Colorado State Archives
Executive Orders from the Administration of Governor Bill Owens 1999-2005
Wednesday, May 24, 2000
Amy Jewett Sampson
OWENS SIGNS ANTI-SPRAWL LEGISLATION
Establishes Open Space Commission
DENVER—Governor Bill Owens today signed six important pieces of smart growth legislation – House Bills 1427, 1001, 1306, 1302, 1284, and 1348 – and announced the creation of the Governor’s Commission on Saving Open Spaces, Farms and Ranches.
"These bills represent an important step to ensure Colorado grows in a way that protects our quality of life," said Owens. "They address some of Colorado’s most pressing growth issues: better planning for growth, urban in-fill rather than sprawl, creation of more affordable housing, and open space protection."
In issuing the Executive Order creating the Commission, Owens said: "Coloradans rightly value the open spaces of this state, whether they are farm and ranch lands, state parks, or other areas of natural beauty. The Commission will explore what we are doing right and where we could be doing better in preserving and protecting our undeveloped lands."
Growth Planning. HB 1427 (Rep. Bill Webster and Sen. Dave Owen) establishes the Office of Smart Growth in the Department of Local Affairs to coordinate the state’s effort to assist local communities in better planning for growth. The Office of Smart Growth administers the Colorado Heritage Communities grant program, which provides grants to two or more local governments that work together to plan for regional growth. The Office also administers grants for the creation and revision of comprehensive plans, in addition to providing dispute resolution services for local governments. HB 1001 (Rep. Dorothy Gotlieb and Sen. Peggy Reeves) provides additional criteria that may be used in local government master plans
"Better land use planning is critical for smart growth, and both these bills provide local governments with tools for better planning," Owens said. "The Office of Smart Growth will provide the funds and the technical expertise necessary to assist all of Colorado’s communities as they plan for a Colorado of the 21st century."
Brownfield/Infill Development. HB 1306 (Rep. Gary McPherson and Sen. Ron Teck) provides a state income tax incentive for the redevelopment of urban areas once used for commercial or industrial development. Developers who clean up these sites, known as brownfields, are now eligible for a tax credit based on the percentage of costs they incur in clean up, with no individual tax credit exceeding $100,000. The bill directs the Colorado Department of Health and Environment to certify that clean up has occurred and verify the costs of clean up.
"It makes sense to redevelop these lands where supporting infrastructure such as roads, sewers and police protection already exists, rather than to develop pristine farms, ranches or open spaces," Owens said. "House Bill 1306 will revitalize communities within our cities and discourage sprawl."
Affordable Housing. HB 1302 (Rep. Bill Kaufman and Sen. Stan Matsunaka) provides a state income tax credit for developers who build low income rental housing. The bill directs the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority to administer the credits to developers who agree to make affordable housing available within their development for 15 years. HB 1284 (Rep. Penfield Tate and Sen. Gloria Tanner) gives housing authorities the ability to create partnerships with private developers to further leverage resources for the construction of affordable housing.
"High-growth Colorado communities increasingly are faced with a shortage of workers because a lack of affordable housing precludes many entry-level and service industry employees from finding a place to live," Owens said. "These bills are an effective way to increase the stock of housing that working families can afford."
Open Space Protection. HB 1348 (Rep. Lola Spradley and Sen. Dave Owen) provides additional incentives for taxpayers who donate conservation easements on their land. Last year, Gov. Owens signed legislation that provides a tax credit for the donation of a conservation easement. Under House Bill 1348, landowners who donate conservation easements are eligible to receive a state tax refund based on the difference between their state income tax liability and $20,000. The bill also allows landowners to transfer all or a portion of their unused tax credits in amounts of at least $20,000.
"Tax credits provide little incentive for farmers and ranchers with little to no tax liability," said Owens. "House Bill 1348 offers a way for agricultural landowners to leverage their stewardship into a valuable asset rather than selling out to developers."
Governor’s Commission on Saving Open Spaces, Farms and Ranches The Commission will examine public and private efforts to preserve land in Colorado. Its efforts include:
- Cataloguing state and private efforts to preserve open space, farms and ranches;
- Examining the procedures by which state and local governments prioritize the use of taxpayer funds for land preservation;
- Identifying regulatory barriers to land preservation imposed by the state;
- Recommending the best means for providing agricultural landowners with maximum flexibility for using their water rights;
- Reviewing the effectiveness of existing land preservation tools and recommending additional strategies to further encourage land preservation;
The Commission is composed of 16 members drawn from the land preservation, environmental, agricultural, wildlife, and government communities. Colorado House Speaker Russell George is chairman of the Commission.
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