Printed letters, May 21, 2010

Common sense absent in land-use editorial

It seems that common sense isn’t that common anymore. The Daily Sentinel and Mesa County Commissioner Steve Acquafresca were wrong when they said that the commissioners already have legal authority to approve a development that doesn’t meet the code. We don’t. We are legally bound by the Land Development Code.

First, let’s be clear about what the new text amendment actually says. You can read it for yourself. It’s just 78 words:

“In instances where an application to develop does not meet all applicable criteria of this code, and unique or special circumstances exist which would warrant approval of the application to develop, and provided the proposed development (a) poses no threat to health or safety; (b) provides for mitigation of impacts to the maximum extent reasonable; and (c) and is generally consistent and compatible with the allowed uses in the applicable zoning districts; the application to develop may be approved.”

Clearly, this new text amendment still prohibits approving a project if it violates any health or safety criteria or is not compatible with surrounding areas.

The concern raised by the Sentinel and Acquafresca, that staff will be able to approve a project that doesn’t meet code and cut the public out of the process, is just not true.

Yes, we did recently approve a text amendment that allows developments that already meet the current criteria and have no issues, to go through an administrative review (by staff) instead of a public hearing. This eliminates the need to go through the public hearing process (first with the Planning Commission and then with the County Commissioners) and cuts two to three months out of the process. And that’s a good thing. Couldn’t we all use a little less government bureaucracy?

But to state that this cuts the public out of the picture is completely inaccurate.

First, the general public was already involved and allowed input during the public hearing process that created the code.

Additionally, surrounding neighbors who might be affected by a specific proposed development are still notified about the project. Those neighbors are invited to a neighborhood meeting to learn more about the project and are allowed to comment both at the meeting and in writing, whether they attend the meeting or not. If issues are raised by the public or any of the review agencies, then the project would no longer qualify for an administrative review and would need to go before the commissioners for approval.

At the heart of the matter, this is about taking some of the power from a rigid bureaucracy and giving it back to the people.  It’s the people’s provision. It’s just common sense.



Mesa County Commissioners

Grand Junction

Energy bill is step toward one world government

I see in they May 13 edition of The Daily Sentinel that John Kerry’s and Joe Lieberman’s bill on global warming proposes to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 17 percent by 2010.

Our atmosphere is composed of .034 percent CO2. That’s .039 molecules per 1,000 molecules of our atmosphere or 390 molecules of CO2 per l million molecules of air. This bill will cut that number to 324, if it works. And at what cost?

Our oceans are by far the major source of CO2. Water evaporation and CO2 make up our greenhouse effect. Water absorbs far more heat than does CO2. Without the greenhouse effect, this Earth could not be inhabited.

CO2 is plant food — the more food the healthier the plant. It is a product of metabolism, producing energy in plants and animals. If there is no CO2 in the blood stream, your heart stops.

There are hundreds of uses for CO2 — dry ice, fizz in soda, fire extinguishers, etc. Our planet is created exactly to facilitate life as we know it. For thousands of years, it has been successful in balancing and correcting imbalances.

I think this 987-page, cap-and-trade bill is a power grab, a way to get more money and another step toward a one world government. I fear that Congress, pushed by our president and the United Nations, will sign this bill without reading or requiring honest scientific research.


Grand Junction

Living outdoors is not a lifestyle choice

Letter writer Randy Engel asks “does anybody care?” about citizens he characterizes as transients and hobos. It’s clear Engel does not, and he enumerates the reasons in his letter of May 16.

As someone who volunteers with the homeless through the Catholic Outreach Day Center in Grand Junction, I do care. And unlike Engel, apparently, I know some of the people he would round up and whose meager property he would destroy.

It might surprise Mr. Engel to learn that the few items they own may well have been donated by the charitable people of this valley — or purchased when the owners had paying work.

It might surprise him — should he take his verbal vigilantism down to the camps along the river — that one of those residents is a former Special Forces soldier and others he disparages have also served their country in the military.

I do understand his discomfort, however.

It’s upsetting to see how many people in the community have addictions, mental illness or physical conditions that make it difficult to find work or live in stable housing.

Most of all, it’s upsetting to realize we don’t care about our fellow human beings as much as we thought we did.

I don’t mean to paint all the homeless as saints or to absolve them of any responsibility for the conditions in which they live. But if you think living year round outdoors with no money can be dismissed as a “lifestyle choice,” you don’t understand the choices some of these gentle souls have available.

I would challenge anyone who sees the homeless the way Mr. Engel sees them to instead seek out their humanity and to know them as individuals. You might be surprised, and you will certainly be less afraid.


Grand Junction

Kagan’s brief followed Supreme Court precedent

Recently, The Daily Sentinel opined that when Elena Kagan’s office wrote, “Whether a certain category of speech enjoys First Amendment protection depends upon a categorical balancing of the value of speech against the societal costs,” her words raised serious issues aboout her suitability to serve on the Supreme Court.

In fact, there are categorical rules, all laid out by the Supreme Court, that balance the value of speech against costs. One that comes to mind is: No shouting “fire” in a crowded theater. Perhaps The Daily Sentinel, if it tried, could come up with more.

I had hopes that when Jay Seaton’s group bought the Sentinel, we would see a more reasoned analysis in the paper. Obviously that isn’t going to occur.



Columnist was wrong on Romanoff’s stance

Bill Grant is mistaken. I did not dismiss or deny any relationship between NAFTA and the flow of undocumented workers. In fact, I said I appreciated his point and invited his thoughts.

In numerous speeches and in a position paper on my website,, I discuss the need to address the root causes of illegal immigration, including the need for economic development abroad.

I respect Mr. Grant and his decision to support my opponent. He is certainly within his rights to promote candidates of his choice, as he has done before. The Daily Sentinel would have been wise, however, to identify Mr. Grant as a Michael Bennet delegate and to fact-check its opinion columns.




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