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Fight sprawl and congestion

To the editors,

I read with interest Edmund Andersson's snob zoning letter in the Sept. 2 edition of the Telegraph. Poison to our community are people who loudly beat their breasts in public concerning affordable housing, and then gush all over about how wonderful it was to get rid of that awful trailer park south of town, to replace it with magazine-cover condos. Ahem, Mr. Andersson, in case you didn't realize, trailer parks ARE affordable housing. I wonder what Mr. Andersson's connection with Parkside Terrace might be? It has become clear that the main opposition to the proposed growth initiative is from those who profit from construction. Durango is their cash cow, and Orwellian speak is their game.

FOAV is a diverse group of citizens that range from real estate brokers to engineers, from housewives to construction workers. They realize that local wages are already beginning to fall in order to compete with outside workers pouring into this area for construction.

They also realize that developments are simply stepping stones for people wishing to find their dream spot and sprawl out into the county. It is all sprawl and traffic congestion and higher taxes from here on out. Is it any wonder that citizens feel concerned?

Stephanie Johnson,Durango

How much is too much?

Dear Editors,

I would like to respond to Tina Pernosky and Ed Andersson'srecent Letters to the Editor on the Responsible Growth Initiative.

First, Tina is not exactly your average concerned citizen. She neglected to mention in her letter that she is the State AEC Chair of the National Association of Realtors. Ed also is a prominent Durango Realtor a group that is very concerned the passage of the initiative will affect its pocketbook.

As with most assertions by the Citizens for Sustainable Growth and interested Realtors, their claim "the proposed initiative is asking the city to stop population growth" is totally unfounded. Six cities in Colorado and 30 cities in Oregon have citizen voting requirements on annexations similar to the initiative, and the experience in every one of the cities is the same the overwhelming majority of annexations get approved by the voters.

The very few that have been denied were clearly flawed and were turned down by the citizens by large margins. Despite their obvious flaws, they still were approved by city officials.

The evidence shows clearly local government has a difficult time saying no to a development that meets all 4 its regulations and is clearly not right for the community.

Tina asserts that the Comprehensive Plan allows us to see how each development decision "affects the whole." Not true no traffic analysis has been made to support the Comprehensive Plan. Thus we have no idea of the level of traffic congestion that awaits if we continue to follow this plan.

Worse, when Durango's Comprehensive Plan gets hitched to an Intergovernmental Agreement with the county later this fall, the city's expansion by annexation will be facilitated in all four directions: north in the Animas Valley up to the glider field; west on 160 to Lightner Creek; south along La Posta Road as far as the Animas Airpark; east on 160, through "big box alley" to Elmore's Corner and south on 172.

Even without the new intergovernmental agreement, Durango's single-family housing permit issuance has increased at an annual rate of 17 percent over the past five years. During the same period, Durango's issuance of multi-family housing permits has increased at an annual rate of 40 percent.

How much is too much?

If I was a Realtor, I certainly would support the wholesale expansion laid out in the Comprehensive Plan and the Intergovernmental Agreement. It would put a lot of money in my pocket as Durango's growth soars towards its 40,000 limit.

But for the rest of us who pay taxes, have to drive on the roads and who are concerned with our quality of life, why is it good that Durango expand so rapidly? How will our quality of life be affected as one large development after another is approved?

Our city must grow, and will grow, and the Planning Department and City Council are clearly the ones best qualified to make sure that proposed annexation developments meet all of the city's development requirements.

But they may not be the best ones to decide if every large annexation is in the best interests of Durango's existing citizens. The pressure of money, power and momentum are hard to resist as evidenced by our city's long history of unanimous approvals of development after development.

The overwhelming majority of annexation developments get approved by the voters and it will be the same in Durango. But the city and developers will know when they go through their decisions that the annexation development has to be good for the voters, too, and that will improve how Durango grows.

Peter Bartol, Durango

More on abstinence education

Dear Editors,

I would like to address the misinformation printed in your Aug. 19, 2004, article regarding our new abstinence education program:

1)We are the REALITY Youth Abstinence Program, one of the programs under the umbrella of the Durango Life Foundation, not "Family Life Center."

2) We were awarded funding for abstinence education in January 2004 through a grant in the amount of $64,890, but this grant is a matching funds grant.For every $4 we are granted, we have to match with $3. This means we have to raise $50,122 in matching funds.

3) The Durango Life Foundation is a nonprofit organization. Our only source of income is through private donations, so we have to collect donations to match the grant (hence the baby bottles as well as other fund-raising events).

4) We are not "abstinence-only." We are abstinence and ... character building, and relationship development, and dating wisely, and consequences of sex outside of a faithful, monogamous relationship (not just physical, but emotional, intellectual and social consequences), and boundary setting, and marriage preparation.

5) We are not "based in fear," but on fact: medically accurate and age-appropriate facts. Our curriculum can be adapted for middle or high school students as well as parent teaching.We customize for the needs of the particular classroom, teacher or principal.

6) We have great trust and respect for the youth of our community and know that if they are taught the social, emotional and physical health gains to be realized by abstaining, they will make wise choices.

7)93 percent of youth surveyed by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, in April 2000, said they "felt it was important for teens to be given a strong message from society that they should abstain from sex until they were at least out of high school." This is reflected in the comments from the youth in your article.

8) Sexually transmitted diseases are at epidemic proportions (over 15 million people every year).Over 3 million of these are teens 15 to 19 years old, with 2/3 of the 15 million being people under 24 years old. Many of these diseases are viral with no cure and no symptoms.These diseases have been linked to infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), cervical cancer and death.

9) A recent National Institutes of Health (NIH) report summarizing condom effectiveness of eight major STDs revealed "no clinical proof of effectiveness" in six of those eight diseases (which include chlamydia, syphilis, genital herpes and human papillomavirus-HPV). Some "risk reduction" (not risk prevention) was found in the other two.

10) If the "safe sex" message has been so effective for the past several decades, why is there an epidemic of STDs and the numbers keep growing?Why are dentists reporting oral STDs?

11) Does the "safe sex" message teach youth (and adults for that matter) how to protect one's heart and mind from the consequences of sexual activity outside of the boundaries of marriage?

12)Why are we giving our youth the mixed message "to abstain is best, but if you don't, then use a condom?" Don't we teach our children how and why to abstain from alcohol, drugs and tobacco? Can't we expect them to have the same self-control when it comes to abstaining from sex? Shouldn't we adults be giving them the same how and why to abstain from sexual activity?

I invite anyone with any questions to come by, talk to us, look at our curriculum and see for yourself what a fun, positive program we have. Also, feel free to call (247-5559) if you want any website information for the medical information presented here.

Sincerely, Lori Thornbrue, RN

Director, REALITY Youth Abstinence Programs

Vote for responsible growth

Dear Editors,

How will passage of the Responsible Growth Initiative encourage affordable housing (AH) in Durango? First, let's examine what we've been doing and where the issue is now.

The consensus is that there is not nearly enough affordable housing available, especially for purchase. The Homebuilder's Association argues that AH should be voluntary on the part of developers.The Durango City Council has been unable to find the political will to enact inclusionary zoning, i.e. zoning that would require developers provide a reasonable percentage of their developments as AH.Currently, the council only "encourages" developers to include AH.The price of available land has skyrocketed because developers can sell small condos at $275,000 and up hardly affordable. When the city annexes a piece of land, its value jumps dramatically. In the meantime, a spokesperson for Colorado Housing Inc., a mutual, self-help housing agency, stated that somewhere around 35 percent of families in La Plata County could probably qualify for their program.

When the Responsible Growth Initiative passes, wise developers will know that savvy Durango voters will demand they include substantial AH in order to get projects approved for annexation. When affordable housing is a part of the equation for all developers, the market for developable land will shift to more affordable prices. Wise developers will be able to purchase reasonably priced land and present good projects, including AH. Voters can approve the annexation, and AH will actually get built. Real Durango folks could actually afford to buy the homes, and the working people of Durango would be served.

Forbes Magazine recently invited all of the U.S. to move to Durango, saying it's one of the last, good, affordable (to the Forbes Crowd) places. Let's stop crowding ourselves into gridlock and pricing Durangoans out of the market to accommodate all those folks. A wise counselor once told me, "Keep doing what you've always done, and you'll keep getting what you've always gotten." Let's stop doing what we've always done it's not working. Let's provide affordable housing for Durangoans first. Let's vote "Yes" on the Citizen's Responsible Growth Initiative.

Alan Cathcart

Friends of the Animas Valley

End loss of liberty

To the editors,

The Orwellian-speak of the present campaign is suffocating. It is important to vote, as this is our chance to continue to live in the land of liberty, where citizens conduct their own affairs and efforts to keep our overpopulated masses from overwhelming our nest.The other choice is to go with the guys who influenced the denial of emergency contraception for women, in spite of favorable testing and unanimous approval by scientists. This administration began its first week in office by denying funding for family planning (not funding for abortions), worldwide.

This government sees benefits for itself in encouraging submission of women and encouraging overpopulation. This growth provides the president with the cannon fodder he needs. It also gives his "have-mores" a large desperate workforce, willing to work for near slave wages.Who says that international authorities do not agree with the Bush administration? Osama, the male institutions of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Rome, etc., etc., line up with the Bush boys to require women to bend over so these men can protect their values.While our hearts are struck with sorrow over the caskets of our friends and loved ones returning home, the casket the Bush administration wants most to hide is the one in which the land of liberty is being carried away.

Kassandra Johnson, Durango




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