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.  

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.

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.

Update on current Land Use Code revision and Feb 28th hearing

Good news!

On February 7th the County Commissioners held their regular meeting. One important outcome of the meeting was that Commissioner Suppes stated that they will not pass the Planning Commission’s proposed land use code revision as it currently stands. As quoted from the meeting minutes: “Commissioner Suppes added that if it [the land use code revision] was what they saw last time he can assure… it will be remanded [voted down] again.”

Commissioner Don Suppes further clarified in the same meeting, that this stance was the result of the tremendous community response and issues which have been brought forward concerning the land use code revision proposal.

The Commissioners need to continue to receive clear support to follow through and vote down the 2023 draft Land Use Code Revision in its current form, in order for the issues to be addressed.

February 28th is the scheduled upcoming hearing for public input and for the County Commissioners to vote on whether this version of the land use code revision will be adopted. It is critically important for the Commissioners to hear from residents of Delta County at this hearing. An auditorium has been booked for this meeting and a large number of county residents are expected to attend and voice their input. Each person is likely to have only 3 minutes to speak, so it is recommended to have notes and prepared comments.

Meeting details:

Date: February 28th

Time: 4:30pm to 7:30pm

Location: 822 Grand Ave., Delta, Colorado

NOTE: this hearing will be available to watch on zoom, but public comments via zoom will NOT be allowed.  You must attend the hearing in person to make comments to the commissioners.

We encourage concerned community members to educate themselves on how the proposed code will affect you, contribute constructive feedback to the county at the hearing, and attend even if you don’t plan to speak in order to show the Commissioners that this topic is important to you.

For information on specific major issues identified in the code or examples of how the proposed 2023 LUC revision might affect you, your property, business, or farm, visit our Issues Page.

What is a Civic Partnership Association?


A Civic Partnership can create a pathway for citizen groups and local authority leaderships to work together to create and build resilient and healthy communities. A Civic Partnership is a framework for developing partnerships between governments, regional and local authorities, civil society organizations and other relevant actors,

Local efforts to build effective civic partnerships need to engage with various complexities and challenges.

Some aspects of the local strategies required to work with this complexity for civic gain include:

  1. Setting clear goals through defining valued outcomes.
  2. Working across agency and other boundaries so as to engage whole systems.
  • Making local people active partners in co-producing the future.
  1. Strengthening local resilience to cope with uncertainties.
  2. Working with multiple stakeholders with various interests.
  3. Bringing all these processes together to seek cooperative solutions to local challenges.

Civic partnerships work to establish clear goals to guide the action required to meet a complex set of local challenges through outcomes based policy-making. This concept is a simple idea to encourage civic leaderships, working with their communities and other local  stakeholders to ask – and answer – the question ‘what are the key things (the  valued outcomes) we are seeking to achieve overall in this locality?’ and then to  use this public statement of priorities as the template to guide and evaluate  everything which is done e.g. through the enabling role of the local authority, the  services it commissions/provides and different kinds of community action.

Local people become active partners in shaping and delivering the actions which affect them and their communities now and into the future.  People are experts in their own lives and this expertise needs to be the key contribution. Communities are typically rich in the capabilities of their members, their reciprocity and social networks. These are all important assets in improving local well-being.

Communities joining in Civic Partnership with public agencies to build a better future has come to be described as ‘co-production’. This partnership may be at the level of the individual or involve a particular group or be about challenges facing the whole community.

Each Civic Partnership is unique but always involves shared goals and agreements on how to best achieve those goals.  There is no specific framework for creating a Civic Partnership because it is created through processes of building relationship to achieve positive outcomes for challenges faced within a community.  Therefore it is a self-defined partnership based on trust and mutual benefits for all involved in those outcomes.

Delta County Coalition Website launch

The website is now officially launched and will serve as an information and feedback portal of community coalition members and the community at large to stay informed, updated and involved in the current Land Use development of Delta County. The site is still being developed by the hour so check back for updated information.

Background…where we are now

Delta county is currently in the process of revising the Land Use Code (LUC).  The public was relatively unaware of this revision or the breadth and depth of the proposed changes during most of the 9 month revision process. The first proposed/certified revision was met with wide concern and opposition around the county in January 2023.  The revision is still under development and has not yet been passed.  Previous dates set for final hearings and vote have been canceled due to public concern, and have not yet been rescheduled.   

Please sign up to our email list to receive news and updates.