Planning Commission Listening Session Update

Animas Valley Action Coalition (AVAC) Input at Planning Commission Public Meeting for suggestions to improve Sketch Plan Process – April 25th, 2024

Darlene Koontz, member of the AVAC Coordinating Committee, read a statement from AVAC outlining our suggestions for improving the Sketch Plan Process making these specific points:

  • Darlene Koontz thanked the Community Development Director for this listening session on how to improve the Sketch Plan Process.
  • Sketch Plan (Sec 66-19; LUC) purpose was recited.
  • County Planners and Commissioners should have detailed knowledge of Land Use Code (LUC), Zoning, and Animas Valley District Plan to be able to efficiently and accurately evaluate proposals that are submitted by Developers.  The example of Roberts’ Resorts was given as a case where this would have saved time, energy, resources and possibly money.
  • Roberts’ Sketch Plan did not meet the LUC or Zoning.  This was vocalized by Animas Valley residents in December of 2022, prior to County Planning Review.
  • Residents presented both written and verbal objections at the Planning Commission meeting in January 2023.
  • Contract Senior Planner, Tez Hawkins, supported the lack of compliance in his summary of March 11, 2024.
  • AVAC was formed by Animas Valley residents who felt that the LUC was not being followed by the Roberts’ Resort Project. The Hawkins compliance review substantiated many of these concerns.
  • The Sketch Plan process should be more carefully reviewed by Planning prior to its presentation to the Public and should be guided by both the LUC and the Animas Valley District Plan.
  • It is not clear how Public response to a Sketch Plan is considered in the Planning process.  Clarification is necessary on how these comments will be used and by whom.  Adjustments to the Plan should be shared with the Public as the process proceeds.
  • With respect to the Sketch Plan process, LUC and Land Use Plan amendments, the Public should be confident that continuity checks exist and that the initial parameters/intent of an application has not changed.
  • The process should be changed so that when interpretations exist in questionable or vague areas, decisions by the Planning Commission are made on the conservative side until and unless they are clarified.  This should be a transparent process that is accountable to the voters and not slanted in favor of Developers.
  • AVAC is pleased that the Community Development Department strives for “Accountability, Integrity and Respect.”

These comments by AVAC were received without discussion by the Planning Commission, in line with this meeting’s format.  The Animas Valley Registered District Advisory Committee (AV-RDAC) also submitted verbal and written comments concerning the Sketch Plan Process.  Other comments ranged from support of the Sketch Plan Process to a suggestion that it should be dismissed altogether.

It was stressed by some speakers that residents prefer a county where people can continue to live here and afford housing; there should not be unlimited growth; and the area should not be overrun with sprawl.

Further, there was a question about how to shorten the process for approval or disapproval. If a proposal is a “bad project”, it should be known right away.

It is our hope that members of AVAC attend all Public Meetings concerning this development, if possible.  The simple act of showing up in numbers adds credence to the amount of support and concern that our Valley Residents have for how our district is developed and by whom.  The jury is still very much “out” on whether this development proposal will be allowed by La Plata County.