The Norwood Town Board of Trustees held a lengthy work session last week, as its regular monthly meeting lasted nearly three hours. Henry Hemphill, the town’s interim planner who is also Fruita’s town planner, appeared to review the process for public meetings.

Hemphill is prepping trustees for the upcoming sessions on the affordable housing development that will take place over the next year.

Hemphill reminded trustees it’s their job to review development applications, and that public meetings must be held for things like annexation, zoning and preliminary plats.

In addition to guidelines to ensure that meetings are user-friendly and “safe,” Hemphill told trustees there should be no ex-parte communication, and that board members must leave the room or become muted and unseen in a Zoom meeting if they have any private interest in a board member vote.

Candy Meehan said she has been communication with people from Nucla during their town meeting process regarding the upcoming housing development there. Meehan, who also helps run a family owned construction company, said she will opt out of future voting on the housing issue if needed.

Additionally, Hemphill said he recommends that Norwood adopt the sketch plan process, similar to other communities. Since he works for the Town of Fruita, he will not share their sketch plan process, but will share models from other communities to give Norwood officials an idea.

The sketch plan is a five-step process through which trustees go back and forth with a planning commission, or in Norwood’s case, the Planning & Zoning board. In this way, communication becomes clearer and potential developers in the future have a more accurate idea of what it takes to push projects through the local jurisdiction.

Board members said they were in favor of looking into the sketch plan process.

In that same meeting, Paul Hempel of Colorado Rural Water appeared for approval of Norwood’s updated Source Water Protection Plan. Some additions to the old document were made regarding stakeholder participation, the hydrology analysis and the conclusion section.

After unanimous approval, the document will be filed with the state department, along with GIS maps.

Community-targeted education will now be a focus, and a campaign will start, funded by $2,000 in grant money. The funds could be spent on advertising, possibly included in utility bills or on the town’s website.

Stream crossing signs are also on their way to Norwood. The signs are specific to the Gurley Ditch and San Miguel River, and encourage keeping the water systems clean and protected.

Bilingual pamphlets, too, will emphasize the importance of protecting the source water of Wright’s Mesa.

Hempel said many communities have water festivals in the spring, and those often focus on education with local youth. This year, all water festivals seem to be going virtual due to the pandemic. He added Norwood could get in on the umbrella festival, which will feature various Colorado communities in online segments.

Still, he said the festival that trustee Meehan has been working on for this May would still be supported if it went live and in-person.

“We can work with Candy on something like that,” he said. “And can assist if you do a live gathering.”