San Miguel County Panning Commission members, from left Ian Bald, Josselin Lifton-Zoline, Lee Taylor and Pam Hall with County Planning Director Kaye Simonson and Senior Planner John Huebner dive into an ambitious 2020 work plan at the planning commission meeting Wednesday. Not pictured but present are CPC members Toby Brown and Matthew Bayma, Sr. (Photo by Suzanne Cheavens/Telluride Daily Planet)

Ladies and gentlemen, roll up your sleeves. At Wednesday’s meeting of the San Miguel County Planning Commission (CPC), county planning director Kaye Simonson lined out the board with the year’s ambitious to-do list. At the top of that list is an update of the Telluride Regional Area Master Plan (TRAMP), a document that is now 30 years old.

TRAMP stretches across about 75,000 acres in the east end of the county and includes the towns of Telluride, Mountain Village and Ophir, as well as the unincorporated areas comprising Lawson Hill, Ilium, Ski Ranches, Ames, Trout Lake, Aldasoro and San Bernardo. According to the memo Simonson shared with CPC members, about two-thirds is privately owned and one-third falls under US Forest Service purview. The majority of the county’s population — approximately 70 percent — lives in the TRAMP area. A roadmap for the future, updating the plan will include numerous analyses of elements such as demographics, jobs, existing conditions and issues associated with anticipated growth, such as water needs.

“This is your baby,” Simonson told CPC members.

The CPC will not, however, be taking on the task along — far from it. Along with Simonson and the staff in the county planning department, commission members will be assisted in the more than year-long process by a consultant. The request for qualifications will be sent out by next month with a finalized contract with whomever is selected slated for April.

Then begins the fine-tooth comb process of meeting with stakeholders, and by June a series of community meetings will commence. By January of 2021, the goal is to have a plan to present to the public.

Simonson said that her department will known by the end of the month if a Colorado Division of Local Affairs (DOLA) grant for $75,000 will be approved by the end of this month. That money will be used to pay for the consultant team the county eventually hires.

She acknowledged that the TRAMP update will present “ a lot of challenges, a lot of parts.

“In any planning process people get distracted by the shiny things. The challenge is to keep forward progress. It’s going to be an interesting process.”

Numerous considerations will be applied to the process including land use, housing, utilities, transportation, natural resources, parks, recreation and open space, sustainability and climate resiliency. Analysis of economic development is an area of particular interest to senior planner, John Huebner.

“It’s interesting how economics will play a part in this,” he said.

Commission members emphasized the importance of keeping stakeholders and public involved and discussed not only meetings but outreach through media channels like KOTO and the Daily Planet, and social media, a resource that is “a blessing and a curse.” Simonson said there will be a dedicated Facebook page with a moderator to keep comments focused and on-topic.

“It can take on a life of its own and get messy,” she said of social media.

But, she said, it is important to make it “a participatory process.”

Ideally, master plans should be updated more frequently, but in her memo to the commission, staff turnover, insufficient resources, shifting political priorities and the recession and its recovery were cited as reasons for not undertaking the update before now.

And, working with Telluride and Mountain Village officials is a key component in creating a new plan.

“In preparing the plan for the Telluride region, it will be necessary to determine how future growth will be distributed between the towns and the unincorporated area,” Simonson wrote in her memo. “The Town of Telluride will be updating their master plan in 2020-21(and) it is hoped that the county will be able to work with the town to share supporting information and coordinate areas of overlapping interest. The Town of Mountain Village updated their comprehensive plan in 2017, which will provide recent comparative data that can inform the county’s planning process.”

In what looks to be an ambitious workload, county planners and the commission will also be working on an updated fee schedule, a review of the county’s affordable housing impact mitigation policies, adopting the 2018 building code (the Town of Telluride is also moving to adopt those codes), commission and staff training, workflow improvement and conversion of paper files to digital, among other tasks.

The CPC, as its first order of business for the new year elected Lee Taylor as it chair, and tapped Pam Hall as vice chair and MJ Schillaci as secretary.

Huebner was promoted from associate to senior planner and Troy Hangen from Boulder County has been hired for the other senior planner position on the planning staff.