Entities begin plan review

Proposed guidelines encourage protecting custom, culture

Preserving agricultural land, protecting Moffat County's custom and culture and supporting multiple use of public lands were listed as priorities for the 54 county residents who took part in the city and county master planning process by submitting a questionnaire.

Ranked low among their concerns were air quality issues, protection from coal bed methane development and attracting Triple Crown visitors.

The questionnaire was available at several locations, as well as on the Moffat County Web site.

"The response was minimal," Moffat County Planning Department Director Sue Graler said, "but the questionnaire was made available."

Responses were worked into a draft plan, presented Thursday night to the Moffat County/city of Craig Master Plan Steering Committee.

The committee discussed in great detail each of the six plan areas.

At the heart of the discussion was making sure the plan protected the custom and culture of the county.

The plan, several people pointed out, was an advisory document -- not policy -- and said that should be eminently clear in the final draft.

"On thing to remember is a master plan is not a policy," said Martin Landers, a consultant hired by the county to create the plan. "When you deal with a plan, it is a guideline."

There were two different viewpoints offered as to how the plan should give direction. Loyd Rollins said the plan was meant to encourage and recommend. Jean Stetson said if the county's master plan didn't have some solid recommendations and requirements, the state would force its growth policies on the county.

To encourage entities to go forward with the recommendations the plan makes, a checklist will be added giving a time frame for completion and identifying who's responsible.

"This accommodates the current state statute as well as the philosophy as far as planning requirements," Landers said. "Plans are meant to be dynamic. They're not meant to be static, they're meant to be used."

The plan, as stated in its overview, "is the basis for regulatory measures inclusive of zoning and subdivision code updates, as well as project review recommendations. The plan also serves as the foundation for intergovernmental agreements, capital improvement programming and detailed studies and programs coordinated by public jurisdictions."

It is meant to be consulted when any governmental body is considering development proposals, updating land use regulations, working on intergovernmental issues, outlining work programs and preparing annual budgets.

The plan covers six areas: public land, rural character, the Craig community, Craig's urban development area, Craig's three-mile plan and the Dinosaur community area.

"The intent is to retain existing rural character and promote and maintain agriculture and natural resource development," Landers said.

State law requires planning for a three-mile area outside of the boundary of a city so that annexation -- should it be desired -- doesn't create problems or introduce a host of non-conformities into a city.

Right now there is no three-mile plan in place.

"It's important to build that into the document," Landers said. "In case the city wants to annex, the plan is in place."

The plan calls for updates and additions to the city zoning map and for the county to update its zoning resolution to define rural residential zoning for subdivisions with 35-acre lots and those with 5-acre lots.

In the area of public land, Moffat County is called on to comment on all proposals and to oppose any change in public land status that doesn't evaluate, mitigate and minimize impacts to custom, culture and the economic stability in Moffat County. Those decisions should be based on sound science, community input and economic impact studies.

The county also is urged to develop a policy that makes rural development pay for itself but setting subdivision standards developers must meet and must pay for.

The city is urged to encourage the development of all vacant land within the city limits before considering annexation, to support economic development activities that promote tourism and attract businesses and improve the visual appearance of the city's entrances.

The plan encourages the city of Dinosaur to create its own master plan and to update its zoning

map.

The creation of the master plan was paid for by an Energy and Minerals Assistance Impact grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

It began in the summer of 2002.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, Ext. 210 or by e-mail at ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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