Mountain Folks are not anti-growth |

Mountain Folks are not anti-growth

Dear Editor,

In the April 4 Post Independent coverage of the Carbondale municipal election, Lynn Burton apparently felt obliged to fall back once again on that overused and maddeningly inaccurate catch-all term, “anti-growth,” to describe the citizen activist organization Mountain Folks for Global Justice and the economic development philosophy we advocate. Is there any more disingenuous a term than “anti-growth” for daring to think “outside the (big) box?”

In light of the valley’s current trends, clearly it’s impossible to literally prevent growth, but it can be directed or at least be made to cover its bills.

The Mountain Folks support a planning approach that seeks to quantify and, when appropriate, mitigate the various impacts of commercial and residential development. That kind of thinking doesn’t qualify as “anti-growth,” but rather “sensible growth.” It is an approach driven by simple cost/ benefit analysis, basic economics and common sense.

The essence of the Mountain Folks’ development philosophy is to preserve the character, scale and quality of life of Carbondale while promoting a healthy economy. For instance, we do not believe the residents of Carbondale should subsidize transportation improvements necessitated by new large-scale developments. Similarly, we don’t want new large-scale commercial projects to come to town if they are simply going to wipe out existing ones. We believe it’s logical to forward that if a project’s costs to the town outweighed its benefits, it should be rejected. Is this kind of thinking really that radical?

Over the last 16 months, the Mountain Folks group, with the support of a large contingent of citizens, has been an active participant in the sometimes contentious debate over development in Carbondale. We’ve hosted design charettes for the purpose of providing feedback for the developers of the Crystal River Marketplace, promoted an ordinance that would gauge the public impact of large developments, co-organized a Buy Local campaign with the Chamber of Commerce, and openly supported a number of alternative economic development projects such as a regional medical facility, kayak park, and event-generated tourism ideas. Many members of our group are small business owners and we even have a developer or two in our ranks.

Perhaps Mr. Burton uses the term “anti-growth” because “pro-sensible growth” just doesn’t have that ring to it. And, to be honest, it really doesn’t, but it would be more accurate.

Mike Chamness

Mountain Folks for Global Justice


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