New county master plan ready to approve |

New county master plan ready to approve

Scott N. Miller
Daily file photo Eagle County officials have put together a series of maps to go along with a new comprehensive plan. This one, for Edwards, is color-coded to indicate where more homes per acre should be. In this case, the higher density areas are show in red. Most of those areas have already been built.

EAGLE COUNTY – Eagle County is going to grow. How it does that is the subject of the county’s most recent master plan. Once approved, the plan will be the basis for a re-write of the county’s current land use regulations.All of which is fairly esoteric stuff for most county residents. Who is this important to, anyway?”It’s impact to Eagle County individuals depends on the degree that individual wants to get involved in the public process,” said Cliff Simonton of the Eagle County Community Development Department. People who want to comment on construction proposals can use parts of the plan to support or oppose those proposals, Simonton said. There’s a lot to digest for those who decide to pick up the bulky 246-page document, including quite a bit of philosophy.Amid the planner-speak discussions of building on ridgetops or riverside areas, or how many homes should go on an acre of land, are introductory sections explaining the logic of what’s being recommended.”That’s not common in master plans,” Simonton said. Former planner Rebecca Leonard started including the philosophical sections when she started the project in 2003, and Simonton said the philosophy was left in as the plan evolved.”You have to do a good job of describing where you are now to help guide where you’re going to be,” he said.

Planning for what?But what kind of future is the plan trying to guide the county toward?”It talks about what you might want to pay greater attention to,” Simonton said. “For instance, the master plan recognizes that it might be important to keep space between the towns.”The plan also encourages county officials to guide development in a way that can encourage affordable housing, mass transit, and environmental quality.”That can provide someone with some confidence,” Simonton said. “If they know the comprehensive plan stresses wildlife protection, stream health and so on, and knowing where elected officials stand on those issues, provides some confidence to citizens.”But that’s only true if a county’s land use regulations require conformance to the master plan, and ours do.”

More than a guideState law doesn’t give master plans the force of law. But in Eagle County, a master plan is more than a recommendation.Staff reports about development applications must include how a project complies, or doesn’t, with the current master plan, said county planner Bob Naracci. And, he added, a number of county regulations have already been written with the current plan as a guide.”That gives our plan a little more teeth,” Naracci said. But nine years is a long time in master plan years, which is why a new document is ready for approval. Work on the latest version began in 2003. It’s now ready for approval by the county’s two planning commissions. The Eagle County Planning Commission may vote on the plan as soon as Dec. 7.”The county’s had significant growth since 1996,” Naracci said. “That’s created changed conditions that weren’t contemplated nine years ago.”

While a lot has changed, a lot hasn’t.”Many of the goals and policies were carried forward in the new plan,” Naracci said.For a look at the plan check: Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14624, or Daily, Vail Colorado

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