The Herald has received several letters about the recently scrapped La Plata County comprehensive plan. It is interesting that none of the authors articulated why the plan should have been accepted. They complained about cost and lost effort without identifying why the drafted plan might be better than the existing one.
County commissioners, under the leadership of then-chairwoman Kellie Hotter, unanimously advised the Planning Commission to halt its work on a revised comprehensive plan. It is noteworthy that this action was bipartisan and an obvious indication that the lengthy revision process had gone awry. It was unfortunate that volunteer effort and county funds were expended, but, as drafted, it was not salvageable. The plan should have outlined a set of clearly defined goals to better guide the county, but it ended as a disjointed collection of intrusive special-interest rules.
The plan’s purpose is to guide county growth, enhance the lives of the residents, preserve private-property rights and protect the environment. The first priority of the plan is to provide places for business and its employees. While the county offers wonderful recreational opportunities with skiing, hiking and biking, a substantial majority of the residents need employment and a suitable place to live as basic needs.
Many parts of the draft reversed the traditional role of government from “all is allowed that is not prohibited” to “all is prohibited that is not allowed.” Some of this claimed to be sustainable development, a term that is casually spoken by many, yet difficult to define. One person’s sustainable development can be quite different than that of others, and the attempts to define and codify it in the comprehensive plan in heavy-handed proscriptive language that mirrored homeowner-association covenants were divisive and the effort failed when reasonable compromises could not be reached.
La Plata County is a very special place that we all enjoy calling our home, and the commissioners showed true leadership by recognizing that the existing 2001 comprehensive plan is better than the misdirected draft offered to them.