Montrose County over the next several months will find itself in the process of putting together a new master plan, the first since a 2010 version of the plan was adopted.
The Colorado State Legislature in their wisdom, back in the far reaches of history, decided that it was the duty of a county planning commission to make and adopt a master plan for the physical development of the unincorporated territory of the county. Colorado Revised Statute 30-28-106(1) was written and passed and placed in the statutes in perpetuity.
Many questions arose as the issue of master planning came to the fore. Perhaps it is worth a look back at the history of the process to understand just how Montrose County embarked on a minor update in the year 2006 to what has now become the 2010 version of the plan. Keep in mind that the next update scheduled to be adopted in the latter portion of 2024 will be a total rewrite of the master plan, and the citizens of Montrose County will be urged to participate throughout the entire process.
The master planning process has been and will continue to be a very controversial subject. Growth and development in the early part of the 21st century brought increased scrutiny to community planning. Many citizens were convinced that the existing plan was not being followed, or was just not detailed enough to implement.
The Montrose County Planning Commission asked for public input and the outpouring of citizen participation was greater than expected. A meeting in the fall of 2006 drew more than 300 attendees voicing a wide spectrum of opinions. It became quickly apparent that the rift between those who supported the update and those who opposed it was as wide as the Black Canyon itself.
“Many citizens became convinced that the existing plan was either not being followed or was just not detailed enough to be implemented and designated as the county master plan,” said Steve White, the former head of the Montrose County Planning Department.,
The planning commission sought additional input from the community and sent out a household survey to more than 18,000 Montrose County addresses to obtain further public comment. The commission sought and obtained the services of a consultant to assist the planning commission in compiling and analyzing the data collected and creating the first draft of a master plan for Montrose County.
The consultant’s draft was less than what the planning commission was expecting and did not fit with the majority of the comments voiced by the citizens of Montrose County. The planning commission staff terminated the contract of the consultant and proceeded to create a master plan that actually comported with the wishes and the views of the citizens of Montrose.
Fast forward to the spring of 2023, and a timeline was established for the total rewrite of the current document. Tallmadge Richmond, planning and development director for Montrose County, has already created a request for proposal for consultants to bid for the creation of the Montrose County Master Plan.
The Communities of Montrose County
•The City of Montrose
•The Town of Olathe
•The Town of Nucla
•The Town of Naturita
•Bedrock – West End Planning Area
•Cimarron – South Valley Planning Area
•Mahar – North Valley Planning Area
•Paradox –West End Planning Area
•Redvale – West End Planning Area
The Master Plan is not a regulatory document. The Master Plan is a guiding document, meant to provide a set of rails that the Planning Commission can refer to as they make decisions regarding land use, zoning regulations, sub-divisions and Special Use Permits. All of these regulatory entities must fit into the Master Plan for a smooth and harmonious process.
What are the inner workings of a master plan?
The county and its contractors who develop the plan look for the elements of the plan. Then they come up with an objective or goal. Lastly, they put together an implementation plan.
Usually the planning commission comes under the auspices of the Montrose County Board of County Commissioners. When the planning commission either passes or denies an item, the issue is always referred to the county commissioners for their consideration. Not so with the master plan. The planning commission has the final authority in this area.
According to Richmond, the request for proposal will stress heavy citizen involvement. This will be one of the linchpins of the entire process. Citizens are urged to participate in this process. People can volunteer and have their voice heard by calling the planning commission at 970-249-6688 and volunteering your services.