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Feedback invited on draft Master Plan

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Eleven months in the making, the first full draft of the Delta County Master Plan is available for public review and comment.

"The goal of this process was always to create a new framework for managing land use and development that is more fair and predictable than what we have now and would result in outcomes consistent with the community's vision for the future," said Bob Stechert, Delta County Planning Commission chair. "We think we've taken a big step forward in our county with achieving that goal by completing this Master Plan."

The county is hosting three open houses next week to solicit community feedback:

Monday, April 9 -- Heritage Hall in Hotchkiss.

Tuesday, April 10 -- Orchard City Town Hall.

Wednesday, April 11 -- Bill Heddles Recreation Center in Delta.

Each session runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., allowing for residents to drop in to review the plan and talk with Delta County staff and planning commissioners in a less formal structure than previous meetings. Each evening, a presentation will occur around 6 p.m. to provide an overview of the Master Plan process, plan content and next steps. The rest of the meeting is an open house with stations set up on different elements of the plan, including the vision, goals and future land use plan. Residents can move freely around the room reviewing posters and maps at their own pace.

Community members are being asked to provide feedback to the county on three specific areas as they review the Master Plan. First, do the priorities identified in the plan reflect the discussions held during the planning process? Second, do the strategies and next steps move priorities forward appropriately based on level of community consensus achieved during the planning process? And finally, overall, does the Master Plan move Delta County in the right direction with regards to the vision and goals?

"When we initiated this process, we learned that most of us want the same thing for the future of Delta County. It was a great moment for us to come together and to find out how much we have in common," said Elyse Ackerman-Casselberry, county community and economic development director. "But when it comes to the details of how to achieve that vision our county has more diverse perspectives."

The planning commission and Delta County staff tried to take this diversity of opinion into account through the planning process. They deliberately sought out opportunities for action where there was more alignment, such as directing future growth to areas in the county that have adequate infrastructure. And, in other cases where there was less community agreement about strategies and direction, the county opted for a process-oriented approach to problem solving as next steps.

"Where we continue to have conflict, such as with oil and gas development and with confined animal feeding operations, we tried to acknowledge the lack of agreement in our current planning process," stated Ackerman-Casselberry. "The Master Plan directs us to create working groups who will continue to work together collaboratively to find the best solutions for our community. Our hope is we are building capacity for solving complex problems in our community collaboratively rather than forcing solutions that no one is happy with."

The Draft Master Plan is available on the county's website, www.delta

countyplan.com, so residents can review the plan prior to the community meetings. For residents unable to attend a community meeting, the county is requesting that feedback be submitted either in the online community forum on the project website or via an email sent directly to planningcommission@deltacounty.com. Comments will be collected until April 25.

Once the review process is completed, the Master Plan will be presented in a public hearing in May. If adopted, it will act as a guiding, not regulatory, document for both the planning commission and Board of County Commissioners on land use decisions, county programming and public investments. "The commissioners greatly appreciate how much time the planning commission and the community have invested in developing the Master Plan," said Doug Atchley, chair of the Board of County Commissioners. "The commissioners look forward to working with the planning commission on implementation of the Master Plan once it is adopted."

To learn more about the master plan effort, visit www.deltacountyplan.com or contact Kelly Yeager, contract planner, at 874-2110 or Ackerman-Casselberry at 874-2105.

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master plan, Planning Commission
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