Residents in Lafayette, Colorado have sent Sprawl-Busters the following report about their battle to keep out a home improvement chain store: “A group called Preserve Lafayette’s Eastern Edge (PLEE) is battling a Lowe’s that wants to build on farm land near open space, wildlife habitat, and wetlands. The farmer who owns the land asked the city to annex the property so the City would then have to supply the Lowe’s with water, sewage treatment, police and fire services. But in September, the City Council voted to send the annexation to a city-wide vote. Lafayette was once a farming and coal-mining community and still retains some of the “small-town livability” that the city boasts about on its web site. If the Lowe’s goes in, it would become the gateway to more sprawl and the city will lose the last shred of “small town” that it has. With sixty members, PLEE has formed committees for planning and strategy and to raise funds to buy not only the proposed Lowe’s land, but all the land between east Lafayette and Broomfield, where a huge housing development is being built. PLEE has had to defend itself against a city councilmember who declared at an open meeting that the organization was trying to “screw” the landowner, a long-time, revered citizen. And many citizens are in favor of having a Lowe’s, even though there are four Home Depots and Lowe’s within 20 minutes of the city. If the Lowe’s came in, it is certain Lafayette’s Ace Hardware would go out of business. But the city lured Ace to build on the promise that if Ace went out of business, the city would pay three years of its lease agreement. City guaranteed to pay Ace’s lease in years 8,9, and 10. However, the guarantee would be cancelled if the lease were not renewed in year 4. Potential cost to the taxpayers: $1,281,000.”
PLEE says it is seeking ways to educate the voting public on sales tax, traffic congestion, air pollution, light pollution, and the wisdom of preserving land instead of letting sprawl swallow its small community. The group wants advice on how to fight this Big Box monster and the coming big ad campaign by Lowe’s so that it can pave over our piece of paradise. Send your ideas to [email protected]. A web site is being developed at www.preservelafayette.com.