Cross Currents

Growth management does not have to be anti-growth

Column by Bill Christopher
Posted 8/24/17

With the fast pace of new construction throughout the greater Denver area, it is a good time to address the topic of growth management.

You may have recently read or heard in the news that there …

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Cross Currents

Growth management does not have to be anti-growth

Posted

With the fast pace of new construction throughout the greater Denver area, it is a good time to address the topic of growth management.

You may have recently read or heard in the news that there is a citizen group in the City of Lakewood which is promoting that very thing. This activist group believes the city is growing too fast and constraints need to be imposed.

But before we go any further, we need to point out that the terminology growth management can mean different things to different people.

Contrasting growth management plans

Let's take a couple of examples to prove my point. The City of Boulder, Colorado established a growth management plan back in the late 1960's and early 1970's to basically stop new development. The city government and the community for the most part were anti-growth.

The plan wasn't built on any criteria or resource availability or some percentage calculation. It represented an attitude of maintaining the status quo. Their open space program, which was the first of its kind in Colorado, further complemented this attitude by purchasing land around the city to prevent development.

To contrast this approach, the City of Westminster implemented a complex growth management plan in the mid-1970's with a totally different attitude and approach. Westminster continues to use such an approach today.

It is based on the ability of the city to serve new development without compromising or impacting municipal services to existing residents and businesses in such areas as water resources, water treatment capacity and wastewater treatment capacity. In other words, their plan is tied to available capacity and not an attitude or desire to stop growth. Over the years, some experts have called it a pacing plan.

Is residential construction tipping comprehensive land plans?

With the significant increase in apartment construction throughout the region including Westminster and Thornton, it raises a legitimate question for all such communities regarding capacity to serve and the land use balance of the respective community.

By land use balance, I mean does the new residential development reduce land still available for non-residential development - such as office, light industry, entertainment and retail?

The same holds true for those communities which are experiencing a huge volume of single family construction such as Erie, Arvada and Thornton. Each community should decide on its own the pace of growth they want and how much they can absorb within the city's or town's ability to serve. A city's comprehensive land use plan, which provides an overarching picture of allowed land uses, should be protected.

When it is requested to amend the plan, much thought and analysis should be exercised before changing it.

A Westminster celebrity

We have a celebrity in our midst!! Right here in Westminster, we have a newcomer to being a successful book author. She is no stranger to being around books and enjoying a good read.

Emily Littlejohn was a City of Westminster employee for approximately five years with the last 14 months of her employment serving as Libraries Manager.

She was in charge of the entire city libraries operations. While still with the city in 2016, she published her first book with Minotaur Books, entitled "Inherit the Bones." I found it to be a page-turner of a murder mystery.

Set in a smaller Colorado town, there is a prominent family with lots of secrets and motivations. Murder, deceit and hate were at play in the family. I will leave it at that.

The book's jacket cover states that Emily was born and raised in Southern California and now lives in Colorado, right here in Westminster.

The author's profile goes on to state that if she is not writing, reading or working at the local public library, she's enjoying the mountains with her husband and sweet old dog.

She and her husband are now the proud parents of a baby so the sweet old dog may have taken a back seat in the family. The jacket continues: "She has a deep love of horror stories, butter pecan ice cream and road trips."

Congratulations to Ms. Littlejohn on the start of a fine literary career. Be sure to check out her first book. There are more to come.


Bill Christopher is a former Westminster city manager and RTD board member. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.

Bill Christopher

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