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Mountain News:

Compiled By Allan Best


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Durango squabbling about limiting growth

DURANGO, Colo. — Proponents of a growth-control initiative claim that officials in Durango, where the population is now 15,000, have a goal of hitting 40,000.

City officials say there is no such goal, but they concede that the city has drawn up a plan that assumes the city’s water, sewer and other infrastructure will someday serve 40,000 people. However, they say that will not happen for a long time.

The dispute is part of a broader argument about how growth should be managed in Durango. While it inched along at one percent a year during the 1990s, population growth has been running at 4 percent in the last several years. Furthermore, plans for new developments are unfolding at a brisk pace.

Proponents say this new accelerated pace illustrates why a growth-control measure is needed. The measure would force updates of development codes and plans, including review of cumulative traffic impacts. But the bottom-line intent of proponents is to just-say-no more often. "At what point does urbanization make Durango no longer livable?" asked Renee Parsons, president of the Friends of the Animas Valley.

Opponents say the existing review process, which takes six to nine months, does its job adequately. Furthermore, they do not see limiting population growth as a good way to define quality of life.

Ex-pro ski racer gets on most-wanted list

BASALT, Colo. — A former ski racer, Josef Odermatt, has shown up on the most-wanted list issued by police in Eagle County after failing to make required court appearances.

Friends in Aspen described Odermatt as a charismatic, personal guy with incredible skiing talent who began getting into trouble in 1995. Keith Ikeda, police chief of Basalt, said Odermatt’s record is typical of someone who tried to control a relationship to the point of becoming violent, and let substance abuse get the best of him.

What it all adds up to, says The Aspen Times, is a former ski racing champion whose life swerved radically off course.

Odermatt, 52, had broken his back when he was 16, and when he recovered he joined the pro circuit in the United States. That was in the 1970s. Although he was known to party as hard as he skied, his troubles did not begin until the mid-1990s, when he was accused of driving under the influence and possession of marijuana. A few years later there was an indecent exposure charge, and then a domestic disturbance, and then more and more arrests. There is some speculation he returned to Switzerland.