The next public input session for the Chaffee County Comprehensive Plan process is coming up from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 28, at the SteamPlant in Salida. The event is the second public meeting in the 12 to 18-month long plan process that will result in a new ‘vision document’ for Chaffee County that will balance expected growth with protection of available resources.

The Chaffee Board of County Commissioners has stressed that the ultimate success of the process is highly dependent upon residents speaking up and providing their input about their vision for the county. That input will result in a new comprehensive plan, which, in turn, will guide updates to Chaffee County’s Land Use Code (LUC). Planning Commission members have noted that the county’s LUC is outdated, and not up to the volume and types of requests it is handling as the county continues to grow.

Commissioners and the Chaffee County Planning Commission have pointed out that broad citizen involvement is critical for the plan to reflect the breadth and range of the county’s population and its many volunteer organizations. They want to see all age groups — every person living and working in Chaffee County – participate in the input process. The public meetings and neighborhood get-togethers will be held at a variety of times of the day and different days of the week to encourage turnout.

To that end, county commissioners are also activating what they are calling Comprehensive Plan Outreach Committees, designed to involve all age groups and a variety of stakeholders in the process. At stake is what Chaffee County will become five years, 10 years, or 20 years from now.

The Triple Crown Burro Race. (Photo courtesy Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce)

Chaffee County has budgeted for a $250,000 planning effort: half county funds, the other half provided as a funding match from the Department of Local Affairs. The process will include more than a dozen opportunities for the public to weigh in, and more sessions involving groups representing aspects of the county which have been termed highly important county assets.

“This is a big undertaking, but we’re off to a good start,” commented County Commissioner Chair Greg Felt at the first public meeting in June at Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Conference Pavilion. “We were overdue from a planning perspective.”

For more information as the planning process continues, the county has launched a website for residents and businesses about the plan preparation process, available at www.togetherchaffeecounty.org.