Editor's Note: 'Our Colorado' stories help natives and newcomers navigate the challenges related to our rapidly growing state, including real estate and development, homelessness, transportation and more. To comment on this or other 360 stories, email us at OurCO@TheDenverChannel.com. See more 'Our Colorado' stories here.
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — There's a land grab happening in northern Colorado as cities scramble to annex land and boost tax revenues.
It's an issue all across Our Colorado.
Inside the iconic Johnson's Corner, Lea Blondeaux has never shied away from speaking her mind, especially when it comes to growth.
“I don't like it,” Blondeaux said. “Too many people. They'll run out of land before they stop building."
That just might be true.
A new map highlights the land grab. It shows a new metro area with towns like Greeley, Windsor, Johnstown, Berthoud, Loveland, Timnath and Fort Collins all abutting one another.
While not all the land is developed, most of it is annexed or marked for future annexation. Virtually every square mile is spoken for in some form or fashion.
"We've been averaging 200 new homes every year,” said Zack Santen, a planner with the Town of Frederick. Frederick, Firestone, Longmont, Dacono, Mead and Erie make-up the southern half of that budding new metro area.
Frederick has grown from 4,000 people in 2008 to 12,000 today.
Santen says growing right up to the edge of neighboring towns is common on the Front Range.
“Certainly, we respect them and refer to them as much as possible to make sure their interests are respected," Santen said. “Any development that abuts other cities, we reach out and make sure they’re included in the overall plan - providing input to that development. So, we’re not operating independently. We are operating as a regional partner.”
But it is a battle of sorts - for land, businesses and the tax dollars that come with it all.
"When Johnstown wanted to do the annexation up near Highway 34 and I-25, I fought that as much as anybody,” said Johnstown resident Betty Beeler. “But, it’s been good for the town. It’s good for the tax base. We've got a new library. They're building a new rec center."
It’s something that’s a fact of life in northern Colorado, like it or not.
"It's good for people who want to live here,” Blondeaux said. “But it's getting a little crowded, I'd say."