Growth debate intensifies as deadline nears

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DENVER (AP) Six lawmakers failed to reach a compromise on growth control Sunday as the end of the session neared amid threats of a special session.

House and Senate members of the legislative conference committee recessed until Monday after meeting for 41/2 hours Sunday.

The lawmakers agreed to allow cities to amend their master plans, but disagreed over how many counties should be required to draw up plans.

They also disagreed over whether building moratoriums should be allowed, and whether the state should require regional planning.

House sponsor Joe Stengel, R-Littleton, was disappointed that little agreement was reached.

"Unless I see some movement, I think we're headed for a special session. I was led to expect we'd reach some significant compromises today and I'm frankly concerned," he said.

Senate Democrats were angered after losing several votes and said without more compromises, the Senate would never agree to House Bill 1225.

"I don't want to rain on anybody's parade, but there won't be a bill," said Sen. Ed Perlmutter, D-Golden, the Senate sponsor.

House Speaker Doug Dean, R-Colorado Springs, said there are some House members who do not want a growth bill and urged lobbyists who crowded a Capitol hearing room Sunday to help craft a deal.

"You're going to like it a lot better than what you get through an initiative," Dean told the crowd.

Gov. Bill Owens stopped by to listen to the debate and said a compromise is still possible. He also stood by his threat to call a special session if there is no agreement by the end of the session Wednesday at midnight.

"I'm hoping that these guys can come together. There obviously are some strong feelings on both sides. At this point, the two sides are pretty far apart," Owens said.

The conference committee, evenly balanced between Republicans and Democrats, was formed after the House on Friday rejected a Senate version of House Bill 1225. Lawmakers are still holding on to House Bill 1305, a weaker bill which is being kept in the wings in case the other bill gets killed.

The House appointed Stengel, Dean and Rep. Carl Miller, D-Leadville, who sided with Republicans on several key votes Sunday, to represent them. The Senate appointed Perlmutter, Senate President Stan Matsunaka, D-Loveland, and Sen. Lewis Entz, R-Hooper.

House Bill 1225, passed by the Senate on a 21-14 vote, would require 36 counties to draw up a plan detailing how their communities would manage growth over the next two decades. Counties that refuse to cooperate could lose transportation funding. It also would restrict building outside urban growth-planning areas.

Republicans would prefer to give developers guarantees that they could build in restricted areas if they meet requirements. They also oppose the Senate plan for affordable housing guarantees.

Susan LeFever, spokeswoman for the Sierra Club, said environmentalists will be disappointed if the bill does not do more to rein in developers and offer stronger protection outside urban areas to limit sprawl.

"They may get a compromise, but it won't be one that will pass both houses," she said.

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