Real estate was hot in Colorado during the 1990s — so hot, in fact, that many communities imposed strict controls on urban growth. Now, some people think the growth-management plans have backfired, stifling economic development, and limiting affordable housing. Three Colorado communities have recently rejected plans to curb growth, and others that already have such plans in place are trying to exempt certain areas, weaken them, or axe them entirely. Environmentalists and other advocates of smart growth say careful planning is critical to preserving both natural areas and quality of life. They say the state’s fizzling financial outlook stems from the economic downturn at the end of the 1990s and the ongoing drought, not from controls on growth. Proponents of anti-sprawl initiatives blame the recent trend of dismantling growth-management plans on developers, who lose money from slower growth.