Land Use Code revision project

sunset barn siloLa Plata County Planning Department is pleased to announce the release of the draft first module of the revised Land Use Code for public review and suggestions for improvement! 

Module 1 is the first of three modules that will significantly revise and update the Land Use Code introducing new concepts, new ideas, and a new structure - all with the intent of making the code more easily accessible and predictable for those seeking to develop in La Plata County. 

We are proud to present you with Draft Module 1 of the La Plata County Land Use Code (PDF)!

We are looking forward to hearing your suggestions for improving the code so that it better meets the purposes and objectives defined by the community, the Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioners. 

There are a number of ways to provide your suggestions by Jan. 12, 2018:
1) Comment directly in the code! Using this online tool, you can make suggestions within each section of the code. It's easy! It's handy! Check it out!

2) Come to a public meeting!
Join us at the Durango Public Library:
Tuesday, Dec. 12
6:30-8 p.m.

or 
Thursday, Dec. 14
5-6:30 p.m.  
Contact Megan Graham for details or questions.

3) Email us directly: Please be sure to specify the section and subsection that your suggestion references.

Background
The Land Use Code provides the regulatory framework for implementing the community's goals and objectives as articulated in the county's Comprehensive Plan, the 12 District Plans crafted in each of the individual planning district groups, and other framing documents. 

The goal of this project is 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. 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. 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 invited you to participate as well to help refine the policy framework for the revised code.

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.