaceplan or by calling 303-651-8416.

Link to OS workshop details here.

Link to city announcement:  OS master plan update press-release-announcement

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Some birds are so stressed by noise pollution it looks like they have PTSD!

Take a look at this interesting Washington Post article about the negative impacts of noise pollution on wildlife.

“But in a paper published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Guralnick and his colleagues say there is a clear connection between noise pollution, abnormal levels of stress hormones, and lower survival rates.  This is the first time that link has been established in a population of wild animals, they argue, and it should make us all think hard about what our ruckus is doing to the Earth.  “Habitat degradation is always conceived of as clear cutting, or, you know, changing the environment in a physical way.  But this is an acoustic degradation of the environment,” Guralnick said.  “We think it is a real conservation concern.”

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Comprehensive Plan Needs Revising Relative to St. Vrain Corridor

In the wake of the 2013 flood, we should ask whether more development along our city’s St. Vrain Creek corridor makes sense. This means reevaluating and revising our Longmont Comprehensive Plan as it applies to properties along this corridor.

All the homes on south side of 9th between Airport and Hover were horribly impacted by 2013’s flood.  The damage was massive to the homes and businesses that were already developed.  More life and property would have been devastated if more development existed along this corridor.

According to The Army Corps of Engineers, there have been 11 floods along this corridor in the last 100 years.  Experts on climate change say we can expect more frequent and damaging flood events in the future.  We can’t “mitigate” Mother Nature.  For instance, even with Left-hand Creek flood mitigation efforts just completed prior to the 2013 flood, many homes in Creekside and Southmoore Park were flooded and Kanemoto Park/pool were destroyed.

Over 80% of properties along the city reach of our St. Vrain corridor are privately owned.  Currently these properties are in the flood plain, so they are not available for development.  However, due to the massive publicly-funded flood mitigation efforts underway, these properties will no longer be designated as flood plain and will be available for development.  Because of our HUGE public investment in flood mitigation ($150 million and counting), the public should have a significant say in what and how this development proceeds. Revisiting our Comprehensive Plan with public input relative to future proposed development in this corridor is warranted.

Our 2013 flood was a wake up call that demands we revisit and revise our Longmont Comprehensive Plan accordingly.  It’s the responsible thing to do logically, morally and fiscally.

 

 

 

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