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Master Plan update nears review by the public

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The Delta County Planning Commission went through a draft of the Master Plan, dated March 2018, at its March 21 meeting.

The "Public Review Draft" (PRD) brings the planning commission and county staff a step closer to taking the Master Plan update to the community for input through three public hearings, email and letters.

The PRD was the result of the March 14 page-by-page scrutiny by the planning commission, county staff, and some members of the area planning committees of a draft dated February 2018.

Elyse Casselberry, county community and economic development director, sent the results of that March 14 scrutiny to Gabe Preston of RPI Consulting.

Before the review started, planning commission chairman Bob Stechert commented to the planning commission members, area planning committee members and other attendees, "This review of the Master Plan has been a collegial process. We have sought input from people across the county. The review is intended to be a collaborative effort among the planning commission, area planning committee members and the public at large.

"It has been of no help when people have criticized our efforts because our efforts are not in agreement with their personal interests. The several open letters on social media and the emails misinterpreting the scope and purpose of the Master Plan raise issues that are not relevant to this process.

"The Master Plan review will give us guidelines for the adoption of a regulatory system. Land use regulations will address issues with which we have had substantial problems. We will then know in advance what we are to do in each situation," Stechert said.

"Don't criticize each other outside of this process; don't undermine the process. We need to work together. Keep your personal opinions and issues to the side for the overall interest of the county.

"We will vote as the planning commission. If you can't do that, step aside.

"I hope we can all agree to proceed in that direction," Stechert said.

Steve Wolcott, area planning committee member, said, "I disagree with Bob. It is our job to elicit input ... to listen to those people asking 'How is this going to affect me, my neighbors,' in different parts of the county, in the Upper North Fork."

Planning commission member Steve Schrock replied, "You are talking about personal interests. Personal interests can't be part of the Master Plan review process. Conflicts of interest are a threat to what we are doing."

Elisa Greco added, "It's going to get intense, but we should not let our personal interests stop the Master Plan process."

Casselberry proctored the discussion of the 89 pages through the March draft. Kelly Yeager, the county's contract planner, provided technical information and cited examples of how often difficult land use situations are arising currently and the need for regulations to guide the resolution of neighbor-to-neighbor conflicts.

The conscientious review and comments from the planning commission and area planning committee members revealed that more refinement is needed in minor changes to some pages, shifting information from one subject heading to another, and providing more information on some subjects.

Schrock said the planning commission should not miss including demographic information concerning poverty, age, and family data.

In the "Introduction, Plan Purpose and Planning Process" the sentence, "Requirements for residential development should extend to all proposed additional single family dwelling units on individual land parcels, not simply to formal subdivision applications" drew considerable discussion from most of the planning commission members. It promises to be a major topic when the Master Plan update is accepted and land use regulation are formulated based on the results of the Master Plan update.

There was general discussion about the Master Plan being a regulatory document. Stechert said, "The Master Plan is not intended to be a regulatory document. Our objective is advisory, to provide guidelines for preparation of a regulatory document."

Casselberry expects to provide the planning commission with the corrected Public Review Draft by March 28.

After the PRD is approved by the planning commission, public input will be scheduled, starting with an open house projected for April.

Members of the County Planning Commission are: representing County Commission District 1, Steve Shea, Angela Mackey, vice chair, and Steve Schrock; County Commission District 2, Layne Brones, Lucinda Stanley and Tate Locke; County Commission District 3, Tony Prendergast, Kim Shay and Bob Stechert, chair.

Area planning committee members participating March 21 were Elisa Greco, Bob Pennetta and Steve Wolcott.

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