Dear Editor and Community,
Do you live in Chaffee county for the wide-open spaces, low density, beautiful views, and rural lifestyle? If you do, then your lifestyle is at risk from aggressive expansion plans by the City of Salida that [in my opinion] will turn Chaffee County into another overcrowded, high-cost, high-traffic, high-hassle mountain community.
How can this happen? Through annexation that allows the city to push urban sprawl deep into Chaffee County. These legal procedures allow the city and county to assist developers with building high-density residential zones in your rural backyard.
For proof, you need to look no further than the city’s most recent proposed annexation of a property on CR 140 (Airport Road). This is a 5.3-acre lot that is primarily surrounded by rural county homes and does not border the city limits. By jerry-rigging the annexation rules, the city is annexing a county road to “connect” this lot to the city and then proposing residential density that is up to 60 times higher than adjacent lots. Yes, 60 times higher. With a straight face, the city and county claim that this development is compatible with the surrounding community. Moreover, the city, with the help of the county, has plans to expand deeper into Chaffee County.
How can they do this? Well, the state annexation laws are favorable to cities that want to expand into county areas. But moreover, the city and county have a joint working agreement for annexation and development. Depending on how the county decides to enforce and apply this agreement, they can either allow for aggressive and high-density annexation or decide to side with the actual residents of the county and help preserve their rural lifestyles.
I and my neighbors know firsthand how this process works. We submitted a petition signed by over 100 of our neighbors opposing both the annexation of this 5.3 acre property and more importantly the massive increase in density. The density proposed is something that is more appropriate for downtown Denver than rural Chaffee county.
These 100 signatories represent the vast majority of people who live near the proposed development. When submitted, we received no outreach from the city or the county. Their lack of response indicated to us that neither was interested in what residents want, only what the developer wants. As elected representatives, their job is to listen to what the community wants, not the narrow interests of a few monied developers. If you can’t rely on zoning to preserve the nature of your community, then what good is it? This project is as far from compatible with the community as could be, so if it’s allowed, then basically anything is allowed.
If you are concerned about Chaffee County and the area surrounding Salida turning into another unlivable, overcrowded mountain town, then you need to contact the county commissioners and let them know you want them to fight to preserve the rural lifestyle you cherish. You can contact the commissioners via email here: https://www.chaffeecounty.org/Commissioners
If we don’t fight to preserve the County, then the City will continue to leapfrog and spot zone all over the county with high density, expensive, and poorly planned housing developments.