Growth continues to be a major issue in Colorado. The need for more water for increased municipal use, the impact of more vehicles on our transportation system, the presence of more children in our sometimes already crowded schools, the loss of farmland and mountain ranches and the sprawl that takes their place: these are but a few of the impacts of growth on Colorado.
We need to do more to preserve the Colorado landscapes we love and to be sure that the growth that will happen does not further diminish our quality of life. I support the following actions to strengthen our ability to manage growth:
· Giving local communities more tools to deal with growth: We need a greater emphasis on regional planning and adoption of regional visions that determine where we should grow and where we should preserve rural lands. This means that we need to involve cities and counties in developing shared visions rather than having counties or municipalities allowing growth without the input of their neighbors. My experience with creating Inter-Governmental Agreements on growth issues will be very helpful in establishing this new kind of orientation toward growth management.
· Establishing tax and fee structures to ensure that growth pays its own way: For years, existing taxpayers have been forced to subsidize the substantial cost of growth. This must stop. We need to enact legislation that allows and/or requires local communities to be sure that growth pays its way. This should include impact fees for schools, roads and other public infrastructure. It should also include requirements to mitigate the impact on environmental features like wetlands, wildlife habitat, farms and ranches.
· Changing the statutes that allow Colorado lands to be carved into 35-acre parcels without local subdivision approval: This rural sprawl is chopping up some of Colorado's finest lands and creating the worst kind of development in our rural landscapes.
And, I will work to enhance our preservation of open lands and open space because I believe that protecting open space is one of the more important components of maintaining our long-term quality of life and our economy:
I support efforts to maintain Colorado's conservation easement tax credit program. We need to be sure that this important land preservation program continues and that abuses in the easement tax credit system are eliminated.
· I support increased funding for the state's Great Outdoor Colorado program, funded partially by the Colorado Lottery. We need to increase our support for preserving open land throughout Colorado now, before additional important lands are lost to development.