Jeffco envisions all-encompassing land-use plan

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Distinctions between communities to be retained to extent rules aren't in conflict

By Vicky Gits

After two years in development, planners have largely completed the first draft of the new Jefferson County Comprehensive Land Use Plan. Now they are unveiling it to the public and seeking feedback.

Public comments are due by Nov. 9. The planning commission is scheduled to take action at a meeting Dec. 9 at 6:15 p.m., during which public testimony will be taken. (The Board of County Commissioners doesn’t hold a hearing or vote on the plan.)

The approximately 500-page document is an attempt to define the countywide rules that will govern development in unincorporated Jefferson County for years to come.

The Comprehensive Land Use Plan, or CLUP, was conceived of as embodying the goals that apply across the county as well as ones that pertain to individual communities. Begun in 2007, the plan is advisory only, meaning it does not change existing zoning.

In the mid-‘80s, the county created nine mini-community plans, which highlight the unique elements associated with distinct locations, such as the Conifer/285 Corridor, Indian Hills and Evergreen, to name a few.

The Comprehensive Land Use Plan is not meant to make the community plans obsolete, said Heather Gutherless, senior planner for Jefferson County. The idea is to pull together the common elements and eliminate inconsistencies among various community plans.

CLUP is described in the introduction as the first step in developing a single document that combines all of the county’s land-use plans.

Ultimately, the community plans will be “condensed so that they only focus on land-use recommendations and other issues specific to the plan area. Those plans will then be incorporated into this plan as sub-area plans” in future years, says the introduction to the draft CLUP.

The CLUP is available at www.jeffco.us/planning.

At this stage, planners are interested in getting comments from the public, and Gutherless encourages citizens to send her their suggestions by mail or e-mail (see accompanying box). In late October, the planning department hosted five open houses, including an event at the Evergreen Fire/Rescue headquarters on Oct. 27.

The plan primarily applies to the unincorporated areas where the county has authority. It will serve as a guide against which any rezoning and site approvals must be evaluated.

“A lot of it concerns policy that nobody disagrees with,” Gutherless said. “One of the interesting things is the criteria for expanding or creating new activity centers. It would be a big process, but it is there.”

In some cases the CLUP would prevail even if it was in conflict with the Evergreen Community Plan’s land-use recommendations. For example, as stated in the introduction, “If the CLUP recommended expanding activity centers in the mountains … and if the CLUP conditions were demonstrated, the mixed-use development would be in conformance with the CLUP, even though it would technically not be in compliance with the Evergreen Community Plan’s land-use recommendations for that site.”

In other words, the countywide document would prevail, not the community plan.

The community plan rules only if there is a specific land-use recommendation in the community plan and there is no specific land-use recommendation in the comprehensive plan.

In the case of plan exceptions, defined as a proposed land use that does not meet the specific recommended use in either the CLUP or the community plan, the county commissioners would make the final decree.

The draft comprehensive plan includes chapters on vision, values and goals, sustainability, housing, economic development, open space, open land, parks and trails, wildlife, water quality, water quantity, hazards, noise and historic and archaeological resources.

Contact Vicky Gits at 303-350-1042 or vicky@evergreenco.com

Send comments on the CLUP to the planning department: Heather Gutherless, Jefferson County Planning and Zoning, 100 Jefferson County Parkway, No. 3550, Golden, CO 80419; or by e-mail to hgutherl@jeffco.us.

The next public hearing is at the planning commission meeting at 6:15 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Jefferson County Administration and Courts Building, Hearing Room 1.