Land Use Code revision project

Land Use Code revision project
Posted on 05/25/2017

La Plata County is making progress on its major endeavor to revise the Land Use & Development Code to create a Land Use & Development Code that is responsive, functional and flexible to the varied needs and character of the community. This foundational regulation will build upon the updated La Plata County Comprehensive Plan, which is on pace for final certification in early 2017. The Comprehensive Plan establishes goals and a policy framework for land use planning in La Plata County; the Land Use Code is the regulatory tool for implementing that plan.  

The overall goals of the project are to: 

  • Reconcile and clarify the county’s plans, policies, and practices;

  • Combine & integrate the many overlapping land uses and standards into a unified land use system;

  • Reward compliant applications which are consistent with County plans;

  • Provide for predictability and improved certainty of the process and outcomes;

  • Create multiple paths to “yes” – what can (rather than what can’t) be done;

  • Use the carrot vs. the stick via incentives such as bonuses and procedural short-cuts;

  • Infuse best practice provisions (e.g. clustering, resource protection, and preservation);

  • Eliminate unnecessary process (e.g. more administrative approvals subject to clear standards);

  • Articulate clear development standards and expectations;

  • Streamline the development process; and

  • Protect and preserve the county’s most valued assets.

As La Plata County revises the Land Use Code, hearing from you on the current code, and the development-related opportunities and challenges in La Plata County is instrumental. Stakeholders with wide-ranging experience using the existing Land Use Code provide us with critical input from the outset and we invite you to provide us with your thoughts.

The process

La Plata County has hired a consultant, Kendig Keast Collaborative, to assist with revising the Land Use Code. County staff and Kendig Keast is working with the Board of County Commissioners, stakeholders across many interest areas, and the community at large to gather direction on the policies and priorities for the code revision.  

Since the project began in October 2016, there have been two rounds of meetings with stakeholders and several sessions with the Board of County Commissioners to identify the issues, concerns, priorities and policy directions to shape the revised code going forward. 

November sessions

In November, Planning staff and consultants held sessions with five stakeholder groups to hear the priorities, concerns and experiences of community members from a wide range of sectors including agricultural interest, business & economic development, code users (architects, developers, planning agents, etc.), community interests and district planning groups. 

The broader community was invited to participate in this information-gathering effort through this online tool. The results of this first round of outreach can be found below.

Summary of November 2016 stakeholder session feedback

Survey responses 

January sessions

The Board of County Commissioners met in January to discuss the process, outline points of consensus, discuss regulatory strategies and alternatives, and to initiate the process of determining policy directions to guide the Land Use Code revision. 

BOCC policies, principles & direction discussion outline 

The discussion began by introducing the focus points and discussing demographic and socioeconomic trends and forecasts; changing economies and demands; the importance of stakeholders and their interests, views, and desires; the history of planning and evolving perspectives as the county evolves and grows; and the values of natural and scenic resources. 

These factors and others will help frame the approach taken for the Land Use Code regarding open space and resource management, together with rural development, agricultural preservation, infrastructure provision, and business creation. 
Below is a summary of the points for which there was broad consensus, along with guiding principles for progressing with the rewrite process:

  1. Land use

  2. Growth management and coordination

  3. Infrastructure (particularly water and roads)

  4. Affordable housing

  5. Economic development

  6. Agricultural preservation

  7. Resource protection

From these broad categories, the BOCC, staff and the consultants expanded the discussion to more detailed levels, and conducted an exercise to identify consensus points on which areas to pursue in the revised Land Use Code. 

The stakeholder groups went through the same exercise, and we invite you to participate as well to help refine the policy framework for the revised code, using this form to indicate which policy areas you:

    • Agree - should be pursued in the new code
    • Need more information
    • Disagree - should not be pursued in the new code

    The stakeholder groups' results on the consensus exercise are available for your review here. These guiding principles are being incorporated into the draft code that will be available for public review and input. 

    Get involved
    There will be many opportunities to provide in-person feedback throughout the Land Use Code revision process. Additionally, there are several online options for providing input. Additionally, you can:

    Subscribe to receive updates on project 

    See the Land Use Code revision project schedule

    Provide us with your general input

    Help inform policy principles for revised code

    Provide input

    General feedback

    We want to know what priorities, concerns and issues are important to you with respect to the Land Use Code. We want to be sure that we capture all of your general input on the Land Use Code revision process, so 
    please use this online tool to articulate the issues, concerns, questions or comments you believe are relevant to the revision at the general level.

    ​Policy priorities
    Please complete the policy principles exercise
     that the Board of County Commissioners conducted to guide the Land Use Code revision's priority areas. Your input is critical to this process!

    We very much appreciate your thoughtful input on this important effort for La Plata County and look forward to your continued involvement in the process. Thank you for your participation!

    Stay informed & involved

    Thank you for your interest in the La Plata County Land Use & Development Code revision process.Your input and participation is crucial to the effort. We will keep you informed of upcoming steps in the project and opportunities for you to be involved. Feel free to contact us at La Plata County with any questions, comments or input: Megan Graham, public affairs officer, (970) 382-3265.