Way to go, Rob

To the Editor:

Rob Gordon's article about his first year at Lone Cottonwood Farm was the best piece I've read in the Independent ("Providence Moves," Jan. 6). Unlike most news stories today, it was chock-full of wit, charm, insight and adventure.

A great piece of writing. A great story. Thank you for publishing it. Bravo for Rob Gordon!

-- Rick Ramsey

Burlington, MA

Local control, not regional planning

To the Editor:

Your Dec. 23 issue carries an excellent letter from Kit Roup of the American Institute of Certified Planners and a column by your resident curmudgeon and my friend, John Hazlehurst, both on the subject of growth. Sorry, John, Kit is right, and you are wrong.

We don't need, can't afford, and won't live with regional planning. I've been a member of an advisory board for a regional planning commission, I've helped write the enabling act for land-use legislation in the state of Kentucky, I've written two PUD ordinances for municipalities, and I have watched closely the urban-growth boundaries in Portland, Ore., which have degenerated into an enormously expensive boondoggle. I tell you then, from extensive experience, that local control, miserable as the present process is, is still far superior to state or regional planning. You simply add one more layer of government to the process at additional cost and delay, and you gain nothing. The last thing we need is more government.

Of course, there are problems associated with growth. But recall that approximately two-thirds of our growth is internal. The people who create more traffic and demand more city services are our own sons and daughters. We have to cope with growth and not hide our heads in the sand.

Kit Roup makes a couple of excellent points. I just received a flowchart for the city's development plan review process. It looks for all the world like the electric-wiring diagram for a nuclear submarine. The process is complex, lengthy and expensive, and it is little wonder that something over 50 percent of new development now occurs in the county. The city's process then creates sprawl by driving development out into the county. Kit is absolutely correct when he says we need to streamline and shorten the process.

Kit also says that we should perform a fiscal analysis for any proposed new development. He is again correct. New development should stand on its own feet and should pay for itself. However, any rational analysis considers both the expense and the revenue side. If a new development fails that test, then an impact fee can and should be imposed. But it should not be a phony process like that the city is now pressing in regard to the Academy-Woodmen interchange, where it considers only the expense side.

Please, John, please. Not more government! Less is better.

-- Bob Hoff

Colorado Springs

John Hazlehurst responds:

You're right, Bob; regional planning, mandated by voter initiative, would create a new layer of government which might be worse than our current mess. But do we really want an uninterrupted strip city between Fort Collins and Pueblo, groundwater-dependent suburbs, disappearing ranches and breakneck population growth? That's what we'll get without regional planning. And I wonder what Portland would look like without the urban-growth boundaries that voters mandated a generation ago? Uncontained sprawl, I'll bet, just like a certain metropolitan area that we both know well ...

Preserve both cultural and

natural heritage

To the Editor:

We applaud John Hazlehurst's passion for preserving the cultural heritage represented by the historic structures of Colorado Springs ("Ghosts of Colorado Springs Past," Dec. 16). These beautiful and tangible pieces of the area's human history are certainly worth investing in.

Hazlehurst's recognition of their value contrasts sharply with his perception of the value of preserving the fossil redwoods at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. These beautiful and tangible pieces of the area's natural history are equally as important.

The huge petrified redwood stumps at Florissant are world-renowned. One of the stumps to be protected is the only petrified "trio" (three trees growing from a common base) that has ever been found. People have been coming to marvel at the trees since before the area was settled in the 1870s. The stumps are an impressive part of what little remains of an extinct ecosystem from ancient Colorado.

In his The Outsider column, Hazlehurst criticizes the project to construct shelters over the stumps. He makes the statement that "rocks thrive in outdoor environments." Unfortunately, that is not true in this instance. The petrified stumps have been deteriorating ever since they were exposed to the elements by excavation decades ago. They are no more resistant to the elements than are the stone buildings that he recommends for preservation. John points out that historic buildings, once destroyed, are gone for good. How much more true for the fossil redwoods!

The shelters will provide permanent and functional protection for the stumps. The Park Service has designed two structures that will protect these giants from extreme mountain weather while still allowing visitors to see and photograph them. The larger will cover two stumps, each over 10 feet in diameter, and house a 60-seat amphitheater and a sloping boardwalk for access by the disabled. The amphitheater and built-in interpretive exhibits will help thousands of visitors and schoolchildren learn the story of a very different Colorado of 35 million years ago.

The fossils of Florissant are part of a natural heritage that belongs to us all. These shelters will help make certain that an important part of this heritage is protected for our future. It's not every city that has a National Monument in its back yard, and we encourage everyone to visit the fossil beds and take a firsthand look at this world-class resource.

-- Tom Ulrich

Chief ranger, Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

Close gun loopholes

To the Editor:

An open letter to your readers:

Please help the Colorado Springs community send a message to the governor of Colorado by co-signing this letter. You can do so by faxing your signature to: The Citizens' Chamber, 577-4107, or e-mailing your support to citchamber@aol.com.

Please include your name, printed.

Dear Governor Owens,

Your efforts this year to bring attention to the disturbing issue of gun violence in our state are to be applauded and we whole-heartedly agree with you that more can be done to strengthen our state gun laws. We offer our voices in support of your position on this matter.

Closing the gun-show loophole by requiring background checks on all sales at gun shows is a positive, proactive step in the right direction. We also agree that your recommendation to increase the legal age for purchase of a handgun to 21 goes right to the heart of a growing problem, access of guns by our youth.

Your recommendation for a firm state penalty for the purchase of weapons with the intent to resell them illegally (straw purchases) is also commendable. We further encourage you to sign legislation that highlights the need for safe storage of firearms in the home.

The recommendations you supported at the Summit on Youth Violence and Safety make sense. If enacted into law, it would be one step toward sheltering Colorado's youth from the ongoing fear of guns in their schools, on our streets and in their communities.

This letter of support reflects non-partisan agreement from diverse viewpoints in the Colorado Springs community. Thank you for taking a strong lead on this important issue.

-- Ann Oatman-Gardner

Citizens' Chamber

Colorado Springs

Look up, Jan. 20

After last month's full moon being so bright, this month's full moon is going to be unusually dim, at least for a while right around the moment of fullness. That's because it will be eclipsed.

On the evening of Jan. 20 (for North America), we will have a nicely-placed total eclipse of the Moon. It's nicely placed, because mid-eclipse will come in the late evening hours, when it's convenient for most people to observe. We in the United States face a pretty serious drought after this one -- we won't get another total eclipse until 2003 (although other locations around the globe will, of course).

Totality will begin at 9:04 p.m. MST, mid-eclipse should be about 9:44 p.m. and totality will end, as the moon begins to emerge from the umbra, at 10:22 p.m. The moon will glide through earth's shadow just south of its center. This should produce a darkened, reddened moon.

The moon will be located in Gemini for this eclispe, so one of the objects normally obscured by the full moon's glare, which should become visible at some time during the darkening process, is the Beehive cluster, M44, about six degrees east of the moon.

As always, no special optical equipment is needed to enjoy this spectacle. You might want to get out binoculars for a close look during totality, or as the earth's shadow sweeps across lunar craters, or even to take a close look at stars which become visible near the moon, but the naked eye makes a fine observing instrument for the whole grand show. Note how the moon quits looking like a flat disc and becomes realistically three-dimensional when its glare is cut down.

-- Patrick Lilly

Occupied Cheyenne Caon


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