Final round of Grand County Master Plan meetings coming up | SkyHiNews.com

Final round of Grand County Master Plan meetings coming up

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News

The Grand County Master Plan is beginning to take shape, but a third round of public meetings are planned to cinch public opinion.

About 97 percent of the individuals who have taken part in master plan surveys thus far have been full-time residents of Grand County who have lived in the area from 11 to 21-plus years. Most of those who participated live in eastern unincorporated Grand County, followed by participants in western unincorporated Grand County and Kremmling.

Draft results of master plan gatherings show that area citizens mostly value water quality/quantity, sense of community, scenic/visual quality, wildlife habitat, and air quality. Coming up behind those top Grand County values are open space, wildfire mitigation, appearance of development and local economy.

The small-town atmosphere and the recreational opportunities are listed as most popular reasons to live in the area.

And when asked what the top five issues facing the county in the next five years are, master plan participants have said preservation of small town character was the number one challenge, followed by affordable housing, preservation of open space, growth management (slow growth), and environmental protection.

Master Plan consultants asked citizens to rate the area on subjects ranging from shopping and adult education opportunities to arts and culture, transportation, education, job opportunities, health services and subjects involving environment and community to get a strong cross-section of what county planning and decision-making should be based on the next 20 to 30 years.

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“One of the big parts of our job is to create a plan that people are excited about,” said Justin Atherton-Wood, a planner with the master-plan consulting firm Shapins Belt Collins of Boulder. “Holding a series of meetings is a great way to create a lot of community buy-in. If people don’t feel they’ve been heard when the plan is developed, planning departments and commissioners are less apt to implement that plan because there isn’t the citizen buy-in. It’s our job to make it the community’s plan. That’s what makes attendance so important.”

Since each town has different characteristics and different issues in reference to growth, the plan will feature not only an overall county plan, but sub-areas to separate out strategies and policies needed to address different parts of the county.

In the second round of meetings, community members were asked where they would like to point growth. From that information, a draft physical plan was created that incorporates individuals’ input.

In the upcoming third set of public meetings, consultants will share the plan with the public, asking for feedback and if the reflected ideas capture what people said they preferred.

They will also talk about planning strategies, or how the physical plan can be translated into policies that the county can use to guide growth and development in the future.

Since the premise is growth is going to happen, Atherton-Wood said, the goal is to find measures on how community values can be preserved.

In comparing the former county master plan from 11 years ago to current community input, Atherton-Wood said consultants are “seeing a lot of the same concerns and values,” such as quality of the scenery and maintaining the ranching heritage, concerns about water, affordable housing, and outdoor recreation.

After September’s master-plan meetings, Shapins Belt Collins will be developing a draft master plan to be completed by the first part of next year. After that, there will be master-plan workshops held with the planning commission, the governing body that assures that growth and development are consistent with the master plan.

Then, the final draft will be presented to county commissioners for approval. All hearings on the master plan are public, and input for the plan can be conveyed to elected officials and the county planning staff throughout the process.

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@grandcountynews.com.

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