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City council passes environmental, residential ordinances

Fort+Collins+City+Hall+located+on+North+Meldrum+Street+and+Laporte+Avenue+in+Fort+Collins+April+20.
Collegian | Reuel Indurkar
Fort Collins City Hall located on North Meldrum Street and Laporte Avenue in Fort Collins April 20.

Longtime Fort Collins resident Patricia Babbitt announced her run against Mayor Jeni Arndt as a write-in candidate. She and others shared their thoughts on some of the ordinances that were passed in the Fort Collins City Council meeting Sept. 19.

According to The Coloradoan, Babbitt filed papers Aug. 31 to run as a write-in candidate for mayor of Fort Collins. In her interview, Babbitt said, “If there’s nobody running against (Arndt), we won’t have important conversations.”

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During the meeting, Babbitt expressed her concerns for the city, local residents and specifically her desire to run.

“Unfortunately, too many people … say that our city leaders often seem much more interested in accommodating developers and other powerful interest groups than listening to and addressing the needs of their constituents, and I tend to agree,” Babbitt said.

Two of the major ordinances that were passed in the meeting were ordinances No. 116 and 118, which pertain to a land use code for oil and gas facilities and the Affordable Housing Board.

The council passed Ordinance No. 116 in a 5-2 vote, approving new requirements for the minimum buffer space between occupied spaces and oil and gas wells. Some community members worry that these requirements may not be enough to reduce the potential risks related to leaks and contamination.

“I am very concerned about environmental issues,” Babbitt said. “How can we meet the needs of the people and the wildlife as our city continues to grow? … I was interested to hear the take on the plugging of the wells, and I still have some concerns about that.”

Babbitt was not alone in her concerns; community member Ed Behan took to the stand during public comment to share his thoughts as well.

“The situation in Boulder County particularly highlights the need for proper inspection of old oil and gas sites,” Behan said, referencing a Colorado Sun article that detailed recent events in Erie and Longmont, Colorado, where abandoned wells began leaking oil and methane gas. “The safety of the citizens of Fort Collins must take the highest precedence in your considerations.”

As the media and outreach liaison for the Larimer Alliance for Health Safety & the Environment, Behan has played an active role in representing community concerns around the health risks associated with oil and gas facilities. After the meeting adjourned, Behan and Babbitt met privately to discuss their concerns in more detail as they pertained to Ordinance No. 116.

But that wasn’t the only concern that the public and Babbitt seemed to have. According to The Rocky Mountain Collegian earlier this month, Resolution 2023-082 was passed Sept. 5, which discusses affordable housing and the U+2 land use code.

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Affordable housing has been and is still an ongoing problem and debate within the community, and Babbitt and local residents mentioned that recent approaches have not worked to resolve the issue.

“We need more ordinary residents’ voices in our community to be truly heard and considered when making decisions, including decisions for issues such as our land use code and how it will impact our homes, our open spaces and our very limited resources,” Babbitt said.

Asad Aziz, a local resident and clinical professor of management for the Colorado State University College of Business, said the land use code of U+2 “is not a desirable state of affairs, but that’s what the current rules will say. … This is also discriminatory. It’s 2023. Do we really need the city government telling us what constitutes a family or not?”

There was a lot of concern about the issues being passed, especially those regarding housing where more than three residents shared their concerns. Others discussed their own personal opinions, including Babbitt, who said in an interview with The Collegian, “I am still digesting it all.”

Reach Dominique Lopez, Amanda Monticue and Lizzy Rylance at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @csucollegian

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About the Contributor
Dominique Lopez
Dominique Lopez, Opinion Editor

Dominique Lopez is a third-year journalism student minoring in women’s studies and is currently the opinion editor for The Collegian.

Lopez is originally from Alamosa, Colorado, and moved to Fort Collins to attend Colorado State University. While in Fort Collins, Lopez has spent her time working for The Collegian and is a swim instructor and front desk associate at Splash Swim School.

When Lopez isn’t working or attending classes, you can find her at home reading a good book, stress baking in her kitchen or binge-watching her favorite TV shows.

She chose journalism as her field of study in the hopes that it would bring her closer to the community and provide her with the opportunity to write about what is really affecting her in that moment. Some topics she is passionate about are social justice, gender studies and finding ways to honor her community and origins through her education.

As the opinion editor, Lopez hopes to inspire new writers to be able to find their true passions in writing, as well as diversify the topics that are written about in The Collegian’s opinion section and iscuss thoughts on important issues that impact the students at Colorado State University.

Lopez is excited to pursue this new year of journalism and is eager to see what the year will bring, especially as she continues to meet new journalists pursing topics they are passionate about.

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