Editorial fails to meet factual responsibility

In the editorial appearing in the Oct. 7 Durango Herald, you criticize the action taken at the Oct. 1 City Council meeting with respect to the approval of a variance for the downtown Durango hotel project on East Second Avenue. The editorial suggests that my quoted statement, “(t)he council has no latitude whatsoever,” was addressing the council’s pending decision regarding the variance request and advising the council the variance had to be approved. A news story created the same misimpression in the Oct. 2 Herald.

Had you made any effort to determine what actually transpired during the discussion at the council meeting, instead of relying the story’s characterization of the discussion, it would have been evident that your editorial premise is erroneous and your criticism misguided.

The video of all council meetings can easily be accessed at the city’s website. A review of video from the Oct. 1 council meeting would have established that my comment regarding “no latitude” related exclusively to state law, which requires that a development application be processed under the code and regulations in place at the time the development application is filed, and that any desire to amend the code to improve future treatment of residential/commercial transition areas could not be applied to this project. With regard to the variance itself, that same video reflects that, in response to the mayor’s request to clarify the options available to the council, I advised the council that the request for the variance was “a decision the council can grant or deny at its discretion.”

While it is recognized that the Opinion page is only opinion, the editorial board has a responsibility of factual accuracy. Your editorial failed to meet that responsibility.

David P. Smith, city of Durango attorney


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