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La Plata County to discuss process for revising land-use code, district plans

Meeting to address timeline for achieving goals
La Plata County commissioners, planning commissioners and staff will meet next week to discuss the future of the proposed land-use code.

La Plata County officials will meet next week to figure out how to move forward with revisions to the land-use code.

On Wednesday, La Plata County commissioners and the La Plata County Planning Commission, along with county staff, will discuss how the county intends to continue rewriting the land-use code while coordinating that effort with developing district plans. The meeting is open to the public.

For the past few months, the county’s rewrite of the land-use code has stalled amid public backlash at the first draft of the regulations, released late last year. Many residents said the first draft missed the mark in capturing the community’s desire and proposed over-reaching regulations.

Momentum has grown among county residents who want “district plans,” which allow smaller communities to set the vision for how and where growth occurs, to be finished before the land-use code rewrite.

Since district plans are under the jurisdiction of the La Plata County Planning Commission, members of the eight-person board will meet with county commissioners next week. It’s unclear how many Planning Commission members plan to attend the meeting.

At a work session for county commissioners April 25, Lew Webb, president of the La Plata Liberty Coalition, a grass-roots organization that formed in the wake of the backlash at the land-use code, presented an alternate plan.

Webb asked that each district, of which there are 12 in the county, be given six months to update their plans. After that is completed, he said, the land-use code process could resume.

“No one has a better feel for what goes on in these different parts of the county,” Webb said of the residents. “The county perception is they are being ruled not represented. They just want to be involved in the process.”

Webb also encouraged county staff to directly invite people involved with the 12 district plans to the meeting next week. County Manager Joanne Spina agreed to do so.

Many county officials and residents believe that parts of the land-use code that don’t overlap with the district plans can be worked on while the district plans are finalized.

“It seems that some of that can occur simultaneously,” said county attorney Sheryl Rogers.

The timeline for how the land-use code and district plans will be developed at the same time, however, is unclear, and one of the main reasons for the joint meeting next week.

The Planning Commission had already set a process to update district plans, some of which haven’t been updated in decades. That plan would have all the district plans up to date by spring 2019.

The conversation at the work session Wednesday also turned to continuing communication problems the county seems to be experiencing when it comes to relating land-use issues to the public.

Spina said the county is seeking to draft some sort of explainer to better relate this information.

jromeo@durangoherald.com

If you go

La Plata County commissioners and the La Plata County Planning Commission, along with county staff, will discuss the county land-use code at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the county administrative building, 1101 East Second Ave.

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