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La Plata County to resume land-use code rewrite Thursday

Officials to discuss timeline for completing work
Durango Herald file<br><br>La Plata County is set to pick up the rewrite of the land-use code, with a meeting Thursday to set the path forward.

La Plata County’s contentious rewrite of its land-use code is set to resume this week.

On Thursday, La Plata County commissioners and members of the Planning Commission will meet for a work session at 6 p.m. to set the timeline to get the land-use update complete, a process that has now taken four years.

Attempts to reach county officials and commissioners were not successful Tuesday.

In early 2016, La Plata County commissioners voted unanimously to update the land-use code, which hasn’t been revamped since the 1980s – a timespan in which the population has nearly doubled and growth has spread to other parts of the county.

County officials say the No. 1 concern they hear from the public is issues with the land-use code, which creates a costly, time-intensive and unpredictable process for new development.

In late 2017, the county rolled out a draft of the land-use code that immediately sparked outrage among some residents, who criticized the proposed regulations for overstepping private property rights and being out of touch with the diverse character of Southwest Colorado.

The broader overhaul of the land-use codes, ultimately, was put on hold until residents completed district plans, which allow individual communities to set a vision for growth in their neighborhoods. Those plans were finalized in November 2019.

Commissioners have said previously that after public input, the land-use code revision won’t be as extensive as previously thought.

Still, officials maintain that making improvements to the system will help fix the main issues within the outdated regulations.

Commissioners in September 2019 directed county staff to pursue these improvements to the current system, as well as establish a process for identifying and creating “economic development areas,” essentially predetermined growth hubs where infrastructure and development exists and future growth makes sense.

The county said in a news release that county commissioners and planning commissioners will discuss Thursday night the land-use code rewrite process, a timeline and economic development areas.


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