Pitco to take up ag land proposal
Pitkin County’s top elected officials urged calm yesterday to a roomful of attorneys who crammed into the county commissioners’ chambers to learn more about a plan to preserve agricultural lands.One by one, each member on the Board of County Commissioners implored the 35 or so lawyers and developers present to give the Agriculture Committee’s proposal a chance to be heard and debated before it is rejected.”This is one attempt,” said Commissioner Dorothea Farris, “to preserve what we’ve been talking about for a long time – the value of our open space.””This isn’t just about money,” added Commissioner Mick Ireland. “If it was just about money, these ranchers could hire estate planners and have a lot more fun. This is about preserving a way of life.”The county is seeking a way to give ranchers and others in agriculture the incentive to preserve rather than develop their land. The proposal includes a myriad of suggestions, from a county fund to buy down development rights to revision of the Transferable Development Right program and sharp limits on building sizes.The proposal has raised concern among many in the development community. They have shown up in force at the two public meetings that have included discussions about the proposal since it was completed last month.The BOCC used yesterday’s meeting – a joint session with planning commission and agriculture committee members – to outline the county government’s plan for considering the proposal.BOCC Chairwoman Leslie Lamont opened with a plan for discussing the proposal with the public and within government. It includes an analysis of the proposal’s likely effects on the economy and the land-use code, joint discussions between the BOCC and the P&Z, community forums, staff recommendations and public hearings.Notably, there was no debate among the commissioners about the proposed schedule, as it was hammered out in closed session Tuesday morning. The commissioners did not say whether the discussions with the P&Z or staff would be open to the public.The Agriculture Committee will present its proposal to the P&Z on March 16 in the commissioners’ meeting room.
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