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I want to alert all Clear Creek County residents that your county government in conjunction with the Norris Design consulting firm will be holding a public meeting in late July to unveil the closely …
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I want to alert all Clear Creek County residents that your county government in conjunction with the Norris Design consulting firm will be holding a public meeting in late July to unveil the closely guarded and previously secret Floyd Hill Sub-Regional Master Plan.
Most of us remember the Idaho Springs annexation battle fought over the past two years. We also remember that the citizens of Idaho Springs forced a reluctant City Council to put the annexation on the ballot for a citywide vote. We also remember that the Floyd Hill annexation failed by a vote of 74 percent to 26 percent.
Some may have thought there was a lesson to be learned in this vote, but apparently not. The urbanization of the Floyd Hill area battle is far from over. The minority Floyd Hill annexation and urbanization proponents simply moved their battlefield from the public realm via a public process and public vote to the secret Floyd Hill Sub-Regional Master Planning effort, ironically funded with county taxpayer dollars along with state taxpayer dollars via the Department of Local Affairs.
The secret Floyd Hill Sub-Regional Master Planning process has been continuing for well over a year and is now complete and the document ready to be delivered to you, the citizens of Clear Creek County. To satisfy the special interests behind the plan, you will have very little or no input into the document itself, even though you in effect paid for it. But I guess we should be happy that the document will be finally made available to the general public.
As a citizen of Clear Creek County, why should you care about this master plan? Well, the document will contemplate making Floyd Hill the single largest population center in all of Clear Creek County. It will contemplate this without your input and without any justification or rationale. It will contemplate this without any pro and con analysis. The document includes this future option simply to appease the interests of a select group of stakeholders who have been working behind closed doors to pursue their agenda for the Floyd Hill area. Ironically, however, they do not have the courage to include their disclosure as a pro-urbanization group in the master plan document and have been fighting any identification of the stakeholders and special interests in support of the specific options explored in the master plan document. Not exactly the picture of transparency as you might expect in a publicly funded process.
Since the document intends to be silent on the stakeholders advocating for the urbanization of the Floyd Hill area, I will enlighten readers. These stakeholders are your Clear Creek County government and planning staff, Idaho Springs municipal government and staff, Clear Creek Economic Development Corp. and the major property owner in the area. You can be the judge of whether these stakeholders have your best interest in mind.
I want to be clear that I am not opposed to the exploration of all possible outcomes for the Floyd Hill area in this master planning process. This is a valid and typical function of all master plans. I would just like to see a publicly funded process be open and transparent and actually identify the stakeholders that are advocating for each option. It would also be quite helpful to see some pro and con analysis for each option so that readers might appreciate why the option is being considered in the plan.
We need to be grownups and be honest and admit that we are not simply looking to consider a number of future arbitrary outcomes based on what might or might not happen in the future. We are rightly and justifiably considering a number of possible future outcomes based on genuine and diverse stakeholder interest, which is the real reason that the county agreed to move forward with this plan in the first place. We might as well be open and honest and admit it in the document.
The Floyd Hill area today is a rural mountain residential community. The plan’s inclusion of options that make a significant change to the area’s current identity must be justified with some rationale or argument in favor of such a change. These cannot be arbitrary decisions since zoning changes and other very deliberate land use approvals are required.
It would also be helpful if the master plan document told us what problem we are trying to fix in this master planning process or what we think is broken in the Floyd Hill area that needs to be fixed. This explanation should provide the basis for creating a new vision for the Floyd Hill area. Without understanding the problem we are trying to solve, all master plan-identified strategies, scenarios and concepts seem arbitrary at best and intentionally biased toward a special interest outcome at worst.
The master plan document also needs to include at least a high level discussion of land use planning policy by county elected officials (including municipalities) to demonstrate that the future potential outcomes are not simply arbitrary. Since zoning changes and other development review processes and decisions are necessary for the options identified in the master plan document, specific and deliberate actions will be required by county and/or municipal elected officials to make them happen. These actions by elected officials and their responsibility to determine future land use policy for the Floyd Hill area need to be at least captured in the master planning document.
I would urge all county residents to attend the public meeting and the public release of the Floyd Hill Sub-Regional Master Plan in late July. This document represents a future visioning process for the county, and you as county residents are vested stakeholders in its conclusions. Please attend this meeting and make your voices heard.
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