Garfield County code changes before commissioners today | PostIndependent.com

Garfield County code changes before commissioners today

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — A final set of proposed revisions to the Garfield County land-use code, aimed at streamlining the development review process and removing regulatory barriers, come before the Board of County Commissioners today.

A public hearing is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. at the Garfield County Administration Building in Glenwood Springs for the commissioners to consider a wide range of amendments to the 2008 land-use code, at the recommendation of the county’s planning commission.

It is the third set of revisions to come before the commissioners, who initiated the process in 2011 in an effort to eliminate what they felt were unnecessary regulatory barriers that could discourage economic development.

Following an initial round of code amendments early last year, a special citizens advisory committee was appointed to further review the code and recommend other changes to streamline the process and make it more “user friendly.”

A second round of changes reduced the code document by 123 pages. The county planning commission recently recommended additional changes that will remove another 94 pages, for an overall 43 percent reduction in the length of the document.

“I think we have reached a consensus here,” said planning commission member Greg McKennis in a press release sent out by the county last week. “We have all had some things we wanted and some things we that we didn’t want, and I think it is great that we are all going to vote in favor of this.”

However, the changes have not been without opposition. Critics argued during the campaign for two county commissioner seats last fall that the revisions put development interests ahead of the general public’s interest when it comes to certain protections.

Planning commissioner Michael Sullivan agreed in a recent letter to the editor that the new code will be more concise and the process more efficient as a result of the changes.

“However, the goal of ‘reducing barriers’ seriously downgrades building and development standards,” Sullivan also wrote. “These changes reduce dozens of reviews and create looser rules for everything from small subdivisions to signs.

“They alter approvals, land use, roads and pipelines,” he said. “The changes significantly reduce the cost to the applicant by eliminating studies and reports, and so much more.”

The changes that are before the commissioners today would impact a variety of land-use projects, from residential subdivisions and commercial projects to surface structures and pipelines related to the oil and gas industry.

The Garfield County Planning Commission’s recommendations can be viewed at http://www.garfield-county.com/community-development/land-use-regulations.aspx.

Citizen comments will be taken at today’s public hearing.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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