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Master Plan review continues

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The Delta County Planning Commission continued its page-by-page discussion of the review draft of the Master Plan update at its March 7 meeting at the Maloney House in Hotchkiss. The commission began the discussion of the review draft on Feb. 28.

At that meeting the section entitled "Desired Future Conditions," consisting of a long introductory paragraph and six bullet points, prompted a lot of comments from the commission members over wording, revealing concerns about how some "desired future conditions" would impact on agricultural, residential and other types of development.

Elyse Casselberry, county community and economic development director, Kelly Yeager, the county's contract planner, and Gabe Preston of RPI Consulting, came up with some clearer language, which was handed out March 7:

Current Conditions

Delta County has no land use regulations to determine where land uses may locate. As a result, there are areas of the county where rural residential, agricultural, industrial, and commercial land are mixed. This mix creates neighborhood conflict, especially when new, more intensive uses are proposed.

Proposed Policy

A new regulatory system is needed to address future conflicts that are likely to continue between rural residential, agricultural, industrial, and commercial uses. This regulatory system should identify what range of land uses are permitted and where different types of land uses are allowed. Property owners across the county should be allowed to actively participate in determining permitted land uses for their property based on new land use regulations that are fair and predictable.

Casselberry said the focus of the first four bullet points in the current document, the capsule of which is contained in the proposed policy statement above, will be mostly the same for all categories of use.

Planning commission chairman Bob Stechert added, "Different development areas have similar characteristics. This part of the Master Plan update we are discussing is descriptive; some regulation will develop downstream."

Planning commission member Tony Prendergast said he would like to see the resource conservation plan, written by Yeager in an earlier plan, returned to the Master Plan update. He would like to see hunting and wildlife included in the plan, both being important to people in Delta County.

Stechert noted the need to adopt regulations for remote areas where there are no services and in high fire areas. Owners of such property may have to accept personal responsibility in those cases, he said.

Bob Pennetta, a member of an area planning committee, said the county is losing development because the owner doesn't know what he has to go through.

Prendergast said the county needs broad zoning to accommodate smaller developments.

"Basic zoning is doable," Schrock said. "Projected population growth figures indicate there will be a change in the current characteristics of the county."

Steve Wolcott, a member of an area planning committee, said he hoped for a way for neighbors to have input in what happens. Stechert replied, "We'll try to accommodate this."

Planning commission member Angela Mackey said, "We will need to wait for these discussions on land use and development regulations until we're in the Master Plan itself. A lot of these things will fall in place. This is the introduction to the plan. At that future point we can say, 'As a county, we have decided'."

Casselberry said some of the municipalities have indicated they want to participate in the process through intergovernmental agreements with the county. All of the county's municipalities are in the process of updating their own planning documents. Both municipalities and the county are looking for a better system with which they can interact. The municipal quarterly meetings may be that vehicle.

At present Orchard City and Crawford have no intergovernmental agreement with the county.

Yeager said, "If development occurs in the county, we can work it out as it develops if the county understands what the municipality's policies are."

Casselberry will send the results of Wednesday evening's work to Gabe Preston of RPI Consulting for him to incorporate the March 7 comments, accomplish more bridging among the different subject areas, include more references and provide more connections to the stated core values.

The next meeting of the Delta County Planning Commission is scheduled for March 21.

Planning commission members are Bob Stechert, Tate Locke, Angela Mackey, Kim Shay, Layne Brones, Tony Prendergast, Steve Shea and Steve Schrock. Jen Sanborn, who was present in the audience, was invited to join the discussion. Sanborn has worked on the review of the Master Plan during her three-year term on the commission, which just expired.

Lucinda Stanley was appointed March 5 to fill the seat formerly held by Sanborn.

Also present, and invited to join the commission in the discussion, were members of area planning committees: Elisa Greco, Susan Raymond, Steve Wolcott and Bob Pennetta.

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