Councilman Caleb Dickinson: ‘Yes,’ Because Louisville Deserves Better

The Redtail Ridge General Development Plan has been a long, contentious, complicated process.  I’ve served on City Council for 2.5 years and it has been going on for my entire tenure. Louisville is full of thoughtful, bright people who find themselves in agreement on most things, but divided by this project and its considerable pros and cons. It’s confusing and it depends a lot on one’s perspective, not just their hopes. I’ve never held a strong position “for” or “against” the development itself. Rather, I’ve been focused on the merits of the current GDP against our criteria and comparing it to the old, 2010 version. Louisville deserves better than the 2010 GDP. In nearly every imaginable way, the 2021 GDP is better, thanks to the work of all seven of our Council members and our brilliant staff and the local developer and the incredibly engaged residents.

We got:

  • More Open Space
  • All LEED Certified Buildings
  • 3MW of on-site solar
  • EV charging stations
  • Parks and bike paths
  • Protected habitat areas with permanent easements for keystone species
  • Critical completion of Campus Drive to the east
  • Zoning to enable Avista Hospital to move to this site
  • Clustering of buildings to the south and Open Space to the north

So why are environmentalists against this shining example of responsible development?  When you compare the development to an empty field it’s worse in many ways.

  • Decades of construction and the environmental harm that comes from any building
  • Increased traffic and the pollution that comes with that
  • Disruption of wildlife and natural spaces

I’m also concerned by the rapid, never-ending growth in Colorado and in our surrounding communities, but the problem is that voting no doesn’t fix any of the negatives. The 2010 GDP allows for a 2.5m square foot development (RTR is 3m) and all the negatives remain without any of the positives we’ve negotiated over the past 3 years.  A no vote does not stop this development, it overturns our aggressively restrictive GDP for that development.

Others have claimed that Council still has oversight to make the 2010 GDP better and fix some of the shortcomings.  But, by that logic, doesn’t council have that same oversight to improve on the much better 2021 version?  Why would we go backwards to try to get more?

If no prevails, it is possible that the developers will go back to the drawing board and come back with something even better and smaller, but they’ve said they won’t go down that path. It is possible that they’ll just pack up and move on and no one will ever develop this land, but that’s incredibly unlikely.  If we assume that this private land will be developed in the near future, I sure hope it is to the 2021 GDP standard that we already passed.

I will be voting yes.

Given the challenges our community is facing, my hope is that regardless of the outcome of this vote, we’re able to work on coming together as a community and working together to care for our people and our planet as we rebuild and envision what we want to accomplish together.

Caleb Dickinson