JOANN KALENAK/DCCR BLOGGER — In a recent joint work session, County Commissioners, staff and members of the Planning Commission discussed possible changes to the Land Use Code. While no decisions were made since this requires discussion in open business session, several pretty dramatic changes have been proposed.
County Planner Carl Holm presented redline suggestions that included the elimination of the A5 zone, which is currently defined as agricultural land at a minimum lot size of five acres. Two new zones have been proposed to take its place: Rural Density and Low Density Residential.
Officials also talked about new requirements for commercial solar farms and other renewable energy facilities, a hot topic in Delta County given the recent denial by Commissioners of a 472-acre solar farm on Garnet Mesa.
Holm first suggested a redefinition of “commercial” in terms of megawatt production from the current 100MW to 20MW. This met with much consternation on the part of meeting participants and proved to be a divisive topic.
Next, Holm proposed that no commercial renewable industry be permitted in an A35 zone. It’s important to note that gravel quarries, salvage yards and hazardous waste landfills are among the uses permitted in an A35 zone under conditional consideration. Commercial renewable facilities would also NOT be permitted in the proposed Low Density Residential zone.
Another important note: At today’s public meeting, Commissioners approved a heavy industrial project (e.g., explosives, rock crushing, tannery) in an A5 zone. Under the proposed zoning changes presented at the work session, this project would not have been eligible for permitting.
COMMISSIONERS APPROVE HEAVY INDUSTRY BUSINESS IN A5 ZONE WITHIN MILES OF DENIED SOLAR FARM
Despite issues with poor road conditions and an unreviewed truck route traffic study by CDOT, Commissioners approved a concrete batch plant that would put 50-plus heavy trucks on 1900 Road close to DMEA’s transmission station on Garnet Mesa, the site of a recently denied solar farm.
Commissioner Wendell Koontz asked the outsourced engineer who performed the Level III traffic study for the applicant if he was certified to perform such a study. The engineer told Commissioners that he was a Professional Engineer (PE) who has done many traffic studies but that he was not a Professional Traffic Operations Engineer (PTOE).
“Prior county policy required a PTOE to perform a Level II and III traffic study,” says former County Engineer Bob Kalenak.
Nearby neighbor, Chuck Cherek, told Commissioners that he had spoken with CDOT yesterday and was told that the agency had not reviewed the traffic study, as required, and had many questions about what was being presented.
QUESTIONS REMAIN ABOUT THE NEED FOR SALES TAX INCREASE FOR HOSPITAL
Delta Health CEO Matt Heyn presented a brief slide presentation to Commissions at today’s public meeting describing the hospital’s community contributions and the facility’s current financial situation.
Heyn told Commissioners that receiving Sole Community Hospital designation is “PLAN A” and the sales tax initiative on the upcoming May ballot is “PLAN B” as a solution to make up income losses created by the pandemic.
Commissioner Suppes asked why both solutions were needed now that the hospital has recently received Sole Community Hospital designation. Heyn danced around his response saying that “both would put the hospital in good shape” going forward.