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County ‘Road Show’ rolls to Aspen Springs

The Archuleta County Planning Department held the second of its “Road Show” meetings Feb. 25 in Aspen Springs, with a crowd that exceeded standing room only, spilled over into the next room and even included some watching through windows from outside the Metro District building.

The Planning Department and Planning Commission are sponsoring a series of community-based work sessions around the county throughout 2010 to discuss zoning, land use and other enforcement and development issues pertinent to the county’s communities as they work to update the Community Plan.

At the Aspen Springs meeting, Senior Planner Cindy Schultz asked the Aspen Springs residents in attendance to provide input on questions involving four topics:

• What do you love about Aspen Springs and want to preserve? What do you not love about Aspen Springs and want to change?

Residents cited the small amount of current regulation, community diversity and freedom, opportunity for home businesses, and the physical beauty of the area as things they loved. They reported not loving, among other things, the unenforced nuisance ordinance, and inconvenient access to the transfer station and landfill.

• Where should commercial development go?

While those in attendance seemed caught off guard by the question and found it difficult to answer with any specifics, suggestions included the idea that commercial development should be kept separate from residential, that there should be multiple levels of development, and that village-type services and supplies should be available.

• Under what circumstances should camping be allowed?

In what proved to be one of the more heated portions of the evening, some residents expressed their financial inability to build a home, while others noted their choice to live “off grid” in what is normally considered a nonpermanent or nontraditional structure.

Input included the suggestion the residents be allowed to sign liability releases when choosing to live below the standards set by the building and planning departments, allowing for optimum private property rights and researching and allowing “progressive” regulations that incorporate new technologies.

• What other land use issues should the department be aware of?

Suggestions in response to the final question of the evening again centered around private property rights and the desire for the department to research alternative housing, as well as allowing accessory structures to be built before primary structures to allow for material storage during home construction.

Adding confusion to the event, a group of county citizens handed out a packet of information as residents filtered into the meeting. The packet included proposed amendments to the LUC that were brought before the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners in November, but not passed. The packet also included existing regulations, creating confusion for some as to which regulations are currently in effect.

The introductory information in the packet maintains that, if the group of citizens had not been present at the Nov. 23 Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners’ special meeting, the proposed amendments would have passed. In fact, a number of the proposed amendments were improperly noticed before the meeting and could not be passed. Others were not passed due to concern and questions on the part of the commissioners, as well as the members of the public in attendance.

The amendments have since been abandoned and reconsidered by the planning department and planning commission, a fact Schultz reiterated throughout the meeting.

The next of the “Road Show” meetings will be at 6 p.m. March 25, at the Chromo Fire Station No. 7, for Chromo residents. Future meetings will be held in Pagosa Lakes, at the county fairgrounds and at the county courthouse.