You recently printed a letter from Dave Calhoon criticizing the BOCC process of deliberation on revisions to Section 9, Visual Impact Regulations, of the Land Use Code. We value Mr. Calhoon’s long and distinguished service to Ouray County in the past. We recognize he may disagree with some of the changes being considered and we respect his right to say so; however, we are very concerned that his comments in this letter grossly distort both the process and the intent of the county in considering these changes. We feel we must set the record straight, particularly in regard to the involvement of the Ouray County Planning Commission.
Mr. Calhoon starts by asserting that there have been no amendments to Section 9 in the 24 years it has been in the Land Use Code. This is not true. Less than 7 years after its first passage in 1986 (when Mr. Calhoon was on the BOCC) the OCPC began holding work sessions which eventually resulted in major changes being adopted in 1997. His contention that it was never brought up that changes needed to be made to Section 9 is also not true. Revisions to Section 9 have been an official BOCC priority for over four years after repeated requests by citizens, developers, County Planners and the County Building Inspector for nearly 10 years.
Next, Mr. Calhoon claims that the BOCC held 28 workshops to develop new regulations with little public input or involvement of the OCPC. In truth, there were 10 to 20 members of the public at each work session, including developers and contractors who provided significant input. Although these BOCC work sessions were intended to frame the issues before turning deliberation over to the OCPC, the Planning Commissioners were invited to participate and three or four attended each meeting. These were all properly noticed and recorded meetings and public participation was welcomed and extensive. Stop by the Courthouse and listen to the tapes if you want confirmation of this.
Finally, Mr. Calhoon contends that at the May 27 town hall meeting “the majority response from the public was negative” and that visual impact regulations “have been soundly rejected by the public”. While the noisiest response certainly has been negative, the majority of the public does want the county to have effective visual impact regulations that are fair, equitable, and achieve our Master Plan objectives. This is borne out by the responses to surveys, emails and letters to the county, and input from people who actually participated in the process.
Those who can’t argue the merits of an issue commonly criticize the process. While the county’s processes have not always been perfect, we are making every effort to involve every sector of the community in a transparent and inclusive manner. We believe our deliberation on Section 9 to date has been exemplary of democracy in action. The process is still in its early stages. As we turn deliberations over to the OCPC we need your continued input. Do not be dissuaded by those who wish to undermine the process to their own ends. Thank you for your interest in what is best for Ouray County.
– Ouray County Commissioners Lynn Padgett, District 1; Heidi Albritton, District 3; Keith Meinert, District 2