On Tuesday and Wednesday, Mancos staff and consultants held their first public input sessions on the town’s upcoming land use code update.
Mancos’ land use code, which governs the types of structures that can be built in different parts of town and many other regulations, hasn’t been updated for about 20 years. The town government has contracted with the planning firm SAFEBuilt Studio to help design a revised code, and the first step in the process will be gathering feedback from town residents. About a dozen residents attended each of the first two public input sessions to talk with representatives of SAFEBuilt and answer questions about changes they want to see in the code.
During Wednesday’s public input meeting, Town Administrator Heather Alvarez said the goal of the code update is to make the town’s rules easier to follow.
“Our ultimate goal is to streamline the code, make it much more user-friendly, potentially streamline the development processes,” she said. “What does the community want to see? How do we want to see Mancos grow over the next five to 10 years?”
SAFEBuilt representatives Paul Donegan and Erica Heller brought several large pieces of paper with questions about land use in the town and asked attendees to write down their answers on sticky notes attached to each one. “Does Mancos have the right variety of housing types to meet community needs?” one question asked. Others asked about the effects recent developments have had on the environment, and whether they’ve made it easier or harder for residents to get around. One question asked whether the town should cover the cost of infrastructure and services that serve new developments with taxpayer money, or by charging fees for those services.
The handful of attendees who wrote down their responses pointed out several improvements the town has made over the past few years, such as the crosswalk on U.S. Highway 160, as well as a few ways they want to see it improve in the future. Some common concerns included a need for more affordable housing and possible environmental issues at the RV park developments.
One resident, Jennifer Guy, said she believes the code should make it easier for new businesses and other types of development to move into town. Restrictions in the current code have sometimes kept developers away, she said.
“We need to have jobs here,” she said. “We don’t have a big enough base of people to be self-supporting.”
During Tuesday’s input session, Heller said, residents asked that the land use code address issues like livestock in town, nonconforming uses for buildings and places where sidewalks would be allowed.
Several members of the town staff attended Wednesday’s input session, which took place after a brief planning and zoning meeting with no agenda items. Most of the attendees spent the meeting discussing the issues with them and the SAFEBuilt consultants. Heller said that discussion is a vital part of the update process.
“While we have lots of experience to bring to you, ultimately it’s got to be this community that figures out what is appropriate here,” she said.
She said the company will hold several more public meetings throughout the year, although the dates have not been set. They will also give public presentations on potential changes to the code once they are closer to being finalized.
Meanwhile, Mancos residents can give their input on the code online at mancoscodeupdate.com, a website SAFEBuilt and the town launched on Wednesday. The current land use code, as well as a link to the update site, can be found at mancoscolorado.com.
Wednesday was the last meeting for the current Planning and Zoning Commission. The town board planned to appoint new members to the commission at its next meeting, on April 25.