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As to Mr. Arquit’s statement that in 1987 grocery prices in Chattanooga were above the national average-so what? Relative prices are always changing in a competitive economy. Such aggregate statistics, uninformed by sound economic reasoning, are useless.
Not in the Plan
William D. Eggers’s article, “Pruning The Plan” (Dec.), about population growth and land-use planning in Fort Collins, Colorado, revealed his (and your) bias in the subtitle, “When No-Growth Sentiment Threatened To Choke Prosperity ....” There is a definite relationship between population growth and prosperity, but it is an inverse one. As an example, I cite the current winner in the “economic development” contest: Japan. It has one of the lowest population growth rates in the world and virtually no immigration. Switzerland is another example. There are no examples I know of that would prove growth produces prosperity. Certainly some land speculators and developers get rich, but the key question is, Who profits and who pays?
Mr. Eggers quoted me incorrectly and out of context in the beginning of his article. It would appear that was done intentionally to make me seem like an unreasonable extremist because later he strongly implies that those of us opposed to growth are zealots, closet racists, communists, misanthropes, and radical environmentalists.
Eggers was apparently bamboozled into thinking that the growth here is occurring in a free marketplace with minimal government interference. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Of course the Chamber of Commerce is pushing for more growth, and it is supported with thousands of dollars in tax money paid by the city, school district, etc. in the form of dues. Also, the real estate salesmen and developers are chasing smokestacks with their own self-styled “Fort Collins, Inc.,” which they fund with around a quarter of a million dollars a year in order to generate growth. The city has one full-time and several other deeply involved staff members paid with our tax money to work on ‘economic development,” which is ‘Chamberspeak” for “generate growth.”
Fort Collins is growing because it is profitable for developers. Our politicians are not making growth pay its own way and are forcing all of us to subsidize it. Recent bond issues for a new county jail and new schools are an example. There should have been an impact fee on new construction to collect up front from the newcomers who have generated the need for this new public construction. Instead, this debt is being spread to all of us and passed on to future generations.
The bonded indebtedness of Fort Collins in 1989 was over 41 times greater than it was nine years ago. That does not include our share of debt through the school district or the county. That does not include bonds issued for water, sewer, and storm drainage. It does include nearly $70 million in bonds issued to subsidize an Anheuser-Busch brewery. Are taxpayer subsidies like that your idea of a free-market economy? If we made growth pay its own way up front, with impact fees, we would find that growth is not so inevitable after all.
Thomas P. McKenna Fort Collins. CO
William D. Eggers's article is fraught with errors and misconceptions. Not only is it completely slanted in favor of the development community, it is patently unfair to the residents of Fort Collins who are concerned enough about the negative effects of growth to spend free time working on growth- and development-related problems.
Pikes Peak is 120 miles from my home and cannot be seen from any point in the subdivision, let alone the living room of my home. I am 56, not in my mid-60s, nor have I lived in Fort Collins for 42 years (28 actually). Developments ascribed to the Land Development Guidance System- Woodward Governor and Hewlett- Packard-were built years before the LDGS existed. In the words of a local resident not quoted in Eggers’s tirade and who is not a member of Citizen Planners, “The LDGS is a bureaucratic sop rather than an effective planning tool.” The system does have virtues, but it is not faultless. It is neither necessary nor sufficient for quality development.
Chuck Mabry was never mayor of Fort Collins. Citizen Planners is not anti-growth; group members represent a reasonable cross-section of the community. Many are concerned about the loss of quality of life in neighborhoods caused by the intrusion of noncompatible industrial and commercial development into the city’s residential neighborhoods. Mixed use has several benefits, but there isn’t any tangible evidence that it works as stated by planners or developers.
Eggers’s vicious character defamation of those who favor slow growth or those who think growth should pay its own way is completely unwarranted and unjustifiable. To characterize cautious, middle-of-the-road liberals as communists, racists, and radical environmentalists is silly and unconscionable. If Eggers would have presented the facts rather than one-sided fantasies, other articles in your magazine would be more credible.
Arthur Judson Fort Collins, CO
Mr. Eggers replies: I apologize for inaccurately reporting Mr. Judson’s age, and it was Longs Peak, not Pikes Peak, that I observed from the prairie near his home. Furthermore, former Assistant Mayor Chuck Mabry was misidentified as a former mayor due to an editing error.