Planning board adopts updated master plan
Steamboat Springs — After more than a year of work and hours of intense scrutiny, the future vision of Routt County is in place.
The Routt County Planning Commission adopted the Routt County Master Plan after a two-hour meeting Thursday night.
The nine-member board unanimously approved the 40-page document, which is to be used as a planning tool to map out the county’s future growth.
Assistant Planning Director Chad Phillips said he was satisfied the commission adopted the plan after reviewing the document closely since November.
“I now have to take it to the Routt County Board of Commissioners,” Phillips said. “Hopefully, they will agree with it.”
Phillips said he plans to unveil the plan to county commissioners sometime in early March.
Planning officials approved the document after conducting a thorough and sometimes tedious review of the plan, which was last updated in 1980.
At times, the commission would debate changes of a single word or phrase in the plan’s goals, policies or guidelines.
Diane Mitsch Bush, who was highly critical of the document, said the commission needed to scrutinize every detail of the plan because of its importance to county residents.
“The master plan is the visionary tool for the county,” she said. “It also provides the framework for the county’s subdivision and zoning regulations.
“We use the plan quite often when making decisions. It is crucial that the plan be clear.”
One aspect the commission did not change in the plan is the county’s stance on growth and land use.
“Routt County has always had a vision to protect its rural character, open lands and sense of community,” Mitsch Bush said. “We were working with a 22-year-old document that didn’t deal with recent issues.”
Because of this, the commission has added five new chapters to the plan. The plan now addresses the county’s goals, guidelines and policies for environmental impacts, recreation and tourism, agricultural lands, transportation and housing.
These new additions join policies that are in place for land-use proposals, development, environmental constraints and mineral and wildlife resources.
Mitsch Bush also said the plan will be beneficial to residents, especially newcomers.
“If a new resident wants to buy property, they can look at this plan and see if their proposal fits in with the county’s plan before they spend any money,” she said.
The plan also will help residents understand where the county wants specific types of growth like industrial, residential and commercial development to take place. Mitsch Bush said it remains to be seen if the updated version of the plan will serve its intended purpose.
“The proof will come when we update the county’s subdivision and zoning regulations or review a petition,” she said.
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