Comp Plan’s ‘small town’ characterization rankles Bauer
The town trustees spent approximately two hours reviewing and offering input to the recently updated Berthoud comprehensive plan.
The document was revised over the past year by an ad hoc advisory committee comprised of nine selected citizens. The planning commission is the body that will approve the final content and wording of the document, and in this instance, by statute, the town board is relegated to a back-seat position and will merely ratify the action of the planning commission.
Five advisory committee members and two commissioners were present at the meeting.
(See related article on this page for names of committee members and a brief history of the review process.)
Planning commission and advisory committee member Carol Brewer gave a majority and minority report of the advisory committee’s work. She noted the primary bone of contention for the committee was the western boundary of the Growth Management Area (GMA). Six committee members favored moving the GMA boundary one mile further west from Larimer County Road (LCR) 19 to LCR 21. Three members favored leaving the boundary at LCR 19.
According to Brewer, there were two main reasons committee members gave for not wanting to move the western boundary. The first, she said, was because some committee members felt that there is plenty of developable area within the current GMA boundary.
“So, that should suffice for the time being,” Brewer said.
The second reason she gave was that the western boundary issue is a “giant distraction in our community.”
“It’s making it hard to have a real dialogue about the many details of the Comp Plan,” she said.
The recommendation from those committee members was to keep the GMA where it is currently, in order to move the comp plan forward. “It may move in the future, but for now, we need to make a decision,” Brewer said.
But, with the other six supporting the boundary move to LCR21, that is how it is in the current document.
Following introductory remarks by Town Planner Tim Katers the trustees undertook a page-by-page review of the plan document. The process had scarcely begun when Trustee John Bauer voiced his opinion regarding the opening sentence of the section regarding “Community Vision” which reads in part, “Berthoud will remain a small to medium-sized town …” He thought it a mistake to say, in an important planning document, that the town wished to “remain” small to medium-sized, and lobbied for changing the wording of the sentence. “That’s a strong message we are sending out,” said Bauer.
The subject rose again in the section concerning “Land Use” where Bauer seized on the phrase “small town institutions.” He queried Katers as to precisely what “small town institutions” were. “I’m sorry, but every time I see the word ‘small’ I’m going to question it,” Bauer stated.
Again, in the first paragraph of the “Conclusion” of the document, the terms “small rural town” and “small town atmosphere” appear, and Bauer suggested “small” be removed in both instances.
To bolster his argument Bauer later stated, “When you use small town as an adjective it has a negative connotation. Specifically it means limited in outlook or experience, unsophisticated and provincial. That's not necessarily what we want to convey.”
Mayor David Gregg had one final major change. He took exception to the last sentence in the section “Low Density Rural Residential” which reads, “This designation is essentially intended to support existing development in either Weld or Larimer counties as they annex into Berthoud.”
“That last sentence is a gross mischaracterization, and it is that sort of thinking that has led to a lot of the misunderstanding that is going on right now,” said Gregg, “I don't think the idea of having this category has anything at all to do with annexing existing developed property. It's to provide options to, and to be in conversation with, undeveloped properties. This is not an acquisition map; it is not an annexation map. It is a planning map. I don't think it says anything about the town wanting to designate developed properties so they can be annexed. That's a very misleading statement.”
The trustees turned the document back to the planning commission for consideration of comments and suggestions made by the board members. The meeting began at 6 p.m. with the trustees voting to go to executive session for the expressed purpose of discussing contract negotiations.
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