Darcy Owens-Trask, Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership director, said she was cautious when implementing Moffat County’s land use plan into the county’s economic development plan.
“I didn’t see anything that was grossly incompatible between the two, which was important because if the county was saying to us, ‘Please send this as a partner document,’ I didn’t want to send it and then find something in our plan was in direct opposition,” she said.
At the EDP Board’s regular meeting Wednesday, Owens-Trask gave a presentation about the county’s land use plan, which was submitted to the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade as part of EDP’s county economic development plan.
The documents were submitted for inclusion in Gov. John Hickenlooper’s statewide bottom-up economic development plan.
After reviewing the plan, Owens-Trask told the board she felt the two documents were “pretty compatible.”
The county’s 64-page land use plan was originally developed in 1994 and amended in 2001. The plan can be amended as necessary.
Owens-Trask said because of public input in the revision in the early 2000s, the plan contains a lot of information about customs and culture in Moffat County, which EDP should be using in its decisions.
“That public process that came up with what’s important from a custom and culture standpoint, that should be informing our decisions,” Owens-Trask said.
According to the plan, 60 percent of land in Moffat County belongs to the state or federal governments.
Because of that, Owens-Trask said there is a need for “primacy” on private property, a point emphasized in the plan.
“If I’m Joe Logger and I want to cut down every tree on my land because I want to build widgets out of them, probably the land use plan’s going to say that’s that person’s private property,” she said. “Unless they’re impinging on someone else’s rights, that’s their choice to use their land the way they want for economic prosperity.”
Owens-Trask also touched on the importance of the local agricultural industry.
She said she needed more data, but doesn’t believe the industry provides as many jobs locally as the public probably believes.
However, she said agriculture is still a key part of the community.
“You can’t underestimate how important it is from a community and heart strength standpoint, so you need to be really careful about (approaching) that,” Owens-Trask said. “It’s very central to the land use plan and that’s probably good for us to know.”
Owens-Trask said there were some areas in which the land use and economic development plans initially didn’t agree because the original 1994 document was based around a free market ideal, which has no economic input from government entities.
The update, she said, had ideas that were opposite.
Owens-Trask also advised that the land use plan uses the term “economy” too narrowly, addressing only key industries.
She compared the situation of a telecommunications programmer working out of his home to a farmer using the Internet to market his outfitting business.
“The land use document addresses the farmer’s need but that programmer is off their radar,” Owens-Trask said. “It’s one of those things to think about. When they look at the economy, they’re looking at it through the lens of land use, and rightly so because 60 percent of our land is what they’re thinking about.”
Owens-Trask recommended EDP look at some sort of interaction between it and the county’s Land Use Board, whether through a liaison, or having an EDP member fill a vacancy on the Land Use Board when one is available.
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