Planning for Elbert County’s future

Nine-member commission will play large role in how changes unfurl

Posted 4/17/16

As the chairman of the planning commission, Dan Rosales is entrusted with leading his board to make recommendations regarding individual developments in Elbert County.

With the county’s continued progress toward a $75,000 Colorado …

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Planning for Elbert County’s future

Nine-member commission will play large role in how changes unfurl

Posted

As the chairman of the planning commission, Dan Rosales is entrusted with leading his board to make recommendations regarding individual developments in Elbert County.

With the county’s continued progress toward a $75,000 Colorado Department of Local Affairs grant to fund an updated master plan, Rosales and the planning commissioners will find themselves playing a significant role in decisions that could have lasting implications for the county.

“This is something we’ve been wanting for a long time. A lot of the zoning regulations are obsolete, don’t apply,” he said. “They were done many years ago, so we need to update the zoning. In order to do that, we need to have the master plan.”

Rosales, who was appointed to his first four-year term by District III Commissioner Larry Ross in January 2014, took over as chairman in April. The commission serves in an advisory capacity to the Board of County Commissioners, which has the final say in matters pertaining to development.

“As far as the way I look at this master plan, it has to be a visionary strategic view of the future. We need to keep that in mind, and it has to be a direction that the people want. This is the people’s county. It’s not the elected officials’ or the planning commission’s. This is for the people.”

Rosales said there is a lot of work ahead for both the planning commission and the BOCC, and discussions will likely center on water, growth, economic development and transportation.

“There’s a lot more, but those are the major ones,” he said.

Rosales sees the county in two parts: a delicate balance between the northwestern section with a mindset toward development, and the eastern part, where the focus is on maintaining rural traditions.

“We can satisfy both,” he said. “I think the key to that is going to be economic development, because that’s going to give us a larger tax base. That will allow us to provide the services.”

Rosales favors pocketed growth instead of a massive all-encompassing infrastructure and views the ongoing well-measuring program and future water study as significant for creating the county’s master plan.

“We need to know what our resources are, how much we have, and where … we have it, because if we plan for growth and it’s in the wrong places, it doesn’t make sense,” he said.

The planning commission is made up of nine members appointed by the three commissioners, and Rosales is enthusiastic about members’ varied backgrounds, experiences, and skills.

“That’s going to help us. I think we’re going to challenge ourselves in many of these situations, because we all look at things a little different, and I think that is very healthy. I think when you get everyone thinking the same, you’re missing out. I’m very proud of the people we have,” he said.

Along with his fellow planning commission members, Rosales is hoping that Elbert County residents will participate in the process, but realizes one of his biggest challenges will be communication.

“Communicating with the citizens so that they understand what’s at stake and what impact they really do have, because a lot of them don’t really think they have an impact. They do,” he said. “We’re going to make sure their voices are heard.”

Rosales did, however, raise concerns over the internal relationships within Elbert County government and members of staff that could play a major part in the future of any planning, which we will address in part two of our conversation.

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