As the Ouray County Planning Commission (OCPC) nears the end of its work on Section 9 Visual Impact Regulations of the Land Use Code, it is important to keep several facts in mind. The OCPC began deliberations on Section 9 because it was directed by a bipartisan Board of County Commissioners to do so. It was not initiated by “public policy activists” with a “no growth ideology” as alleged in a recent letter to the editor.
Among other false allegations in Susan Watson’s letter is the notion that the deliberation by the OCPC cost the county thousands of dollars. The OCPC is composed of citizen volunteers who are not compensated and the county staff is salaried. Further, Section 9 is not the only matter addressed by the OCPC or staff. No business before the OCPC was delayed or unaddressed due to Section 9 deliberations. Unsubstantiated claims relative to cost of building under a revised Section 9 as well as a reference to “unprecedented restrictions” are patently false. It is important to note that Section 9 currently exists in the Land Use Code and covers a significant portion of the county. Many homes have been built in these areas over the years under certain restrictions. The restrictions in the current draft of revisions are either identical to existing restrictions or are actually relaxed or have been made more flexible.
At a recent meeting of the OCPC it was alleged that the community was not aware of the impacts of a revised Section 9. First, it is important to note that OCPC meetings are legally noticed and open to the public. Further, its minutes and any documents generated, reviewed or referenced by the OCPC are available to the public. Public comment is taken at every work session and is welcomed. During the recent campaigns for county commissioner, Section 9 was a major topic of debate and, in my opinion, figured in the outcome of the election. It is hard to believe any interested citizen is unaware of Section 9 deliberations.
Personal attacks on citizen volunteers of the OCPC because certain elements of the community are opposed to Section 9 revisions are unconscionable. The OCPC or its individual members are not in a position to impose their will or ideology on the community. The OCPC has no authority or power to impose anything on anyone.
In the coming months, the OCPC will conduct a public hearing on its draft of revisions to Section 9 and will finalize its recommendation to the BOCC. I encourage all interested citizens to become familiar with the draft so that they may comment on the facts and not on unsubstantiated claims or false allegations.