Score one for local control

  For awhile it seemed as if one of the most potent weapons available to local counties and towns in Colorado would be ripped out of their hands. Conservative legislators and water developers wanted to gut state law 1041, which allows local communities to develop stringent land-use regulations to control everything from water projects to airport expansions.

But after squeaking through the Senate, the bill by State Sen. Tom Norton, R, was pulled from consideration in the House March 11, effectively killing the measure.

"This is a great victory for local government and conservationists," says Mark Lewis, staff director for Clean Water Action. "They realized they didn't have the votes."

Norton claimed his bill was an "anti-takings' bill intended to protect individual property rights. But a coalition of environmentalists and county commissioners saw it as special-interest legislation that would leave counties with no defenses against developers.

"If you believe in local control, you wouldn't vote for it," says State Sen. Tilman Bishop, R, who called it a potential "water grab."

Norton introduced the bill shortly after the courts upheld Eagle County's right to use1041 regulations to hold off Homestake II, a massive water-transfer project pushed by the Front Range cities of Aurora and Colorado Springs (HCN, 12/12/94).

*Jenny Emery