Eagle County’s land use codes are a mishmash of regulations developed over decades. The county is now undertaking a comprehensive rewrite of those codes.
On Tuesday, the Eagle County Board of Commissioners held its last work session before the actual code-writing begins. Consultant Todd Messenger, a director of the Fairfield & Woods law firm, along with deputy county attorney Beth Oliver, went over the ideas generated over those months of work.
That work has involved working on possible policy priorities, along with discussions about land use strategies.
Those discussions have focused on the need to simplify and clarify the county’s codes. One of the biggest elements of streamlining the codes includes giving county staff the authority to approve projects that comply with the new codes.
Messenger in a previous meeting told the commissioners that land use regulations should make it easier for the private sector to build projects that are needed in a community.
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The rewrite will also work to cut down on the number of planned unit developments in the county. There are currently 86 such developments in the county. Those developments seek exemptions or variations from existing zoning codes. Changing those developments can require formal amendments creating more work for planning staff, the county’s appointed planning commissions in the Eagle and Roaring Fork valleys, and the commissioners.
Other changes will likely include identifying the best places for workforce housing.
The rewrite will also likely include a county-wide requirement for wildlife-resistant trash containers and add “dark sky” language to the regulations.
After a lot of discussion about the county’s needs and possible philosophies going forward, the actual regulation writing is ready to start.
But, Oliver said, that process will still include opportunities for public comment.
Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry asked how the new regulations might allow the county to have more say about projects proposed for federal land.
Messenger said while the federal government has “supremacy” in regulating uses of federal land, the government has “obligated itself” to work with local government. The new regulations can provide a plan that’s consistent with federal law.
Chandler-Henry also asked if the new regulations would allow the county to continue to impose environmental requirements allowed under the state’s “1041” law.
Oliver said that authority will be included in the new regulations. “We don’t want to lose that protection,” Chandler-Henry said. “We still need (that) standard.”