In a process formalized as a resolution by the Board of County Commissioners during their Tuesday meeting, Chaffee County Commissioners and the planning commission have selected the CTA Group as the consultant to guide the development of the Chaffee County Comprehensive Plan. The resolution authorizes staff to work out the details and begin work as soon as the contract is signed.
“One thing that set them apart in addition to extensive work in rural mountain communities, is that all of the functions that go into a project like this are conducted in-house, while the other candidate teams were literally teams assembled – businesses coming together to combine their specialties and talents,” said County Chair Greg Felt. “That’s fine, it’s common, but with CTA, there was a question posed – ‘what if you need more detailed information, say on water resource engineering than one of the team members have, what do you do?’ And their response was ‘I go down the hall for 10 minutes and get the answer I need.’ It just had a good solid feel to it.”
The commissioners describe a thoughtful process that solicited quality proposals, selecting four for further review, and hearing four presentations from the four finalists, followed by formal interviews. “We had great participation from the commissioners, the planning commission, and staff and it was a good process,” said Felt.
“We had four great candidates – any one of them could do the job, but I had been sort of concerned, worrying what would happen if we had a real split opinion within the group,” said Felt. “I didn’t want a shadow on the comp plan process right out of the gate. I was delighted as we worked through there really was a very clear top candidate.”
“When you put it all together this was a standout group,” said Commissioner Keith Baker. “They have a lot of experience in similar size counties in the mountain west — that’s a plus. And they recently worked in Buena Vista on a water project assessing the implications of the Trout Creek water project, So they already know a lot about our county.”
All the candidates proposed a 12- to 18-month timetable for completion of the new comprehensive plan. They pointed out that completing the plan in any shorter time would be an extremely tough schedule, and stretching out the process longer would have an impact on the energy to sustain interest in the process by county residents. Felt said that all four consultant candidates pointed to the Envision Chaffee County effort as “a great start in terms of some good community engagement.”
The organization will be tasked to work closely with the Chaffee County Planning Commission to develop a long overdue upgrade to the county’s major planning document. The current comp plan is nearly 20 years old and the last county effort behind an updated comp plan took several years to accomplish. The sentiment this time is the county doesn’t have that long.
The CTA Group, also known as CTA Architects and Engineers, has a staff of more than 400, and 14 offices spread primarily across the American West. It has a long history, having been founded in 1938. One of their advantages, besides recent work in this county, is that they have almost all necessary personnel and research resources in-house rather than being task-organized from several firms.
The team leader for the Chaffee County Comp Plan project is Wayne Freeman, who is based in Bozeman, Montana, A principal in the company and a landscape architect by training, Freeman has 30 years of experience leading civil engineering and planning teams.
Chaffee County has budgeted for a $250,000 planning effort, half of which will be county funds, the other half provided as a funding match from the Department of Local Affairs. County Housing Director Becky Gray has also submitted for some other related grants that can help the county complete other specific projects that will come from the development of the comp plan.
“It will be a big undertaking,” said Felt. “We were overdue, but we’re ahead of the curve in terms of the community involvement – as well as some of the projects already implemented. It’s not all land use planning.”
For those who want to know more about the group, their website address is www.ctagroup.com.