Paonia citizens can now access the third Master Plan on-line survey highlighting questions on arts and culture, parks, recreation and trails.

Evan Bolt, assistant to the administrator, formulated the survey’s 24 questions following the master plan public input meeting on Jan. 16.

According to Bolt, nearly 60 persons participated in the meeting making it the best attended public input meeting thus far. The first meeting on housing and utilities in September drew 10 while the second meeting in November on transportation, economic development and community sustainability had roughly 35 in attendance.

“It was a great turnout with lots of input received, a lot of good conversations about arts, cultural events and additional events. We talked about how we can make those better and how the arts can support the economy and diversify the economy,” he said.

In addition to moving the master plan forward, results from the third survey will also be used to lay the groundwork for future parks and trails planning thanks to a

$57,000 Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) planning grant awarded last October.

The grant money will be used to contract with professional landscape artists, arborists, trail planners and others to guide the planning process.

Bolt said creating trails that will enhance “greenspace” and potentially connect Paonia to Hotchkiss via a multi-level path drew the most public comment.

Submittals for the town’s Request for Proposal (RFP) for the trails planning were already in the town office as of Feb. 7. He said there were a couple of companies interested in contracting with the town on the project slated to start in March.

The nearly two and a half year old Space to Create project was also highlighted during the third master plan input meeting. Paonia was awarded the Space to Create in Northwest Colorado in the fall of 2017.

Bolt said the statement on the powerpoint presentation during the meeting which read “the Town of Paonia has committed $10,000 to the project,” was inaccurate. He said the statement should state that “the Town of Paonia has committed UP to $10,000” for the project. He said the town has spent approximately $2,500 while the rest of the financial support has come from Colorado Creative Industries Division (CCI) and the Boettcher Foundation.

As part of the grant requirement, the feasibility and marketing studies were completed and presented at a public meeting in January 2019. The project is now in the beginning of Phase 2 (pre-development planning). Groundbreaking on 17-20 units to develop affordable workforce housing for the creative sector and/or possible retail space is not expected to occur before 2022.

“At the last (Space to Create Committee) meeting they discussed what possible parcels the town owns that could be used for creative development for design work on the proposed units,” Bolt said.

During the meeting, citizens were also made aware of the “3-mile plan,” required by Colorado Statue. The purpose of the plan is to have towns invision how they would develop land within a 3-mile radius if annexed. The plan is required prior to a municipality annexing land in the 3-mile zone.

“It has to be updated every three years by state statute and all that it requires is for the town to look three-miles out from its borders and determine how services would be provided if the town annexed the property, it doesn’t mean the town has any plans to annex those properties. It's just in the case of annexation, “what would that look like.” It’s just another aspect of planning,” Bolt said.

The final Master Plan Public Input meeting on land use is scheduled for Feb. 26. Bolt said the meeting originally planned for the 27th had to be moved due to a conflict in scheduling.

“The old master plan actually has quite a bit of good Land Use information. A lot of the topics it laid out still interest the community so, the plan is to go through those in groups and identify what’s still relevant and important to the community and possibly brainstorm other Land Use topics that may not have been fully detailed in the old master plan,” Bolt said.

Adoption of the Master Plan is set for next month, however, Bolt said the board of trustees can adopt the plan “chapter by chapter,” in the event that some chapters still need to be finalized. He anticipates presenting the final plan to the Planning Commission by March 25. The plan would then move to the Board of Trustees with chapters on utilities, housing, transportation and community sustainability ready for approval with additional chapters in the works.

“My end goal is to have at least some of the chapters approved before the turnover of the board after elections,” said Bolt who’s been working on the plan since June of last year.

The third Master Plan survey can be found on the town’s website or paper copies can be picked up at Town Hall. Bolt said citizens who may not be able to complete the online survey or pick the survey up can call him at 970-527-4101 to have the survey delivered to their home.

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