Meet the candidates
The hopefuls weigh in on River Trails Ranch

The Durango Telegraph continues its coverage of the race for City Council this week. A total of six candidates are vying for two vacancies on council, and the same question was posed to each of them. Their answers have been reprinted as they were submitted. In the weeks leading up to the April 1, mail-in ballot election, the candidates will be asked to answer additional questions.

“What is your stance on the development of River Trails Ranch? What do you envision for the future of North Durango and that area of the Animas Valley?”

Name: James Sloan, 38

Occupation: Corrections case manager

“I do not support the annexation of the Kroeger Ranch as proposed. The Animas Valley is unique. Its open spaces and meandering river has no parallel in the environs near Durango. Though growth is inevitable, and perhaps even desirable to the extent that it alleviates housing shortages in an environmentally sound and aesthetically pleasing manner, it is critical that it takes place only on such terms.

Failure to annex this property would not violate the owner’s constitutional rights. The government must not trample these rights regardless of the desire of those like myself who want to see open spaces preserved. Individuals, organizations and governments can pursue this goal within constitutional bounds. If elected, I would be active in doing so. Curtailing growth in the Valley will encourage, if not force, it elsewhere. In an attempt to be completely forthcoming, I note that I would view annexations elsewhere more favorably, though again, only responsible growth accomplished via reasonable and constitutional regulation.

I studied similar issues in environmental law classes taught by the current CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. A recurring lesson was that more is achieved when parties always deal openly and collegially when possible.

We must act thoughtfully.”

Name: Sidny Zink, 51

Occupation: Certified public accountant

“My position right now is that River Trails Ranch should stay in the county. I must admit to not knowing all of the facts, but I’ve been watching the chain of events with interest. I’m not sure it would be fiscally responsible for the city to stretch that far north. I also question the “fit” of the project into its surroundings. Densities decrease from the 32nd and East Animas area going north. The location of River Trails Ranch would upset the natural progress to lower densities by inserting a very high density project. I am not against high density, but it must be in the right place. River Trails Ranch does not seem to be that place.

The plans and expectations for development of Grandview are, and should be, a factor in the consideration of River Trails Ranch and any expansion to the north. It is essential for the City Council to take a broad visionary view and do what is best for the future of the city as a whole. When the city acts on matters of growth and boundaries, there must be consideration of and communication with the county. I think we all want to be good neighbors.”

Name: Dale Garland, 45

Occupation: Durango High School social studies teacher

“As of this writing, I am against the development of River Trails Ranch in its present form. I base this stance on several criteria that have to be fully considered before any development of this type goes through.

Options: Much has been made of the density of this project. My question is, have other alternatives also been considered (open space, conservation easements, etc.) to the same degree?

Traffic: The impact of traffic will go further than what the development currently addresses. The impact on Florida Road and Main Avenue also needs to be evaluated.

Timing: Given a historical growth rate of 2 percent annually and with three other major developments being considered; are we overbuilding?

New Urbanism: If this is the conceptual plan being proposed, how does it work in a community of our size? I think we need to find another community with our characteristics who has a model for us to evaluate before we head down a path from which we can’t go back.

Public Opinion: In a democracy, the government should consider the public’s point of view. Although it isn’t a scientific poll, the latest Durango Herald poll shows that over 71 percent of the people who responded do not favor such a development. Sampling issues aside, that is still a fairly significant indicator of public opinion.

Given the unique nature of the Animas Valley, careful, deliberate and environmentally compatible development should occur.

Name: Michael Rendon, 30

Occupation: Director of the FLC Environmental Center

“I believe that the current plan of 67 trophy homes is bad planning and does not consider the needs of Durango. I would prefer to see as much as possible of the valley remain open space and want to discuss possibilities. Since the city does not have the money to purchase all the land in the valley, and if no additional funds can be found, then my main concerns facing development are: preserving the environmental integrity of the area; providing affordable housing opportunities; and meeting transportation challenges.

If development occurs, I would advocate for as much open space as possible to be included and the implication of sustainable design techniques. I’d also like to see affordable housing options based on people’s incomes within the city.

I also have strong concerns about the excess traffic on CR 250, Florida Road, and 32nd Street. Any new development should have as much walkability and access to public transit as possible, with trails and bike lanes built into the proposal. I also think that any development should work closely with the neighbors in that community as it is their lives that will be most affected.”

Name: Lee Goddard, 62

Occupation: Owner of Goddard Enterprises

“For a potential elected official to have identified a stance on River Trails Ranch, or any other proposed development, in my opinion, shows a lack of respect for the process. Planning Commission and council public hearings on the current annexation and development request have not commenced.

Questions as to the suitability of the project, capability and economic impacts of providing utilities and services, access, etc., will be heard, studied and debated. Citizens on both sides should prepare substantive public testimony.

While defining some of the qualities we have sought in the ‘planned development’ and ‘mixed use’ process, I do not see new urbanism, etc., as the panacea that is currently being touted. My inclination, garnered in the public process, is that the current development plan approved by the county benefits few.”


Name: John Gamble, 55

Occupation: Social worker

“I am currently a member of the Durango City Council. The developers of River Trails Ranch have already submitted a preliminary development plan to the city of Durango. One of the roles of the City Council is to reach quasi judicial decisions about land-use planning. In those cases, city councilors are expected to impartially take public testimony from all interested parties and reach a decision intended to be in the best interest of the Durango community.

To prejudge River Trails Ranch or any other quasi judicial decision pending before council would not be appropriate.”









News Index Second Index Opinion Index Classifieds Index Contact Index