County Land Use


As you know. I get to Chaffee County a great deal. I own property with some friends and have enjoyed watching the various political actions. This year looks to be particularly interesting. In the race of County Commissioner, there are 3 candidates; Dave Williams (R), Bill Dvorak (D) and Greg Felt (I). Greg was recruited by Karen Adams who has a long and varied history of controlling the County Commission. She is hedging her bet with Greg on having two Commissioners to work with.

She was very successful when Frank McMurry and Glenn Everett were commissioners. She lost some influence when Joe DeLuca, Tim Glenn, Jerry Mallett and Jim Osborn were in office. But she came back eight years ago with Frank Holman, Dave Potts and Dennis Giese and she owns them. Frank and Dennis are termed out this year. But she still has Dave Potts and is working on getting Felt in office for a majority of 2 to continue the run.

In March, Karen was able to convince the three Commissioners to drop their Republican registration and go Independent and throw their support to Felt. This did not surprise anyone who knows Karen. She enlisted Greg to run and split the Democratic vote to insure that Dave Williams gets elected

Karen’s true interest is in the land use planning of the County. She was one of the leaders in the 1980’s who instituted 1 dwelling per acre. A ten year public review process changed this to 1 unit per 5 acres but Karen is the Chairperson of the county’s Planning and zoning and is moving forward to go back to 1 unit per 2 acres. It appears that this will be one of the platforms for Felt and Williams.

After a decade of battling, the County adopted in 2014, a land use code that decreased density in the Rural and Recreational zones from 2-acre lots to 1 lot per 5 acres while retaining the 1 lot per 2 acres in the Residential zone. As you’ll see from the attached document, the Planning Commission has on its schedule for the April 26, work session the discussion of returning to 1 lot per 2 acres in the Rural and Recreational Zones and even higher density in the Residential zone. The agenda includes removal of visual impact review regulations and open space requirements.

I look forward to the continuing drama.


Mark Evens In Canon City


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  • Fellow Citizens - I realize that running for public office subjects one to the full experience of one's fellow man, from the very best sorts of civil discourse and discussion to the basest mudslinging and innuendo. So be it. I do not intend to spend the next seven months responding to every misstatement, lie, or fabrication that is aimed my way. I do not feel that sort of desperation. Clearly my time is better spent positively campaigning and preparing myself for the actual responsibilities of being Chaffee County Commissioner. That said, I have heard these assertions from Jerry Mallett before and I have corrected him directly about them. It's human nature to get a story wrong yet propagate it in ignorance. It is something more disturbing to generate and disseminate such false material knowingly. Sticking to what I know, I offer the following corrections to his "letter" and a clear statement about how I would approach this issue, or any other one, if elected to serve as your county commissioner:

    Karin Adams did not recruit me to run for county commissioner. No one recruited me. I decided to do it on my own and immediately received support from a wide spectrum of voters.

    I have never talked with Karin Adams or anyone else about the issue of lot size in Chaffee County. I am aware that it is an issue and that it has been an issue for some time.

    I have not come to a firm opinion on this issue. Like most conflicts in this county, there are probably credible arguments on both sides. As a county commissioner, I would approach this issue in the same way that I would any other issue about which I do not have strong direct personal knowledge. I would seek input from a diverse spectrum of the community, including county staff and attorney. I would look to other counties to see how things have played out there. I would try to foresee what the unintended consequences of an action would be. And I would do my best to project the results of the alternatives well out into the future. In most instances, before implementing a change, I would ask myself whether there was truly a legitimate problem that was being addressed and then whether the proposed change would actually solve that problem. Also, in most instances I would put the burden of proof on the party requesting the change.

    I think people deserve a reasonable expectation of stability from land use planning. I also believe that the current code was created and approved as a body of regulations and not simply a series of line items. In other words, changes to individual components of the regulations should be considered in the context of the origins of those regulations. What was originally intended? Was the regulation successful in achieving that? Is there a reason to now change the intention and, hence, the regulation?

    Despite what has been implied or asserted over the last several months, I am an independent candidate for county commissioner. I do not have an agenda beyond devoting myself to the best interests of Chaffee County. Towards that effort, I will continually look to an informed and diverse citizenry for perspective on the issues that come before the Commission.

    Greg Felt Unaffiliated Candidate for Chaffee County Commissioner, District 2

  • Like everyone else, I've only recently learned the Chaffee County Planning Commission is considering recommending significant changes to the substance of the county land use code. The Planning Commission will discuss some of these proposals at a work session at 4:30p Tuesday, April 26, 2016 in the County Commissioners Meeting Room, on the second floor of the county courthouse on Crestone Avenue. Changes to be discussed include density, ending visual analysis, and removal of open space dedication requirements.

    The current land use code was adopted after years (make that YEARS) of study and citizen input, with citizen focus groups, a large citizen roundtable, and much vetting. The citizens clearly expressed their desire to maintain the rural character of our countryside and to prevent the sprawl that blights many other communities in the West. This general philosophy echoed a goal of the 2000 Chaffee County Comprehensive Plan* to "Target most new residential and commercial development to smaller lots (1 acre or less) in and around existing communities. Allow only larger lot zoning in rural areas." As one rancher put it, "Town should look like town and the country should look like the country."

    Some members of the citizens roundtable and focus groups (I was one) spent dozens of hours studying "lessons learned" from other communities and codes from other counties, participating in webinars, and interviewing citizens from other counties to ask them what they suggested to prevent development issues from ever becoming problems. For whatever reasons, other members opposed any and all of these wise choices and visionary, preventative regulations, and they never accepted them. I speculate that these current proposals are rejoining a fight they never accepted as over.

    I haven't had an opportunity to study these proposals in depth, but I am very concerned that all the work and effort that a large group of citizens put into our land use code and zoning could be quickly overruled. At the very least, I urge extreme caution in changing the densities, visual guidelines, and open space dedication requirements developed by the open, lengthy, citizen-driven process.

    Striking a balance between property rights and community goals and desires is always a challenge, and few are ever overjoyed with the outcome. The present code was written by the labor of several dozen dedicated citizens; their labors should be honored and respected in any discussion or effort to change it.

    Keith Baker Candidate, Chaffee County Commissioner, District 1

    *Comprehensive plans are typically updated every five to ten years, thus the 2000 Comprehensive Plan needs to be updated. I submit THAT should be the focus of effort for Chaffee County's planning organization.

  • Who is proposing these changes? I assume this comes from the current commissioners? Do we know why?

  • Hi coyoteslocos - I have to assume these proposals are coming from within the planning commission because one of the county commissioners told me he thinks revisiting the land use regs, beyond minor refinement and corrections, is nuts. It will be interesting to see how the commissioners respond when the Planning Commission forwards these recommendations to the BoCC. I expect a major outcry if they even entertain the proposals, based on what people who were involved in the years-long process have told me.

  • Yesterday's (09 May 2016) joint work session between the Board of County Commissioners and the Planning Commission was encouraging. Both bodies left room for discussion and didn't appear to be rushing the process, and explored various alternatives to any "all-or-none," absolutist positions. Most parties seem to realize Rural Residential and Recreational zone densities can be graduated, with higher densities near the municipalities and existing development and lower densities as one moves away from them. Voluntary appearance GUIDELINES seem to have consensus support. It will be interesting to see how this discussion progresses; we're probably a ways away from formal proposals from the PC to the BoCC.

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