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“I may not be where I want to be, but I'm thankful for not being where I used to be.”
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  Volume No. 17 Issue No. 11 November 2020  

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  “Dry” county wants marijuana tax revenues cut

   This has got to be one of the most blatant and flagrant political circuses in recent times. If I were not living it, I would swear that I was reading a 1920s copy of the Chicago Tribune in a library.
   For the El Paso county commissioners to actually come out in print saying that the county deserves a cut of the marijuana tax revenues from counties that have allowed the growth and sales of the plant can only be described as “greed”. The El Paso county commissioners decided to not allow growth and sales and now that they see the potential sizable revenues from the 25 percent tax, they want to use policing costs as one excuse to rip off the other counties.
   I agree with Rep. Jonathan Singer that El Paso and other counties that voted to not allow growth and sales should not expect to now be getting a piece of the pie. He views this ploy as “hypocritical” at this late date.
   Amy Lathen stated: “If the administration changes at the federal level, and the feds come in to enforce existing federal laws; boy, I would not want to be a dispensary owner or someone counting on this revenue.” It would appear from her statement that El Paso and other counties are trying to have their cake and eat it too. If El Paso and other counties want the revenues from the taxes, they should allow growth and sales and take the risks that Amy Lathen seems to believe may lie around the corner.
   
   - Art Wilson
  
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  Wind Farm

   On December 19, the Board of County Commissioners voted 3-1 to support the Golden West Wind Energy wind farm project in eastern El Paso County. This was one of the most complex land use applications that I have ever seen in my 6 years on the Board and certainly one of the most controversial. It was the first permit we've heard under the newly enacted 1041 authority that we now have, which allowed us to negotiate many of the terms and conditions of the farm.
   
   Thanks also to those who came to our hearing on the 19th and spent 11 hours with us as we worked through the details and testimony of the hearing. Please know that with all of the input that came in, it was nearly impossible to respond to each one.
   
   I read every letter and email that came to my office. I watched the videos that many of you sent and spent hours online looking at pros and cons. I traveled to properties in the county to meet with land owners and I travelled to the large wind farm in Limon and knocked on doors of folks out there to ask about their impressions. I stood under these wind turbines and listened and videoed. I sat within the shadows of the machines and considered their impacts. I thought about homes and living rooms and bedrooms of folks who would be impacted, positively or negatively.
   
   I realize that with my vote, I simply could not satisfy roughly half of my constituents. Although I didn't actually keep a specific tally, the pros and cons seemed pretty split right down the middle. This was the most difficult land use decision I've ever made, and likely ever will make on this Board.
   
   I vigorously support private business and research and development of new and diverse technologies, but I fundamentally oppose State and Federal mandates related to energy diversity, which require local governments to intervene in what I believe should be driven by market forces.
   
   I ultimately voted no. This was not a vote against business. It was not a vote against property owners. It was not even a vote against wind energy. But it was a vote against this particular project based on the number of property owners who live in extremely close proximity to proposed turbines who did not want them so close to their homes and who will be greatly impacted.
   
   For setbacks, I wanted to see a minimum of a half-mile from any primary residence, due to noise (and they do make noise), flicker and other factors. Agreement was reached on a quarter-mile setback, increased from a proposed minimum of just 640.5 ft, for anyone who did not sign an agreement with the company. This was a compromise, but one that I believe still allows them to be too close to residences and until you experience these up close, you just might not be sure why that is so critical.
   
   This project has been approved and so we will move forward together to try to make it as beneficial for El Paso County as possible.
   
   - Amy Lathen, County commissioner
  
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