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Colorado ballot initiative could blunt local land-use rules, officials warn

August 6, 2018

The Gazette,

Mark Jaffe,

July 31, 2018-

Local officials and municipal attorneys say they are worried a proposed constitutional amendment backed by the Colorado Farm Bureau and the oil and gas industry will blunt ability of cities, towns and counties to make many land-use decisions. The measure is Initiative 108. Backers are currently gathering signatures in hopes of placing the measure on the fall ballot.

It would enable property owners to seek compensation if a law or regulation reduces their land’s “fair market value.” Under current law, a government has to compensate only if a property is taken by eminent domain or its action leaves the land with no economic use. Switching from a total taking to fair market value could spawn countless lawsuits over a myriad of basic local land-use decisions such as zoning and siting municipal facilities, said Robert Widner, an attorney who represents cities, towns, counties and special districts. “Every time government acts, it is going to ask, ‘Are we putting ourselves at risk?’” Widner said.