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Aug. 15 will be an interesting day. It’s the day the Garfield County Commissioners vote on a major change to the way we do business here.

Right now, Colorado law dictates that we have a comprehensive plan. In our county, all development must be consistent with that plan. It’s been that way since 1970.

The Garfield County Comprehensive Plan is a planning and zoning document that provides the foundation for policies that guide the physical, social and economic development of the county. It addresses the subjects of future land use, housing, transportation, open space, economics and natural resources, to name just a few. It identifies issues, establishes goals and policies, and suggests strategies and actions. It was approved by the Planning Commission on Nov. 10, 2010.



The commissioners have expressed a desire to preserve “flexibility” in the decision-making process by removing any specific references to the comprehensive plan in the county code. This will kill the plan and make it an advisory document only. In their June meeting, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously to reject this change.

As a citizen of Garfield County, I believe the comp plan is essential to the welfare of this beautiful land. It is built from your input and extensive research that, I believe, reflects the wishes of the vast majority of residents. It is a powerful tool that prevents sub-standard development and refines our rules and regulations. It defines what business should expect. It is easily amended. It looks forward.



In this spectacular county, we need more definition when working with development, not less. We need the plan for River Edge (Sanders Ranch), for open space and agriculture, to define how we look 20 years from now. It is an extremely valuable tool.

If you can, please attend the meeting at 1 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 15. Those who can’t make it, Google Garfield County and e-mail the commissioners. Post it to your Facebook and Twitter friends. We need to let the commissioners know how important the comp plan is to the future of our valley.

Michael J. Sullivan

Spring Valley

James Kellogg’s Aug. 2 column, “We must be careful with legalization of marijuana,” accurately identified marijuana as one of the hottest topics in Colorado. Unfortunately, the accuracy did not extend much beyond that.

The author rattles off the same tired, debunked and misleading arguments that we have been hearing for years. Perhaps the most egregious example is his touting of the so-called Gateway Theory, which is the notion that using marijuana somehow results in future use of harder drugs.

Yet this theory has been thoroughly invalidated by a vast amount of scientific research conducted by the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine and the RAND Corp., among others. In fact, the research shows that the only potential gateway associated with marijuana use is a gateway into a black market.

Every objective study on marijuana has concluded that it is far safer than alcohol for the user and society. Why would we want to take the hundreds of thousands of Coloradans who wish to use it and send them into a black market in which other, more dangerous illicit substances are often available?

The initiative proposed for the 2012 Colorado ballot would abolish that illegal, uncontrolled marijuana market. It would allow for responsible use by adults 21 and older and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated in a manner similar to alcohol.

After all, if we truly want to keep marijuana out of the hands of young people, we should be controlling its distribution rather than maintaining the current free-for-all in which marijuana is universally available and proof of age is never required to purchase it.

We can also take the tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars that are circulating in the black market and bring it above ground, where it will be taxed and can generate significant revenues to benefit all Coloradans.

Marijuana prohibition is just as big a failure as alcohol prohibition, and it’s time we replace it with a safer, more sensible system similar to what we have with alcohol. Fortunately, Colorado voters have the opportunity to do just that in 2012.

Mason Tvert

Denver

After reading the many letters written to the Post Independent after the infamous “Strawberry Days Massacre” in June, I formed my own opinions about the whole mess and have generally kept them close to me.

I chose not to publicly voice said opinions until this week, when I took my daughter to Veltus Park. The entire park was covered in graffiti, “SUR 13” type gang graffiti to be exact. They vandalized the historic jail house, and smashed the windows out of a car that was parked there and spray-painted it as well.

I am happy to know that there are people in this valley who think that is a good idea. It makes me feel safe to take my daughter to the park that I grew up in that is covered in “tags” by one of the most well-known, most violent street gangs in North America.

It also warms my heart to know that these people are going to be readily defended by their family, community and certain organized coalitions that, by defending illegal actions of any kind, condone them.

Seriously though, Chief Wilson, I think the Glenwood Springs police force is doing a great job as far as gang enforcement, and it is quite unfortunate that on the evening of your National Night Out that some idiots had to again prove to us that there is a growing problem in our community.

I wonder, do they make Kevlar life-jackets yet? I need one for next rafting season. After seeing the graffiti in the canyon all summer, I don’t want to be entering someone’s turf unprotected.

Joseph Bergl

Glenwood Springs

I have been going to write a letter “soon,” but after reading that the Glenwood Springs City Council decided not to join the rest of the valley in regulating the use of plastic bags, it had to be now. There are many reasons why we should stop using single-use plastics, and many of them are highlighted in the excellent film “Bag It.”

Much of our waste plastic eventually reaches the sea. There it collects in huge gyres (the one in the Pacific is larger than the state of Texas) and breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces that circulate with plankton, becoming part of the food chain in the sea.

In addition, fish and sea-going birds and mammals eat the larger plastics, thinking they are jellyfish or other edible sea creatures. Adult albatrosses feed their chicks plastic bottle caps and pieces of plastic, which of course provide no nourishment and lead to a high rate of chick mortality.

In addition to the chemical toxicity and pollution caused by degrading plastics, we use 12 million barrels of oil each year in the U.S. to create these plastics that are with us forever. Why use our limited oil resources to make something that pollutes our planet and adds to greenhouse gases when it is manufactured?

On Tuesday, Aug. 9, the 45-minute film “Bag It” will be shown on the hour, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Valley View Hospital.

Please stop in and see this film to increase your understanding of the issues around the use of plastic bags and why they need to be regulated in some way. Afterwards, let the members of the Glenwood Springs City Council know how you feel about the regulation of plastic bags.

Maggie Pedersen, chair

Roaring Fork Sierra Club Group

Glenwood Springs

Housing construction, housing prices, how long houses are on the market, how many people are coming into or moving away from our state and community – these are all good indicators of the health of an economy.

But you don’t have to be a banker or a real estate agent to know that things have been bad lately and that recovery is not right around the corner. Things are likely to get worse before they get better.

If the Environmental Protection Agency is allowed to proceed with its plans to implement more stringent air quality standards, things are likely to get a lot worse – and stay that way.

Colorado and the rest of the country have been suffering from a depressed economy for two years now. With the nation’s unemployment rate at a historic high, this is no time to be adding regulatory burdens that will increase the cost of doing business and precipitate more layoffs.

Fred Shurtleff

Grand Junction


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