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Jeffco residents can comment on updates to master plan

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By Deborah Swearingen

It’s not quite time to update Jefferson County’s comprehensive master plan, but the county planning and zoning department is thinking ahead and including the public in the process.

When it comes time to update the plan, will changes focus on a specific land use, such as housing or commercial centers? Or will there be a focus on a specific geographic area like South Plains Area Plan, which covers South Jeffco, or the Evergreen Area Community Plan or the Conifer/285 Corridor Community Plan?

The comprehensive plan, an advisory document offering a vision for future development in the county, was last updated in 2010. Jeffco aims to update it every 10 years, so an update is forthcoming in the next year or two. In preparation for this, the county is hosting a series of informational community meetings to engage the public.

“The goal of this meeting is really two-fold,” said planner Heather Gutherless, of a community meeting held last Thursday at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office South Precinct. “We’re doing education. And then the second part of it is to get feedback on what we should update next.”

Gutherless said the educational aspect of the meeting is often a good segue into feedback. When residents understand zoning regulations and land use, they’re better prepared to provide a constructive response. For example, she said, it’s a common misconception that the comprehensive master plan changes zoning.

“The comprehensive master plan does not change anyone’s zoning,” Gutherless said. “The zoning is what you’re allowed to do with your property. The plan recommendation is what we’d like to see in the future.”

In the first meeting, held earlier last week at the Jeffco courthouse, residents showed an interest in concentrating on water resources. A diagram on display at the South Jeffco meeting showed similar results. Community members could place a star by the land use they were interested in focusing on. About 30 minutes into the meeting, there were two stars by housing, three by water and two by mixed-use. Other land uses, including commercial cores, civic uses and industrial, received no stars.

In addition to offering opportunities to chat with Jeffco Open Space as well as representatives from the transportation and planning departments, attendees could peruse an interactive map that, among other things, shows hot spots for development in the county.

GIS analyst Rachael Garrett helped to develop the interactive story map, which shows hot spots in Evergreen, South Jeffco and up north in Arvada. According to Garrett, it’s helpful to provide a visual representation of the data to help residents understand what’s going on in Jeffco. Plus, she noted community members are increasingly hungry for data.

“They don’t want to just be told. They want to be told why,” Garrett said.

Want to go? The final open house will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, in training rooms A and B at Evergreen Fire/Rescue's Administration Building, 1802 Bergen Parkway in Evergreen. If you have questions, e-mail Heather Gutherless at hgutherl@jeffco.us or 303-271-8716.