Western Slope Round-Up: Ayes and Nays

Decisions. Decisions.  Should a county sell? Should a town de-Bruce? Should taxes be raised to help schools? How should a county regulate oil and gas? How can a county manage growth? If only the answers were easy.

Read more about the yes/no issues brewing on the Western Slope….Archuleta County Selling Off Assets
Archulta County has put itself up for sale. Trying to gain ground on its financial problems, county officials are going to put a valuable piece of downtown Pagosa Springs on the market. It owns a nearly 5-acre section located near the Pagosa Springs spa.

The county has had to lay off employees and cut budgets and programs to chip away at its debt.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThe Durango Herald reported:

The cash-strapped county wanted to sell the property to the town of Pagosa Springs for $1.2 million. But the property is zoned for government use only, and the town’s lender wanted the property rezoned for commercial use in the event of a foreclosure.

The county plans to go forward with rezoning the property in the event that Pagosa does decide to buy it, and if not, the county will consider selling it to a commercial developer, said Bob Campbell, county administrator.

“If the town or the county doesn’t want it, then there’s no reason it shouldn’t be rezoned for commercial,” Campbell said. “We’re going to pursue this course, but I don’t know what the town is going to do.”

Interesting that the bank was worried about having to foreclose on government property-a hint of things to come in the current mortgage crisis?

Downtown Aspen Up for Sale, too
Ah, what a difference a few mountain ranges make.

A 15,000-square-foot section of downtown Aspen was just put on the market for $39 million, making it one of the most expensive and largest pieces of property in Aspen’s history to be up for sale, according to the Aspen Times. This prime real estate is owned by a private individual.

It makes one wonder if the Aspen real estate mogul will flip his profit and buy the county of Archuleta.

Here Are Some Upcoming Ballot Issues Across the Divide
Ouray County: Eliminate term limits for county commissioners; 3% use tax on construction material and vehicle purchases; and $2.75 million capital construction bond

City of Ouray: Considering a de-Brucing ballot issue
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Las Animas county: Eliminate term limits for county commissioners

Montrose County: A citizen group has recommended the county put on the ballot a 0.75-percent sales tax for public safety and 1-percent sales and use tax

City of Rifle: Lodging tax; lifting residency requirements for the Rifle Police Department; and a proposed land swap

Summit County School District: increase mill levy to raise collections for the school district

Steamboat Springs: Possible proposal to build a new recreation center.

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New Land Codes: La Plata Says “Yes;” Garfield Says “No”
The tome has been written and approved, but the La Plata county commissioners agreed the new county planning and zoning land use codes will still need to be tweaked.  For one commissioner, it could be too much government and too many regulations-but she voted to approve it anyway to guide La Plata’s booming growth.

From the Durango Herald:

The 444-page document approved by commissioners is the result of five years of public debate and scrutiny.

It codifies maps that divide the county into 10 districts and establishes zoned uses for eight of those districts.

Proponents of the code praise it for eliminating months of uncertainty from the permitting process for homebuilders and for striving to preserve the area’s natural beauty.

Critics say it represents an unwarranted intrusion on the rights of private property owners and fails to live up to its goal of simplifying and clarifying the process.

Areas of the code that need more work or were left out entirely because they were too contentious were placed on what planners came to know as the “parking lot.” Among those areas were water-supply standards, traffic-impact fees, air quality, oil and gas regulations, fences and rules regarding junk and noise.

The joys of government: damned if you do; damned if you don’t.

In the “don’t” column is the Garfield County planning and zoning commission. They put proposed oil and gas county regulations in the “parking lot,” too.

Initially, the oil and gas industry was gun-ho about the new rules to be included in Garfield’s land use code. And then they weren’t. The oil and gas watch-dog group, the Grand Valley Citizen’s Alliance, didn’t like some of the rule changes and omissions either. So, the GarCo P&Z decided not to decide and everyone agreed that the subject should come up again-later.

The Glenwood Springs Post Independent wrote:

Energy companies on Thursday night backed off a request for Garfield County to immediately adopt far-ranging new oil and gas regulations as part of its land-use code.

Instead, the industry recommended taking more time to consider regulations, to allow for input from a variety of interested parties.

That recommendation met with support from the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance. The GVCA had been concerned that the county Planning and Zoning Commission might quickly approve regulations proposed by industry rather than considering a more broad-based proposal.

In the meantime, at the industry’s request, the planning commission worked Thursday night to adjust certain aspects of its proposed new land-use code to more clearly define certain uses related to energy production. It also clarified what level of county review proposals for such uses would receive.

The planning commission has met some 40 times to work on revamping the county’s land-use code, and hopes to complete that effort next month. The industry submitted its proposal after the state Supreme Court in June declined to review a challenge of oil and gas regulations imposed by Gunnison County.

The GVCA would like to see oil and gas rules put in place in Garfield County as well, but wants them to address things such as the spacing between homes and wells, limits on noise and visual impacts, and requirements for site security and emergency preparedness and response.

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