Pimping Carbondale to a developer
Dear Editor,When the Carbondale Board of Trustees voted to ask the Crystal River Marketplace developer to resubmit his proposal, telling him that the P&Z requirements he objected to could be renegotiated, they undermined their own development review process, and they undermined our community’s values.It reminds me of the night in February when our BOT voted to dismiss the P&Z recommendations supporting the proposed commercial code amendments. At the time, the sentiment of the prevailing members of the BOT was that changing the code was unnecessary since the current process was working. It was even asserted by one trustee that the proposed ordinances were designed because some members of the community didn’t trust the board.Well, now we have our answer – we can’t trust certain members of the board, because they decided that the review process which in February they were eager to defend was an unnecessary, meaningless step. Instead of following their established process, they are once again dismissing P&Z’s recommendations and taking over the planning phase themselves. Now, with this precedent, the town of Carbondale is essentially left with no review process, because what we are telling this developer (and other large-scale commercial developers who may be eyeing our last remaining developable spaces) is that our board will break its own rules, forget the town’s stated comprehensive plan, and ignore the voices of many of its constituents in order to do whatever necessary to fuel the insatiable sales tax machine.Our lighting code is a good example of where our community’s values have been compromised. While every local developer has been required to adhere to our lighting ordinance, this one was given a P&Z variance, even though he is planning a project big enough to illuminate the nighttime sky over the western portion of town. Our local developers and businesses have all been held to our lighting code, our open space codes, and other requirements, but they don’t have the advantage of high-powered attorneys and planners to muscle their project through.An often-repeated question of the development-at-any-cost gang is: “What are the unintended consequences of this?” This has been their constant rebuttal to those who want smart growth, as if losing this one developer will end our town’s economic promise. Instead of proceeding as if this developer is offering our town its salvation, our elected officials should be asking this: What are the unintended consequences of losing our view of the stars to the glow of mall parking lot lights? And, what are the unintended consequences lowering our standards for this California guy while holding our own local businesses to the established codes?The P&Z’s requirements, which the developer found too difficult to follow, actually do very little to mitigate for increased traffic, pollution, and demands upon our infrastructure. The only real sticking points involve his desired point of entry and the added expense of masking the giant blank wall he intends to build facing Main Street, but even so, our P&Z’s requirements were enough to send the big-box strip-mall developer packing.Or were they? Maybe his whole withdrawal was just a cat and mouse game. Maybe he did it knowing that he had four folks on the board who would abandon our community values to deliver him a big-box mall. After all, he had a few people on P&Z who were willing to reschedule their vote to occur on an irregular day and time when the swing opposition vote was out of town.It is hard to think these things about our elected officials, but one wonders what else we can think given their actions. The P&Z voted to approve a project that is too big for Carbondale and justified it by requiring only minimal standards, ignoring the impacts which would most affect our town’s character and future. Now our trustees are “negotiating” away the P&Z conditions, calling it a “win/win.” I do not feel like a winner. I feel that the town lost when Andy Montoya, David Rippe, Fred Williams, and Susie Darrow voted to throw the rules out the door in order to pimp our town to a California mall developer.Sincerely,Kathryn Diamond CampCarbondale
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