Close call

Editor’s note: On Monday, the City of Durango announced the developer of the Sophia Apartments withdrew its application and will redesign the project. The developer’s goal is to present a new proposal to the Durango Planning Commission on June 26.

The Durango community dodged, at least for the moment, a bullet on May 3, when the Durango Planning Commission recommended to deny a proposal to build the massive 200-plus unit Sophia Apartments adjacent to Florida Road. Congratulations to all those who have been fighting an extraordinarily well-organized resistance to this ill-conceived project.

As community awareness and political pressure against this project grows, it seems unlikely that a body that depends on getting elected, such as the Durango City Council, would vote to overturn this recommendation. You never know, though. Plenty of horrible decisions, contrary to the best interests of the people, are made every day in America, and Durango is no different. The catastrophic decision to place the stink pot – I mean sewer treatment plant – right at Santa Rita Park, which many would consider a crown jewel of the community, is one example of planning gone way amok.

As the saying goes, “follow the money.” The development pipeline corrupts even politicians who had the best of intentions (and we all know what the road to hell is paved with!). This Texas development corporation has, of course, managed to hire Dean Brookie, a local architect, planner and former politician to be their mercenary in representing them in this hideous development. Nothing new there.

The time has come for a change, I believe. We need a greater degree of democracy in our planning process. In my opinion, that would look like direct citizen input via required ballot initiatives for massive, high-impact decisions such as the placement of the sewer plant at Santa Rita Park or the construction of the Sophia Apartments on Florida Road.

This is not a new or novel concept. Other communities have done it. Let’s put these kinds of projects through the scrutiny of a direct ballot initiative election process and let the people decide. Otherwise, the next disastrous project proposal may not receive the stellar resistance that the Sophia Apartments proposal is getting and could slip through the wide cracks that make up the planning process here.

– Brian Clark, Durango