MONTROSE COUNTY – Amendments to the Montrose County Zoning Resolution that remove conflicting language or restrictions that the county can’t enforce are headed to the Montrose County Planning Commission for review at a meeting Thursday, April 24.
According to County Planner Steve White, language in the “prohibitive uses” section in the General Agricultural and General Residential districts could be removed if the Planning Commission agrees to amend that portion of the county’s zoning guidelines. The Zoning Resolution currently states commercial uses and industrial uses that do not meet the definition of a “home occupation” are prohibited in both the General Agriculture and General Residential districts.
In both of those districts, there are a list of land uses that are defined as by-right. There are also lists of uses that are defined as special uses, all requiring a special use permit. White said those two lists of allowed uses in the district often conflict with the Zoning Resolution’s prohibitive uses and how they relate to the definition of “home occupation.”
White said the conflict in language first came up in public hearings during the Piñon Ridge Uranium Mill’s review process; many opponents cited the “prohibitive uses” section of the General Agriculture guidelines as a reason to stop construction of the mill. But White said he interpreted that Zoning Resolution language as it relates to “home occupation.” Since the mill was not being built as a part of a home occupation and it was one of the listed special uses under General Agriculture, it was an allowed use.
White said by removing the “prohibitive uses” language from the resolution, it will remove that conflict. Will removal of that language allow a new manufacturing industry to set up operations in those two districts? White said no, as long as it is not listed as a by-right use or a special use.
“The zoning ordinances are inherently prohibitive,” White said. “If it’s not listed, it’s not allowed.”
The planning commission will also review the removal of language under the General Agricultural District as it relates to design guidelines for development affecting agricultural lands.
The Zoning Resolution states, “Before issuing a building permit or special use for any land use change adjoining or affecting agricultural lands, assurances must be established that adequate provisions are included which minimize or eliminate impact on agricultural lands…”
White said the seven guidelines listed are often impossible for the county to enforce – for example, making sure pets do not interfere with livestock – or encroach on landowners’ private property rights.
“This section is overly restrictive,” White said. “It has to do with private property rights issues and some are very difficult for us to enforce.”
White said the amendments to the Zoning Resolution are “not something new” and have been a “smoldering issue” for a while. At the start of this year, members of the planning commission laid out a set of tasks it intended to work on this year. Part of that is looking at the Montrose County Master Plan and updating it if need be.
The Zoning Resolution amendments will go before the Planning Commission at its April 24 meeting at 6 p.m. in the Commissioner’s Board Room, 161 S. Townsend Ave. If the commission approves the amendments, they will then be sent to the Montrose Board of County Commissioners for review.