Routt County Planning Director Chad Phillips will take his staff on a series of road trips from one end of the county to the other in March to field questions from the public about county regulations and the rules for pursuing commercial ventures outside of municipalities in the county.
When residents approach the county to obtain permits for such diverse enterprises as wedding venues, in-home vacation rentals and produce stands, those proposals are generally evaluated by the planning department by comparing them to zoning regulations and the 2003 County Master Plan. The same is true of commercial recreational operations from zip lines to sled dog adventures and guest ranches.
“We’ll be going over the different functions of the planning department, then talk about the master plan and how it has served the community,” Phillips said of the meetings. “It will be very informal. We’re just kind of checking in.”
On paper, the county’s 14-year-old master plan is intended to be updated every five years. However, a poll of Routt County Planning Commissioners in late 2016 concluded that the plan needs only minor tweaks as opposed to a full update. And it is Planning Commission, not the Board of County Commissioners, who control that process.
7 p.m., March 1, Steamboat Lake State Park headquarters
7 p.m., March 8, Hayden Town Hall
7 p.m., March 15, Routt County Historic Courthouse
7 p.m., March 22, Oak Creek Town Hall
Phillips pointed out that since a 2006 overhaul of Routt County’s zoning and subdivision regulations that attached the master plan to those regulations, the plan has become a binding document.
At times, the Board of County Commissioners, the elected officials who appoint planning commissioners, have been frustrated with the Planning Commission’s stances on development projects.
In December 2015, Commissioner Doug Monger protested that under the current master plan, a rural Routt County resident with large acreage who has a small construction business and keeps a large truck and a backhoe at their residence, is in conflict with the master plan.
And County Commissioner Cari Hermacinski disputed a Planning Commission finding, based on the master plan, that nightly vacation rentals of private homes was only allowable within a handful of small designated commercial centers outside of the municipalities. Hermacinski said she views vacation rentals to be a residential use rather than a commercial use.
The meetings, which will be held March 1, 8, 15 and 22 in North Routt, Hayden, Steamboat Springs and Oak Creek, are open to the public.