Current Issues

Chaffee County Development Code Revisions

Land use planning controls what type of development happens amd in what locations. This determines what our community will look like in the future. It is administered through regulatory policies in the Comprehensive Code and in the Land Use Development Code. The Comprehensive Plan is the visionary document that sets high level policy direction and guides decision making for development, housing, economics, transportation, open space, and more. The land use development code is intended to be the regulatory framework that implements land development policies including zoning and subdivision regulations.

Chaffee County's Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 2001. Between 2006 and 2008, nearly 100 community members representing diverse interest worked togther through the Land Use Roundtable to arrive at a set of consensus recommendations to guide growth and development in the County. The resulting 2008 Roundtable Recommendations were  officially adopted by Chaffee County Resolution 2008-69. The County Commissioners then appointed a Citizens Code Committee to write a new land use code incorporating the Roundtable Recommendations. The the Chaffee County Land Use Code became law in 2014 finalizing years of hard work by the planners and citizens.

Now just two years after adoption, the Planning & Zoning Commissioners propose to eliminate fundamental Roundtable Recommendation elements with very little public discussion except through a series of public hearings.  The proposed changes include:
  • Removing the development standard that subdivisions provide onsite water cisterns for fire suppression.
  • Removing a development requirement for visual impact analysis from the developer.
  • Removing the open space dedication requirement.
  • Increasing zoning densities in the County rural residential district and recreation district from 1 dwelling unit/5 acres to 1 dwelling unit/2 acres.
  • Increasing zoning desnisites in the County residential distict from 2 dwelling units/1 acre to 4 dwelling units/1 acre.

​​After observing the Planning Commission's dialogue and rationale for these changes, a group of citizens responded with alternatives submitted prior to the June 28, 2016 Planning Commission work session. There was no discussion of these alternatives at the work session and instead a confirmation of the Planning Commission's consensus with their proposals and agreement to move to public hearings.  The first public hearing is scheduled for August 30th at 6 p.m. for the requirements for open space dedications and for visual analyis.

The following background documents provide more information on the history of this issue in Chaffee County:
  • Resolution Adopting Chaffee County Citizen's Land Use Roundtable Recommendations. Provides a great history of land use planning in our County.
  • Roundtable Recommendations and corresponding  Appendix D with Summary of Agreements/Disagreements from the public process. 
  • Staff Report for Proposed Changes submitted to Planning Commission. (Will be posted after it is made public).
  • Alternative Proposal submitted by citizens for consideration by the Planning Commission. This document also explains the propsoals being made by the Planning Commission.
  • Citizen Action Alert is an overview for you to share with friends and colleagues as well as has detailed information on how to comment. 
  • Chaffee United has reviewed the County staff reports and prepared a Planning Commission Code Change Summary & Analysis to help you prepare for the meeting. Click here to read the summary. Please note the proposals have been slightly modified in the last month.
  • Many Letters to the Editor were submitted to the Mountain Mail, you can read a few here:
    • ​​​To be uploaded on Sunday August 28th. Sorry for the delay!
Here is what you can do:
  • Help us educate! Share information about this issue with your friends through social media or email.  
  • Attend the Public Hearing! Attend the Planning & Zoning Commission Public Hearing August 30th at 6:00 p.m. to express your opinion about the decisions proposed by the P&Z for open space and visual analysis requirements. The agenda will be uploaded as soon as it is available. This public hearing is the ONLY opportunity to make a public comment formally to the Planning Commission before they forward recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners. Click here to see the Planning Commission agenda.
  • If you cannot attend the Planning & Zoning Commission meeting, please submit a written comment. You can send an email to Dan Swallow, Director of Development, who will forward to the Planning & Zoning Commission. Alternatively, you may submit an email to no later than August 24th and we will submit to County for you.
  • Vote for better governance! ​Talk to all the candidates running for County Commissioner about County growth management and how they will approach these and other issues in the future. This election is a huge opportunity to improve how local decisions are made. Vote for more transparency, participatory decision making, and accountability!

Affordable Housing

Livability is one of the foundations of a healthy & vibrant community. Housing affordability has become one of the most significant concerns in our community. Up and down valley, real estate prices are rising for both renters and people who want to buy a home. But what can we do about it? There is much we can learn from other communities who have been dealing with this issue for decades. The key lessons learned is that to successfully address housing affordability requires combining many different strategies into a comprehensive approach. These strategies include:
  • PRESERVATION: Preserving existing affordable rental units
  • PROTECTION: Helping longtime residents who wish to stay in the neighborhood.
  • INCLUSION: Ensuring that a share of new development is affordable. 
  • REVENUE GENERATION: Harnessing growth to expand financial resources. 
  • INCENTIVES: Creating incentives for the development of affordable housing. 
  • PROPERTY ACQUISITION: Facilitating the acquisition of land for affordble housing. 

The first step is to understand the scale and scope of housing needs across the County. Our local governments are currently collaborating on an update to the 2007 Housing Needs Assessment. This report should be complete this summer. The 2007 Housing Needs Assessment included an action plan that applies many of the best practice tools available to communities to address housing needs. Little action was taken on this action plan. 

The following background documents are available for review:
Stay tuned for opportunities to become involved in community discussions on this issue.

Good Governance

Good governance is inclusive of how a government makes decisions, the systems it has in place to be accountable and repsonsible, and how well it engaged the public in policy decisions. This is a big issue in our community and we will update this section very soon!  

  • Do you know what a Board of County Commissioners does? Read this brief from the National Association of Counties. 
  • The City of Salida is considering a new Capital Improvements Plan (CIP). This primer from Open Gov can help you understand the purpose and benefits of this type of plan. 
Stay tuned for opportunities to become involved in community discussions on this issue.

Economic Development 

Jobs, jobs, jobs. Everyone says they want to create them, but how do you do that? What have we done in the past and what are our existing plans for the future of our economy? Will will add more to this section soon. 

  • More to come soon on different types of economic development strategies.

    Stay tuned for opportunities to become involved in community discussions on this issue.