Minutes of December 13, 2017 Joint Hearing


The Larimer County Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioners met in a special session on Wednesday, December 13, 2017, at 6:30 p.m. in the Hearing Room.  Chairman Gaiter, Johnson, and Donnelly were present along with Planning Commissioners’ Caraway, Christman, Cox, Gerrard, Jensen and Miller.  Commissioner Dougherty presided as Planning Commission Chairman.  Planning Commissioners Lucas and Wallace were absent.  Also present were Terry Gilbert, Community Development Director, Matt Lafferty, Principle Planner, Bill Ressue, Deputy County Attorney, Gary Buffington, Natural Resources Director, Ken Brink, Natural Resources Program Manager Visitor Services, Meegan Flenniken, Natural Resources Program Manager Resource Management, Dan Rieves, Natural Resources Manager Visitor Services, Mark Caughlan, Natural Resources Manager Visitor Services, Todd Blomstrom, Public Works Director, Sarah Valdez, Deputy Clerk and Jill Wilson, Planning Commission Recording Secretary. 














Mr. Buffington provided background information on the Larimer County Natural Resources Department Reservoir Parks Master Plan, which focused on current and future issues, needs and opportunities for the four large Bureau of Reclamation owned reservoirs - Horsetooth, Carter, Flatiron and Pinewood - that are managed by Larimer County.


Jeremy Call, Logan Simpson, explained the public involvement process, which was organized into five phases or outreach series. Outreach efforts focused on identifying issues, opportunities, constraints, visioning needs and defining alternatives for the current and future management of the existing reservoirs as well as future recreational needs county-wide.  County staff and stakeholder interviews (including but not limited to neighbors, outdoor recreation groups, concessionaires, etc.), online questionnaires and multiple public, technical advisory committee and Parks Advisory Board meetings provided over 3,000 comments.  Two websites hosted by Larimer County and the Bureau of Reclamation provided project updates, meeting notification and meeting materials.  The public was notified of meetings through press releases, Larimer County’s e-newsletter, and direct mail invitations.



Heather Heafer, resided on the southwest side of Horsetooth Reservoir, was disappointed that she was unaware of the proposed master plan.  She suggested additional outreach.




Commissioner Gaiter suggested that Ms. Heafer meet with Mr. Buffington regarding the plan and to obtain additional information.



Commissioner Donnelly moved that the Board of County Commissioners recommend the Larimer County Reservoir Parks Master Plan be adopted by the Larimer County Planning Commission. 


Commissioner Johnson acknowledge the difficulties of predicting future needs but felt that the Natural Resources Department along with Parks Advisory Board had been responsive to the types of facilities, opportunities and amenities the citizens wanted.  Citizens consistently felt that parks were very important, and Staff was very well in tune with the needs and wants of the citizens of Larimer County.  He remarked that letting people enjoy the outdoors while minimizing conflicts was a real challenge.  He stated that a Master Plan was a living document, and the adoption of a plan did not mean that it was the end of the process.  Over the next 10 years there would be more opportunities to comment on projects.


Commissioner Donnelly agreed and mentioned that Commissioner Johnson has been liaison to the Parks Advisory Board.  He stated that it was a good plan developed over two years of thoughtful work.  He was confident the plan would serve Larimer County parks and reservoirs in the near future.  He stated that he was supportive of the plan.




Commissioner Cox moved that the Planning Commission approve the following Resolution:


BE IT RESOLVED that the Planning Commission Adopt the Larimer County Reservoir Parks Master Plan as an element of the Comprehensive Plan.


Commissioner Jensen seconded the Motion.


Commissioner Jensen acknowledge the hard work of staff.  It was an incredible resource for Larimer County and he would vote in favor.


Commissioners’ Caraway, Christman, Cox, Gerrard, Jensen, Miller and Chairman Dougherty voted in favor of the Motion.













ITEM #2 MOUNTAIN RESILIENCE PLAN:  Mr. Lafferty provided background information on the proposed Larimer County Mountain Resilience Plan, being Phase 1 of the Larimer County Comprehensive Plan.  The 2013-2018 Larimer County Strategic Plan identified an update of the 1997 Larimer County Master Plan as one of the objectives, which was

“By January 2017 Larimer County will align the necessary resources to update the Comprehensive Master Plan.  Preparations will include involving citizens to identify needs and current conditions, evaluating current land use regulations and development processes and establishing a cash reserve fund.”


He stated that shortly following the 2012 High Park Fire and the 2013 floods, a funding opportunity was identified, which was a Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR).  In June of 2016, Larimer County Community Development was awarded the grant. The overarching purpose of the grant was to formulate and adopt a planning document aimed at creating resilient land use strategies, practices and policies for the mountain regions of the County.   Because the awarded grant included a specific purpose affecting a specific segment (mountains) of the County, it was decided to approach the preparation of the Comprehensive Plan in two phases. Phase 1 would be completed first and would focus on the western (mountain) areas of the County, while P hase 2 w ould focus on the eastern (plains) areas.


He explained that since the later part of 2016, the Community Development Staff , along with a team from the consulting firm Logan Simpson, focused efforts on Phase 1 of the Comprehensive Plan, which was being referred to as the Larimer County Mountain Resilience Plan.  Th e plan propose d to provide a long-range framework for decision making in the unincorporated mountainous area of western Larimer County. The plan would also provide policy guidance for future development, public services and reducing the risks of natural disasters.


To achieve the proposed plan the consultants and staff, through a series of organized public events and work sessions, worked directly with citizens of the mountainous areas and communities, the Board of County Commissioners, the Planning Commission, the Stakeholders Advisory Committee, the Technical Advisory Committee, and a variety of County Boards and Commissions. 


He explained that six different standards were being use t o understand ‘ resilience ’ :   community, health/social, infrastructure, economy, housing, and watersheds/natural resources.  Over the last year it was discussed how each of those factors could be improved.  He remarked that the overall purpose of the plan was to come up with one complete comprehensive plan. 


Jeremy Call, Logan Simpson, stated that looking forward to 2018 they would be holding joint worksessions and envisioned broadening the stakeholders committee.  


Mr. Lafferty mentioned that during the process there were issues noted that were not addressed during Phase 1 as the Agricultural Advisory Board felt that there was a lacking component in the regarding agriculture.  During Phase 2, there would be the capacity to add to Phase 1 and make minor modifications Mr. Lafferty explained.  As a result, there were plans to discuss those modifications brought up to the Agricultural Advisory Board regarding ranching, oil and gas, IGA’s, GMA’s, etc.  He also explained that Phase 1 was broke into three stages.  Chapter 1 – Foundation, Chapter 2 – Visioning, and Chapter 3 – Recommendations.


He recapped that they were asking the Planning Commission to accept the Mountain Resilience Plan as Phase 1 of the Comprehensive Plan with the understanding that the entire Plan would not be implemented until the entire Comprehensive Plan was completed.  During that time there would be opportunity to add or modify some of the Resilience Plan, as appropriate, while they studied the front range area.


Commissioner Johnson asked about the resiliency fee.


Mr. Lafferty explained that there was a section that covered strategic implementation.  He also stated that rather than having a funding mechanism that was directly associated to one subject such as resiliency fees, they chose to state that any of the strategies might have a financial implication to them.  At the time a strategy was being considered for any area or community, it could be determined at that time what fees were appropriate or not appropriate.


Commissioner Johnson was not supportive of removing that section from the plan, and felt that it would be clearer to a community member to include the options. 


Commissioner Gaiter stated that he specifically asked for that section to be removed as a direct result from meeting with the community.  He stated that he would not support the Plan with a specific call out of a fee.   He stated that the point was to not have a resiliency fee at all but was to take it out of the Phase 1 proposal so communities could decide.  He explained that when he spoke to community members they were under the impression that the resiliency fee would be the only funding mechanism when in fact a fee might not be the best way to do it. 


Commissioner Johnson felt that it should not have been removed without a vote from the Board.  He stated that a member of the Agricultural Advisory Board liked that that it was a part of the plan so there was a clear options that a community could use.  He felt that it should be an option but not a strategy.


Mr. Lafferty explained that strategies were looked at as the tools, and it was a strategy the community could use.


Commissioner Gaiter pointed out that a vote had not occurred on the Plan and there were many things in the Plan that had not be explicitly approved.


Mr. Call read the section of the Plan that explained the resiliency fee.


Commissioner Johnson felt that the section removed from the Plan was more informative for the community as to what their options were.  He again reiterated that he did not believe it should be elevated to the level of a strategy.


Commissioner Donnelly wanted to make sure a recommendation was clear to the Planning Commission.  He was supportive of having that information in the document as a strategy. 







Zach Thoad, Livermore, appreciated adding the ranching district and looked forward to Phase 2.  He pointed out the value of ranching in the mountainous areas and mentioned that agriculture was not limited to farming or ranching.  He mentioned that the resilience of the mountain community was strengthened by the open space of the ranching.  He also remarked that as a cattle rancher in the mountain areas he did not require as much help during a fire or flood as would a developed property.  He remarked that as a group of agricultural producers, they were encouraging them to look at the value to the agricultural community in creating a resilient mountain community.


Gordon Gilstrap, technically advisor for the Plan, encouraged the commission to accept plan and move forward.  He encouraged everyone to look at the metrics as they were important and needed to be adjusted as needed.  It gave base thoughts for things that needed to be thought about.  He stated that he felt that it was a good plan.


Commissioner Donnelly asked if he had knowledge on the resiliency/mitigation fee.


Mr. Gilstrap stated that areas that had/have problems tend to rebuilt.  With investments up front, it could make a real difference, and he felt that it should be advertised to the communities.


Commissioner Jensen asked if there were any metrics he would add or remove.


Mr. Gilstrap replied no.



Commissioner Gaiter stated that there was not agreement in the community regarding a resiliency fee.   Many felt that it was a punishment/penalty of living in the mountains.  As a result, he felt that piece of the Plan was not ready for adoption.  That didn’t mean that there shouldn’t be something but there were a lot of unanswered questions, and the citizens in his area had concerns.  He thanked Staff for their work.  He also pointed out that there would be a chance to make amendments and that what was being proposed was not a final master plan.


Commissioner Johnson did not feel that what was currently in the Plan was acceptable.  The resiliency fee information should be reworked and added to an implementation page.  It did not give communities any information on their options or any examples.  


Mr. Call stated that the Commissioners could recommend adoption of Phase 1 with the direction to Staff to further develop the resiliency fee in Phase 2 in 2018.


Commissioner Johnson was concerned about adopting a Plan that they were later going to change as he felt that it was less transparent to the public.  He mentioned that the weed district had discussed extending into the mountain areas to deal with noxious weeds because there was no way to fund the noxious weed problems for ranchers in the mountain areas.  He suggested that be an option too.


Mr. Lafferty asked if it would be appropriate to endorse a majority of the plan and bring back language regarding the resiliency fee in January 2018.


The Commissioners agreed with that suggestion.


Commissioner Johnson stated that the proposed document was an improvement from the current Master Plan.  It was more readable, informative and user friendly.  It was also well organized and felt that it was outstanding work.


Commissioner Johnson moved that the Board of County Commissioners recommend adoption of the Larimer County Mountain Resilience Plan as Phase 1 of the Larimer County Comprehensive Plan with the addition of:

  • funding options to be included as financial strategies; and
  • updated strategies and metrics for ranching districts, oil and gas, and GMA’s and IGA’s

to the Larimer County Planning Commission. 


Commissioner Donnelly thanked Staff.  He stated that a comprehensive plan was a framework for how a community would develop and a basis for a future land development plan.  He was pleased that the plan would be split into two, plains and mountains, and that the mountainous areas were also split into eight different areas as it helped to put more control into the hands of the people that resided there.  He stated that he would support the motion.


Commissioner Johnson stated that the public process was very inclusive and proactive, which made it successful.  He was pleased with the public participation and outreach in the area.


Commissioner Gaiter thanked staff for their work.





Commissioner Cox moved that the Planning Commission approve the following Resolution:


BE IT RESOLVED that the Planning Commission accept the Larimer County Mountain Resilience Plan as Phase 1 of the Larimer County Comprehensive Plan with anticipated adoption in 2019 with the inclusion of:

·  modifications to the funding implementation plan to be completed in January 2018

·  updated strategies and metrics for ranching districts, oil and gas, and GMA’s and IGA’s to be completed during Phase 2


Commissioner Miller seconded the Motion.


Commissioner Jensen stated that he had concerns with the funding mechanism proposed and agreed with Commissioner Johnson.  He spoke highly of the process.  He commended the Commissioners for allowing the process to be conducted in the way it had and to allow the plan to be broke out in phases.  He mentioned that they were guiding documents, and the new Plan was a good plan.


Commissioner Cox stated that ridgeline views were a valuable piece of the area.  She was concerned that it wasn’t a bigger portion of the Mountain Resilience Plan.  She hoped that piece could be emphasized more during Phase 2.


Commissioner Gerrard mentioned the he attended some of the stakeholder meetings and commended staff on their work.  He understood the funding questions and suggested that it be looked at county wide, not just for one area. 


Commissioner Caraway supported the plan.  He stated that he lived in the mountains and believed that what was currently happening in regards to issues of fees and sources of funding for noxious weeds and fire mitigation was not sufficient at all.  He supported the Plan & hoped that new sources of funding for the different needs would be addressed.  He stated that as a property owner in the mountains, he would be willing to pay money if he knew the issues were being adequately addressed as it was impossible to take care of them individually.  It needed to be done as a community.


Commissioner Dougherty stated that he was also on the stakeholders committee.  He felt that the Comprehensive Plan when completed would help give the Commissioners guidance and help in making good decisions.  He agreed that the Plan needed to have some sort of financing structure so there were expectations for the public to know what might occur.


Commissioners’ Caraway, Christman, Cox, Gerrard, Jensen, Miller and Chairman Dougherty voted in favor of the Motion.





REPORT FROM STAFF:  Mr. Lafferty reminded the Commission of their upcoming meetings. 


ADJOURNMENT:   There being no further business, the hearing adjourned at 7:30 p.m.


These minutes constitute the Resolution of the Larimer County Planning Commission for the recommendations contained herein which are hereby certified to the Larimer County Board of Commissioners.



_______________________________                      ______________________________

Sean Dougherty, Chairman                                         Mina Cox, Secretary