As La Plata County's project to revise the Land Use Code gathers steam, the Board of County Commissioners met in January to discuss the process, outline points of consensus, discuss regulatory strategies and alternatives, and to initiate the process of determining policy directions to guide the Land Use Code revision.


The discussion began by introducing the focus points and discussing demographic and socioeconomic trends and forecasts; changing economies and demands; the importance of stakeholders and their interests, views, and desires; the history of planning and evolving perspectives as the county evolves and grows; and the values of natural and scenic resources. All of these influence the attractiveness of the county as a place of residence, for business, and to visit. These factors and others will help frame the approach taken for the RLUC regarding open space and resource management, together with rural development, agricultural preservation, infrastructure provision, and business creation.

Below is a summary of the points for which there was broad consensus, along with guiding principles for progressing with the rewrite process.

The facilitated discussion was focused around these 7 points:
  1. Land use
  2. Growth management and coordination
  3. Infrastructure (particularly water and roads)
  4. Affordable housing
  5. Economic development
  6. Agricultural preservation
  7. Resource protection
The overall goals of the project are to:

  • Reconcile and clarify the county’s plans, policies, and practices;
  • Combine & integrate the many overlapping land uses and standards into a unified land use system;
  • Reward compliant applications which are consistent with County plans;
  • Provide for predictability and improved certainty of the process and outcomes;
  • Create multiple paths to “yes” – what can (rather than what can’t) be done;
  • Use the carrot vs. the stick via incentives such as bonuses and procedural short-cuts;
  • Infuse best practice provisions (e.g. clustering, resource protection, and preservation);
  • Eliminate unnecessary process (e.g. more administrative approvals subject to clear standards);
  • Articulate clear development standards and expectations;
  • Streamline the development process; and
  • Protect and preserve the county’s most valued assets.
We want to know what your policy priorities are as we head into the Land Use Code revision process, and invite you to participate in the exercise that commissioners and stakeholders conducted to help refine the policy framework for the revised code. For each of the points below, please indicate whether you:
  1. Agree that the code should address it
  2. Need more information before proceeding
  3. Disagree that the code should address it
You must choose an answer for each point, and we encourage you to limit your "need more information" answers to no more than six.

Thank you for your participation in this effort - we are eager for your input!

 

* Contact information

* What interest area best describes the perspective you bring to the Land Use Code?

* Policy area: Long Range Planning
For each statement below, please indicate whether you a) agree b) need more information or c) disagree

  Agree: the code should address this issue Need more information Disagree: the code should not address this issue
There is a need to update the plans for the existing 13 Planning Districts and potentially to create a first-ever plan for Southeast La Plata.
The integration of 1041 powers should occur concurrently with the development of this project. State-enabled 1041 powers include measures to plan for and protect areas of state interest including geologic hazards, water systems, fire mitigation, etc.

* Policy area: Streamlining
For each statement below, please indicate whether you a) agree b) need more information or c) disagree

  Agree: the code should address this issue Need more information Disagree: the code should not address this issue
The time that it takes for applicants to move through the approval process in the Land Use Code should be reduced and the code should provide greater clarity/certainty.
There are significant opportunities to unify, consolidate, and simplify the land uses within each district plan to make them more understandable and easier to administer.
Creating by-right development options within the development districts may provide for increased flexibility, help meet market demands, protect property interests and substantially shorten the review and approval processes.

* Policy area: Development Rights
For each statement below, please indicate whether you a) agree b) need more information or c) disagree

  Agree: the code should address this issue Need more information Disagree: the code should not address this issue
Property rights are important to private citizens. There is an inherent value of land and an acknowledgement that all property rights warrant respect while, at the same time, safeguarding the interests and values of the community.
Development districts warrant specifics as to individual uses and their densities, lot sizes, and setbacks. In so doing, clear and consistent development standards can be applied, and development rights will be clarified.
The concept of clustering residential developments should be reviewed in more detail. The use of clustering in appropriate locations may aid  in maintaining or increasing development rights while protecting resources and agricultural opportunities.

* Policy area: Facilitating Business-Friendly Permitting
For each statement below, please indicate whether you a) agree b) need more information or c) disagree

  Agree: the code should address this issue Need more information Disagree: the code should not address this issue
The need exists to create a county-wide land use map that indicates where certain land uses are permitted and desired. A land-use map would be beneficial to identify areas appropriate for different types of land uses and densities.
Business owners looking to locate in the county have little information about viable sites. Lack of predictable standards means that a business owner has no way to know what might or might not be approved, creating uncertainty.

* Policy area: Articulating Standards & Expectations
For each statement below, please indicate whether you a) agree b) need more information or c) disagree

  Agree: the code should address this issue Need more information Disagree: the code should not address this issue
The current terminology of “Administrative, Class I, & Class II” should be repurposed to simplify meanings & relate to the means for approval. Using “permitted, permitted subject to standards, & conditionally permitted" may clarify.
Agricultural interests and activities are important to the county and must be protected.
The code needs to have effective enforcement measures to ensure that projects conform with the code after their completion.
A comprehensive strategy is needed address the compatibility of oil and gas facilities with residential development.
Approval of manufactured homes should be the same as that for any other home.

* Policy area: Procedural Reform
For each statement below, please indicate whether you a) agree b) need more information or c) disagree

  Agree: the code should address this issue Need more information Disagree: the code should not address this issue
The compatibility standard warrants rethinking. The vague “compatibility standards” that all development projects are required to undergo may be better addressed via good development standards or criteria.
Reorganizing the current code is necessary so that it is easier for an applicant (including laypersons) to easily find all applicable provisions for an improvement, project, or development.
Vague development standards will be replaced with more definitive and articulate standards to enable more permits to be approved by staff, rather than through the costly and time-consuming process of Planning Commission & BOCC approval.
The time that it takes for all of the reviewing agencies to be notified and comment on the project slows the process for applicants and should be streamlined.
Codify the conditional requirements of past development approvals. Standards routinely required of applicants will be written into the code so that they are known up front.
Codify what is self-evident. When a regulation or restriction is going to be imposed on a property owner, the regulation needs to be written in the code, regardless of how obvious this might seem.
Increased certainty and more predictability are a priority. These result from a code with by-right land uses, clearly written standards, and processes that are clear, and which favor applications that comply with the Comprehensive Plan and code.

* Policy area: Coordinated & Managed Growth
For each statement below, please indicate whether you a) agree b) need more information or c) disagree

  Agree: the code should address this issue Need more information Disagree: the code should not address this issue
The code should identify areas to promote development and areas to preserve so as to address concerns about for scattered, uncoordinated, and sprawling patterns of development and the implications for residents.
Future growth must be managed by the County so it is predictable and known beforehand.
The new code should provide incentives for development where it makes sense. Certain areas  are more viable for development because of proximity or access to adequate infrastructure.
While services are expected in the urban areas, they may be accommodated in rural areas. Certain land uses may be perfectly appropriate in outlying areas, particularly where such uses are planned and supported by infrastructure.
Means for coordinating the patterns and timing of growth will be necessary to adequately serve the interests and meet the needs of residents, businesses, and tourists.
Affordable housing is a growing and increasingly important need for the county’s workforce. The new code should create avenues to accommodate different development forms and housing types to help fulfill this need.
A growth suitability and land use map would be useful for economic development purposes and to denote the areas which are most desirable and suitable for development.

* Policy area: Adequate Infrastructure & Development Demands
For each statement below, please indicate whether you a) agree b) need more information or c) disagree

  Agree: the code should address this issue Need more information Disagree: the code should not address this issue
The county is vested in securing viable long-term solutions for the provision of water as means for avoiding dry wells, contamination, or the need for water hauling.
The extension of water lines by the water districts are for the purpose of extending water to existing residences, but will also created development demand. This requires coordination with water districts.
Many of the county's roads are in a substandard condition, creating a limiting factor in accommodating growth in many areas. Proving up road capacity is a consideration for development. 

* How would you like to be involved going forward in the Land Use Code rewrite?

* Do you have any other comments, questions, or concerns for consideration in the Land Use Code revision project?

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