Beryl: We hear you, Eagle County
As the new Community Development Director for Eagle County Government, I bring with me lessons from a variety of resort towns, including Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, West Palm Beach, Florida, and most recently, Lake Tahoe, Nevada.
Relocating from Lake Tahoe to Eagle County has been a smooth transition. These two gorgeous places share many attributes — abundant open space, recreation opportunities, and community members who act as stewards to preserve these important values. Like many other mountain resort towns, Lake Tahoe and Eagle County also share similar challenges — rising housing costs, increasing traffic, complex political environments, and complicated regulations.
Although new in this position, I understand the ebb and flow of a tourism-based economy and both the positive and negative effects of living in a resort destination. I have taken a deep dive into understanding what’s working and not working for our staff, our residents, our visitors, our wildlife and the development community.
Much of what I have heard and read have similar themes. Our procedures can be confusing and take too long to cross the finish line. Our community engagement efforts need to be more innovative, collaborative, equitable and frequent. Our customer service needs to be more timely and better informed. We need to balance development, residential quality of life, and our wildlife co-habitants. We hear you.
Our team looks forward to working closely with all stakeholders to improve our procedures, increase community engagement, bring balance to public processes and spearhead positive redevelopment — including the built environment, mobility options and nature. Here are some of the improvements to be on the lookout for over the next several months.
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We are expanding our team to better serve you. A major focus will be on timely communication, expert knowledge of our regulations, and thoughtful review of proposed projects to bring easily felt enhancements to everyday life.
To improve communication, education, partnership and public input opportunities, we are developing an ongoing community engagement campaign. This will include more innovative and proactive methods of outreach. We want to meet you where you are most comfortable. Invite us to your classroom and association meetings, and keep an eye out for some of our events. We’ll launch this program with the start of a 2020 Eagle County Comprehensive Plan update, beginning this summer.
Our regulations are dated, and in some cases cause unnecessary burdens on our residents. A full land-use regulation rewrite will begin this summer. The focus of the rewrite will be to make our regulations easier to understand; to incorporate best practices for protecting our natural environment; and to incentivize important development opportunities for affordable housing, public health and mobility for our residents.
This spring, we are moving ahead with an interim land use regulation amendment which is focused on improving our internal processes while clarifying expectations for our customers, balancing our public input procedures by increasing public notice, and bringing some regulations into conformance with state and federal requirements.
Join us throughout the months of May and June at our planning commission and board of county commissioners meetings to learn more and let us know what you think about our proposed changes.
Be a part of this change and help us learn. We want to be good partners and stewards of our community and natural environment. We are willing to take risks to try new things and hope you will join us for the ride. Contact us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Morgan Beryl is the community development director for Eagle County.