It is the local issue of 2018, no doubt about it. And from every corner of La Plata County, folks are writing letters to the editor, packing our inbox as full as it was before the November 2016 presidential election.
But with a big difference.
The election brought support for both candidates. On the release of the first module of La Plata County’s revised Land Use Code, the sentiments are solidly one-sided.
We have included three letters on this page that provide insight into why residents find the document so objectionable. We hope they also provide some direction to proceed.
Patsy Mangus, of Ignacio, voices the anger and frustration of many residents; she resents what she sees as an overly-detailed intrusion of county government into residents’ private property and lives:
“If I don’t care for the shed my neighbor has, tough,” she declares. “It’s his and none of my concern.”
Durango’s John Purser takes issue, as so many have, with the code’s focus on a “scenic overlay district.” While existing uses in such areas will be grandfathered in, Purser notes that they may be prohibited going forward because the new code – and its accompanying fees and permits – will apply to repairs or modifications going forward. “In simple language, you can keep what you have until it falls down around you.”
Purser then does us all a favor. He reminds us that this isn’t Aspen, and condenses volumes of his fellow residents’ concerns in a single sentence: “I don’t want to live in a postcard. I like living in a living, working community.”
The county is, as previously planned (see below), stepping back to review and rewrite – and has extend the comment period – that’s necessary. About 400 residents, many in the agricultural community, met Thursday night in Ignacio and called for a deeper revision: update the county’s 12 district plans before working those updates into the revised LUC. Some also took responsibility for their inattention to the process, vowing to be more involved, and heard, going forward. That is also welcome.
Right now, the best advice is provided below by Bayfield’s Diana Willson, calling on all parties to calm down. First drafts are intended to draw reactions, she reminds us. And she is right. The new code has not been brought down on stone tablets from the high peaks of the La Platas. It’s a working draft, under revision.
“This entire process will take a year, so there will be plenty of time to comment,” she says. “Everyone. Please. Take. A. Deep. Breath.”