On the agenda was a resolution directing the Ouray County Planning Commission to “review Section 9 . . . and proposed revisions to Section 9 of the Ouray County Land Use Code.” After a year of meetings and workshops, charges and countercharges, the BOCC was finally ready to hand off actual code revision to the planning commission.
At the appointed hour, BOCC Chair Lynn Padgett said, “Let the record show: There are four people here [other than commissioners and staff], and they are all smiling.”
The lighter mood was a welcome relief for commissioners who nevertheless felt the need in their resolution to correct numerous misconceptions that have dogged the debate.
Those included the idea that revisiting the code was a new project (it has been on the board’s list since 2007), that it has been undertaken without sufficient public input (there have been 36 noticed public meetings and work sessions in the last 13 months), that the current effort is “a solution in search of a problem,” when, in fact, revisions to Section 9 have been requested for over a decade by citizens, by four current and past county planners, administrators, and by the county building inspector. Fairness, clarity and improved process have been the prime motivators behind the update.
The resolution calls on the planning commission to analyze 12 items set forth by the BOCC, from evaluating the current point system for developers to revisiting setbacks and remodels and “historically accurate buildings.”
The most contentious issue all along has been the idea that visual impact regulations be expanded more broadly across the county (the issue of “fairness”) and that more county roads be designated visual impact corridors. The planning commission will look at criteria for adding new corridors.
Definitions need to be clarified, the BOCC said. Imprecise concepts like “blending,” “screening” and “skyline breakage” need to be more clearly understood and codified.
And finally, the commissioners suggested the planning commission provide input on “the scope and applicability of a ‘Companion Guide to Visual Impact Regulations,’” a “tips and tricks” guide, in Padgett’s words, to help everyone – from realtors to architects to homeowners – better understand and appreciate the system.
The BOCC does not expect results overnight; the last time Section 9 was revised it took four years, from 1993 to 1997. The planning commission is charged to schedule meetings as it “deems appropriate” and “advise the Board of its progress on or before July 1, 2011.”
WRIGHT OPERA HOUSE GROUP REACHES FUNDRAISING GOAL
During the Call-to-the-Public section of its regular Monday meeting, Ouray BOCC chair Lynn Padgett congratulated the Friends of the Wright Opera House in Ouray for meeting its fundraising goal by the Oct. 31 deadline. According to a letter from organizer Joyce Linn, the local non-profit can now move ahead with closing on the 122-year-old Main Street landmark.
Owners Larry and Alice Leeper had previously reduced the price on the Opera House to $750,000, but fundraisers had to scramble to activate a $65,000 matching gift from an anonymous donor. The final push was a fundraiser at the Ouray Brewery on Oct. 27, which carried the day.
Padgett quoted Linn’s letter saying that the goal of using only private donations and grants, and no public funds at all, has so far been successful. “We intend for this to be a major benefit/asset for our corner of the world,” Linn wrote. “We feel an intense responsibility to keep faith with the community aspirations.”
“Now,” Commissioner Padgett said, “maybe we can light a fire and save the Colona Grange!”
‘POTHOLES AS BIG AS THIS!’
Ouray County Road and Bridge Superintendent Chris Miller told the BOCC at its Monday meeting that he may have found a suitable “band-aid” for the incorrigible potholes on County Road 1 south of Colona.
The first half-mile of pavement from the intersection with Colo. Hwy. 550 heading up to Log Hill, Miller reminded the commissioners, has “potholes this big! Eight hundred cars a day go through there. It’s a safety issue for school busses and commuters. We get fully three-quarters or our complaints on that stretch of road.”
All agreed that a permanent solution involving rebuilding the drainage and repaving has to wait until next year. But Miller told the board he would like to try a new product by a company called SealCo.
“It’s a new product we have not tried yet,” Miller said. “They can do it cheaper than we can do it with our crew. And they warrantee it through the winter.”
“We’ve tried everything known to man” on that piece of road, said Commissioner Heidi Albritton. “Now we’re going to try something newly known?”
Miller admitted it was just a temporary fix, but said SealCo would apply what they called a winter-mix emulsion and, if done soon, while the weather is still warm enough, just might hold the road together until next building season.
Commissioners agreed it was worth a try. “Assuming things go well tomorrow,” Albritton said, referring to the possibility of reduced funding for roads should tax measures 60, 61 and 101 pass – “and I choose to be optimistic – we need the band-aid. It’s a safety issue.”
Commissioners authorized Miller to enter into a contract with SealCo. “Thank you. I really appreciate this,” said an obviously relieved Miller.
“Thank you for all you do,” said Commission Chair Lynn Padgett.