Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Lathen vows county will aid business

BOB STEPHENS Updated: December 5, 2012 at 12:00 am

Amy Lathen pledged to make El Paso County even more friendly to business Wednesday.

The chairwoman of the board of county commissioners told community and business leaders during the annual state of the region luncheon at the Antlers Hilton — Lathen was keynote speaker — how the county has worked to ease regulations on business.

The fight, she vowed, will continue.

“I’ve seen this county put business out of business,” Lathen said after the luncheon ended. “There’s too much bureaucracy.”

She said the county’s land development code book is nearly 700 pages and dictates land use regulations for everything from single family homes to commercial developments.

“We’ve made almost 300 changes, some major, some minor,” Lathen said. “It’s a huge project and we’re kind of going into the second phase. We hope to accomplish a lot in the next six months.

“We talk about making a better business environment and this is where the rubber meets the road.”

It’s business that creates jobs and prosperity — not government — Lathen said, but she wants to reduce barriers for business.

Lathen praised the county’s performance in response to the Waldo Canyon fire this summer, cited improvements to county parks, extolled the virtues of volunteers and touted the Jan. 23 official grand opening of the Cheyenne Mountain Shooting Complex, a partnership with Fort Carson.

Lathen is on the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority board and thanked the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, host of the luncheon, for its support for the extension of PPRTA in the Nov. 6 election.

The tax extension will fund a host of road and other transportation improvements, including West Colorado Avenue, Centennial Boulevard extension from Fillmore Street to Fontanero Street, and Woodmen Road going east from Academy Boulevard to Lexington Drive, including the intersection at Union Boulevard.

The Renew PPRTA steering and fundraising committees — comprised of 14 people from the community — were presented plaques for their involvement.

“They are heroes, community builders,” said Mike Jorgensen, chairman elect of the Regional Business Alliance.

In Lathen’s 2011 state of the region speech, she cited the need for a regional stormwater approach. She’s part of the regional stormwater task force and said after the luncheon the group will conclude its fact-finding mission and present information next month.

“We’re determining the needs of the region,” said Colorado Springs City Councilman Val Snider, a member of the task force, who attended the luncheon. “We’ll try to put a money value on that.”

Lathen said commissioners will consider an ordinance this month to opt out on Amendment 64, which was passed by state voters with 55 percent and allows limited marijuana possession in Colorado next year. It passed by 10 votes in the county, but not in unincorporated portions, where commissioners could ban retail sales, grow operations and manufacturing operations of marijuana.

Snider said city council will be briefed by city attorney Chris Melcher about Amendment 64 on Monday.

“We’ll cuss and discuss it,” Snider said. “There are so many questions.”

Contact Bob Stephens: 636-0276 Twitter @bobgstephens

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