Grand County Master Plan nears adoption |

Grand County Master Plan nears adoption

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi News

Grand County citizens value water quality and quantity, wildlife habitat, scenic attributes, air quality and the appearance of new development, according to the final draft of the Grand County Master Plan.

But how those values play out in actual policy-making will be up to decisions of elected officials and the participation of the citizenry in the upcoming decade.

The 55-page Grand County draft master plan is close to being adopted by the Grand County Planning Commission.

Filled with geographic information, history, survey data and demographic statistics concerning Grand County, the plan is meant to encompass a community vision when it comes to decisions about land use.

By way of a citizen’s advisory committee and four rounds of public meetings held in 2008 and 2009, the plan’s update was initiated by the firm Shapins-Belt Collins of Boulder for a contracted $100,000, but was finished in-house under new-hire Ed Moyer, the county’s long-range planner employed in the planning and zoning department.

State law requires county planning commissions to “formulate and adopt a master plan for the physical development of the county’s unincorporated territory,” according to state statute 30-28-106. The draft plan under consideration by the community and its planners updates the county’s 1998 plan.

When adopted, the 2010 plan will serve to guide policy makers for the next five to 10 years, according to county Planning Director Kris Manguso.

Because of the diverse economics and geography of different areas of the county, the approach in the plan is to address county land use in consideration of three areas of Grand County: The north sub-area includes Grand Lake, Hot Sulphur Springs and Granby; the east sub-area includes Winter Park, Fraser and Tabernash; and the west sub-area includes Kremmling and Parshall.

The effects of the mountain pine beetle are elements new to the 2010 plan, pointing out that visibility of development has increased due to the loss of lodgepole pine trees.

Chapter 3 of the 2010 draft plan outlines “implementation actions,” or suggestions on future treatment of natural and cultural resources, growth and development, existing development, public facilities, transportation, the economy and administration of the county.

For example, the plan suggests the county consider a referendum question related to preserving open lands, or perhaps creating a special district for the creation/administration of an open-space district. The plan also suggests the county act upon “development opportunities in areas such as the intersection of U.S. 40 and State Highway 134, adjacent to Wolford Mountain Reservoir and in a manner compatible with the existing character of the area,” as well as “land use decisions that are compatible with the rural ranching and small-town character of the West Subarea, such as alternative energy development and natural resource-based industry.”

Those clauses on “action” are intended to influence regulatory changes, but not to mandate them, according to Manguso.

“(Planning) staff will research, evaluate and propose ‘implementation actions’ on what the public felt was very important in order to maintain Grand County’s rural and visual setting, in the form of regulatory change,” she said, “which requires public hearings. It’s at that time when we see if the public truly embraces regulatory change to support what was recommended in the public process of the master plan.”

The draft master plan was completed in fall of 2009. Formatting and revisions were made in the winter of 2010, with draft review by the county planning commission at their regular June and July board meetings.

The planning commission reviewed the plan again on Aug. 11, but rather than adopt the plan at that meeting, continued the master plan meeting to Sept. 8 for possible adoption. The commission chose to incorporate suggestions from the public, some which were shared at the August meeting.

The public can still comment on the plan, which is available for review online or at the county planning office.

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