BoCC amends Future Land Use Map

Staff working on the county’s Urban Services Area Project marked a milestone Monday, when the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners accepted and endorsed the planning commission’s amendment to the Future Land Use Map found in the 2001 Archuleta County Community Plan.

The Archuleta County Planning Commission adopted the Future Land Use Map Dec. 11 during a public hearing, and now with both commissions’ approvals, the map is official legislation.

According to county staff, the Urban Services Area and Future Land Use Map projects were undertaken to address future growth within the unincorporated, unsubdivided portion of the county between the current Town of Pagosa Springs limits and their three mile annexation boundary as allowed and established by statute.

Specifically, the Future Land Use Map identifies areas where growth may occur in the future, but does not change the current underlying zoning on parcels within the county.

County staff have said one of the key problems with the former Future Land Use Map was that it closely resembled “as built” conditions in place at the time of its adoption in 2001. In short, they say it has served as an “existing land use map” leaving little room for future growth or to pursue creative approaches to density and development.

“This is not a zoning map. It (the map) doesn’t guarantee anything to anybody; it doesn’t take anything from anybody,” said Rick Bellis, the county’s director of community development.

What the map does do, however, is identify areas where growth and development may occur — called Tier 1 and Tier 2 areas on the map.

Tier 1 areas, according to county documents, have access to water and proximity to arterial or collector roads or a state highway. Parcel size and subdivision status also play key roles.

Tier 2 areas include parcels that meet two of the three aforementioned criteria, or have the potential to meet the criteria in the foreseeable future.

According to the map, Tier 1 and Tier 2 areas are concentrated just south and north of downtown Pagosa Springs, with a Tier 1 area also identified west of town adjacent to U.S. 160, in addition to Tier 1 and Tier 2 areas identified on Piedra Road.

Although county staff say the map and the Urban Services Area Project are an attempt to reduce sprawl and encourage preferred growth scenarios as detailed in the community plan, a cadre of Piedra Road residents say the map will allow back-door approval to the proposed TreeTops development slated for a parcel located 3.75 miles north of U.S. 160 on Piedra Road.

County staff have rebuffed the assertion saying that any development proposal or rezone request— including TreeTops — would go through the public process.

No one from the public spoke against the commissioners’ endorsement of the map at Monday’s meeting.

According to the community plan, the document was crafted to provide general direction over 15 to 20 years, but it also recommends periodic updates and reviews “at least every three to five years.”

Citizens can view the Future Land Use Map at www.archuletacounty.org.

james@pagosasun.com