Ouray County at the Crossroads
by Jerry Roberts, Ridgway
Jul 27, 2013 | 1234 views | 0 0 comments | 48 48 recommendations | email to a friend | print


After spending three decades in Ouray County (another in San Juan County) I've seen many changes along with some drama, but generally the evolution of our part of the planet has been fairly tranquilo. In the mid-eighties a big step in preserving the visual corridors and mostly virgin skylines of the county came about with the writing of a master plan that happened, thanks to many, but in my mind Peter Decker and Lynn Kircher stand out in particular. Since then there have of course been new challenges along with changes and now Ouray County has come to a crossroad once again.

Realtors, builders, designers and architects have said the current visual impact regulations have done a good job of protecting the views of our incredible landscape in the existing view quarters. They argue that the regs need only a few tweaks but should not be expanded to cover other roads. This makes one wonder why, if this works so well but only covers 40 percent of the county, (mostly in the northern portion of the county), we shouldn't apply this same criteria to the rest of the county (the southern part of the county, the Alpine Zone)? The portion where we have hundreds of non conforming, patented mining claims? The part where, during the public hearing on the creation of a new South Alpine Zone to regulate residential construction on mining claims, the mining community's attorney argued that the county has good regulations, that just need to be fairly enforced across the entire county. Why would we not want to protect the other 60 percent of Ouray County the same way?

I think the new Section 9 solves both problems. First it adds all the roads in the county that have the same characteristics as the roads in the present day Section 9.  All uses by right are left intact, preserving property rights and safeguarding against scurrilous, unbridled, speculative development. Second, it does the tweaking that makes it easier to understand, administer and is less onerous. It also incorporates numerous recommendations from the builder/designer community.

Who benefits from the new Section 9? The residents of Ouray County through protection for the county from inappropriate, unreasonable development and by preserving and protecting property value.

Who profits from not adopting the new Section 9 with its roads Anyone who places unregulated development and personal financial gain ahead of protecting the views of our incredible landscape that makes real estate even more valuable.

I think the majority of citizens live in this unique and profoundly beautiful county because it is still Colorado, the way Colorado used to look. Clean, beautiful, not overbuilt with box stores, mega-developments or scarred with hideous tailings ponds like Leadville. This is why people live here, this why people visit and never forget Ouray County. It's a special place.

Ouray County is again at the crossroads. This time, a way and quality of life are at stake.  Let your voice be heard. 


– Jerry Roberts, Ridgway

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