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Residents resistant to zoning, protecting scenic corridors in land-use plan

La Plata County commissioners hold ‘on the road’ meeting in Ignacio
La Plata County commissioners held an “on the road” meeting Tuesday night at the Ignacio Community Library, where residents received an update about proposed revisions to the land-use code.

IGNACIO – The land-use code was the primary topic at the La Plata County commissioners’ “on the road” meeting Monday night in Ignacio.

Revisions to the code are basically on hold as the county’s 12 planning districts work on their district plans. A draft code presented to the public in January by a Texas-based consultant was tabled after intense public criticism, and the contract was canceled.

Planning director Jason Meininger said the code will take 12 to 18 months of work by county staff.

Charlie Minkler, a county planning commissioner, said the commission doesn’t want to have any hearings on the code before the new district plans are certified.

A consensus among the 20 people in attendance is that zoning and scenic and river corridors aren’t needed or wanted in the southeastern part of the county.

“Let’s get it out of the way, and don’t bring it up again,” county resident Patty Mickey said of zoning.

Commissioner Brad Blake said he’s glad people are getting more involved in county issues after having little or no public participation during his first two years in office.

“One good thing that came from a really bad first draft was people got involved,” he said.

Water could be a driving factor for planning in the county, said Commissioner Julie Westendorff. She and Blake were at the meeting, with Commissioner Gwen Lachelt unable to attend because of a family emergency.

Minkler said the county’s 12 planning districts can represent the diverse interests of La Plata County.

Dave Thompson asked about the 3-mile radius that Bayfield and Ignacio can use for planning purposes, even though that land is outside of town boundaries.

Westendorff said the county has agreed not to approve marijuana businesses within the 3-mile radius of either town, and she noted the radius is a provision of state law.

“That’s the only thing I’m aware of where the three-mile radius has affected what the county’s doing,” she said.

Meininger said that any other land use requested within that radius would still go to the county for approval, but it also would be referred to the municipality “for comment.”

Another participant at the meeting asked that commissioners to consider a “right to farm” in the land-use code, similar to what Chaffee County has in its county code.

Westendorff said such a provision is a possibility.

Oct 18, 2021
To zone or not to zone, that’s the question for La Plata County
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