Planning process begins

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Anyone who wants to build near the city of Craig may have to face harsher standards than residents who develop farther into the county.

City and county officials agreed Friday to standardize their planning and zoning regulations within the urban development boundary surrounding the city of Craig. They'll do that by establishing a joint planning commission and a joint review process.

The point?

So if the city annexes surrounding land, it's getting development that conforms to city codes and isn't in need of upgrades paid for by tax dollars.

"It's very important," Moffat County Commissioner Daryl Steele said. "If you have different regulations in the county and the city annexes, you have some big problems. If you do this together, you have a more seamless process."

The city is required by state statue to plan for growth by establishing an urban development boundary -- the places outside of the city limits where development can feasibly occur and where city services would be tapped in a cost-effective manner.

The city and county have agreed to the creation of a joint master plan and that plan changes the urban development boundary. The urban development boundary established in 1982 was a three-mile circle around the city. Now the boundary takes into consideration the direction the city wants to grow, and that means north and west. There is little area to the east in the new boundary and none to the south. The river prevents growth to the south, including Thompson Hill, without the formation of an improvement district to bear the high cost of extending city services across the Yampa River. Limiting growth that direction also keeps it out of a flood plane.

That part of the boundary may change based on public comment, Moffat County Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos said.

"The boundary is supposed to be a soft boundary," said Martin Landers, the consultant hired to create the plan. "It's not meant to be hard and fast. It's meant to change based on economy and the marketplace."

The city and county met Friday to draft an intergovernmental agreement stating how they would handle the planning process.

"We're trying to come up with an agreement between the city and the county on how to address growth within the county with the city," Landers said.

Both agreed to standardize requirements in the urban development boundary. When planning joint standards, they'll address zoning, roads, storm drains, sidewalks, street lights, parks, trees and open space, and underground requirements.

Representatives from both the city and county will sit on the joint planning commission.

"So representatives from both sides not only protect both the city and the county, they establish joint standards," City Planning Department Director Dave Costa said. "It's going to take us some time to come to an agreement on the standards because this is pretty complex."

It will require meshing rural standards with urban standards, Landers said, but will discourage urban sprawl.

The new standards will address all forms of development.

The agreement also will state that the city and county will work together to secure grant funding for transportation corridor improvements and other beautification projects.

Annexation standards will be outlined in the agreement. The county can oppose any annexation request so the new standards will give joint reasons to oppose or not to oppose any request.

"We need that criteria, otherwise it sounds arbitrary and capricious like you're making up standards on a case-by-case basis," Moffat County Commissioner Les Hampton said.

A draft intergovernmental agreement is expected to be available Feb. 6. If needed, city and county officials will have another work session to discuss changes on Feb. 20.

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