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A highway through Peaceful Valley camp, CO, no way

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Help. Please email Governor Owens, those of you out of state and the transportation committee those of you in state. The following are bits of articles we were just sent:


Proposed plains highway takes a toll on neighbors


By Chuck Plunkett

Denver Post Staff Writer

Elbert Article, Colorado- Before Harlan Williams bought his land 14 years ago, he had to use cross-country skis to get there for a look. Like many of his far-flung neighbors, he and his wife, Sylvia, moved out to this high prairie and bought up as many acres of ranch land as they could afford, to insulate themselves from the cities and the suburbs and the sprawl.For the Williamses and many of their neighbors, it is a nightmare that a private company wants to build the 210-mile Front Range Toll Road, which would feature a high-speed highway and two sets of tracks for coal and freight trains.


Ray Wells easily won support in the state's House of Representatives last month for legislation he says is important to his project.For nearly 20 years, Wells, prominent among private developers in Colorado, has been trying to realize his dream of building the privately owned and operated alternative to I-25.Though Wells insists he would avoid using it, state law gives him the power to condemn the land of any landowners who try to stand in his way."We want to avoid as much conflict as we can possibly avoid," he told the crowd of skeptics. Any land that was condemned would be purchased at fair market value, Wells said.


News of the plan took communities like Elbert by surprise."We have a right to, within reason, build a facility." says Wells Planning began in 1988 he incorporated a partnership under a toll-road law from the mining days of the 1870s. The filing grants him access to a 12-mile-wide corridor that runs several miles east of I-25 from Pueblo to Fort Collins.Somewhere inside that corridor - he's not yet said exactly where - Wells would build a 660-foot-wide road and rail system that could also combine utilities.


Though some natives and longtime residents were aware of Wells' plan, the majority of those who have been buying up property inside the corridor during the last 20 years were unaware of it.


"Why didn't this show up on a title search?" is a frequent refrain from landowners nervous about Wells' plan.


The state's laws don't require that property owners be notified about Wells' claim.


Environmentalists have concerns as well."We're worried this (could be) the biggest example of dumb growth that you could imagine," says Matt Baker, executive director of Environment Colorado.The environmentalists' wish list includes conducting additional impact studies, giving public planning agencies some voice in the road's placement, guaranteeing that the space along the roadway could not be used for development, and limiting the number of interchanges to Wells' promised 13.So far, Wells has not provided those assurances.



This from another developer........

Jim Kenton, Apache Development, Elizabeth, CO

Yes, I know about this. Its been a topic for conversation for about 15-20 years now. Now that the Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse is going to be delisted, the toll road has once again, reared its ugly head. The road will be what they call a "super-slab" going from Pueblo to Wellington. There will be only 13 or so exit ramps, at the major highways intersections, such as I-70, E-470, Hiway 24, Hiway 86, etc. Unfortunately, they plan to put train tracks in this ROW as well. Trains need to follow a fairly flat grade and shouldn't go over 1% grade. Therefore, most train tracks follow creek/river beds. The preferred route for this highway will follow Kiowa Creek, meaning it will come right through the towns of Elbert and Kiowa. I'm not sure if PV will be "wiped-out," but it will come close. My idea is to move the highway about 10 miles east to follow the Comanche Creek drainage. That would have less impacts. However, keep in mind that a handful of pissed off Elbert county residents will not stop this thing from happening. Because when you look at the whole picture and how money millions of people this will benefit, it would take a lot to stop a project of this magnitude. Once they get congress behind them, its all over. Imminent Domain is tough to fight. (as in impossible).


these are my thoughts, but feel free to share them. I'm sorry to paint such a bleak picture, and I hope I'm wrong, but I've seen this happen before. (on a smaller scale).



This from another scout......Sounds as though PV may be at risk and it is being slipped by the public.A few ticked off Elbert Comunity residents might not sway them but a bunch of Scouter's that want to protect their camp contacting their local senators before the March 22 Senate Transportation Committee meeting might.


Please help us protect Peaceful Valley from a wild developer.............






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Oops here is the article


Senate committee indefinitely delays 'Super Slab' bill

By Kevin Flynn, Rocky Mountain News

March 23, 2005

Super Slab?

Nope. Try Super Slap. A state Senate committee on Tuesday effectively killed the Front Range Toll Road, striking down for now the private 85-mph "Super Slab" highway that developer Ray Wells envisions running 210 miles between Fort Collins and Pueblo

Lawmakers on the Senate Transportation Committee were greeted by about 750 angry but well-mannered protesters from the plains - many of whom arrived in a school bus convoy from towns such as Peyton, Calhan and Ellicott - and voted 6-1 to postpone House Bill 1030 indefinitely.

That's General Assembly-speak for killing the bill.

"We hope we'll be able to work with the committee to develop some sort of legislation that will protect the landowners' rights," a jubilant Marsha Looper, of Calhan, said after the vote. She was one of many organizers who helped assemble the large public response.

She said the Eastern Plains Coalition, an umbrella for the various groups fighting the toll road, would continue to meet.

It was by far the largest crowd to come to the Capitol on a single bill in the living memories of numerous Statehouse old-timers. Organized in large part over the Internet in just the past three weeks, the crowd represented at least six of the seven counties through which Wells filed a 12-mile-wide, 210-mile-long claim for a superhighway corridor 20 years ago.

After Wells told the committee his highway and express railroad corridor would bring traffic relief to inner cities by removing through trucks and coal trains, those who live out on the plains urged the committee to keep the city in the city and leave the open country alone.

Also riding high was emotion over a private company such as Wells' Front Range Toll Road Co. having the right to condemn private property for the road - an issue not even addressed in the bill, but which Wells has via a 19th century statute that helped open up mining roads

"We're ranchers on the Colorado plains, and now we're forced to take a stand," said an emotional Chuck Kovanda of Keenesburg, recounting how his forebears homesteaded their initial 160 acres, fought battles with Indians and fought in the nation's wars.

"And to make it worse," he said, motioning to Wells behind him, "he's a dude!"

What led to the defeat of the bill, which last month flew through the House 62-3, was concern over such issues as the lack of public input into planning major projects such as the toll road.

Steve Durham, a former legislator representing cable magnate John Malone, told the committee that Malone and his wife bought 65,000 acres of open space in Elbert County with the intent of preserving the area. The toll road would slice through it.

"A project like this was not likely envisioned when the statute was written," said Durham of the 1882 law last revised in 1891. Rules of public projects have changed immensely since then. "This bill completely overlooks the necessity of modern review policies."

A few in the crowd wore cowboy hats and pointed boots - some fresh polished and others dusty. Some wore T-shirts and sweatshirts sporting anti-toll-road slogans. Two hours before the hearing, about 500 of them rallied on the Capitol's west steps to set their resolute mood in granite.

Only about 220 could fit into the Old Supreme Court Chamber, the Capitol's largest meeting room, filling it to overflow capacity. Three spillover rooms were set up on the third floor and the basement with piped-in audio from the hearing.

Given that Wells last month estimated only about 200 property owners might be affected - an estimate he now says is outdated - there were nearly four times that many people out to protest his plan.

Sen. Stephanie Takis, the committee chairwoman, presided firmly over the 51/2-hour hearing. After the vote, she said she would ask the joint House-Senate Transportation Legislation Review Committee to take up the contentious issues raised by private toll roads this summer.

Only bill sponsor Sen. Suzanne Williams, D-Aurora, voted against postponing it. Sen. Bob Hagedorn, also D-Aurora, moved for the postponement.

Sen. Tom Wiens, R-Sedalia, asked most of the critical questions of Wells, noting that other private entities with condemnation power, such as utility and communications companies, nevertheless have government regulators overseeing their operations. The private toll road would not.

Wells sat in a front row with a partner and some advisers, arguing near the beginning for the approval of the bill and then listening to dozens of farmers, ranchers, horse breeders, scouting camp leaders and rural residents condemn his 20-year dream of an eastern Front Range bypass route.

Wells remained seated after the vote while others left, and offered no comment.

The bill would have modernized the way tolls are set on private roads and aligned the Wells plan with the rest of the state's toll collection enforcement system. But it also would have authorized more liberal methods of selling off the road's assets, making it more attractive to investors.

Critics were suspicious of the provision and argued that much more public disclosure of the proposal was needed before the first rancher or homeowner was asked to sell out for the road.

Noting that Wells' proposed highway was to run down the center of a two-mile wide open-space corridor, John Byrnes, of Weld County, voiced what many feared with so much territory under corporate control.

"Many of us think the toll road is just a smoke screen for a land grab of biblical proportions," he said.

flynnk@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-892-5247


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