A volunteer group made up of citizens from the county and two municipalities held its first discussion of the study at a workshop at the county land use building on Wednesday, Feb. 20. The group immediately identified some significant deficiencies. They compiled a list of 11 action items that called for additional data gathering and at least one more consultation with the study’s author, Dr. David Theobald of Colorado State University.
The study group’s first concern was the formatting of an important chart, which some members said was technically unreadable.
“Relative to master plan goals, there are inadequate indicators spelled out. More information is needed to determine the context used for this chart, and whether it should be amended,” said County Commissioner Heidi Albritton, acting as secretary during the meeting. “The group will make sure that a more clear and streamlined version of the table discussed will be incorporated into the final recommendations.”
Also, the group acknowledged that there was insufficient focus on the role of residential construction on mining claims. The topic was passed up in the study due to a perceived lack of information about the plats. However, the recent increase of applications for building permits on mining parcels warrants its inclusion, according to the study group. The group will explore the possibility of graduate students or research assistants gathering data about the mining claim component of build-out projection. The group plans to incorporate this information into their final recommendation.
Other deficiencies being addressed include the calculation of vehicle miles traveled in agriculture areas, the over-building of accessory dwelling units and the impact of locally owned water rights being sold to outside interests.
“They’re selling water to golf courses, and I don’t agree with that,” commented group member Ted Collins, who also serves on the Tri-County Water Board.
The study also incorporates the assumption that Ridgway is the primary commercial center of the county. In fact, according to the committee, most retail purchasing for the region happens in Montrose.
The study group will prepare a recommendation on the implementation of its findings to be presented to the Ouray County Board of Commissioners this fall. It may also make recommendations concerning the land use code, master plan and any “forward planning,” according to Ken Lipton, study group chairman.
The commissioners are looking for a “philosophical interpretation of what the technical data is indicating for Ouray County and the decision-making process,” said Lipton. “The BOCC would like the public and officials to have a working document that allows an easier connection to the data, and how the implications of the data will realistically impact policy decisions in Ouray County.
“The procedure is basically to go through these reports as thoroughly as possible to assure full understanding of what was studied and the impacts of the reports on land use and financial planning,” he continued. “We will attempt to resolve any questions about the studies and report to the BOCC on any deficiencies or any areas that may need further study or clarification.”
The group will meet again on March 5, and will continue to meet twice each month.
“The agenda is to continue studying the Theobald report, in particular the scenarios and assumptions,” said Lipton.