By Lisa Young
“It’s complicated,” said Mayor Larry Wilkening when attempting to update the Hotchkiss town board Thursday evening on the latest developments concerning the county’s land use code.
In a town planning meeting on Aug. 26, the mayor blasted the county claiming it “unilaterally shrunk the town’s growth management area without consulting town boards.”
Wilkening isn’t alone in feeling that the county “may have overstepped their bounds” when it reduced urban growth zones across the board to appease farmers and ranchers butted up against municipalities.
The mayor said he and officials from Paonia and Cedaredge are meeting with Delta County Administrator Robbie LeValley over how the county wants to designate the urban growth areas near municipalities.
“I would also just note that the town of Paonia has also provided comment saying they would like to keep their existing IGA in place,” added town attorney Bo Nerlin advising the Hotchkiss board to retain the current IGA instituted in 2010 that deals with growth management areas (GMA) for the town.
The zoning issue came to a head after the county released its third draft with newly configured maps showing further reductions in the town’s urban growth areas. The new maps coupled with talk of the county wanting to renegotiate the 10 year old IGA doesn’t appear to be going over well with most mayors.
“The UGA for the county is a code issue, where our IGA is a policy issue,” Wilkening said. “I have issues with how they’ve gone about this and I want to get that cleared up and then we can go forward by either keeping our IGA the way it is or getting a new one.”
Wilkening told the board he would keep them updated on the county’s land use code following the meeting with LeValley.
In other meeting news, Ginger Redden, deputy clerk, was promoted to the position of town clerk following the retirement of Marlene Searle who served the town for 38 years. Redden will be officially sworn in at the next regular business meeting. In her place, Karen Laing was recently hired as deputy clerk.
Wilkening announced that Trustee Esther Koontz resigned her position on the board due to moving out of town. The town will advertise the open position and accept letters of interest.
Trustees approved a special zoning permit on behalf of Jeff and Susie Hirsch for a small veterinary clinic to be located at 164 E. Bridge St. The public hearing was filled with support for the new veterinary practice.
Trustees also gave unanimous approval for a variance request for a mobile home park located at 495 E. Bridge St. on behalf of William Swanson.
Swanson, under contract to purchase the property, applied for the variance on Aug. 14 and received approval during a special meeting with the planning meeting on Sept. 1. The potential new owner plans to place three new mobile homes for rent on the property in the next couple of months.