HomeNews County may designate land near Signal Peak as “industrial”
County may designate land near Signal Peak as “industrial”
Written by Alissa Johnson
Wednesday, 26 September 2012
Not exactly zoning but...
A new land use designation in Gunnison County could make it easier for developers to identify land for industrial development. The Board of County Commissioners is considering designating land near Signal Peak as industrial. The idea is to eliminate some of the guesswork for developers, who would still need to apply for a land use change to initiate development but could go into the process knowing the area had already been deemed appropriate for industrial uses.
This week, county staff gave the commissioners a draft designation for 206 acres near Signal Peak, including draft regulations governing its development. The designation would be accomplished by creating a Special Geographic Area through the Land Use Resolution (LUR). The area was selected because of its proximity to Highway 50, the existing land use is compatible with light industrial use, and there is no known industrial park scheduled for development within the city of Gunnison. In general the commissioners were pleased with the drafts but wanted more information before making a decision. Commissioner Hap Channell wanted to know the total acreage of the area and how that compared to existing industrial areas like Riverland. He wanted a way to gauge how much development this area could accommodate. “Might this meet demand to 2050?” Channell asked. Joanne Williams, director of the county Community Development Department, said that was a difficult question to answer because it was difficult to know how many people had failed to pursue development because the locational standards—the portion of the LUR that dictates whether a project can take place at a specific location—were prohibitive. “But do we have something to say that currently we have X acres that are designated, and this will give us X more?” Commissioner Paula Swenson wanted to know. The commissioners also wanted more detail on the boundaries of the area to make sure they are suitable to affected landowners, provide adequate buffers for wildlife, and are acceptable to the Division of Parks and Wildlife, which manages land adjacent to the proposed area. They also asked staff to have conversations with all affected landowners. Over the summer, county staff had initial conversations with ranchers who were interested in designating some their land for industrial uses, but the commissioners wanted to see those conversations extended throughout the area. “Personally I would have to have more information to determine whether this is what we had in mind or not,” said Channell. “We want to do something that is meaningful and adequate but we also don’t want to create an overkill situation. We have done Gold Basin Industrial Park and, granted, it was in a recessionary period, but the demand out there isn’t that great.” Ramon Reed, chairman of the Gunnison County Planning Commission, also wondered whether there was a conflict between the proposed designation and the city of Gunnison’s Three Mile Plan, a development plan created in 2001. Language in the intergovernmental agreement (IGA) for the plan restricts new development in the Three Mile area to non-urban land uses. He saw some potential overlap between land identified in the Three Mile Plan and the new area being considered for industrial designation. “If I’m reading things right, the city’s Three Mile plan designates that portion to be rural residential,” Reed said. He asked that the discrepancy be sorted out before the Planning Commission reviewed the proposed industrial designation. The commissioners agreed. County Manager Matthew Birnie added, “Probably more relevant than what it says in the IGA and what the outdated plan says, is to talk to the folks at the city and find out what the current thinking is.” Staff will gather the additional information requested by the commissioners and bring it to a future board meeting. Should the commissioners decide to move forward with an official designation, the idea will be given to the Planning Commission for consideration, a joint public hearing will be held with the commissioners and the Planning Commission, and the latter will make a formal recommendation to the commissioners before they make a final decision.