Thursday, February 2, 2006
Routt County should adopt a pilot program to preserve open spaces, planning commissioners agreed Thursday.
Members of the Routt County Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend that the Routt County Board of Commissioners adopt the program, which is an amendment to the county's land preservation subdivision program.
The land preservation subdivision program allows developers to build more homes than the state's standard 35-acre lot size allows. In return, developers agree to have smaller and more clustered lots, leaving remaining land as open space.
The pilot program offers developers a more flexible alternative to the land preservation subdivision program, which applies only to continuous parcels of land. The amendments for the pilot program propose allowing developers to apply the same concept to separate parcels of land.
The program would apply to the area south of Steamboat Springs and north of Lake Catamount. County Planner John Eastman said county officials could review the program's applicability to other areas over time.
"If it works down there, we may want to do it somewhere else," Eastman said.
Susan Dorsey Otis, executive director of the Yampa Valley Land Trust, said the program could preserve land on the expensive south valley floor.
Peter Patten, of Patten As--soc--iates, said the proposal was a step in the right direction.
"This furthers the intent and concept of what (land preservation subdivisions) are all about," Patten said.
Patten also said the program is written into several area land-use plans, making it something that should be implemented.
Commissioners expressed support for the program but raised some concerns. They also had ideas about how to improve it.
Commissioner Fred Nichols said he was concerned that developers could build secondary units on residential lots. The extra residents may cause traffic congestion, he said.
"I think we're going to create other problems," Nichols said.
Caryn Fox, county planner director, said the secondary units are self-limiting because developers know residents don't want to live where there is too much density.
The open space should be left open permanently, Planning Commissioner Wayne Adamo said.
A majority of the planning commissioners agreed with Adamo, including Nichols, who said he agreed with applying perpetuity to that area of Routt County.
Commissioner Terry Hunter said he did not want to make any changes -- other than allowing continuous lots -- from the original land preservation subdivision program.
"I think this (land preservation subdivision) is working well for us right now," Hunter said. "I'm very hesitant to mess with the (land preservation subdivision) right now."
Commissioner John Ayer proposed another change to the proposed program. He wanted to provide further incentives for the program by allowing more bonus lots. A majority of the commissioners disagreed with Ayer.
Routt County com--mis--sioners are scheduled to review the proposed program March 7.
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