Thirty-six years ago, when I first laid eyes upon Ouray County, of course I was wowed by the fabulous vistas! What lured me into actually moving here, however, even more than the views, was the open welcome I experienced from the people who already lived here. Oldtimers and newcomers alike seemed not to concern themselves with one another’s political, religious, or other affinities.
We are now facing the possible implementation of modifications to our Land Use Code Section 9 Visual Impact Regulations, as proposed by the Ouray County Planning Commission, and I am dismayed at the rancor which has seeped into the process.
I have just read online at http://ouraycountyco.gov/planvisual/OCPC Report - Sec 9 - Final.pdf the Ouray County Planning Commission’s Report to the Ouray County Board of County Commissioners, which compares the current Visual Impact Regulations with the proposed revisions. I wonder how many of our county residents have read this Report.
Driving across the new Ridgway bridge on a recent afternoon, seeing children and their parents playing in the Uncompahgre with their kayaks, I was reminded of 30 years earlier, when my children and their friends and parents took cast-off inner tubes to spin and swing under the old town bridge. Around that time, a Survey was conducted, asking folks to voice their opinions about the quality of life in the county, the reasons they chose to make their homes here, the values they wanted to have recognized as important. Out of that survey, as I recall, grew the Master Plan, which then became codified in the Land Use Code, which led to the Visual Impact Regulations which are currently in force.
Have the values of the residents of Ouray County changed significantly over the past three decades? The county’s population has grown steadily in that time, with newcomers still arriving at a pace more rapid than departures. This trajectory is likely to continue, and perhaps even increase. Is it time to conduct a new Survey, to discern the views of the populace as it is constituted today? I suspect that most folks, like me, want to keep our county as much as possible like the way it was when we fell in love with it.
If it’s permissible, I would love to hear input from the Land Use Staff regarding the Section 9 proposals. I earnestly hope that anyone who speaks on the issue of the proposed Section 9 revisions (for, against, or otherwise) will do so on the basis of the contents of the document itself, rather than on uninformed suppositions, personal vendettas, or unfounded fears. I’m hoping our informed decision-making process will reflect our collective vision.
– Karin Stanley