ARCHIVED  February 1, 1997

Growth divides Loveland residents

LOVELAND – Growth is as sensitive a topic as religion, especially within Colorado and especially within Loveland.The complicated and layered nature of growth is difficult enough, but when emotion is added to the brew, there’s an explosive mix of tangled and anxious views from newcomers and old timers, pro- and managed-growth groups.
For Loveland, the current heart of the ‘tangle’ is the City Council’s 5-to-4 majority. Council’s division on the 5-to-4 line has been a pendulum swinging back and forth between pro- and managed-growth interests.
The vote is so tight that developers do not take chances when proposing annexations. McWhinney Enterprises withdrew its annexation proposal for Rocky Mountain Village II Addition at Loveland’s City Council meeting on Jan. 6. There was the possibility that Councilmember Forrest Knox would not be present because of illness he was suffering.
Roger Hoffman, leading advocate for rational growth management, who has served on numerous City Council committees, said, “When you have four people elected to council for entrustment of tax money and better managed growth, and five people not interested in this because of what got them there, it’s a tenuous situation.”Councilmember and Mayor ProTem Ray Emerson, who has been on the council for five years, said, “The first four years were a joy. We were able to pass things and make a lot of progress. This past year has been a real challenge just to go to meetings. Everything is wordsmithed to death.”
The current council has had a pro-growth majority since the recall of Alan Cunningham last year. During Cunningham’s time on council, there was a managed-growth majority. “We came close to doing something that would work, and it terrified the land speculators and developers,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham was speaking about transferrable rights.
“We were going to create a system that if additional units were proposed for development, a developer would have to bring an equal number of units to the table that would [be] cancelled,” Cunningham said.
His reasoning behind transferrable rights was Loveland’s 6,000 units approved for development.
“That’s 15 years of growth,” Cunningham said. He had also brought the possibility of de-annexation and disconnection to the City Council table.That all changed when he was recalled and Nita Starr took a position on council.
“I tried to move forward and was character assassinated,” he said.
Councilwoman Kathy Gilliland said, “Alan brought a unique perspective to council. It was the way Alan presented things É and the actual reason for his recall were people perceiving him being manipulative.”
Councilman Larry Dassow said things might have been different for Cunningham.
“It was Alan’s impression and some others that they had an opportunity to make some revolutionary changes, when maybe minor changes might have worked,” he said. “We didn’t get to where we are overnight, and things don’t change overnight. It’s gradual.”The turmoil of Cunninghams’s recall is part of a whole. According to Councilman Kurt Loomis, Loveland is experiencing growing pains.
“Loveland has grown up and isn’t a small town any longer. It is caught in the grip between people who want to stay a small town, and those who realize growth is part of life,” he said.Patricia Farnham, executive director of Loveland’s Chamber of Commerce, grew up in Loveland, left, and has been back for 25 years.
“In the time I’ve been back, I’ve seen Loveland turn from a community that was willing to communicate to a community that carries its baggage and won’t let go,” she said. She has seen the animosity build and said, “It’s hurtful when the factions refuse to talk to each other. It creates distrust and creates more difficulty in building bridges.”
She said that perhaps both factions want the same thing – quality of life -and don’t know it.Despite the differences, the general consensus both factions share is that growth is an inevitability and growth must pay its way. The difference lies in decisions on how growth must pay its way and decisions on how growth should be planned.
Treva Edwards, mayor of Loveland, has had a hand in new planning for the city and sees a shift in the way decisions are made.
“Instead of people at the top making the decisions, it’s a diversified citizen based committee – a barn-raising-type approach,” she said. This has developed into the Economic Vitality Plan, which was passed at Loveland’s City Council meeting Jan. 6.
The EVP’s mission is to ensure that the community enjoys a balanced, thriving, economy that meets current needs but doesn’t compromise future quality of life.
Though Edwards is delighted with the EVP, there is some concern about how it will function. Farnham was concerned that for the diversity of the people working with the EVP there was still a need for a minority report. “There will always be a minority that doesn’t agree,” she said. “Give them an opportunity to communicate, but don’t stop the process. Move forward and progress.”
Gilliland felt that the EVP should have been tied in with the city’s Master Plan. Even in passing the EVP, she said, “We are moving in the right direction with the master plan; however we spend so much time procrastinating setting policy that we get afraid to set implementation of those policies. There’s a reluctance in making it happen.”
Roger Hoffman, leading advocate for rational growth management, said that despite all the plans the City Council has, “There is not an agenda within City Council for managing growth.” Hoffman believes that the duty of government is to manage growth, minimizing the damage and maximizing the benefits. With the current council and lack of plans, he said, “The types of projects being approved are sprawl projects.” Hoffman also sees that the city is expanding faster than its ability to cope with supportive infrastructure.
Emerson, who proclaims himself neither pro-growth nor anti-growth, said, “There should be no restrictions on builders because they will restrict themselves with the ebb and flow of the economy.”Dassow wants to take more of a look at growth paying its way. “Loveland has the highest fee structure, but it’s still not sufficient,” he said. He believes that there are benefits from growth; the challenge is to create a quality of living that goes along with growth. Dassow’s question to the pro-growth majority is, “Is there any kind of growth you would not agree to?”
According to Councilman Kurt Loomis, if you stop growth, you deprive landowners of their legal and constitutional rights. He said, “There is one basic fact, that as long as you have a beautiful city and a beautiful place to live, and people keep having babies, there will always be growth.”
Councilman Steve Dozier sees that Loveland has come a long way in the last several years with projects, such as the Rocky Mountain Factory Stores and the economic revenue produced. Though this development is on the outskirts of town, he is concerned that Loveland is also developing by stretching itself out, instead of developing from the center out. “There’s years ahead of filling in,” he said.
Don Churchwell, executive director of the Loveland’s Economic Development Council, sees Loveland in a strong position. He said, “Loveland has been able to attract a number of diverse companies.”
At this point, the strategy of Loveland’s Economic Council is to attract companies that will complement the existing companies in Loveland currently, take care of the companies Loveland has, filter out the companies Loveland does not want to locate here, and create a forward-thinking vision for Loveland.
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LOVELAND – Growth is as sensitive a topic as religion, especially within Colorado and especially within Loveland.The complicated and layered nature of growth is difficult enough, but when emotion is added to the brew, there’s an explosive mix of tangled and anxious views from newcomers and old timers, pro- and managed-growth groups.
For Loveland, the current heart of the ‘tangle’ is the City Council’s 5-to-4 majority. Council’s division on the 5-to-4 line has been a pendulum swinging back and forth between pro- and managed-growth interests.
The vote is so tight that developers do not take chances when proposing annexations. …

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