Citizen group aims to guide growth

Residents hope to engage commissioners in helping shape future of county

Tabatha Stewart
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 10/22/18

Elbert County resident Carla Hagood moved to the county for many of the same reasons many residents do — the country feel and rural spaces. She, along with many others in the county, have been …

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Citizen group aims to guide growth

Residents hope to engage commissioners in helping shape future of county

Posted

Elbert County resident Carla Hagood moved to the county for many of the same reasons many residents do — the country feel and rural spaces.

She, along with many others in the county, have been concerned about the approval of large housing developments and an Economic Development Zone that they believe would lead to uncontrolled growth in the county, and the lack of communication between citizens and county commissioners.

Hagood, who has always been active in whichever community she lives in, was disappointed when she began exploring ways to get citizens to become involved in decisions regarding the county.

“People get upset about a decision that was made, then they rant, rave, and maybe have a protest,” said Hagood. “But I want to change the culture a bit and have more civil communications and collaboration between citizens and county leaders.”

Hagood put a call out on social media, asking citizens to join her in actively collaborating with commissioners regarding growth in the county, taking part in all aspects of growth decisions, including scrutinizing and sharing county documents and procedures. Nearly two dozen people responded to Hagood’s request, and the Elbert County Citizens Growth Advocacy Group (GAG) for short, was born.

“I give the board appreciation for being willing to take on the responsibility of serving,” said Hagood. “But they must follow processes set forth, and I don’t think they have a collaboration mindset.”

GAG will serve as an educational resource on land use issues, and volunteers in the group would go through Elbert County documents and make “cheat sheets” available for community members.

“There are some complicated issues, and it would serve all of us better to be informed,” said Hagood. “We can’t put this squarely on the BOCC’s shoulders.”

Commissioner Grant Thayer responded to a request for comment, but stated he would have to wait and see how things go with the group before making an official comments. Commissioners Danny Willcox and Chris Richardson did not respond to a request for comment.

While Hagood commends anyone who is willing to be involved in their community, GAG does have some guidelines that she said will be strictly adhered to.

“This is non-partisan. It’s not a group created to complain, be disrespectful or promote any political agenda. There will be no bashing, of the BOCC or anyone else. If you can’t do that, don’t join,” said Hagood. “We are looking for active participants who are willing to review documents and share information.”

The first order of business, according to Hagood, is review of the EDZ overlay, which was sent back to the planning commission by the BOCC at the Aug. 8 meeting.

“There is a lot of information, and a long process for appealing any decisions that are made by the BOCC. We need volunteers who are willing to sift through all the documents, and make sure it complies with the master plan, and that all processes and proceedings are adhered to,” said Hagood.

GAG plans to focus on unincorporated Elbert County, and hopes to create recommendations to reflect the desire of the community for growth that benefits the community, county and property owners, including exploring projects such as a scenic byway and historical designations that could bring people through the county, which would benefit local businesses.

“It’s really time for everyone to understand that complaining after the fact doesn’t help,” said Hagood. “If you really don’t like what is going on in the county, get involved now, before the issues are decided for good.”

Anyone interested in joining GAG should email Hagood at ECC.GrowthAdvocacy@gmail.com.

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