County officials comment on CB’s Community Compass

Asking for clarity on growth, consideration of essential service locations 

[  By Katherine Nettles  ]

Gunnison County commissioners approved comments this week to submit to the town of Crested Butte regarding its recently released Community Compass draft, agreeing that regional collaboration is important and recommending additional clarity, consideration of essential service locations and perhaps some patience on corridor planning. The comments were prepared by county staff and repeatedly emphasized the county’s history of and commitment to taking a leadership role and willingness for “always being at the table.” 

Gunnison County assistant county manager of community and economic development Cathie Pagano prepared the comments in a memo and presented them to commissioners on September 6. The comments generally reflected that the town of Crested Butte is seeking to develop a “shared framework for regional collaboration,” and noted that “different jurisdictions have different expectations around the level of process versus the level of action that should be completed for projects and/or decisions.”

“There are different expectations,” said Pagano of each jurisdiction’s process. The memo suggested that each jurisdiction should prioritize its own goals and strategic plans while also working collaboratively with other jurisdictions. 

“We recommend that consideration of a regional decision-making framework offer the opportunity to blend together these unique yet similar approaches to create a common framework around shared interest and goals,” according to the memo. It noted the county’s past efforts to lead in the process.

“Gunnison County, as the regional government representing all constituents within the county boundaries has long been a convener of regional collaborations and will continue to lead those efforts,” according to the memo. “The County has successfully convened and led the One Valley Prosperity Project, the development of the Gunnison Valley Regional Housing Authority, and the Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Committee—just to name a few. These collaborative efforts and others have achieved many successful results and are expected to continue to do so. There are many challenging and complex issues that we will need to continue to work together to address and the County is committed to always being at the table.” 

The memo addressed the town’s second goal within the plan in which the town aims to intentionally plan for growth in a way that concentrates development near existing infrastructure while maintaining cherished natural and agricultural spaces. “While there are several locations in the Gunnison Valley that have proximity to existing infrastructure it may not exist to specific locations yet and need to be extended,” stated the memo.

Another comment was on the town’s third goal which “seems to imply that childcare and essential goods and services may need to be located outside of the Town boundaries,” according to the memo. The county recommended that the town “consider creating opportunities for those services to be located within Town boundaries first. For example, if essential services are located in the Gunnison Valley area they may end up primarily in CB South for north valley residents which would likely further exacerbate many of the challenges described in the plan.”

The final comment was based on the Compass plan’s call to action on land use, transit, municipal infrastructure, housing and mobility. The county suggested that will all come in the county’s own timeline. “The County appreciates the desire and need for these collaborative discussions and plans. To that end the County and One Valley Leadership Council have initiated the Roadmap to Recovery and Resiliency process which is expected to address some of these issues. Additionally, the County is currently working with the City of Gunnison on the north Gunnison area plan to address three-mile planning around the City of Gunnison.” 

Pagano said the county expects to kick off a comprehensive corridor plan effort in 2023 or 2024 and collaborate with other jurisdictions such as Crested Butte and community stakeholders, which the memo notes “will address many of the issues described in this section of the Compass plan.” 

Commissioner Liz Smith commented that regional collaboration always needs to bring issues to the table. She asked if it is a matter of developing something new or more of refining what exists. 

Commissioner chair Jonathan Houck said he believes the town’s draft is more about developing a process than a product. “To me it’s more of a blending than a developing.” He also pointed out that this is a conversation to continue as opposed to a one-time comment process.

Smith agreed. “We can have almost exclusively shared values. But shared values also come with conflict. So that’s where this comes into play and I think it’s really helpful for communities to be viewing the processes and have that ability to articulate those conflicts earlier than later.”

The memo concludes that “Gunnison County appreciates the opportunity to comment on and participate in the Community Compass and will continue to lead and participate in current and future regional collaboration.”

The commissioners approved the comments unanimously and will provide them to the town prior to September 13.

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