Annexation hot topic of meeting

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Preservation of open space, support for the construction of a new hospital and the city's annexation plans were a few of the concerns that 18 residents who attended Wednesday night's meeting brought up for discussion.

The meeting was the second public meeting held to collect input on the Moffat County/city of Craig Master Plan -- a document

intended to guide the future

land use and development in

Moffat County and the cities within.

"One thing I have to say about this master plan is that it really meets the definition of comprehensive," said Tim Katers, consultant with Martin Landers Consulting, the firm hired to create the plan. "There's really a wealth of data in here."

The document is based on input from residents and local officials, he said.

"We didn't run over to the Front Range and make these directions up. They are direct results of public values and preferences expressed during the process of developing the plan," Katers said.

The meeting resulted in few changes to the 120-page document.

"Preservation of open space is called for in the urban development boundary but how we do it is not outlined or predetermined," Moffat County resident Stacy Gray said. "The document said 'shall' but you're not holding anyone to that."

According to city of Craig Planning Department Director Dave Costa, county subdivision requirements call for 5 percent of the development to be open space and city regulations require 6 percent.

"If both planning and zoning staffs do their jobs, then they'll see that open space is preserved," Costa said.

In addition, he said, there are several existing sites platted as open space as well as property surrounding the Yampa River, which lies in a flood plain and will never be developed.

The urban development boundary marks areas outside the city limits that could, conceivably, be served by city services -- one requirement for annexation. The new plan modifies the urban development boundary established in 1982, focusing city growth to the west and to the north but none to the south.

The boundary includes Round Bottom, an area just west of Craig one resident feared would cause the city to annex it.

"If you annex the urban development boundary, how long will it be until you take the next big bite?" asked Doris Zimmerman. "I live on Round Bottom and I don't want to be annexed."

Katers explained that just because an area is within the urban development boundary doesn't mean it will ever be annexed.

"Annexation is a willing agreement between two parties willing to agree," he said. "Most communities don't want to annex residential areas because those areas cost them money."

A landowner must request annexation before there is any move in that direction, Costa said.

"Annexations are really tightly governed," he said. "I don't think anyone in this room will see Round Bottom annexed in their lifetimes."

Ron Danner, a board member of The Memorial Hospital, asked that the plan address healthcare and the need for a new hospital.

"Based on the function of this document, it seems to hint at community development objectives that are being supported. I'd like to see it refer to the hospital," he said.

Comments on the plan are due to Moffat County Planning Director Sue Graler by Friday. Contact her at 824-9148.

The plan is available in the city and county planning offices and

in the Craig and Maybell

libraries.

The next public meeting will be sponsored by the city of Craig at 7 p.m. tonight at The Center of Craig.

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