Grand County begins process of revising master plan | SkyHiNews.com

Grand County begins process of revising master plan

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News

If you care about planning the direction of future development in Grand County, the Grand County Master Plan is one surefire way citizens can make their voices heard.

Not updated since 1997, the plan is being overhauled.

The county hired Foresee Consulting of Lyons to help compile it.

Foresee President Steve Mullen says comprehensive plans ideally are updated every five years, especially when significant growth is taking place.

But comprehensive plan content, which provides a road map for long-range planning for elected officials, primarily comes from citizens.

“You really cannot hire consultants to do a comp plan for you; you hire a consultant team to do one for yourselves,” Mullen said, who has 20 years of comprehensive-plan experience. “All of the input in the final plan needs to have been derived from the public process.”

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Such documents try to identify what citizens’ “needs and desires” are for the next 20 to 30 years.

In the end, the 50- to 100-page document should reflect planning elements such as recreation, transportation, education, tourism, housing, land use and economic development.

“We derive those from citizen input,” Mullen said.

The first round of public meetings, the purpose of which is to gather broad public input about the future of Grand County, are scheduled for May 6 through May 8.

The first takes place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on May 6 at the Granby Community Center.

The second will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on May 7 at the Fraser “Church of What’s Happening Now.”

And from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on May 8, Grand County will conduct a master plan meeting at the Kremmling Extension Hall.

From these gatherings, the consultants hope to glean community attitudes through a survey where participants use keypad devices that instantly measure responses.

“We’ll also be doing a series of exercises focused on critical issues, such as mapping based on citizens defining sacred places critical to maintaining the quality of life they enjoy in Grand County today,” Mullen said.

There will be two more rounds of public meetings later in the process.

In the next phase, scheduled for June, citizens will be asked to locate where they think future development is most appropriate and what character that development should have.

During the third and final round of public meetings, not yet scheduled, citizens will be asked about choices for the future.

“We’re hoping for at least 100 people at each of (the meetings),” Mullen said. He encourages people interested “to invite their neighbors and come to the meetings together.”

Citizens who live in municipalities are just as welcome, since they too pay Grand County taxes and have just as much interest in county land use and development.

Another comprehensive plan objective will be to anticipate needed public services and infrastructure, such as how many schools will be needed in the next two decades.

Mullen said sub-area plans should be of great interest “because growth and change varies pretty significantly from east to west. Housing issues in Fraser Valley may be significantly different than in Kremmling,” he said. “Plan values may be a bit different in different areas.”

Housing is something that has caught Mullen’s attention already while comparing yesterday’s master plan to today’s data.

“One big change is back in 1990 the average citizen of Grand County could afford the average house in Grand County. Now, the average family in Grand County cannot afford the average house,” he said, “meaning many young families have to move away in order to survive as a family. The housing component of this is going to be very important.”

Citizens will be invited to outline where growth is encouraged and where it’s discouraged, as well as where open spaces should be preserved.

“Where are the places so special that if development were to occur they wouldn’t be so sacred anymore?” Mullen asked.

A land-use plan for the county will go alongside the final comprehensive plan, he said.

Although the term “comprehensive” can sound daunting, summarizing the future of an entire county in one plan, Mullen said the plan should attempt to focus on areas that are most critical. And what areas are “most critical,” will be up to citizens.

“The comprehensive county plan will be facilitated from the bottom up,” Mullen said. “We’re waiting to find out from meeting number-one what the significant issues are.

Ultimately, it will be a plan of the citizens for their future.”

” To reach Tonya Bina, e-mail tbina@grandcountynews.com or 970-887-3334 ext. 19603.

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