Miller: Town should do more to research Byers project
May 15, 2013
Town should do more to research Byers project
To the Editor:
Fraser citizens and neighbors have been working mightily to make sense of the proposed annexation, work made more difficult by the lack of meaningful review information being disseminated by town staff and town-employed review contractors. Meetings scheduled between residents and town staff may be helpful, but more importantly we need dialogue between the public and our elected representatives. Confusion continues to surround the key issue of the value of the developer-provided proposed augmentation pond and what alternatives the Town might have to construct augmentation ponds on its own. On numerous occasions Town Manager Jeff Durbin has said the town would have to purchase pond property if one were built at community expense. In fact Mr. Durbin has looked at one public-owned site on the 120 acres of Fraser River land the town owns south of Safeway, and has talked with owners who may be willing to donate a site along St. Louis Creek directly west of Fraser. Both sites offer no land cost to the town. The St. Louis Creek site could also provide a surface connection to the creek to replace the old town water line, which is now controlled by Mr. Lipscomb.
Town planners often provide reviews of developments to help residents and their representatives make effective decisions. Rather than the positive review of the annexation given by the Town Manager, I would suggest a better approach would be to offer a long list of well-researched pros and cons. For example, an in-depth review could have been given outside the conclusion given by Mr. Durbin, who stated Fraser has plenty of water for more than tripling the size of the present community. No firm data was given to back up this conclusion.
No one has addressed the concern that a built-up neighborhood in the Byers Peak Meadow might stop irrigation re-fueling of the aquifer which feeds our community wells. The developer should fund a study, contracted by the town, of this development's impact on our town well-water supply.
Mr. Lipscomb tried to label opponents as being "anti-development." I make my living, as do many of us, from wise growth. But we understand that none of us, including our children, can afford to live here if saddled with tax expenses generated by poorly planned growth. Lipscomb's vision of a valley hosting secondary schools, colleges and hospitals is one which might be possible, but would more likely generate public debt which would make it impossible for us to live or do business in a place we call home. Our climate, geographical isolation and a changing demographic will likely keep our community limited in size.
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His vision of a new walkable downtown area would likely come only with the sacrifice of one or both of our historic community cores. Note very little discussion has been made of the actual development plans for the meadow. Density needs to be reduced, and the town should stick to its 35 foot height limit. The only trail in the development should be moved away from the project's major thoroughfare and be tied to a larger park space to serve current and future residents.
In short, concerned residents are trying to obtain answers to key development questions. We hope these answers will be provided in the upcoming discussions based on research by paid town staff and contractors rather than continuing to require community members to learn Colorado water law, dig through pages of legal documents and find underlying facts (not fish stories) on their own. These answers will fuel a meaningful dialogue between citizens and decision makers.