On Jan. 9, the Delta County Board of County Commissioners is holding its first work session meeting with members of the consulting team selected to work with the county to update the county's land development regulations. The discussion will focus on the community involvement process.
The need to update the development regulations is driven by a desire to align the recently adopted Master Plan with the county's regulatory framework. In the spring of 2018, the Planning Commission adopted the new Master Plan, following a yearlong community engagement process to define a vision for Delta County's future. "When we started the Master Plan update, we knew our regulations were outdated and needed to be updated," commented Commissioner Mark Roeber. "We want the regulations to be driven by what the community wants for the future, and that includes the silent majority."
Master Plans establish the vision, goals and strategies. The county's vision includes six community goals with strategic recommendations intended to promote a higher quality of life, stewardship of natural resources, and a fair and predictable land development process. However, Master Plans are advisory documents only. Implementation occurs through public investments, program development, policy changes and regulatory changes.
Land use regulations are vitally important as they determine how, when and where future development occurs across unincorporated Delta County. The county commissioners want new land use regulations that clarify the development process. "It is not a secret that our land use regulations have not served our community well for years," stated Commissioner Don Suppes. "We have a process where everyone -- land owners, neighbors and developers -- all experience unpredictability. It has led to some contentious development applications, and a decrease in community investments."
One of the first tasks in the process is to review the Master Plan for regulatory related recommendations, and assess current development patterns on the ground. "We are starting this update process by building a solid understanding of our current conditions, and then folding in our vision to inform what needs to be changed," explains Elyse Casselberry. "We have a rudimentary toolbox right now. Before we jump to conclusions about what we should be doing, we need to begin with exploring our options, and what we can do differently to achieve our desired outcomes."
To support this dialogue, the county plans to roll out a variety of communication modes, from traditional updates in the newspaper, to online webinars and podcasts as well as community forums to educate the community about the regulatory process.
The update process for the development regulations will take about a year. Like the Master Plan, the community will have many ways to participate in this process. "We have a diverse set of values in our community. Our goal is to find common ground around the appropriate regulatory tools and processes that will support economic investment, protect what we love about living here, and respect property rights," says Commissioner Roeber. "Regulations are not black or white. There is a lot of grey area in identifying what will best fit our community. Our hope is that everyone approaches this process willing to listen and be respectful of one another."
To learn more about the project and how to become involved, visit www.deltacountyplan.com.