Dear Editor:

The Mountain Mail labelled it a “housing crisis” back in 1998. And we had no idea back then what was soon to come. Or did we?

Decades in the making, plans have been laid, municipal services area and future land use maps drawn, transportation and utilities corridors identified, intergovernmental agreements signed, comprehensive plans published, all anticipating how we would handle future growth.

Well, the future is here. Now is not the time to throw all that out because our “Chaffee County lifestyle is under attack.”

What’s under attack is the ability of local families who sustain our economy to actually live where they work.

Families whose kids will not be able to buy a home where they grew up because a housing market gone wild has made it impossible to work here and pay a mortgage. Even working and renting is untenable.

The Upchurch Annexation is the intended result of all that planning.

Density allows for affordability by lowering the per-unit cost of land. It concentrates the movement of people on some roads, keeping others quiet.

It makes the cost of public services lower, on a per-person basis, by encouraging development nearer to the center.

It makes school and work, groceries and social activities more accessible with shorter travel. It lowers the costs of building and maintaining roads, costs that the local sales tax base has to support, taxes paid from our pockets.

When we build outwards with low-density housing, spreading out into the unincorporated county, we drive up the cost for everybody.

In fact everybody subsidizes the few on that low-density perimeter because we all pay for roads to those distant homes in wide-open spaces.

Eventually we’ll run out of space to sprawl into. Then we’ll see a market truly gone wild.

We all want beautiful views and a rural lifestyle. The only way to share that aspiration is keep city city, and allow for density in the city. As the city grows, we need to increase density from the center outwards.

That’s how cities have organically developed since we started them.

This current, incremental step is a fair compromise of low density facing outwards, and high density nearer to roads, services, and similarly dense neighborhoods.

It’s time to listen to our planners, and follow our plan.

Read McCulloch