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Erie Town Administrator Candidates Face Questions on Growth, Fracking at Open House

December 7, 2018

Malcom Fleming, one of four finalists for the Erie town administrator post, talks with residents at an open house on Thursday.

The four candidates for Erie’s town administrator seat answered a series of familiar questions in their first public outing on Thursday.

Fracking and growth, the two weighty issues that have served as referendums in recent elections and outsized pressures on policy, had a similar impact on the evening’s discussion.

Fritz Sprague of Castle Rock, Matt Magley of Superior, Malcolm Fleming formerly of Louisville and Nancy Kerry formerly of South Lake Tahoe are vying to fill the seat left vacant earlier this year by former Town Administrator A.J. Krieger’s ouster.

For the crop of Front Range candidates, Erie’s development landscape mirrors something similar to what they’ve presided over.

Erie leaders last month approved a $6.4 million deal for roughly 255 acres of land near the intersection of Erie Parkway and Interstate 25, ushering in the town’s stake of the development boom playing out along the corridor. According to a master plan for the region, the land will be the site of large-scale retail, office space and high-density housing.

Magley, who helped guide the Downtown Superior project in recent years, suggested the key to smart growth lies in the zoning and availability of where to usher in commercial development.

Similarly, Fleming spoke of growth in terms of deciding where to preserve the character of the town and where to shift toward larger-scale retail.

Whoever is chosen also will be charged with overseeing the town’s revamped approach to oil and gas — trustees recently approved a controversial operator agreement with driller Crestone Peak Resources — one that is slated to continue in the coming months ahead of the expiration of the town’s drilling moratorium.

Sprague suggested Thursday that his approach, if appointed, would look similar to how the town currently engages with the industry. While pushing for local control, he said, the board should maintain transparency in its process around amending operator agreements.

By definition, municipal administrators serve at the direction of their elected leaders, though the opinion of the person in the role is often reflected in board decisions.

If selected, Kerry said she would defer to the will of the board on how to approach the oil and gas issue.

While conflicting opinions might exist within the leadership on the issue, she said, the administrator’s role is to move forward on a collective vision.

The Erie Board of Trustees is scheduled to hold interviews with the finalists ahead of making a selection on Saturday.

Anthony Hahn: 303-473-1422, hahna@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/_anthonyhahn

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