Seeking votes for views 

Subhead: Citizens initiative considered to save mountain vistas

Seeking votes for views First, they tried unsuccessfully to recall two county commissioners who voted to build a courthouse expansion that might obscure the view of Pikes Peak from the Pioneers Museum downtown.

Then, they failed to persuade the Colorado Springs City Council to approve a measure that would have protected the view.

Now, view-protection advocates want to take their cause to the voters in the form of a citizens initiative.

Walter Lawson, one of the activists who pushed for a view-protection ordinance specific to the Pioneers Museum, says he and others are developing a proposed citywide view ordinance that they will try to get on the ballot during an upcoming election -- possibly as soon as next year.

"It looks like it's the only way," Lawson said.

The purpose of the ordinance would be to preserve scenic views of the Front Range from Colorado Springs by restricting the height of new buildings in "view corridors" between significant public places and the mountains. The ordinance would be modeled after a similar law in Denver.

Lawson says the City Council's failure to approve a view-protection ordinance for the Pioneers Museum has shown that the elected body "is not quality-of-life oriented." He also points out that efforts to establish an open-space program for Colorado Springs failed at the council level, but succeeded as a citizens initiative when voters in 1997 approved a sales tax to finance the Trails, Open Space, and Parks program, known as TOPS.

"We would not have had a TOPS program if it was up to the City Council," Lawson said.

A citywide view ordinance would, in fact, protect scenic views from many of the parks and open spaces that taxpayers have purchased through the TOPS program, Lawson argues.

Local builders and real-estate developers, who fund the election campaigns of most City Council members, have called view-protection ordinances a "taking" of private property rights. Denver's view-protection ordinance, however, has survived court challenges since it went into effect in 1968.

-- Terje Langeland


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