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CONO looks to the views 

R eacting to complaints from the city Planning Commission that the public hasn't had a chance to comment on a proposed view-protection ordinance, a citizen group is sponsoring a hearing on the proposal this Thursday, July 17.

The Council of Neighbors and Organizations, which is backing the ordinance, will co-host the hearing, along with city planning staff, at 7 p.m. in the Golf Acres Senior Center, 1514 N. Hancock Ave.

The proposal would seek to protect the view of Pikes Peak from the historic Pioneers Museum downtown by limiting the height of buildings directly west of the museum. It was sparked by plans by the El Paso County Board of Commissioners to expand the County Courthouse across the street from the museum.

Though several citizen groups and city advisory committees have endorsed the view ordinance, it is opposed by developers who argue the height restrictions could impact a planned urban renewal project in the southeast downtown area. They, along with leading county commissioners, backed several of the incumbent City Council members during the April election, through campaign contributions or endorsements.

When the view-protection ordinance came up for a vote at a Planning Commission meeting last month, a majority of the commissioners voted to table the matter indefinitely, arguing there had been insufficient public input -- even though the ordinance had been discussed in numerous public forums.

View-protection advocates called the vote a purely political effort to kill the ordinance, and City Councilwoman Margaret Radford, who backs the proposal, questioned whether commissioners had reached their decision during an illegal, informal meeting -- something commissioners denied.

The City Council has ordered the Planning Commission to readdress the ordinance during its Aug. 7 meeting, so that the council may vote on it subsequently.

Terje Langeland

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