Garfield County code changes extended by commissioners on Monday |

Garfield County code changes extended by commissioners on Monday

John Colson
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Garfield County’s land use codes now track officially, and comprehensively, with the “business friendly” ethic espoused by the Garfield Board of County Commissioners (BOCC).

The BOCC, in what at least one observer felt was a quick action at a special meeting on Monday, voted in a package of language changes to the Unified Land Use Resolution intended to remedy what has been called the “mandatory” nature of the Comprehensive Plan 2030.

“I couldn’t brush my teeth fast enough,” remarked Dave Sturges, meaning he had not expected the vote to be over so quickly that he would arrive late and miss the discussion as well as the vote. Sturges is a former co-chair of an advisory committee that spent two years updating the county comp plan.

Sturges appeared at the meeting Monday, he said, because he had intended to ask the commissioners, “what did all the public input have to do with that vote?”

The new language declares that the land use code, which is the basis for reviewing land-use changes and development proposals within the county’s jurisdiction, is in “general conformance” with the county’s comp plan.

The previous language required development to be “in compliance” or “consistent” with the comp plan, although the word “mandatory” was never used in either the comp plan or the land use code.

The comp plan itself is referred to now, in the modified land use code, as “a guide” and “advisory regarding land use in Garfield County.”

Sturges recalled talking with “hundreds of citizens” at dozens of meetings during the process of updating the comp plan.

After the BOCC meeting on Monday, he said, “I am concerned … that the public has been very cut out” of the latest changes to the authority of the comp plan.

Led largely by the ideas of Commissioner Tom Jankovsky, all three commissioners decided at a retreat in January that the county needed to be more welcoming and helpful to the business community.

This stated change in attitude was meant to benefit developers hoping to build on their property, as well as the energy industry’s plans for extracting natural gas and oil from the ground, and other business interests in between.

In addition to altering the land use code with respect to the comp plan, the BOCC is taking aim at the county’s inclusionary zoning, which requires developers to dedicate 15 percent of any project to affordable housing.

The county is considering whether to declare a moratorium on enforcement of the inclusionary zoning regulations until the economy improves, as a way of stimulating the region’s building industry.

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