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The Not-so-Smart Growth Awards

Brief by Central Staff

Growth – November 1996 – Colorado Central Magazine

Funny, none of the winners came to accept their awards

Remember Gov. Roy Romer’s “Smart Growth Summit” in 1995? From it emerged 14 guiding principles, such as sustainability, public participation, and co√∂rdination of planning. Our governor now issues annual Smart Growth Awards to projects which best follow the principles.

But what about those projects which march to a different drummer? Don’t they deserve some attention, too?

Western Colorado Congress, a grassroots activist coalition based in Montrose, thinks so. Thus the “Not so Smart Growth Awards” announced in September at WCC’s 16th annual meeting in Ouray.

First-place winner in the “Going, Going, Gone” Disappearing Agricultural Land” category was the Montezuma County (Cortez) Comprehensive Plan Work Group for its recommendation that the county use “voluntary zoning” to cope with development pressures.

Mesa County (Grand Junction) School District 51 received the “Not Ready for Prime Time” Most Overburdened Local Services Award. The district needs about $100 million in new school construction, thanks to 2% annual growth and the willingness of local governments to approve subdivisions without considering their effect on school enrollment.

The University of Colorado in Boulder won the Non-Western Slope Not-So-Smart Growth Award for purchasing 308 acres of open space — where the school planned a 55-acre parking lot, repair shops, housing, offices, sports fields, and a golf course.

Winning the Wal-Mart “Big Box” Design Award was the Russell Stover Factory Outlet Store in Montrose. It has “no windows, no landscaping, no design, and no redeeming architectural qualities.”

The fiercest competition was for the “Hear No Evil” Award for Development Approved Despite Greatest Public Outcry. It went to La Plata (Durango) County Commissioners Fred Klatt and Shirley Baty for their approval of the 244-unit Artesian Valley Ranch subdivision. Before the first hearing, more than 2,000 county residents had signed petitions in opposition, and after the two commissioners voted to support it, more than 3,000 people signed recall petitions.

Other winners included the Van Alsburg residence in Routt County (Steamboat Springs), which got the “Here’s Looking Down at You, Kid” Skyline Development Award, and the town of Breckenridge, recipient of the “Wham, Bam, Sorry Ma’am” Award for the Worst Traffic Intersection.

In presenting the awards, WCC Vice-President Jerry Swingle of Durango said that WCC recognizes “that growth has brought a lot of good to our communities. However, we’ve noticed patterns of irresponsible development repeated throughout the Western Slope.”

Speaking of “Western Slope,” when we called, WCC asked if we had any nominations from the Salida area. We replied that even though the Arkansas carries plenty of Western Slope water, we weren’t on the Western Slope. That seemed to surprise them. Also, one nominee for the “Non Western Slope” category was the Winter Park Recreation Association, and Winter Park is on the Western Slope.

So our “Check the Map” award goes to WCC. And if you want to get in touch with WCC, they’re at P.O. Box 472, Montrose CO 81402-0472, 970-249-1978, fax 970-249-1983.