Spotlight on a planning commission member |

Spotlight on a planning commission member

Dennis Webb
Serving the Public " Garfield County
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

A simple conviction helps explain the 16 years Cheryl Chandler has spent volunteering as a member of the Garfield County Planning Commission.

“Everybody needs to volunteer and everyone needs to give back,” Chandler said.

A real estate broker who lives near Silt, Chandler isn’t the longest-serving member of the commission, despite all of her longevity. Phil Vaughan, of Rulison, started a year earlier.

Together, she said, she and Vaughan bring a lot of institutional memory to the county regarding planning issues, especially since the recent retirement of longtime building and planning director Mark Bean.

“Now that we’ve lost Mark, Phil and I are the history,” she said. “I can remember things and projects that have been before us before.”

Not all of those memories are cherished ones. Chandler remembers being disappointed when the county rejected the original development proposal for what was then Sanders Ranch, at Highway 82 and Cattle Creek Road. It included major commercial and residential components, which she believes would have met big local needs. The land since has gone through ownership changes and was torn up by earthmovers at one point but remains undeveloped.

More recently, she was disappointed by county commissioners’ decision this year to turn down the Reserve at Elk Meadows, a 200-home development up Four-Mile Road. The planning commission had recommended approval, and most audience members at its meetings had supported it, she says.

She said it can be disappointing when commission decisions are shot down at a higher level for what seem to be political reasons, but she recognizes that such decisions ultimately are up to county commissioners.

“We have no say, we’re just an advisory board. The commissioners can either agree with us or disagree, and sometimes they disagree with us,” Chandler said.

Chandler previously had volunteered on the local Board of Realtors and for a hospice. She decided to seek appointment to the planning commission during controversy over the Springridge development up Four Mile Road. She figured the best way to understand what was going on in such issues was to get involved.

Although the planning commission tends to most often attract attention during big development decisions, Chandler also points to other important work it has done, such as passing a comprehensive plan for the county, which it is now working on revising. It also is completing work on zoning regulations that give the plan some teeth, she said.

She said she knows that after she makes a decision some people will like her and others will hate her. But she said she simply bases her votes on the regulations.

“I’m not voting for them to love or hate me,” she said.

Chandler and her husband Norm enjoy life on a property where they keep dogs and horses. She said he never complains when her commission work keeps her from getting home until late at night.

“He doesn’t want to do it. I tell him I’ll give him my (commission) chair. He says, ‘oh no, you go do that,'” she says with a laugh.

Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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