I'd like to address the confusion about the upcoming Valentine's Day Valley Floor vote.
How did we get here?
The alternative now available to the voters was derived from court-ordered negotiations that would not have been possible without our previous votes to condemn the land.
What does it decide?
The vote directs the Town of Telluride to either:
1. try to craft an annexation agreement for all 5 of the SMVC owned parcels using the framework found on the Town's website as a starting place, and using the established public process (P&Z and then Town Council) for public input; or,
2. continue to pursue condemnation of the South side in the courts.
Voting YES does not guarantee that Town will be able to come to agreement with SMVC, nor does it preclude returning to condemnation. If an agreement is unable to be reached, we will pick up the condemnation suit where we left off with a valuation trial scheduled for Feb. 2007. If the town is able to come to an agreement within the nine-month period, the Town voters will have a chance to vote on the final details of the proposal to formally annex the parcels into Town subject to that agreement.
Why vote on the Valley Floor again?
Telluride Town Council called this election to solicit voter feedback on difficult and important choices about the Valley Floor, choices that are different than they were during the 2002/2003 votes. These differences are twofold:
1. an increased and more realistic price of $42 million to proceed with condemnation; and,
2. an alternative to condemnation that has never before been available to voters.
Why the rush?
Telluride Town Council voted to halt the condemnation process for a period of nine months in order to get voter input as described above. The election needs to be held in the beginning of that nine-month period to tell us how to proceed. If voters support pursuit of the alternative, all of the remaining time will be used to hammer out the details, take public input and answer the outstanding questions, analyze the financial aspects of annexation, and then allow the voters to make an informed and educated choice on a detailed and specific annexation proposal.
I support giving the alternative to condemnation a chance. I've done the homework, considered all the angles, thought long and hard about the future of this valley, and consistently come back to the same rational result. An alternative to condemnation that meets all our open space, public access, recreation and environmental goals on 91 percent of the south side in perpetuity, uses grants to restore the river corridor and wetlands, secures public benefits on the other SMVC parcels which will be developed either way, yet leaves taxpayer dollars available for other important community needs (additional open space, affordable housing, and fostering a sustainable economy), is at least worth pursuing for a few finite months. Vote YES if you agree.