Commissioners provided updates on the following topics:
-land use regulations: first draft of updated regulations completed - hope to adopt new regs by the end of 2018; 96% of county zoned Ag; most of the population lives in other 4%
-economic activity: 95% of working population travel to jobs out of county
-rural water supply study: looking at bringing study to analytical, site-specific; we’re “storing water” for Douglas County because we have a 300 year requirement, and DC only has a 100 year requirement; we’re in “good shape” with our water now, per Commissioner Thayer with a several thousand year supply in our county.
(Editor’s Note: Thayer wins this month’s “Head Up Butt Award” for this whooper. Remember, aquifers flow South to North. Our water availability via our aquifers is dependent upon, climate (evidence says it is getting hotter and dryer here) population growth/usage (not only here, but everywhere South of Elbert County like Falcon, Colorado Springs, etc.,), Commercial usage (cattle, development, Fracking, etc.) among a hundred other events out of our control such as wildfires. Plus as an aside, there are no definitive studies of current volumes available.)
-transition (elected officials): Commissioner Willcox reviewed new elected officials by name who will be coming into office after election in November
-communication/public information: we are “struggling” per Commissioner Willcox; we need work on the website and the county calendar; using Facebook more
-road maintenance/improvements: formerly set up east vs. west part of county; have changed structure - now 5 sections divided by processes performed; each grader crew responsible for about 115 miles of roadway. Projects completed: 6 miles of roads upgraded, 72 culverts; it’s been a “good year” for roads per Willcox; Sun Country development paved some roads, paid for through a bond
-county strategic plan: prioritized one time revenues (i.e. Simla Wind Farm) to be put into reserves; living document being refined and rebuilt; working on 2019 budget which remains around $27 million; “growth in revenue is good” per Commissioner Richardson
-budget/finances: debt is low, mainly on Justice Center; monies from refinance of Justice Center allowed the county to purchase the Sam Elbert Building
-growth/development: statutes in CO have made it easier for special districts to develop; where people want to live drives growth areas; “Backdrop of Castle Rock and Parker is not what Elbert County is going to be,” per Richardson. Growth projected to double in 20 years.
-Bob Ware asked about new tower on 86 - Catholic Radio Tower; approved a year ago.
-Carolyn Jones asked for a copy of the strategic plan draft; Richardson said that County Manager Sam Albrecht is making final edits; will go on county website by Tuesday 10/23/18. Public hearing of strategic plan will be on Wed. 10/24/18 at BOCC meeting.
-Belinda Seville asked for definition of economic development corridors: 1320’ along high traffic roads (Kiowa Bennet Rd., Rd. 13, Hwy. 86, CR 194, some of Rd. 158) with PUDs excluded (EDZ cannot be utilized in a PUD). Worked with Town of Elizabeth for sections of Hwy. 86. Per Thayer, “All the EDZ does is negate the requirement to rezone.” EDZ draft sent back to Planning Commission to include notification process for neighbors and to negate some of the uses-by-right. The EDZ, per Richardson, will provide more local jobs and change traffic patterns on roads. EDZ has been done “fairly thoughtfully.”
-Carla Hagood asked if there was an example of an EDZ that we are using as a model. Richardson said that Lincoln County has a similar overlay, and that there will be public hearings with the EC EDZ. She also asked when the draft EDZ will be available to the public - should be published “at least 24 hours before” the October 30 public hearing.
-Beth Shelly asked about the uses by right; Richardson said there would have to be a public hearing for any usage changes.
-Marlene Groves asked about website: functionality not there; Willcox stated that it “was primarily a configuration issue with how we’re inputting data.” Working with permission and restrictions with who can post on website. Not an equipment problem. And because commissioners aren’t in charge of other elected officials, they are limited. Commissioners are “working on” who’s in charge of implementing website procedures.
-Patty McKiernan asked how the commissioners are involving citizens in strategic plan. Richardson talked about citizen survey included in tax bills and previous meetings held at fairgrounds. Willcox claimed that county vision statement was established via study sessions with citizens.
-Robert Tipton asked if the commissioners are working on contingencies if growth doesn’t continue. Thayer said we’re using state figures for growth as well as putting funds away to handle possible issues. Tipton mentioned our “horrible transportation corridors.” Tipton recommended that more due diligence is needed when developers provide huge packets for consideration; commissioners assured him that they read everything.
-Chris Ware stated that CDOT is directing their efforts to Hwy. 24 and suggested the county look at that road as opposed to Hwy. 86 for commercial development; put EDZ zone there.
-A citizen asked about acceleration/deceleration lanes in EDZ.
-Scott Dalton asked if Master Plan will have proposed transportation corridors; RFP will be sent out soon for Transportation Plan.
-Patty McKiernan asked if there are county commissioner job descriptions available on the website; Willcox said he’d send her a state handbook. Carla Hagood said this would be a useful document for citizens on the website.
The three commissioners appear to be very satisfied with the job they are doing.