Garfield County master plan ready for review | PostIndependent.com
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Garfield County master plan ready for review

John ColsonPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

The draft version of the revised Garfield County master plan is ready for prime time, says the planner who’s been shepherding the plan through months of public meetings and work sessions with public officials.The planning document will undergo its first official review before the county planning and zoning commission on Aug. 16 in Glenwood Springs, followed by an Aug. 17 hearing in Rifle, and then what could be a final meeting on Aug. 18 in Glenwood Springs again.The first two meetings, according to Garfield County long-range planner Tamra Allen, are meant primarily to gather community comments and opinions about the plan.At the third meeting, Allen said, the P&Z also will accept public comment. But the main purpose of the Aug. 18 meeting is for P&Z members to discuss the plan and, perhaps, adopt it.Although members of the Board of County Commissioners have worked on the plan in work sessions and other venues, Allen said, it is by law that a plan is adopted (or rejected) by the P&Z alone and then, once adopted, is “certified” to the commissioners.As it now stands, the draft comp plan covers 59 pages of text, supported by additional pages of maps and appendices, which Allen said is a deliberate move to make it easier to digest.”We’ve really tried to streamline the document,” she said, noting that between a citizens advisory committee, the P&Z itself and the planning staff, a concerted effort was made to cut out verbiage that was excessive, obsolete or in some other way deemed unnecessary.The plan, put together with the help of consultants Winston Associates, BBC Research & Consulting and others, can be viewed on a special dedicated website, http://www.garfieldcomprehensiveplan2030.com, or at the county planning office, 108 Eighth St., Suite 401, in Glenwood Springs.

Allen said some parts of the comp plan, such as Section 9 concerning mineral extraction, have not changed much.But there are, she said, some significant proposed changes in how the county deals with growth, such as the possible creation of a new “joint county/city planning commission” to review proposed development projects in the “urban growth areas” immediately adjacent to municipal boundaries.Under the provisions proposed in the draft plan, Allen said, the county would work much more closely than it has in the past with municipalities, in reviewing projects next to the towns.”The county has heard from the municipalities,” she noted, “that they’re desirous of better cooperation managing the growth that happens around their communities.”Another change that Allen considers significant is a proposed modification of the allowable densities of residential subdivisions in the Colorado River corridor.Where the current regulations permit one house per two acres in rural “outlying residential” zones along the corridor, she said, the permissible density under the new plan would be a sliding scale, allowing greater density if the homes are clustered to preserve large swaths of open space.For example, she said, in residential medium-high density areas, if no open space is preserved, the zoning would permit one home per six acres. If 50 percent of the project land stays open, the density increases to one home per four acres. And if 70 percent of the land is left in open space, the density rises to one home per two acres.Allen stressed that a major component of the county’s historic land use philosophy continues to be, as stated in the document, “that owners have an inherent right to develop property as long as the development is in the best interests of the health, safety and welfare of the county and does not adversely affect adjacent property rights.”Additionally, the plan points out that there currently are approximately 2,400 subdivided and approved, but undeveloped, lots spread throughout the unincorporated areas of Garfield County.The county’s planning office, according to statements on the website, estimated that 200 or more people turned out during each of three series of public meetings, which came to 18 meetings in all.Allen also said the P&Z members had spent 30 hours in meetings about the plan, and that the commissioners have spent roughly 10 hours or more discussing the draft.The upcoming P&Z meetings will take place at the county administration building, 108 Eighth St. in Glenwood Springs on Aug. 16 and 18, and on Aug. 17 at the Garfield County Sheriff’s new annex building next to the county regional airport near Rifle, 0101 CR 333A. Each meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m.jcolson@postindependent.com


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