Breckenridge reviews draft countywide plan
BRECKENRIDGE – The Breckenridge Town Council suggested Tuesday that the county put more teeth in some parts of its draft Countywide Comprehensive Plan and double-check its numbers on Upper Blue Basin build-out projections before giving the document a final OK.
According to Mayor Sam Mamula, if the numbers are true, potential growth spells trouble for the town.
The plan is a policy-level document that contains broad policies that are common to the county’s four basins. Each basin plan then contains policies specific to that basin. The plan provides guidance for decisions that affect the physical and socio-economic development of the county.
The heart of the plan is the land-use element that indicates where growth can occur in the county.
Other facets address the environment, transportation, housing, public facilities, history, culture, open space and recreation.
Specific provisions, including development regulations, are then adopted in the county’s development code.
County commissioners adopted the first comprehensive plan in 1994.
Breckenridge council members asked if county planners could strengthen a portion of the code that addresses ridgeline development.
The draft plan discourages such development, and addresses it by saying development shouldn’t adversely affect views.
Mamula is worried about the Upper Blue River Valley’s projected build-out numbers presented by the county’s long-range planner, Mark Truckey.
Those numbers indicate the Upper Blue Valley will be built-out at 14,526 residential units. Using that figure, the town currently stands at 64 percent of build-out and the county at 71 percent build-out. At the current rate of development, the draft plan indicates, the county will be built out in 2013.
Mamula noted that under the Joint Upper Blue Master Plan (JUMP) the Upper Blue Planning Commission and the town created in the 1990s, that number should be closer to about 11,000 units and that the county numbers don’t reflect the density the town and ski resort have sunsetted in development negotiations.
“We worked a lot of years on our master plan,” Mamula said. “And we’ve done a hell of a good job in sunsetting density. And you come back and say we’re not reaching the Upper Blue goals – and are in fact increasing density – that’s rather discouraging. If we’re at 64 percent of buildout, we’re in real trouble. We’ve got real problems.”
Truckey explained that, under the original estimates, the plan took all the acreage in each basin and divided it by 20 – the equivalent of the county’s agricultural zoning that permits one unit per 20 acres.
That doesn’t reflect reality, however, especially when smaller parcels such as mining claims and subdivisions are taken into consideration.
The countywide plan also addresses the transferable development rights (TDR) program, which encourages people to transfer their backcountry development rights into “receiving” areas closer to the urban core to reduce sprawl.
Currently, the TDR program is only in effect in the Upper Blue, but officials in the Lower Blue are trying to figure out how it could work for them.
But officials in each basin want clarification regarding how those development rights could be transferred from basin to basin.
For instance, most basin officials would likely be eager to sell some of their development rights to other basins, but officials and citizens in the other basin might not be as eager to receive them.
“Maybe TDRs in your basin would have to be exhausted before they could come to ours,” Councilmember J.B. Katz suggested. “We’d gladly send them.”
Another issue on which the council said it needed attention is a new portion of the plan that outlines how the basins can share sales tax revenues to promote various programs. Elected officials said they’d much rather see a revenue sharing program based on property tax.
Councilmember Larry Crispell suggested the executive summary include verbiage recognizing that if the county is able to implement all its goals through the comprehensive plan, Summit County will continue to be an attractive place to live, and that will help with the economic viability and sustainability of the area.
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