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BRIGHTON — A citizen-appointed committee tasked with the present state of agricultural land in the community and its future will present its findings to city council members …
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BRIGHTON — A citizen-appointed committee tasked with the present state of agricultural land in the community and its future will present its findings to city council members during a study session June 1.
The committee originally intended to present its report May 11 but the date was pushed back this week.
The committee was formed out of the furor of last fall when the city council discussed the annexation of former farmer land on the southern edge of the city for commercial business uses. Fire was added to the fuel by state plans for a future juvenile detention facility.
The conclusion of the six-person committee’s work, which began in September, will offer less of a directive for the council, than it will a basis for future decisions, according to committee member Tammy Smith.
“We will definitely be able to present council with a lot of facts to help them make decisions going forward,” Smith said.
The analysis will be largely based on countless interviews with community members and experts. Smith said they invited a number of guests to speak to the committee including local farmers and land experts.
“We’ve had input from both Brighton citizens as well as unincorporated Adams County people that are affected around us,” she said. “We’re trying to represent not only what Brighton would like.”
Smith said the city council’s interest in making sure the committee represented a regional outlook was the appointment of an at-large, non-Brighton resident.
The committee was originally expected to wrap up their work in early April. But meetings went past the original end date. Smith compared the breadth of information gathered to “drinking from a fire hose.”
“To get your hands around something like this, you could easily go for a year,” Smith said. “We tried to be expeditious in our work because we know that the city is wanting to know so they can plan, and that’s certainly a reasonable expectation.”
The work was enlightening for Smith, a 30-year resident of Brighton.
“It’s been an amazing experience,” she said. “I wish that every citizen could know what we’ve learned. At times it’s frustrating because there are so many different aspects at play.”
Smith said the group wanted to be fair to everyone involved.
“You want to be fair to everybody,” she said. “One of my main goals going into it was that. Everyone has to win. The citizens have to win. The landowners have to win. The city has to win. And, if everybody doesn’t win, it’s not an acceptable answer.”
The committee was born out of heated discussions over the future of Brighton’s disappearing agricultural land and concerns over the local of a possible state youth facility. Smith said the council was wise to ask two committees to tackle the issues.
“I think that really helped kind of cool down the discussion,” Smith said. “Although certainly, when you talk about landowner’s rights, a lot of people get their hackles up.
“It has been at times a very active discussion, but we have been able to get a long ways in our understanding,” Smith adds.
Smith has watched Brighton’s steady evolution from a simple farming community to a bustling city. It made the work of the committee very personal to her.
“I grew up on South Seventh Avenue as we kind of butt up against the Palizzi (farm) property, growing up, walking to school, seeing the crops going in and harvest time,” Smith said. “It is near and dear to my heart.”
City of Brighton spokeswoman Jodie Carroll said the work of the committee would be important to city council.
“It is up to the city council on how to proceed with the committee’s recommendations,” Carroll said via e-mail. “Of course the input from the committee will be valuable in determining policy direction regarding this important issue and in addressing agricultural preservation issues as they relate to comprehensive planning and open space acquisition efforts.”
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