Growth front and center as officials start drafting new Routt County master plan
After nine months of outreach for a new master plan, Routt County residents have said they want to keep growth focused in more urban areas, and that growth should maintain the county’s character and protect natural and cultural resources.
To do this, Routt County Planning Director Kristy Winser told commissioners Monday, March 14, that residents want the county to support annexation where appropriate and promote infill development in growth centers.
“It’s going to be the major theme as we move forward with drafting the (master) plan,” Winser said.
These recommendations come from a Community Assessment and Assumption Report released earlier this month. It is based on responses that planning staff and consultants working on the project have gleaned from survey results, open houses and community meetings with residents.
The 10-page report identifies several priority areas, ranging from recreation to transportation and housing. It is meant to be a high-level view of what the plan will ultimately be, Winser said.
“We started with something that we call assumptions, and those ultimately will turn into the recommendations,” said Dave Dixion, a consultant with Denver-based Cushing Terrell, which is working on the master plan update. “Those really drill down into the things that we heard.”
Dixon said they are now in a “big push” to process all the feedback they have gotten and he sees this document as the “nuts and bolts of the plan.”
“The plan needs to tell the story for each one of those bullets,” Dixon said. “We need to say where we heard it, what issues were identified and how that turned into those recommendations.”
A draft of the final plan is expected sometime next month with approval slated for June. Winser said once they have a draft, there will be more outreach to present the plan to residents and get more feedback.
Winser said the assumptions they made based on community comments have confirmed there is support for many goals that are already in the county’s outdated plans, specifically where there should be growth.
Eventually, each of the priority areas will have a map that explains land uses. For example, a recreation-centered map would include trailheads, public lands, wildlife corridors and identify areas where the county already issues a plethora of special use permits.
Together, these maps and the plan itself will help the county make decisions on future land use, but it isn’t meant to be a hard regulatory zoning map.
“When you start layering all these maps, you’re not going to get one area that meets all of the criteria of all of the maps,” County Planner Alan Goldich said. “That’s where it’s incumbent upon the decision-makers to say this map has more weight than that map.”
Winser said some of the issues still being discussed are a potential maximum housing size in the county with the intent of limiting energy consumption, increasing the size of assessor dwellings to promote more housing, and the idea of not allowing a new development that would need to haul water.
The county started administering another survey for residents this week that explores some of these issues, with questions being based on feedback from residents.
“That has two purposes,” Winser said. “One is to start to get some recommendation on implementation strategies, but it’s also another way to keep the community engaged as we are in affect, behind the scenes starting to draft the plan.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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