Editorial: Open-space tax deserves approval

Larimer County business should take a stand for open space Nov. 7.

Some business owners will undoubtedly oppose the proposed one-quarter-cent sales tax because it is just that – a tax – or because it will add to government bureaucracy.

But the measure offers business a chance to demonstrate its desire for a high quality of life through preservation of scenic corridors, mountain vistas and greenbelts.

We at this newspaper have met hundreds of Northern Colorado’s business leaders during the past several months, and almost without exception they’ve expressed a desire to preserve spaces between communities so that the region doesn’t deteriorate into one big urban blob.

Such open space can be good for business. Real estate agents can well relate how much more valuable a home becomes if located adjacent to open space. And companies looking to move here are attracted in part because of the region’s natural beauty, an economic-development advantage that must be preserved.

Some business organizations, such as the Loveland Chamber of Commerce and the Home Builders Association of Northern Colorado, have come out in support of the measure. Another, the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce, regrettably opposes it.

It’s regrettable because it risks missing an opportunity. Business and those who fear the negative effects of economic development must seek out a common ground. This is it.

Help Preserve Open Spaces, the group behind the plan to raise at least $6 million annually for open space, has addressed the concerns that business raised when a similar tax failed last year.

Spelled out is a provision that land owners cannot be forced to sell their land for open space. And proceeds from the one-quarter-cent sales tax will be divided among Berthoud, Estes Park, Fort Collins, Loveland, Timnath, Wellington and Larimer County, rather than all go to the county.

Best of all, a good portion of this tax will be paid by nonresidents who come into Larimer County to shop, whether it be in Fort Collins or the Loveland outlet mall.

Supporters of open space have done much to answer the questions business raised last year.

It’s time for business to respond in kind.