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Update On Land Use Regulation Process...

It has been a busy few months and there are many updates to share about our County’s land use regulations.

A Quick Overview

  1. RPI completed assessments to help us understand our current development patterns.

  2. RPI completed a review of the Master Plan and identified all the recommendations related to updating the development regulations.

  3. The project has transitioned into the next phase of creating a road map.

  4. Two new podcasts are available to support learning about community challenges and opportunities.

  5. Our events page has been updated and there are some great events coming up.

  6. We created pages for the Oil and Gas Working Group and Podcasts, as well as updated the Project Document and Events pages.

A Deep Dive into the Three Assessments

  • Master Plan Recommendations for Land Development Regulations

The Master Plan identifies a number of goals, each of which include recommendations for how to best achieve our goals. To understand what goals the land use regulations update should support, RPI conducted a review of the Master Plan and excerpted specific recommendations that link to regulatory policy. You can read RPI’s summary of recommendations here.

  • Land Use and Development Patterns Inventory

To inform updating development regulations, to achieve Delta’s vision, it is important to understand current land use’s and development patterns. RPI created three different presentations that were shared with the Board of County Commissioners.

  1. Unincorporated County Non-Residential Use and Development Patterns

  2. Part 1 – Subdivision Analysis

  3. Part 2 – Residential Use and Density Analysis

There is a great deal of interesting information in these maps and charts. The key take away according to Gabe Preston of RPI includes:

  1. Subdivision has been happening slowly and incrementally over many decades. The majority (about 70%) of this development has been minor subdivision of 2-3 lots. Major subdivisions (over 5 lots) are infrequent. There are some important implications to consider in how to manage long term impacts of these smaller, more incremental developments over time.

  2. The majority of the existing subdivision parcels are 3-5 acres. That means a lot of land may be reaching parcel sizes that cannot be further subdivided in many areas. The County may want to consider whether there should be a minimum size of parcel (e.g. 5 or 10 acres) that can be further subdivided into smaller lots in certain areas.

  3. RPI’s analysis found that as many as one out of five residential lots/parcels contains more than one dwelling unit.

  4. The County does have a few distinct districts with their own “pattern” that has emerged over time. In these places the development types and densities are similar and contiguous to each other. These areas include, but are not limited to:

  • Highway 50 South of Delta: This area still includes a lot of larger intact parcels with little residential development that are valuable for agriculture.

  • Paonia – Hotchkiss Corridor: this area has some of the greatest densities in the County. This is likely due to the availability of water from water providers versus wells.

  • Southwest Edge of City of Delta: this area is characterized by rural residential and agricultural with some areas nearly reaching urban like densities.

  • Peach Valley: This area is in the Tri-County service boundary for water. It has a range of densities from suburban to rural residential to large acreage agriculture.

  • Crawford area: Characterized by lower densities and ranching and farming.

The assessment demonstrates that most residential and commercial development is located where infrastructure is more available. Where there are roads you are most likely to see subdivisions, and if there are water utilities, greater densities. There is also more development around the edges of towns.

5. There is not a clearly defined area where commercial activity is the dominant activity. There are many commercial uses mixed into other land development across the County, especially in the agricultural areas, but no clear industrial or commercial zones have emerged over time. However, most commercial/industrial uses are located within a half mile of a state highway.

Learning About Development Regulations and Delta County Issues

The County has created several options for you to get involved in the land use update process. Through mid-spring we will continue to offer opportunities for county residents and businesses to learn more about land use regulations, and the various tools that are available to us, to implement the County’s master plan. These include community forums, podcasts, newspaper articles, blog posts, radio, and our website at

The County has already hosted two community forums and two “sister” podcasts. For each community forum there is a podcast that covers the same topics. This allows county residents to join the county as we learn more about land use in a way that is easiest for you!

Our first community forum was held on February 28, in Hotchkiss, and was titled “Why do land use regulations matter in building community prosperity?” During the forum, a panel discussed the connection between land use regulations, growth, and the decision process that anyone has to go through when deciding to invest their money in Delta County, whether that is an individual deciding to buy a piece of land to build a home, a developer looking to build several homes, or a business deciding to grow its business in Delta. The panel included Mike Lane, County Commissioner; Tate Locke, Planning Commissioner & local business owner; Lynn Tallent, local developer and home builder; and Sam Kimbriel, local business owner.

If you missed this forum, you can listen to the sister podcast. This podcast titled “Regulations and our Future” covers the issues and topics as the forum. Commissioner Don Suppes, resident Jay Stooksberry, and Planning Commissioner Lucinda Stanley discuss why they think updating our regulations is important, and how good regulations can help the county meet its goals. You can find the podcast on the platform you normally use to find your podcast. Just search Delta County, or you can listen here.

On March 6th, the County hosted it’s second community forum titled “Lessons learned from our neighbors. Montrose and Mesa Counties, and the City of Rifle discussed the various land use tools that they rely on the most in their land use regulations. They offered their advice on what Delta County should be taking into consideration as we update our regulations. This discussion highlighted the importance of tailoring land use regulations to the vision of the residents of Delta County. Our neighbors take very different approaches to regulating land use from simple to complex, but they all rely on similar tools to do so.

If you were unable to join us at the second forum, you can listen to the sister podcast! This podcast is titled “Lessons from our neighbors!” and features our neighbors from the City of Gunnison and the City of Grant Junction. Both share their experiences working with a variety of land use tools, and offer their suggestions to Delta County as we begin the update to our regulations. You can find this podcast here.

Mark your Calendars: Community Forum #3!!

Join us in-person for the next community forum on April 4th, to discuss Working Together Through Civil Discourse. In this forum, the Delta High School LULAC club will co-sponsor and moderate this community discussion about how we can improve civility by working better together on challenging community issues, and being more respectful towards those that are different than ourselves. We will be joined by Anne Morgenthaler from the City of Montrose who will share their work on a civility project, and a panel of local elected officials who will join the discussion. Come prepared to roll up your sleeves as this will be an interactive event!

If you have not already signed up to receive notifications about these learning events, sign up on our home page.

Oil and Gas Working Group Reconvened

In a recent update, we announced that the Oil & Gas Working Group has been reconvened, to continue their support to the County formulating new regulations. A webpage has been created so you can follow their work.

What Comes Next? Creating A Roadmap

With the existing data and development patterns assessments completed, we are shifting gears towards the second phase of our project, creating a roadmap that helps us strategize the variety of land use tools we will use to meet our master plan goals. This phase will include several work sessions with the Board of County Commissioners, focused on identifying land use tools that can address our specific challenges. Once we have an outline developed with some of our ideas, we will be coming back to the public for the first round of public input meeting; we anticipate these will take place later this spring.