The Envision process is over and we can consider it a resounding success. Thousands participated and it has resulted in many new initiatives to improve the lives of those of us who live in Chaffee County. It has also spurred the development of a badly needed comprehensive plan which is also nearing completion with preliminary results out in the next few weeks. All is great right?
Actually things are not alright. The last comprehensive plan developed and adopted in 2000 was a good plan. The enforcement of that plan resulted in a good land use code that embodied the ideals of that plan. Unfortunately powerful forces made up of a group of builders, developers, real estate salespersons and money men gutted the land use code. They bought the county commissioners with large campaign donations that resulted in them being appointed to the planning commission. Once on the board, they proceeded to gut the land use code to the abomination we have today. A land use code that permits urban densities in every corner of the county. Not a single parcel is safe from development of the worst kind.
Over the past four years, the county commissioners have worked to bring the planning commission under control, get rid of the numerous conflicts of interest and create a fair mix of interests. It now has a mix of members that truly represent all of the citizens of Chaffee County. But that is under threat. Those powerful individuals have not gone quietly. They are once again trying to take over the Planning Commission by removing those voices that represent the average citizen of Chaffee County.
The reason for this is simple. The Planning Commission will be tasked with developing a land use code that reflects all the hard work the citizens of Chaffee County have done through the Envision and Comprehensive Plan processes. If these powerful interests are able to take over the Planning Commission like they have in the past, all of your hard will work will be for naught. The decisions that will affect the outcome of the Planning Commission and all our efforts is taking place right now. And it’s an ugly fight.
We have to step up once again. Contact your county commissioner. Let them know you want a fair and balanced Planning Commission. Tell them you want a commission that represents all the citizens of Chaffee County and not one that just represents the powerful developer, real estate interests and builders. They need to hear from you now.