Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Mountain Town News

By Allen Best

County bans tongue and genital piercing

JACKSON, Wyo. -- Teton County has adopted new regulations governing businesses that offer tattoos and piercing. The new regulations ban tongue and genital piercings, and also scarification and lacing.

Driving the tongue-piercing ban is a fear that people with tongue rings will end up with chipped teeth.

The Jackson Hole News&Guide reports umbrage from a local piercing business called Sub-Urban Tattoo. "They're trying to regulate an industry they don't understand," said shop-owner Susan Woodward. She says that the prohibitions will not stop the piercings, but likely cause customers to drive to Idaho Falls, about 80 miles away. She also suggested the regulations are driven by aesthetics. "What's next, will they ban purple hair?" she said.

Jackson aims for 10% energy use cut

JACKSON, Wyo. -- Teton County and the town of Jackson are embarking on a most ambitious effort. When 2010 ends, they aim to use 10 percent less energy on a per capita basis than last year, and also generate 10 percent less garbage. The project is called 10 x 10.

This is, notes Jonathan Schechter, a columnist in the Jackson Hole News&Guide, more than checkbook environmentalism. "It requires residents to do things differently," he says. It's a voluntary effort, with no economic incentives, although consuming less energy and generating less trash do in fact save money.

This effort builds on a resolution adopted by both town and county governments, which commits both governments to reduce their energy and fuel use by 10 percent. The two governments recently formed an Energy Efficiency Advisory Board, which includes two ski resorts, two large lodges, and the electrical utility serving Jackson Hole.

As in Aspen, one of the arguments for such an effort is that because of its influence on visitors, the effort can be exaggerated, causing passers-through to similarly cut back on energy use.

Banff to say no to chain retailer

BANFF, Alberta -- Responding to public sentiment, Banff town officials are planning to deny a business-license to Indigo Books, the largest book retailer in Canada.

For years, notes the Rocky Mountain Outlook, residents and owners of small businesses have raised concerns about the demise of mom-and-pop shops and the arrival of multi-national franchise operations such as those operated by Gap and Starbucks.

"There is no place on earth like Banff. It is our responsibility to keep the Banff experience unique," said Gabin Wedin, whose family has owned the Banff Book & Art Den for 42 years. Another long-term resident, Kate Tooke, concurred. "I don't want (Banff) to become some sort of experience you can have in Calgary," she said.

The legal basis for denying the business license is in doubt, however. A former mayor, Ted Hart, said the municipality may be vulnerable to a lawsuit.

Carbondale limits size of the 'family'

CARBONDALE, Colo. -- Carbondale town trustees have adopted a law that will give police and building officials authority to crack down on the so-called "man camps."

The law specifies that no more than four unrelated people can live together, and that there should be at least 200 square feet of habitable space for the first person, and 150 square feet for each additional person. Closets, garages, attics and so forth are not considered habitable.

The town board for several years has struggled with the issue, which was brought to national attention at Christmas with a Tom Brokaw television special about immigration. In that show, cameras were taken into a house that contained 18 people.

Still, the issue is a tricky one, says the Valley Journal, because the family unit is protected by federal law. In the case of Latino immigrants, large extended families often live together. This new law recognizes such extended families. Authorities have considerable latitude in what constitutes a violation of the new law.

The most common impacts of the tight living conditions are excessive trash, parking constraints, and noise.

Telluride searches sofas for spare change

TELLURIDE, Colo. -- It's getting close to the stroke of midnight, and fund-raisers in Telluride still don't know where they'll get the final $2.4 million to complete the purchase of 585 acres of land for open space.

The town is condemning the land, located at the town's entrance, to prevent any development, and a jury has found the parcel to be worth $50 million. The deadline for contributions is May 11. In addition to interest that is now in excess of $700,000, the town must pay the landowner's legal bills, which he claims are $3.5 million. The town says $2.2 million would be fair.

The Telluride Watch reports that there is no "white knight" waiting in the weeds to provide last-minute help, should the fund-raising fall short, nor does the town council have any reserve funds. Indeed, there seems to be some worry on the part of town officials that they are now vulnerable should the economy sour.

Neighbors object to private airstrip plans

PARK CITY, Utah -- For people of wealth, ski-in and ski-out access isn't necessarily the highest perk. Fly-in, fly-out access may be.

Promontory, a gated community in Utah's Summit County, is planning a private airstrip. A large number of objections have been filed by neighbors who predict noise and air pollution, reports The Park Record.

A private runway could cost more than $50 million, said Nadim AbuHaidar, the chief operator of an airport in nearby Heber. "You're not going to land a $4 million airplane in the dirt, grass or sagebrush." He notes that the gated community is within a 30-minute drive of two public airports.

The possibility of a similar fly-in, fly-out subdivision has also been discussed at Steamboat Springs, which has been trying to figure out what to do with a smallish airport on the outskirts of the town.

Crackdown on wells reveals water scarcity

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. -- Just how scarce water rights are becoming in the headwaters of Colorado is told in seemingly water-rich Summit County. There, state water officials are cracking down on unauthorized use of water from wells located in unincorporated areas.

"Every stinking drop counts," says Scott Hummer, the state water commissioner. "There are eyeballs looking at every drop."

Certain types of wells can be used for domestic purposes, but not for outdoor purposes such as watering lawns or washing cars. Those who want additional rights are required to buy so-called augmentation water rights. The thinking, Hummer tells the Summit Daily News, is that if a homeowner uses water on a lawn, that's water that isn't allowed to collect in the fissures in the rock and thus make it down into a stream, where a rancher or municipality may have senior water rights.

"We have an obligation to ensure there are no injuries to senior water rights," Hummer explained.

The Summit Daily notes that the amount in question this year is small, about 125 acre-feet, which compares to the 60,000 to 80,000 acre-feet drawn by the City of Denver annually from the basin via its Dillon Reservoir.

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