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ARCHIVED  November 1, 1995

Northern Colorado voters to decide business issues

Northern Colorado voters will weigh in on a number of business-related issues Nov. 7, with open space and removal of Amendment 1 restrictions emerging as hot topics.

Voters in Larimer County will decide whether to approve a 0.25 percent sales-tax increase to purchase open space. The tax amounts to 25 cents on a $100 purchase and would last for eight years.

Berthoud, Estes Park, Fort Collins, Loveland, Timnath and Wellington would receive at least 55 percent of the proceeds, with the remainder going to Larimer County.

Deni La Rue, a steering committee member with Help Preserve Open Spaces, the group promoting the tax, said concerns about an open-space tax that failed last year have been answered.

“There was some fear, I think, that Fort Collins was going to get all the money because they were so big,” La Rue said. She said distribution of the proceeds was changed from a year ago and noted that landowners cannot be forced to sell their property for open space.

The measure has been endorsed by such organizations as the Loveland Chamber of Commerce and the Home Builders Association of Northern Colorado. The Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce opposes it, citing the “lack of community dialogue.”

Another business-related ballot issue involves the proposed Hunter’s Run subdivision in Loveland. Although the City Council approved development of the 264-acre residential project in northwest Loveland, opponents have forced it onto the November ballot.

Loveland voters will also decide whether to pursue status as a home-rule city, which would give it greater flexibility in dealing with local issues.

In Weld County, a host of small towns are asking voters to remove spending restrictions imposed by Amendment 1, the controversial Douglas Bruce-authored measure passed by the state’s voters in 1992. The amendment requires governments to seek voter approval not only for new taxes but also to spend above certain limits.

It’s the latter restriction that has many towns struggling. Ault, Gilcrest, Keenesburg, Pierce, Severance, Lochbuie, Nunn, Platteville, Brighton and Johnstown are among the Colorado communities seeking some relief from Amendment 1.

In Keenesburg, town officials have asked residents to allow the town to spend $7,770 in excess revenues from 1994, as well as future excess revenues. Without approval by voters, such funds would have to be refunded under Amendment 1.

“How do you equitably refund that without spending that much money again to get it back to the people?” asked Larry Jakel, mayor of Keenesburg.

Jakel said Amendment 1 has been especially nettlesome to small towns.

Complying with Amendment 1 has forced Keenesburg to pay legal fees that it wouldn’t have otherwise incurred, Jakel added. He said that the town used to hire a lawyer when needed but now must pay one at the rate of $350 a month.

Greeley voters will decide whether to allow the city to purchase a feed lot and shut it down to reduce bad odors in the city. The purchase would be enabled by a 0.10 percent sales-tax increase for one year.

Lyle Butler, president of the Greeley/Weld Chamber of Commerce, said the vote will be close.

“About the time I hear three people say ‘I’m voting for it,’ I hear three people say ‘I’m voting against it,’ ” Butler said.

Greeley voters also will decide whether to rescind zoning for the Weld County Business Park. The measure would prohibit a new county jail but could also stymie commercial development, said Bill Argo, president of the Greeley/Weld Economic Development Action Partnership Inc.

“I think the whole issue is stupid,” Argo said, adding that it will keep businesses from locating in the park. “How would you like to locate in a park that had zoning and the voters took it away?”

Northern Colorado voters will weigh in on a number of business-related issues Nov. 7, with open space and removal of Amendment 1 restrictions emerging as hot topics.

Voters in Larimer County will decide whether to approve a 0.25 percent sales-tax increase to purchase open space. The tax amounts to 25 cents on a $100 purchase and would last for eight years.

Berthoud, Estes Park, Fort Collins, Loveland, Timnath and Wellington would receive at least 55 percent of the proceeds, with the remainder going to Larimer County.

Deni La Rue, a steering committee member with Help Preserve Open Spaces, the group promoting the tax,…

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