Longmont/Firestone Dustup Pt.1

I was fortunate to have been one of only a couple people who attended both the 3/17/08 Firestone Trustee Board meeting and the 3/18/08 Longmont City Council meeting. Both were very interesting and will take a few parts to cover it all.

First up, the Firestone meeting. Mayor Mike Simone gave quite a speech, eliciting applause from most, but also outrage by others. I met Mayor Simone and told him Longmont residents should have a chance to hear his thoughts. Suspecting the Times-Call would probably not print what you are about to read, I offered to publish it, to which he happily agreed and sent me the following. This is a response to a 3/11/08 Times-Call Editorial entitled ” On leadership and land grabs“. The bold print is Mayor Simone’s responses. The underlined words were emphasized by Mayor Simone as well.
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Firestone’s move to snag 74 acres on Longmont’s eastern border is a shock. It’s not a surprise. (No, it’s not a surprise–our board has been consistent in calling for towns and cities in this area to expand their master plans so they have adjacent borders, effectively leaving urban development to the municipalities and not Weld County. It was Longmont who decided not to participate in the Weld County Partnership group–a group dedicated to dealing with the problem of uncontrolled urban development by Weld County)

After all, Firestone’s the town whose leaders held school district money for ransom last year (the money was not the school district’s but was unethically extorted from new homeowners by bullying municipalities into serving as their middle men). The town caved and coughed up $186,000 in development fees (no, unethical impact fees) to the St. Vrain Valley School District after the district threatened to sue. Then town leaders threw a tantrum and decided to no longer collect $645 per house from developers (let’s be correct-homeowners) whose homes help overfill the schools. (again, unethical and possibly illegal extortion of money from new homeowners by trying to work around the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision that school districts cannot mandate impact fees).

Now Firestone’s up to new tricks. They’re working to crash Longmont’s eastern gates, even after Longmont and Boulder County spent millions preserving land east of Longmont. (Longmont and Boulder County has and has had the ability to buy whatever land it wants for a buffer. Firestone has never annexed any property whose property owners didn’t ask to be annexed. Testimony in front of Firestone’s Planning Commission and e-mails I’ve received from current property owners appear to make a case that Longmont has held its neighboring property owners hostage by not giving them a hearing–essentially “taking” their property to maintain a “free” buffer.)

Firestone made a plan to reach down Colo. Highway 119, almost to the Boulder County line, and annex the 74-acre Fairview Estates property. (Firestone began reevaluating its current master plan well before Firestone was aware of Fairview or LifeBridge Christian Church. Our reevaluation began when Weld County approved almost 4000 homes on our northern border. Firestone never “made a plan” to annex Fairview Estates-that comment is just a bold faced lie– They came to us and asked us to annex them-I’m not aware of anyone on this board who contacted anyone from Fairview Estates). Coincidentally, the Fairview property would make a terrific stepping stone if Firestone wanted to grab (Firestone has never “grabbed” anything whose owners didn’t ask to be “grabbed”) LifeBridge Christian Church’s Union development next door. LifeBridge, you’ll recall, walked away from Longmont after the Union annexation was set to go before voters. (LifeBridge was forced to “walk away” by the election of an anti-religious faction to the Longmont City Council.)

Establishing clear boundaries around municipalities is a useful practice. It helps give each an identity and preserves land on the periphery. (The only way you can ethically “preserve land” on your periphery is to buy it) Longmont attempted to create a buffer to the east. Firestone decided it didn’t care. (Firestone also thought there was a buffer around its town but Weld County‘s current policy eliminated that possibility. Firestone understands to create a buffer it will have to buy property or property rights. Longmont is naive if it thinks it can create “free” buffers in Weld County.)

That’s typical of the Firestone leaders’ Wild West approach to intergovernmental relations. (This is an interesting comment. It seems to echo Mr. Auer and his “Longmont First” slate of candidate’s ill informed and incorrect comments about intergovernmental relations. I guess this is a continuation of the T-C’s biennial attempt to influence Firestone’s elections by now trying to prop up and give legitimacy to Mr. Auer and his “Longmont First” slate of candidates.)

Does Firestone want a reputation for being a rogue town that bends over backwards to snatch land from its neighbors? (Very misleading T-C. Nobody is “snatching” anything. Frederick and Longmont have changed their master plans and annexed property outside their growth boundaries. Firestone is considering doing the same. You can’t “snatch” property that you don’t own. Longmont may think they “own” property outside their borders but I suspect the affected property owners think differently)

That uses development fees as a bargaining chip instead of using them to improve the schools that serve its children? (the school board is a governmental agency with the power to tax its residents. Instead of trying to work around your voters by trying to impose unethical impact fees, ask your voters for a tax increase. If you can’t justify it to the voters, you don’t deserve it.)

We hope Firestone residents will consider that question when they consider who should fill four open seats on the board on April 1. (The T-C’s attempt to affect Firestone’s election continues again this year–but of course they will try to make you believe they are an “unbiased” journalistic entity. A man, who I have never met, walked into my office this morning and was concerned about the T-C’s obvious bias in favor of Mr. Auer. I explained to him they are a private company and can do what they want. I also related how the Times-Call has decided they don’t want to print any editorials “they believe” are “personal” concerning a candidate-this only applies to the “Longmont First” candidates it appears.

Well, where have they been for the past 6 years? The only editorials I can remember the T-C printing concerning me and our town board are nothing but personal attacks-including the one I just read. Let’s review their words about this town board from the editorial I just read-snag, ransom, caved and coughed up, tantrum, tricks, crash, grab, Firestone decided it didn’t care, Wild West approach, rogue town, and snatch. )

So there you have it in one editorial. A Boulder County media outlet doing what they can to convince the voters in Firestone to allow a Boulder County school board along with the newly elected Longmont City Council, to run our town.
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Up next, further comments on the above statement, more reporting on this meeting, and Longmont City Council’s reaction.

About Chris Rodriguez

Chris is the editor/publisher of LightningRod Blog - as well as founder/editor of Wrongmont, Longmont Advocate, Vote!Longmont, Longmont Politics, the LightningRod Radio Network, as well as being the original Longmont Examiner. Chris is a writer and talker - whether it be blogs, podcasts, music, or public speaking. When he's not heard on Air Traffic radio, he can be heard on his podcasts or seen in the local paper causing trouble.
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