Soap Box

Development bad for neighbors
02/13/2020

To the editor,
My wife, who manages our small business, and I have been losing sleep over the monstrous four-story development proposed at 564 E. 2nd Ave. We were only aware of a Planning Commission meeting regarding the Reynolds and Associates project shortly before it happened, and based on city staff recommendations to deny the project, assumed we would simply have to show up to represent our interests. In hindsight, especially after the project was granted a continuance, we wish we had presented a fuller case regarding the impact of the proposed development on Amaya Natural Therapeutics, which may very well be devastating.
Concerns that affect our business especially include the loss of business during a massive construction process. We offer several thousand massages a year and support nearly 20 employees. Many people come to our business to relax and enjoy the outdoor sanctuary we’ve created, which includes a hot tub, cold plunge and sauna. We cannot imagine that people will want to come in during a very loud, ground-shaking construction process. We believe it may represent upwards of a 75 percent loss in business during the totality of the construction phase. Beyond this, we lose a tremendous amount of value going forward, as our business relies on the enjoy-ability of our tub area and back yard. We believe the change in view, sunlight, noise and privacy will constitute an ongoing financial loss of business for our establishment.
Relative to the large tree along our fence line that in the summer offers dappled shade to our garden while allowing partial sun in the remainder of the yard, and full sun to the yard in the winter when its leaves are down, we are rightly concerned that it would not survive the construction process.

Also, on the proposed north side of the project that looms over our property, there are at least nine windows and a stairwell that look directly into our back yard and compromise the privacy of our clients.

I am not sure who grants permission for trespass during the construction process, however as a business we do not wish to offer an easement for this, as the impact to our well-being is so great. We in no way wish to support the development of something that undermines our very survival as a business. We know Reynolds and Associates has suggested there would not be need to cross onto our property as they feel they could build the entire development from within their property lines. However, I cannot believe that the construction process would not represent an extreme danger to our clients, whether from falling construction debris or accidental human errors, especially as it abuts our property line.

Although we understand that the City has targeted this area for development and has generously allowed for developers to expand the existing infrastructure of the block in line with the desires of elected government officials (who often represent real estate and architectural interests), we cannot stress how important it is to approach these changes with sensitivity to the existing property owners and established business owners in the neighborhood. By placing a large development of this type in the middle of the block, Reynolds is dramatically affecting the values of neighboring properties by overshadowing them, and in essence is forcing the hand of his neighbors to consider selling out, as they witness the loss in value of their investments. To manipulate the value of existing interests by forcing development without any consideration of the impacts to the quality of life for his neighbors is unethical.

We understand that he may desire to undermine his neighbor’s property values in hopes of developing the entire block and seems to be applying aggressive strategies to this end. However, for the city to not carefully represent the concerns of its citizens relative to such behavior seems incredibly distasteful. If our elected officials are shaping planning policies with an eye to future growth, who represents those in the community with historical interest in their properties? Approaching such blatant gentrification with care and consideration seems the ethical responsibility of our city government.

PS: If you would like to comment about the project at 564 E. 2nd Ave., you can contact Community Development Planner Vickie Vandergrift or Planning Manager Scott Shine. Public comments are welcome. 

– Don Lewis, owner, Amaya Natural Therapeutics

Walking the climate-change talk
02/06/2020
To the editor,
Everyone who is a human-caused global warming believer should pay attention to what Greta Thunberg said when she met with the billionaires and ruling elites at Davos on Jan. 21. She said net-zero carbon emission is not enough – that even that low level will destroy the Earth. Greta believes that we must immediately (in just the next few years) change to ZERO carbon emission.
So, to all of you who believe in human-caused global warming, you yourself have to change to zero carbon emissions. Telling your congresspersons and senators to pass laws mandating this to make everyone else change isn’t going to work.
It’s time, today, for you yourself, to turn off your propane. Turn off your electricity (unless yours is from nuclear or hydro-electric power, no carbon there), and park your car or truck for the last time. Stop cutting trees and burning wood in the stove. Eat whatever meat you have on hand for the last time, then vegan forever.
You yourself should do this now. Today. If you do not, then you have to admit that you do not truly believe Greta, that you do not believe in human-caused global warming.
– Pat Reyes, Durango
Livestock insurance a reasonable approach
02/06/2020
To the editor,
With wolf reintroduction on the Colorado ballot for 2020, cattle ranchers and livestock owners have been up in arms. Wolves were hunted to extinction in Colorado in the 1940s, largely at the hands of ranchers seeking to protect their livestock. Understandably, they worry that the reintroduction of wolves could mean the loss of profit and animal lives. Most ranchers argue that wolves should not be reintroduced, or that losses due to reintroduction should be covered by the government.
Historically, insurance has offered individuals protection from random, low frequency events, such as fires, earthquakes and floods. In this model of insurance, many people join a pool of covered individuals each paying into a pot of money that is used to reimburse a covered member who suffers a loss. Although insurance can be costly, it is undertaken regularly by individuals who understand the risks of living on planet Earth, where humanity is a relatively new species. However, many ranchers view the exposure to natural predators, and therefore needing to protect the value of their livestock with insurance, as an unjust burden.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, approximately only one cow out of every 44,853 is killed by wolves in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, where the vast majority of wolves in the West live. Statistically, individuals are significantly more likely to be affected by a natural disaster than ranchers are to lose an animal to wild predation. 
The question is, why do ranchers feel that they should not have to respond as all other individuals and businesses in the face of the random, low frequency and uncontrollable natural forces by obtaining insurance? Already, the public funds cattle ranchers through subsidies including grazing rates on public lands, as well as publicly provided range improvements. Why are the priorities of livestock, which are not native to these lands, placed above the creatures that have lived here harmoniously long before our arrival? 
The State of Colorado has paid dearly for the slaughter and extinction of wolf populations. Without ample predators, entire ecosystems begin to degrade. In the absence of wolves, Colorado elk populations have increased rapidly, causing overgrazing, water contamination and soil erosion, among other problems. This negatively affects not only every species in our Colorado ecosystems, but also livestock and livestock owners, who depend on healthy, thriving land. 
In addition to these priceless losses, should taxpayers also be held responsible for covering rancher’s losses when nature runs its course?
– Jamie Blatter, Durango 
A world without Trump
02/06/2020
To the editor,
I recently heard a question posed of what would happen if the Senate removed the current occupant of the White House. This is my answer to Sen. Cory Gardner: We would begin to 1) free babies from cages; 2) give all children in America access to good nutrition and education; 3) reduce maternal mortality by denying religious freedom to anyone who denies religious freedom and access to health care for women; 4) treat our air, water and soil with a respect that allows our climate to stabilize as much as possible to prevent the current state of nations on the run; and 5) work on an economic system that benefits all, not so few.
– Stephanie Johnson, Durango
Five Super Bowl LIV takeaways
02/06/2020
To the editor,
Bill Murray has used up all the funny left.
That kid sure can run.
Yes, half time can be both sex drenched and empowering.
Patrick Mahomes is never, ever, out of the game.
President Trump thinks the Kansas City Chiefs play in Kansas.
– john van becay,
via e-mail