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County weighs in on preliminary Master Plan

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Delta County community members turned out at three meetings held in mid-November to provide their views on six key themes that will be part of the updated Delta County Master Plan.

County staff, consultant RPI, and the Delta County Planning Commission held visioning discussions from May through June with residents across the county to define goals for the updated Master Plan.

The key themes that emerged from these visioning discussions are: agricultural land and business; economic development; land use and development; public infrastructure, services and assets; water resources; and energy development.

At the community meetings in mid-November six stations, one for each of the key themes, were set up around the meeting room. Arriving community members were encouraged to visit each of the six stations. They were given pencils to write their comments and gummed circles to paste on a map at each station to indicate matters of specific concern to them.

When the meeting was called to order Elyse Casselberry, the county's community and economic development director, explained the next step. Each community member was asked to participate in a small group discussion on two of the key themes. Thirty minutes was provided for each discussion.

Several members of the planning commission were present and joined the discussions. County administrator Robbie LeValley stopped to listen a short time at all of the tables.

Facilitators at the six tables were Gabe Preston and Erica Weeks from RPI, LaDonna Gunn, Elaine Brett, Alex Johnson and Casselberry.

At the end of the two 30-minute discussions, Casselberry asked facilitators to give a brief summary of ideas discussed on each key theme.

Energy Development: The county should be energy independent; develop a plan and regulations to ensure clean air and water; keep current with new energy developments; seek a commercial solar grid; form energy partnerships; keep energy jobs in the county.

Public Infrastructure, Services and Assets: Provide good, viable public transportation, buses and trains; improve shoulders and bike paths around the cities; better connectivity with the taxing transit authority; electric charging station; how to navigate and inform people better about what is available currently; public safety; ambulance service and medical facilities in all towns; county recreation - recreation is a big piece of the economy; river access; inventory access to public lands; use irrigation ditch trails where it makes sense.

Water Resources: County is limited in authority to regulate and manage water; county needs to be leader in keeping current water rights; way to make sure county has all information about water rights, quality and quantity; better education around water rights and management for developers, realtors, cities; improve existing storage; new storage; water development; water drought management; equitable water rates.

Land Use and Development: Strategy for future, bring forward what worked in past; agricultural work in future; more value added agriculture than we have today; zoning -- different viewpoints; zoning tricky -- what uses allow winners and losers, mission creep -- evaluate and adapt over time; how to work area by area to preserve and protect agriculture needs; how to identify higher impact uses and determine where it should go; review developments carefully.

Economic Development: Homogeneous uses in development of large sections of land; support businesses -- strengthen what we already have; other industries -- processing, flash frozen food; need to coordinate, develop marketing strategy for new businesses; identify attractive industries; support having infrastructure needed for new industries in place before they arrive.

Agricultural Land and Business: Value agriculture, protect what we have; need clarity, understanding about where some agriculture should go; don't limit agriculture from what it needs to do to stay profitable; support businesses that support agriculture.

The information received from the community will be used by staff, the consultant and the county planning commission during the next phase of the Master Plan update.

"Following the meetings the draft goals will be uploaded to the project website," Casselberry said, "and an online participation option will be available to community members who were unable to participate in the meetings."

Interested community members can sign up to receive notification of this option on the project's website, www.deltacountyplan.com.

More information can also be obtained by contacting Kelly Yeager, contract planner, at 970-874-2110, or Elyse Casselberry, county community and economic development director, at 970-874-2105.

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