Mayor Dave sees the blight

December 21, 2011

Garfield County, Silt

From time to time Mayor Dave likes to call up The Paper and pull a news story out of his ass. No matter how outrageous, it’s always entertaining. This week he outdid himself and put Silt on the front page.

Silt senses ‘positive vibrations’ from county

Wait right there. Silt isn’t sensing anything. And nobody else is quoted or even mentioned in the article. Just Mayor Dave. So let’s get this straight. This story is all about Mayor Dave’s vibrations … or gyrations … or fabrications.

According to the article, Mayor Dave wants the county to go in on a $3.5 million urban renewal authority development plan that “would enable the town to buy or condemn land, issue revenue bonds, build retail structures to be leased or sold to private businesses, and accept government money as well as private financing to make it all possible.”

Wow. Sounds like an ambitious plan. A great way to attract people and businesses. Imagine the promo:  Silt – not just a town. A real estate developer, banker – and your new landlord.

Hard to fit all that on a bumper sticker.

I have to admit this all seems rather pie in the sky. But over the years Mayor Dave’s hallucinogenic visions have included toll booths, changing the name of Silt, and requiring new downtown buildings to look “historic”. So we’re used to it.

There is a catch. In order to set up this urban renewal authority the town has to establish a “blighted area”.

The “blighted” portion of town, Moore said, is essentially U.S. Highway 6, also known as Main Street, between 1st Street and 16th Street, and encompassing certain sections on either side of Main.

Portion? That’s the entire downtown!

What does the term “blighted area” mean exactly?

According to Colorado State Statute (CRS 31-25-103) (2), a “blighted area” is defined as follows:

“Blighted area” means an area that, in its present condition and use and, by reason of the presence of at least four of the following factors, substantially impairs or arrests the sound growth of the municipality, retards the provision of housing accommodations, or constitutes an economic or social liability, and is a menace to the public health, safety, morals, or welfare;
(a) Slum, deteriorated, or deteriorating structures;
(b) Predominance of defective or inadequate street layout;
(c) Faulty lot layout in relation to size, adequacy, accessibility, or usefulness;
(d) Unsanitary or unsafe conditions;
(e) Deterioration of site or other improvements;
(f) Unusual topography or inadequate public improvements or utilities;
(g) Defective or unusual conditions of title rendering the title non-marketable;
(h) The existence of conditions that endanger life or property by fire or other causes;
(i) Buildings that are unsafe or unhealthy for persons to live or work in because of building code violations, dilapidation, deterioration, defective design, physical construction, or faulty or inadequate facilities;
(j) Environmental contamination of buildings or property;
(k.5) The existence of health, safety, or welfare factors requiring high levels of municipal services or substantial physical underutilization or vacancy of sites, buildings, or other improvements;
(l) If there is no objection of such property owner or owners and the tenant or tenants of such owner or owners, if and, to the inclusion of such property in an urban renewal area, “blighted area” also means an area that, in its present condition and use and, by reason of the presence of any one of the factors specified in paragraphs (a) to (k.5) of this subsection (2), substantially impairs or arrests the sound growth of the municipality, retards the provision of housing accommodations, or constitutes an economic or social liability, and is a menace to the public health, safety, morals or welfare. For purposes of this paragraph (1), the fact that an owner of an interest in such property does not object to the inclusion of such property in the urban renewal area does not mean that the owner has waived any rights of such owner in connection with laws governing condemnation. [Source: Colorado Revised Statute 31-25-103(2)]

Gee, that seems awfully harsh. Might not sit well with some folks. I can think of one or two off the top of my head. Well that’s just too darn bad. They’ll have to get with the program or get out of the way. Mayor Dave is on a mission to root out Silt blight.

At this point you might ask: Is all this urban renewal stuff a good thing for the town?

Here’s a better question: ¿Que bono? Who benefits?

Any developer who owns land in the “blighted area” would certainly benefit from taxpayer funded financing for residential and commercial development. Wait a minute. Mayor Dave is a developer. And he owns land in the “blighted area”. His Autumn Ridge townhouse development was approved in 2008. Because of the recession, he hasn’t been able to secure financing to get it off the ground. But this urban renewal authority sounds like the perfect solution. Someone should tell him.

I guess he probably already knows. Mayor Dave’s a pretty smart guy. Most small town mayors wear many hats. They take off their day job hat and put on their mayor’s hat. Mayor Dave doesn’t bother changing hats. He wears his developer hat and his mayor hat at the same time. Sometimes he comes off looking awkward – even ridiculous. But that’s the thing about Mayor Dave. He doesn’t care what anyone thinks. He won’t separate his hats.

And some folks say his request for public taxpayer funding for residential and commercial development means Mayor Dave has not only dropped his Tea Party hat but he’s stomped it in the mud. But I say this just proves he’s willing to abandon all his principles for something he truly believes in. And he truly believes in Autumn Ridge – in Silt.

One thing we know for certain is Mayor Dave has had plenty of experience dealing with Garfield County. In fact, he spearheaded a lawsuit against the county soon after he took office in 2006. We can rest assured the town is in capable hands with Mayor Dave’s professional negotiating skills. At the end of the article he revealed his strategy: “I have pestered them …”

I’m sure he has a power point presentation to go with that.

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