March 22, 2023 Work Session Outcomes

Delta County Coalition representatives attended the BoCC closed work session on March 22 after submitting recommendations for the latest updates on the Land Use Code.  *Note there are many opportunities for public comment in sections under discussion.  Below are the updates made to the draft update Land Use Code:

  • Allowed vs Limited vs Site Plan Review: Commissioner Koontz stated that so far they have not found a fatal flaw with removing “site plan review” and putting all uses into either Allowed or Limited.  Discussion of the exact definition of Limited Use.  Discussion of traffic studies changed from required to discretionary for L.  Does L and SIte Plan Review / Permitted become the same thing?  The two are very close, as currently written, Limited is discretionary and could be denied even if all requirements are met.  Permitted or Site Plan Review requires county approval if all requirements are met.  Definition of L has not yet been reviewed in current revision process and may be adjusted to match site plan review non-discretionary.  DCC brought forward community concerns to retain Allowed-by-right.
  • Duplexes: Changed from allowed-by-right to Limited Use Permits.  
  • Single Family Residences and ADUs: kept as Allowed-by-right in line with DCC and community comments.
  • Communal living: Proposal to be separated from additional residences and moved from allowed-by-right to Limited Use Permits with notice required.  Commissioner comments about problems with “communes”.  Ongoing Discussion, opportunity for public input.
  • Additional Residences: Proposal to separate from Communal Living and change from allowed-by-right to Limited Use Permits.  Ongoing discussion, opportunity for public input.
  • Residential (Health) Treatment Facilities: Limited Use Permits with notice in smaller zones
  • Nursing Homes: designated Conditional Use Permits in all zones
  • Farm-worker Housing: proposed to be changed from Allowed-by-right to Limited Use Permit in all zones.  Discussion of possible allowed-by-right exemption under a certain threshold.  Flagged for further review.  Opportunity for public input.
  • Kennels: proposed to change from Allowed-by-right, to a threshold for commercial kennels of 6 dogs over 6 months old require Limited Use Permits, possible property line setbacks, discussion of performance standards to protect neighbors.
  • Place of assembly (grange halls, churches, wedding venues, etc): Changed from Allowed-by-right to Limited Use Permit.  For churches only, if more than 50 people capacity Limited Use Permit if less than 30 Allowed-by-right.
  • Schools: Changed to Limited Use Permit if more than 30 people capacity, allowed-by-right for under 30 students or people.
  • Child Care: proposed Allowed-by-right if less than 12 children to align with state statute.  Limited Use Permit for over 12 children.  State standards may also apply but administered by the state.
  • Cemeteries: Commercial cemeteries changed to Conditional Use Permits in all zones.  Home burials (non-commercial) are exempt and allowed by right in all zones.  State statute applies to home burials requiring filing a form with the county clerk within 30 days.  County attorney proposed to define home cemeteries to only include family members, Planning Director instead defined home burial as non-commercial (no payment for a burial plot) but not limited to direct family.  This aligns with DCC comments.
  • Storage Facilities: added to list of uses, set as Limited Use Permits in all zones. There was a discussion of clarifying definition to exclude a farmer storing hay in another farmer’s barn, etc.
  • Outdoor shooting range: Conditional Use Permits in all zones, clarified definition to ensure that all private personal shooting on private property is exempt and allowedThis is only for Commercial business shooting ranges.
  • Events: Separate one time events vs event venue with ongoing events.  Separate commercial events vs. personal events allowed.  Discussion of commercial events 0-150 people remains Allowed-by-right, 151-500 people Limited Use Permit, 500+ limited use permit. Discussion of economic importance of events in the county.  Ongoing extensive discussion flagged for next week.
  • Junk and Rubbish: Page 37 Clarifies that outdoor junk storage is covered in the Junk and Rubbish ordinance.
  • RV language: accepted old proposed Planning Commission draft language reducing use of RV while building home to only 24 months with proof of electrical and plumbing permits.  Flagged for further review.  Opportunity for public input.
  • Home business section: remains Allowed-by-right, but additional new standards including a single non-illuminated sign (this item flagged for reconsideration for dimly lit externally illuminated signs), all outdoor storage must be screened from county roads with a “fence out” approach for neighbors.  Intent is that home business is not confined to inside the building/home but also allowed outside with storage screened (per DCC inquiry and comment).  Access must be the same access as the home.  If significant noise, dust, or other impacts it becomes Limited Use.

Please send emails to your planning commissioner about any above matters that impact you so that your concerns can be considered during ongoing discussions and decisions made for the Land Use Code. 

Link to redline LUC document

Proposed Schedule for additional worksessions (tentative):

  • March 29th 3-5pm
  • April 5th 3-5pm
  • April 28th 3-5
  • May 8th 9am-11am final cleanup (tentative)
  • May 10th joint work session with PC
  • May 16th BoCC vote to send the final document to the PC
  • PC has 30 days to review and return to BoCC
    14 day notice prior to BoCC final hearing and vote

*BoCC chair Wendell Koontz reiterated to the public that the BoCC is responsible for the Land Use Code, not Carl Holm the planning director.  

Additional Residences allowed-by-right now to require Limited Use Permits?

    During the March 22nd Board of County Commissioners Land Use Code Work Session Meeting, the BoCC proposed changing the designation in table 2B of the Land Use Code for additional dwellings on a piece of property from allowed-by-right, as it is currently designated, to a more strict and potentially costly Limited Use Permit (which could also be denied). This proposed change would impact the following uses:

    • Additional dwellings on a property, including houses, cabins, yurts, etc.
    • Duplexes (including duplexing off a basement in an existing home)
    • Multiple residences on a single property of any size

    Under the 2021 code now in effect, single family homes and all of the above uses are listed as allowed-by-right.  These uses do require address, access, septic, a permanent water source, and state electrical permitting.

    The DCC has heard from large numbers of residents who are concerned this change from allowed-by-right to Limited Use Permits for additional dwellings, duplexes and communal living would negatively affect them.  This includes additional dwellings for children, farm workers, grandparents, mother in law units, rentals, affordable housing, and caregivers.

    Allowing additional residences also supports rental income for farmers and farmworker housing that avoids splitting up family farms, when most farmers retirement funds are tied up in the farm itself.  This supports long term agriculture in Delta County.  Under the proposed code, additional residences are to avoid impacts to irrigated farm ground.

    If this proposed change is concerning to you, please consider writing a short email, even one paragraph, to all 3 county commissioners asking the Board of County Commissioners to keep additional dwellings, duplexes, and communal living allowed-by-right in Delta County in the upcoming code revision, as they currently are designated under the existing 2021 code.

    Contact information for the county commissioners: “Mike Lane” <>, “Don Suppes” <>, “Wendell Koontz” <>

    Please consider forwarding a copy of your letter to after you send it to the county.

    March 15, 2023 Work Session Outcomes

    The Delta County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) held a work session on the Land Use Code today March 15th, 2023.

    This work session focused on the important question of Allowed-by-right.  The Commissioners reviewed each use listed in the current draft of the code (page 33, Table 2B), and considered which uses would be retained as allowed-by-right and which would instead require increasing levels of review that include specific standards, public notice/hearings, and other requirements.

    The 2021 Land Use Code, in effect today, lists a large number of uses as allowed-by-right “A”.  These allowed-by-right designations were promoted heavily during the development of the 2021 code as protecting private property rights and reducing red tape and such promotion remains on the county website today.  These allowed-by-right uses do not require county review under the 2021 Land Use Code.  They do however still need to meet certain requirements, including state septic requirements (OWTS) and state electrical inspections.  Over 40 uses were proposed to be changed from allowed-by-right to Permitted under the recent Land Use Code Revision that was voted down at the 2/28/2023 public hearing, and this was one of the major objections to that draft.

    The commissioners today retained the majority of those uses currently listed as allowed-by-right with the same allowed-by-right designation in the newest draft. Commissioners stated that many residents had clearly requested additional freedom and corresponding responsibility in retaining the allowed-by-right uses.

    The commissioners also wanted to be clear that allowed-by-right does not allow for illegal development, and does not remove the landowners responsibility to respect and follow property lines, easements, setbacks, state septic requirements, access and address requirements, state electrical inspections, etc.  It is the landowners responsibility to meet these requirements and to take responsibility to address any problems or consequences if they build on an easement or over a property line for example.  But the county will not require permits, permission or review for these types of allowed-by-right uses.  The code designates many other uses as requiring Limited Use Permits with specific standards, or Conditional Use Permits requiring public hearings and specific standards.  These are typically higher impact commercial and industrial uses.

    There also currently exists a 2016 Development Application Ordinance (available for download on our Resources Page), which is a separate ordinance from the Land Use Code, and requires residential and commercial development in the county to submit a site plan to the planning department in advance and apply for permits for address, access, septic and to show an adequate water source.

    This ordinance, while passed in 2016, was not well known or enforced until after the 2021 code was passed.  Often the ordinance was only enforced if a landowner was installing a new electrical service, which requires an address.  The ordinance was not available on the county website until 2023. There is debate as to whether the ordinance was intended to be repealed as part of the passage of the 2021 Land Use Code, it appears that was the intent but that the procedure for repealing the ordinance may not have been properly followed.

    Today the commissioners asked the county attorney to prepare to repeal the Development Application Ordinance with the passage of a revised Land Use Code. 

    They asked that a checklist be prepared to be included in the Land Use Code outlining the specific requirements that apply to allowed-by-right uses including: access, address, adequate water, state septic (OWTS) requirements, easements, and setbacks.  Landowners would be responsible for meeting those requirements without review from the county.

    Prior to the 2021 Land Use Code, the county operated under the previous Specific Development Regulations for two decades.  A copy of the regulations is also available on our Resources Page.  Higher impact commercial and industrial uses were subject to the regulations and required public hearings that included consideration of compatibility with neighboring properties and other standards.  However, those regulations exempted all residential and agricultural uses from regulation.  This led to the promotion and inclusion of the allowed-by-right designation in the 2021 Land Use Code in order to protect those exemptions for residential and agriculture from over regulation.

    DCC will continue to report further details including updated drafts and which specific land uses are proposed to be retained as Allowed-by-right and which are proposed to change to require more regulation and review.

    March 15th, 2023 BoCC Work Session Meeting

    The next Board of County Commissioners Land Use Code work session is on March 15th at 1:30pm.  These work sessions are open for public attendance but not public input.  Also, remote zoom access is not available for these meetings.  We will be attending each work session and providing updates on the LUC revision process.

    This upcoming work session will likely begin focused on allowed-by-right designations for residential, small business and other uses and the proposal to change them to “permitted” or “site plan review” instead.  This is on page 33 table 2b of the 2023-03-09 Land Use Code Working Document we received from the county upon request.  Residents concerned about the topic of allowed-by-right may contact the county commissioners via email or phone prior to the work session.

    County Position On Drone Use In Response To DCC Inquiries

    Several County Residents have reported county drone surveillance for land use code compliance already taking place over their backyards.  This has led to strong concerns regarding citizens’ basic right to privacy.  These instances of county drone surveillance have reportedly been for minor alleged violations of the existing 2021 Land Use Code, and not for serious concerns related to human health or safety.  The current 2021 Land Use Code does not allow for or provide provisions for drones.

    Note that the new draft of the County Planning Department Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) currently under review does currently include and allow drone usage.

    Responding to these concerns brought forward by the DCC, the County has now stated emphatically and asked the DCC to share the following information:

    • The county does not authorize or use drones for Land Use related matters, period.
    • The county has not and will not condone or authorize county use of drones for Land Use related matters.
    • County employees and contractors are not and will not be authorized to use personal or other drones in relation to county business or county land use matters.
    • County drones are only used over county gravel pit and county landfill and for search and rescue
    • These policies and assurances to the public regarding drones will be reflected in writing in the upcoming LUC revision and not just in office notes and office procedures

    The DCC will be working with the county to ensure that this stated prohibition on county drone surveillance for Land Use related matters is upheld and included in writing, codified in the Land Use Code update, and written resolutions.  The DCC will provide updates as they become available along with opportunities for the public to support and thank the County Commissioners in putting this important policy prohibiting county drone surveillance in writing in the upcoming 2023 Land Use Code Revision.

    Positive Progress for Community Involvement

    Over 400 people reportedly attended the February 28, 2023 hearing in person and an additional 75 or more attended remotely on Zoom. The overwhelming majority asked that the draft revision developed by the Planning commission be rejected by the Board of County Commissioners and that a Land Use Code more appropriate for Delta County be pursued instead.

    The DCC presented numerous specific issues with the draft code at the hearing including quotes and citations.  Click here If you would like to review our specific issues and proposed changes document which we submitted at the hearing.  The commissioners, after more than 4 hours of public comment, voted to REJECT the proposed Land Use Code revision under review.  A link to the recording of the hearing will be provided on the Resources Page once it becomes available.

    We are excited to announce that DCC made the news after this meeting!  The recent Article on High Country Shopper about the public hearing goes into great detail about the Delta County Coalition (DCC) and several of our recommended changes to the LUC update proposal.

    The commissioners are now in the process of creating a new draft update to the Land Use Code.  It is our understanding that they are working with a redline document based on the LUC update that was rejected at the February 28th hearing, which shows the changes from the current 2021 code.  They will be reviewing the changes in their regular work session meetings to decide on what is incorporated into the new draft and what other changes should be made.

    On request, DCC was provided a copy of the current redline working document, which we have posted on the Resources Page.  We are in the process of reviewing it and we will be creating an updated recommended changes document in the coming days, which we will submit to the county and post here on the website.