A gnarled locust prepares to bud in the
Smiley Building courtyard. /Photo by Todd Newcomer.

Extension of moratorium likely

La Plata County’s six-month moratorium on development in the Grandview area expires early next week. However, the review of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s proposal for up to 2,500 new units in a New Urbanism configuration is not likely to proceed in the near future. The City of Durango has requested that the county consider extending the moratorium by three months.

“The moratorium is up on April 21,” said Nancy Lauro, county planner. “We’ve got a request from the city to extend it.”

City Planner Greg Hoch said one of the reasons for the request is that the city’s Grandview-South Fork Area Plan has yet to be completed. The city expects a draft copy of the document that will guide annexation and development of the area next week.

“That time frame took longer than we thought it would, but it’s been very challenging,” Hoch said.

One of the reasons the moratorium was adopted late last October was to investigate transferable development rights. In the midst of the recent swell of development, La Plata County is searching for an antidote to sprawl, and a working group has been studying TDR’s for the last six months. “The TDR’s aren’t quite ready although there’s been progress,” Lauro said.

Though the Tierra Group, the tribe’s real estate development arm, could not be reached for comment, Hoch said the review cannot proceed until the area plan is adopted.“They can’t get annexed until the area plan is adopted anyway,” he said.

On April 21, the La Plata County Commissioners will consider whether to extend the moratorium until July 21.

Fort Lewis restarts president search

Now that all three finalists have withdrawn from contention, Fort Lewis College has little choice but to start over in its search for a new president. Interim President Bob Dolphin’s contract has been extended one year, the time the college’s Board of Trustees expects is needed to complete a new search.

In the last search, the board reviewed 125 possible candidates and narrowed it to three. Michael Levy, the last finalist, withdrew early this month. Board of Trustees Chairman Peter Decker said he is optimistic about a renewed search. “There are many candidates attracted to Fort Lewis College,” he said.

Decker added that he was pleased that Dolphin agreed to extend his contract, saying, “I am delighted that Dr. Dolphin has agreed to continue as interim president, a position he has so ably filled this past year,” he said.

Dolphin has served as Fort Lewis College president since July 1, 2002, when former president Kendall Blanchard resigned. Dolphin had planned to retire at the end of the 2002-03 academic year after the Board of Trustees had hired a new president.

Dolphin said despite challenges, Fort Lewis College will move forward. “The campus is poised to move forward with its continued quality growth,” he said. “We have strong academic programs, excellent new facilities and technology, and superb faculty and staff.”

Log Chutes prescribed burn complete

Fire crews have completed the Log Chutes prescribed burn, which began Thursday, April 10. Crews burned a total of 608 acres in four days. Burn boss Craig Goodell said the burn went very well and he was pleased that the weather cooperated. Because of changing conditions last year, crews were unable to complete the burn then. About 2,000 acres were burned last year.

Because the Junction Creek area receives a lot of recreation use, fire managers felt it was important to clean up or remove the lighter surface fuels such as pine needles, pine cones, oak leaves, and small dead branches, making the area safer should a fire start. The burn will also help improve the health of the ponderosa pines by reducing the competition from oakbrush.

No other prescribed burns are planned in the Durango area this year.

City Market pulls Manna’s food source

The Manna Soup Kitchen’s primary food supply was cut off last week. Courtesy of a corporate decision from City Market’s parent company, donations from the two local supermarkets have ended. City Market had supplied between 80-90 percent of Manna’s food, which feeds approximately 100 people per day.

Manna director Kim Workman said the decision has been devastating. “It’s tough right now,” she said. “Between 80 and 90 percent of my food is gone.”

Workman said the community outpouring has been tremendous, including dozens of phone calls and a $1,000 donation. However, she added that a solution has not been found. “I’ve got all kinds of people out there that are concerned and want to help,” Workman said. “So far the answer is eluding us.”

Workman noted that Manna will be looking to the community for support now, and that the soup kitchen is open to any suggestions. She also encouraged people to not boycott the local City Markets, noting that the decision was made on high.

“It’s not the people at City Market,” Workman said. “I’ve had people call me and say they’re boycotting City Market. That’s not the answer.”

King Soopers, which owns the City Market chain, made the decision based on setting a new personal standard for food-safety and not donating food that it wouldn’t be comfortable selling.

The Manna Soup Kitchen can be reached by calling 385-5095.

Disaster preparedness meeting set

On Saturday, April 19, a community meeting will be held to address what wildfire survivors can expect this spring and summer. The meeting will be run by the La Plata Office of Emergency Management and Lutheran Disaster Response, the organization contracted by FEMA for community outreach. LDR is the first faith-based organization to be funded by FEMA in Colorado history.

LDR started delivering disaster preparedness kits door-to-door during the month of March, with the goal to reach all residents in the high-risk areas for flooding and mudslides as outlined by the office of emergency management. The group has also worked through Lutheran Family Services of Colorado to bring appropriate and needed help through small cash grants for persons affected economically in some way by these disasters.

At the meeting, members of the public will be able to get the most up-to-date information about the Missionary Ridge Fire from the US Geological Survey, findings gleaned from photos taken by the Civil Air Patrol and the OEM. OEM Director Butch Knowlton will give an overview of last summer’s fires and discuss the resultant high-risk areas and roads for flooding, debris and mud slides. Knowlton will also give his perspective on pine beetle infestation and the drought. LDR will provide free Disaster Preparedness Kits.

The meeting will take place on Saturday, April 19, at 11 a.m. at Christ the King Church, 495 Florida Road across from Chapman Hill. Child care and light snacks will be provided. For more information, call 247-4537.






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