House committee whittles growth bill options to two | CraigDailyPress.com

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House committee whittles growth bill options to two

DENVER (AP) The Legislature’s options in working on growth-management plans this session were whittled by one on Monday after a House committee killed a bill backed by environmentalists.

The House Local Government Committee voted along party lines, with Democrats dissenting, to kill the Senate-passed Senate Bill 148, sponsored by Rep. Joe Stengel, R-Littleton, and Sen. Ed Perlmutter, D-Golden.

On Wednesday, the Senate Public Policy and Planning Committee will consider House Bill 1225, which also is sponsored by Stengel and Perlmutter. That bill, which has passed the House, is favored by developers and many Republicans.

House committee chairman Rep. Glenn Scott, R-Westminster, said it would make more sense to have only one bill left alive this late in the session to avoid the awkward position of having separate House-Senate conference committees working on compromise language in two bills.

But others urged the committee to keep Senate Bill 148 in reserve, saying the House bill favors developers.

“This sends the wrong signal,” said Rich McClintock, executive director of the Colorado Public Interest Research Group, which favors the Senate bill. “The public wants to see action and this is another signal the House is not serious about efforts to limit sprawl.”

Perlmutter said the committee’s vote leaves him with a few options for the hearing Wednesday, including deletion of all the language in the House bill to replace it with language in Senate Bill 148.

He said without a growth-management bill that looks similar to Senate Bill 148, voters are likely to see a more restrictive proposal placed on the 2002 ballot. Voters last year killed Amendment 24, which proposed a constitutional amendment to require local governments to seek voter approval of growth-control plans. That vote put lawmakers under pressure to act.

“It’s a chess game now,” Perlmutter said. “At the end of the game, we’ve got to have something with meat on it. We’ve got to really focus on quality of life.”

Both bills would require local governments to adopt binding growth-management plans, but the House bill would exempt areas that have not reached minimum population levels or have not grown at a certain rate.

The Senate bill also would require local governments in metro Denver to agree on regional growth plans, and require more frequent review of all growth plans than the House bill would require.