An ideas forum held Saturday for La Plata County's comprehensive plan at times turned into a debate about private
property rights and government regulation.
Any county regulation must in its very nature reduce some individual freedom," said Ray Wallace, a minister at
Bayfield Church of Christ. The debate here is where we draw those lines."
About 100 people came to the ideas forum at the Durango Community Recreation Center. Facilitators led six groups in
discussing how to implement the goals of the county's comprehensive plan. The ongoing process eventually will result in
a new comprehensive plan and land-use code.
The land-use code should only be the tool of implementation," said Kellie Hotter, a Republican on the Board of County
Many rural residents expressed wariness of county officials' intentions, and they made themselves heard.
Mostly, I don't trust what these people are doing," said Mike Hately, a Bayfield electrical contractor.
Wally White, a Democrat who serves on the Board of County Commissioners, said the comprehensive plan will not be
written in stone."
We are going to have a document to look to, but we can't control what's going on around us - the economy, the
environment," White said.
Charlie Deans, a consultant from Community By Design of Albuquerque and Tucson, Ariz., said the plan was advancing past
vision," goals" and other lofty concepts. We're getting a little bit more specific," he said.
But some members of the public seemed little interested in the county's process, instead using the forum to complain
about taxes and regulation. An anti-government current ran through many of the comments.
Every government regulation interferes with somebody," said Art Charette, an Allison rancher.
J. Paul Brown, an Ignacio-area rancher who is running for the Colorado House of Representatives, said the county should
resist federal attempts to designate national monuments. Ranchers must be allowed grazing rights, he said.
They've got to be able to lease those federal lands so they can have a big enough operation to be successful," Brown
Some came to the meeting with other ideas. Rancher Caryl Helmin-Schmid proposed starting a co-op for local beef
producers. Pat Senecal, assistant town manager in Ignacio, suggested placing solar farms on agricultural lands.
Another participant, Hesperus farmer Bruce Kowalski, said La Plata County must protect its quality of life from
We don't have to reinvent the wheel," he said. Our Planning Department knows what works and what doesn't work."