BoCC picks master plan rewrite consultant

By Hank Lohmeyer


The Board of County Commissioners Monday selected planning consultant RPI of Durango to lead the upcoming county master plan rewrite process.

The rewrite will possibly include changes to the "county land use code," a term applied collectively to county regulations for subdivisions, specific developments and septic systems, according to county staff.

Responding to questions from commissioners, county administrator Robbie LeValley explained that the master plan is a document for which the county planning commission has responsibility. Delta County's master plan is considered by officials to be an advisory document.

On the other hand, the county's suite of land use codes consists of official regulations and ordinances that the county commissioners have full discretion over. They have final say about any changes proposed to them.

Commissioners had three proposals from three planning consulting firms to choose from -- the RPI group as well as bids from Alpine/SE Group of Ridgway and CTA, a consultancy that is located on the Front Range.

The bid from RPI of Durango that commissioners chose was the highest of the three: $98,500. The Alpine/SE bid was $74,980, and the CTA bid $78,530 for the project.

LeValley said the three proposals were evaluated by herself, by county planner Kelly Yeager, county attorney Jin Ho Pack and Elyse Ackerman, regional manager for DOLA.

To aid in making their decision, the commisssioners were given an evaluation of the three proposals from an Ackerman-Casselberry memo emailed to LeValley last month. About RPI she noted the following advantages:

"They have familiarity with Delta County and are realistic about the challenges that will be encountered with this update ... They have done several county plans including counties with very diverse communities within them ... I think [their proposal] falls short on how to reach out to those that are not going to come to formal or informal meetings ... I would suggest questioning them and asking them to brainstorm strategies for getting input/buy-in from all segments of the community ... My major concern about [their proposal] is the budget. It's a little higher than we estimated."

LeValley said DOLA will pay up to $50,000 of the consultant's cost.

Ackerman's evaluation also included a comment about the "land use code" element of the rewrite. She states, "The land use code road map [RPI proposes] is an excellent addition and will really help lay a foundation for updating codes and confirming a final direction for the code update."

LeValley said Ackerman-Cassleberry has considerable experience working with the RPI group.

Commissioner Doug Atchley noted that the RPI bid "seems like a lot of money. Does the board have input on the final [version of] the master plan?"

LeValley replied, "The master plan is a product of the planning commission." She added, "The BoCC has significant input on the land use code."

Commissioner Mark Roeber moved to award the work to RPI saying, "We want it to be done right. We have $50,000 from DOLA to cover costs."

Atchley seconded the motion while noting that the county can always decide to stay with its current master plan which was adopted in 1996. "Let's see what kind of a [master plan] product we get. That will be a lot of 'see' for $100,000," Atchley remarked.

The board approved Roeber's motion to accept the RPI bid on a 3-0 vote

LeValley said the rewrite process could last through most of 2017. She said a schedule of public meetings in the re-write process will be developed and released when completed.