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401 Meeker St Delta CO 81416 970.874.4421

Land use concepts elude Hotchkiss council

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Dear Editor:

I was disappointed but not surprised, when the Hotchkiss Town Council approved a two-lot split of its own recently purchased property on Barrow Mesa adjacent to a R-1 residential area. Some corrections to the June 26 DCI article on the June 13 meeting.

First, rezoning had nothing to do with allowing the town to split the acreage. The rezoning was to allow the town to build a government facility (a large new public works building) on the larger lot. The rezoning allowed the town to construct the facility with no public review or conditions to mitigate impacts on the neighbors. The use is a use-by-right under the new zoning.

Second, the "no impact" designation was applied by the town to both lots of the subdivision allowing the town to skip multiple public review steps. There was no difference between this subdivision than any other two-lot subdivision covered under the town's subdivision regulations, normally requiring a sketch plan review and a final plat review. This is standard in every other normative jurisdiction. The town has clearly stated the purpose of the subdivision and rezoning; to build the public works building on one parcel and have the option of selling the smaller lot to recoup some of the cost of the land purchase. Definitely impacts to water, sewer, traffic, and general peace of the neighborhood.

Third, Town Attorney Bo Nerlin's reference to "intent" had nothing to do with the future sale of the smaller lot, but rather my reference to the spirit, letter, and intent of the 2015 ordinance that allowed for no-impact subdivision exceptions. I was lead planner on the commission when that ordinance was adopted. Nerlin was saying that the town's interpretation of the wording of the ordinance trumps any "intent" to not create a loophole in the SDRs.

When both actions are considered in context with the subdivision regulations as a whole there is an appearance of the town giving themselves a pass from the spirit and intent of the regulation, if not the wording in one small part. You can do things the right way or the easy way. They chose easy.

Your new reporter can be forgiven for not grasping all of the intricacies of land use planning since the council itself, with the exception of Mrs. Koontz, met most of my arguments with blank stares.

Thomas Wills

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