Trails plan could impact property rights
By Hank Lohmeyer
Members of the Delta County Planning Commission met with the consultants hired to develop the county's recreational trails master plan on May 24.
Planning commission member Steve Schrock noted "there is the possibility of huge contentiousness" over private property rights as the county begins the process of developing a master plan for recreational trails.
Planning commission member Angela Mackey pointed out also that "contentiousness is already happening in the [county's land use] master plan" as witnessed during a public session in Paonia.
Schrock said there is "sensitivity about drawing [trail] map lines on private property." He explained there are private property owners who do not want proposed trail routes drawn across their land because they will lower the value of private property by designating it for possible future public use.
The issue is one of great concern to many people; so much so that Schrock, a former Delta city manager, suggested that provision be made in the trails plan process to de-couple it from the land use master plan process if the issue become so contentious that it begins to impede the land use master plan project.
There are two master plan projects taking place in Delta County at the present time. One is a land use master plan rewrite to replace the county's existing master plan written in 1996. That project was started in January.
The other master plan process is being called a recreational trails master plan and it began officially last week during the session with the county planning commission. The county planning commission is the lead agency along with the county planning department in developing both plans.
There are two different paid consulting firms handling the two plans. RPI of Durango is the lead consultant on the land use master plan. The other consultant is DHM Design, a company with offices in Colorado and Montana including the cities of Denver, Carbondale, Durango and Bozeman. The two firms have interlocking business relationships, and the two master plan projects are intended to move forward in concert to conclusion at around year's end.
Jason Jaynes of DHM told planning commission members last week that the county recreational trails master plan will include public lands recreation. What that looks like "remains to be seen." Federal lands management agencies have jurisdiction over public lands travel policy.
Jaynes said his staff had already met with some trails user groups and that meetings with public lands management agencies would also take place.
The original time frame for completing the trails master plan was four months, but Jaynes said last week that has been expanded to six months.