SCENIC RESOURCE PROTECTION
in partial fulfillment for thesis requirement Masters of Planning & Cteranunity Development University of Colorado at Denver
TABLE of CONTENTS
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
AN INTRODUCTION TO THE PROBLEM OF PRESERVING SCENIC QUALITY. Section I: Purpose of the Study
Section II: Investigating the Problem
Section III: Organizing the Study
Section IV: Scope, Limits, & Methods of the Investigation
A DESCRIPTION & ANALYSIS OF THE LOWER BLUE RIVER VALLEY & ITS SCENIC RESOURCE...............................................
Section I: An Overview of Summit County
Section II: A Description of the Lower Blue River Valley
Section III: Planning History & Present Planning Conditions
Section IV: Defining the Scenic Resource of the Lower Blue River Valley
Section V: Determining a Target Area for Scenic Resource
3. A SURVEY OF PUBLIC & NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION TECHNIQUES AIMED
AT SCENIC RESOURCE PROTECTION.................................
Section I: Public Planning Approaches to Scenic Preservation
Section II: Private Non-Profit Approaches to Scenic Preservation & Agricultural Conservation
Section III: An Out-Of-State Perspective on Planning Approaches To Agricultural Conservation
4. APPLYING THE SURVEYED PUBLIC & NON-PROFIT TECHNIQUES FOR PROTEC-
TION OF THE LOWER BLUE'S SCENIC RESOURCE......................
Section I: How Can Master Planning for the Lower Blue Help To
Protect Its Scenic Quality?
Section II: Applying the Planning Techniques to the Target Area
5. FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS & ISSUES OF FURTHER STUDY.................
Section I: Recormendations for Action
Section II: Areas of Further Study
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
1. Summit County.........................
2. Major Features........................
3. Randies & Allotments..................
4. Recreation Features...................
5. Public Land ..........................
6. Subdivisions .........................
8. Visual Sensitivity ...................
9. Ownership & Land Use..................
10. Land Use Trends Concept Map...........
11. Potential Change in Use ..............
12. Target Area Map.......................
13. Ranchi and Map........................
14. Isolated Parcels .....................
15. Speculative Land & De Facto Subdivisions
introduction to the problem of preserving scenic quality
I: purpose of the study
Spectacular scenery is a significant part of the reason for living and visiting Colorado. The mountainous region of the State offers views of peaks and valleys each unique and special throughout the year. This diverse land-
scape provides an opportunity for humanity to measure its own significance
and to bask in the inspiration of nature. John Fielder, a reknowned Colorado
photographer, has said it well in recent publications. As an introduction to
his 1983 Engagement Calendar of Colorado's Hidden Valleys, the publishers explain:
"Colorado is a state of many assets. Fran its great researves of natural resources to its historic western heritage; fran its vast network of ski trails to the pride of those who live there, Colorado is truly a unique plaoe.
No less unique and special is the lay of its land.
Fran the plains to the foothills, fran its mountain ranges to its basins and valleys, Colorado is a land of scenic bliss."
But the bliss is in constant danger of being shattered beyond repair, as development demand ocmpetes for space within these scenic valleys. The photographer himself expresses it in the preface to his photographic calendar:
"As the paoe of industrial and resort development quickens in Colorado, more and more of the isolated land revealed on this journey may be consumed.
I hope that wisdom will be used to plan this development, and that the beauty of the scenes within this book might serve to spread that wisdcm."
It is the search for this wisdom which has provided the inpetus for, and is hopefully reflected in, this report.
II: investigating the problem
The problem appears to center around how best to balance the preservation of the open, scenic character of Colorado mountain valleys with the increasing demand for development space in order to accomodate Colorado residents and visitors within areas of scenic beauty and recreational opportunity.
After several years of observing this competition and witnessing the frustration on the part of government and citizens to achieve a comfortable balance, it was logical that an attempt should be made in this study to address the problem directly.
The most direct approach also became the primary assumption of this thesis:
That the use of specific planning techniques might help to retain the scenic beauty of these valleys; and therefore might be the key to the wise future use of this valuable Colorado resource. A general investigation of these mechanisms might benefit Colorado valleys in general, but a thorough understanding of one valley and its complexities might provide even greater insight and applicability. The appropriate area should be experiencing development pressure, yet still be largely undeveloped, and perhaps also be particularly valuable to the State's overall scenic quality.
The Lower Blue River Valley in Summit County is just such a mountain valley. Ranging in elevaticn fron 9,000' to 7,500', it is located only 1^ hours driving time from Denver in Summit County, the fastest-growing county in the nation, according to the 1980 Census. The Blue River, a tributary to the Colorado Rivar, and Colorado Highway 9 wind between the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area in the Gore Range (elevations of 13,000') and the Williams Fork Range (elevations of 11-12,000'). It is an area under increasing development pressure, as growth and speculation spreads north from Interstate 70 into historic ranchland. Therefore, the Lover Blue becomes a case-in-point for investigating the issue of hew to preserve scenic quality.
Ill: organizing the study
Having chosen the area of study, a series of question surfaced which would need to be addressed:
1. What is the present and future land use pattern in the Lower Blue River valley, given existing planning mechanisms in place in Colorado, and how are these mechanisms affecting its scenic quality?
2. Are there successful counties in Colorado or elsewhere which have attempted to plan for the retention of their open and/or scenic character?
3. How might these planning approaches and techniques apply to the Lower Blue in an effort to strengthen its scenic protection, and what are same recommended areas of study as a result of this survey?
These questions parallel the outline for the following chapters.
Chapter 2: "A Description and Analysis of the Lower Blue River Valley and Its Scenic Resource," gives an overview to Summit County and to the Lower Blue in terms of its physical features and land use history. In addition to providing detailed background on the valley's planning history in Sections 1, 2 and 3, Section 4 goes on to investigate visual analysis techniques and the quality of the Lower Blue's visual environment. In the final section, the relative visual sensitivity of the valley is composited with an index of land areas most likely to change their status. In this way, a target area of land most visually sensitive and most unstable can be mapped. Hie purpose of this is to identify issues on which to focus research.
Chapter 3: "A Survey of Public and Non-Profit Organization Techniques Aimed at Scenic Resource Protection," addresses who has been reasonably successful in these two areas, and what types of planning techniques they have used to
[ AÂ£gM? ^ ^[UgY
accanplish their goals. These include Pitkin and Boulder County's master plans, zone districts and regulatory framework, and open space planning, as veil as a report on California's Boon To Grow project as recorded in a series of investigative papers prepared by the State's Office of Planning & Research.
Chapter 4: "Applying the Surveyed Pbulic & Ncn-Profit Techniques for Protection of the Lover Blue's Scenic Resource" analyzes the existing planning system in Summit County relative to its ability to provide adequate scenic protection for the Lover Blue, in light of the evidence gathered in the previous chapter. Several recommendations came to the forefront and are summarized in Chapter 5, along with areas which need further investigation.
IV: scope, limits, and methods of investigation
SCOPE & LIMITS
The analysis of issues and recarmendations are confined to the private land in the valley. As will be further discussed, the public land and its scenic resource is assumed to be adequately protected from significant degradation under the management of the U.S. Forest Service through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The private land, however, as will be shown, is more vulnerable. The potential for change in land status in the valley appears to be the greatest factor which can positively or negatively affect the quality of the scenic resource. An assumption is made here that the status quo is the minimum standard in the valley; it is this potential for change which is, in part, measured by the analysis, and becomes the target for a planning strategy discussed in the final chapter.
Because of limited time and resources, these remedies concentrate on possible public action vhich might be implemented to shape the direction of change as well as those being utilized by private, non-profit entities to accomplish the public goal of scenic preservation.
This report also focuses on only one element of a coordinated planning strategy for the valley. Its intent is merely to present known and available techniques and to create greater awareness to the unique planning issues in this valley and others like it.
Most of the investigation into scenic preservation and agricultural preservation techniques was done through direct contact with agencies and individuals
involved in their implementation. The author acknowledges (gratefully) all of the "free" hours spent by these people in relaying information and data over the phone or in person.
Background regarding Summit County and the Lower Blue cones primarily fran the author's participatory observation over the last ten years as a resident of Surrmit County and as a former planner for the county government.
CHAPTER 2: a description and analysis of the Lower Blue River Valley and its scenic resource
This chapter is divided into five sections. First, an overview of important background information about Summit County is provided in Section One.
Section Two describes in detail the Lower Blue River Valley its major physical features such as mountain ranges and circulation systems; its current and past land \ase and ownership patterns; and its major recreation and cultural features.
With this basic knowledge in hand, the reader is then introduced to a composite of planning factors past and present which have transpired in the valley. Section Three discusses zoning, master plans, and the effect of State-enabling legislation on the development pattern of the valley, as well as recent development proposals and trends within the valley.
An attempt to define the Scenic Resource and its value, in a broad sense, is the focuse of the fourth section. Consideration is given to both Forest Service and Soil Conservation Service techniques for analyzing the visual environment.
A sensitivity analysis of the valley is presented, to be used as the basis for identifying areas in most need of protection.
The fifth and final section discusses the determination process for identifying which areas in the valley would be targeted for protection. Labeled the Target Area, through a process of combining the highest visual sensitivity rating with land parcels most likely to change in character, the area is further classified into six basic land use types. The top four, or those most vulnerable in terms of their impact to scenic quality in the valley, are briefly summarized and discussed in order to set direction for a survey of techniques examined in the next chapter.
I: an overview of Summit County
THE PHYSICAL SETTING
The Lower Blue River Valley is located in Sumnit County, one of the 69 counties of the State. Just 75 miles east of the Denver metropolitan area, it was the fastest growing county in the nation, according to the 1980 census, at a rate of 232% over a 10-year period. It is a mountain county, bordered on the east by the Continental Divide (elev. over 14,000') and the west by the Gore/Ten Mile Range (elev. over 12,000'). Sumnit as one of Colorado's mountain counties contains four of the State's 37 ski areas: Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and Keystone. Elevation ranges from 14,267' at Torreys Peak on the Continental Divide to 7,750' at Green Mountain Reservoir. Sumnit County is bisected east/west by Interstate 70 and north/south by Colorado Highway 9 and the Blue River.
The Blue River collects water fran the Snake River to the east and Ten Mile Creek to the west and southwest, as it flows fran its headwaters at Hoosier Pass.
They all confluence in Dillon Reservoir, a 254,036 acre foot reservoir of danestic water for Denver, with a surface area of 2,970 acres and 27 miles of shoreline. It is held by an approximately 150' high earthen dam. The River continues to flow toward the northern boundary of the county, into Green Mountain Reservoir. This reservoir is a part of the Colorado-Big Thompson project, which stores water for agricultural use on the Western Slope.
The county has five incorporated towns Dillon, Silverthome, Frisco, Breck-enridge and Blue River with a sixth being contemplated Keystone.
Copper Mountain, at the base of the ski area, is also a significant growth area, but is not incorporated.
SOME PERTINENT COUNTY ECONOMIC & RECREATION STATISTICS
Summit, like most other mountain counties, originally mining and agriculturally-based, now has an outdoor-recreation and tourism-based economy. Winter is the high season, with the holidays and March representing peak receipts and population. 1981-82 receipts from ski area lift tickets were $2,233,900; retail sales were $211,880,800 in 1980, 89% from skier-related services (lodging, restaurants, etc.).
Primary employment for county residents is in a service-related occupation
(30.4%), with managers and proprietors coming in second (19.2%). As one would expect, wholesale and retail trade represents the major resident industry (25.1%),
with entertainment and recreation services in second place (17.4%). The resident population during the 1982-83 ski season was 38% (9,570) of the second hare owners/visitors population (25,096). However, the county can house as many
as 55,884, or almost six times the permanent population. While skiing is number one on the list of visitor activities at 55.2%, general camping C8%) and viewing scenery (6.9%) rank second and third, respectively.^
'"Colorado Ski Country USA, Report on the Contribution of Skiing to the Colorado Economy (Colorado Springs: Colo. Ski Country USA, 1982).
^Urban Economic Research, Inc., 1982 Surrmit County Statistical Abstract (Prepared for Summit County, 1983), Table C5, pg. 46.
Ibid., Table C4, pg. 45.
4Ibid., Table A13, pg. 17.
^USDA, Forest Service, Recreation Information Management (RIM) Annual Report (Dillon District, White River National Forest, 1982), as quoted in Urban Economic Research, Inc., 1982 Summit County Statistical Abstract; Table E4, pg. 97.
Recreation Visitor Days by Activity Surrmit County, 1980
Activity Visitor Days Rank Distribution
Skiing (alpine) 1,105,000 1 55.2%
General canping 159,400 2 8.0
Viewing scenery 138,900 3 6.9
Auto camping 107,500 4 5.4
Trailer canping 97,400 5 4.9
Tent canping 77,200 6 3.9
Fishing 73,900 7 3.7
Hiking/walking 49,900 8 2.5
Automobile travel 42,900 9 2.1
XC skiing/snowshoe 32,000 10 1.6
*USDA, Forest Service, Recreation Information Management (RIM) Annual Report (Dillon District, White River National Forest, 1982), as quoted in Urban Economic Research, Inc.,
1982 Surrmit County Statistical Abstract; Table E4, pg. 97.
Most of this recreation activity occurs cn Forest Service-managed public land, which is 73% of the county's 383,260 acres.'*'
In addition to offering year-round mountain recreation, Summit County sustains a small ranching-based agricultural ccrmunity, primarily in the lower Blue.
While the amount of acres in production has been steadily declining (5,200 acres in 1972; 4,100 in 1980), yield per acre in 1980 was one ton, an increase of 25% over 1972. The value of hay crop production for 1980 was $281,000, with cattle at 2,000 (1981). Native grass hay is the only crop which can be
produaed here, since the mean growing season is 28 days (Dillon, elev. 9,017').
'''Urban Ecananic Research, Inc., Table 128, pg. 168. 2Ibid., Tables Hll-13, pg. 152.
II: a description of the lower blue
The Lover Blue River Valley, known locally as the Lower Blue, represents 32% of the county's land area. Of the 120,980 acres in the Lower Blue planning area, 75% is public land managed by the U.S.D.A. Forest Service (USFS)
The Blue River
The Lower Blue is a valley bisected by the Blue River on its way fran its headwaters at Hoosier Pass (elev. 11,252') toward its confluence with the Colorado River in Grand County. The valley is 21.5 miles long, beginning at the Tcwn of Silverthome (Dillon dam) to the county line. The river drops approximately 1,250 feet in elevation, leaving the county at elev. 7,520'. It picks up water fran side drainages of the Gore Range on the west and the Williams Fork Range an the east.
The Gore Range
The valley averages nine miles wide, with the Gore Range being significantly more rugged and spectacular than its companion range to the east. Because of its primitive character, the Gore Range, with its numerous lakes, peaks and streams, comprises the Eagles Nest wilderness area, whose boundaries extend fran Elliott Ridge on the north to west Ten Mile Creek to the south, caning down both the east and vest flanks of the range.
Table 13, pg. 168.
Much of the wilderness area is above timberline, but is also heavily forested and has an abundance of water. Peaks range from 13,189' (Red Peak) at the south end to 13,432' (Eagles Nest) at the north end. Due to its accessibility fran the Denver metropolitan area, it is very popular with hikers and horse riders, 15,000 of whom visited in 1982.^ Portions are also used for cattle and sheep grazing by adjacent ranches. The area supports a variety of big game species deer, elk, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats as well as smaller mammal species and raptors.
Williams Fork Range
The Williams Fork Range is less distinct, and generally lower in elevation, primarily because of its geologic structure. Made of material of sedimentary origin, its land forms are more rounded than the granites and metamorphic rock of the Gore Range. One of its unique features is the black shale cliffs adjacent to Green Mountain Reservoir.
Vegetation is much different on the east side of the valley, due primarily to its southwestern exposure. This makes the area much drier, and vegetation is primarily sagebrush, with aspen and pine stands. Elevation ranges from 12,498' at Ptarmigan Peak near Silverthome, to 11,617' at Williams Peak across fran Green Mountain Reservoir.
The entire range has been used annually for cattle and horse grazing by the adjacent ranches. Because of its warmer exposure and generally lower snowpack, it is heavily used by big game deer and elk as critical winter range and calving in the spring. Recreation is low in caiparison to the Gore, except during hunting season (October/November); this is due primarily to limited water, and accessibility through private land.
Green Mountain Reservoir
Created by the Bureau of Reclamation in 1939, the 2,125 surface acre reservoir stores water for late season use by downstream agricultural users. The dam also generates power which is used by the Bureau. As a consequence of the reservoir
\jSDA, Forest Service, Visitor Use Study of Eagles Nest Wilderness, 1982.
construction, the ccmrtunity of Heeney and other subdivisions sprang up as summer cabins were built to enjoy the water. The State of Colorado and the Bureau of Reclamation managed the shore areas until 1976, when they were consolidated with Forest Service lands. The Forest Service has since developed picnic areas, boat ramps, and campgrounds around the reservoir to accomodate simmer visitors.
The reservoir has been a traditional favorite of anglers and boaters, who camp from recreation vehicles, and in sane cases, even enjoying water skiing and saiboarding. (This is in contrast to Dillon Reservoir, where water temperatures and its status as drinking water preclude swimming and other water contact sports.)
There is a major water issue on the horizon which involves both Green Mountain and Dillon Reservoirs. An exchange of water rights has been proposed by Western SLope water users to avoid additional transmountain diversions to Denver and the Front Range. Briefly, this exchange known as the Green Mountain Exchange would involve the pumping of water, by 8' pipeline, fron Green Mountain to Dillon; in exchange, diversions planned from the Holy Cross and Eagles Nest wilderness areas to the Front Range would be eliminated. The apparent impact to Green Mountain Reservoir would be significant fluctuations in water level. Speculation at this time indicates the reservoir could became close to empty.
It is also not known when this drawdown might occur; which leaves future recreation opportunities there unknown.
Colorado Highway 9
Interstate 70, located at the southern boundary of the "Lower" Blue, brings most of the county's visitors. Silverthome has became a major interchange as visitors decide whether to travel west to Vail or Leadville, or turn north to Steamboat Springs and Rocky Mountain National Park via Granby. Colorado 9 is the major route through the valley and is a state-maintained two-lane highway. Two major county roads Ute Pass Road and Heeney Road provide secondary access to the Amax Henderson Mill and Heeney, respectively.
OWNERSHIP PATTERN AND LAND USE Homesteading
Private land in the valley was patented from public ownership primarily through the Homestead Act of the 1860's, with a minimum 160-acre tract. Land patent techniques reflect significant differences in the ownership pattern of this valley compared to the rest of the county.
The upper half of the county was most often patented as mining placers (60-80 acres) or mining claims (5.14 acres each), with a few homestead entries.
Mining patents typically extend up the side of valley walls from the mill site, intending to follow the mineral-bearing vein in the bedrock; this has resulted in an elaborate, intertwining complex of narrow ownerships.
In contrast, homestead tracts were patented based on township and section guidelines, by H, k or kk section. Drawn at right angles to the national land grid, the tracts focused around water sources for irrigation of hay meadows. As a result, the valley bottomland is in private ownership with public land surrounding it.
The ratio of public to private land in the valley is 3:1, or three-fourths (90,633 acres) of the valley remaining as part of the public domain as Arapaho National Forest. The remaining private land (30,347 acres) falls under Summit County jurisdiction, county seat Breckenridge.^ Several families established themselves on large ranches in the valley. During the depression of the 1930's, fewer families were able to remain on their land, and further consolidation occurred. Names such as Palmer, Christensen, Lund, Hill, Long, Smith, Knorr, Culbreath and Young became well-known and respected throughout the county.
Due to the high desert climate, ranching has required significantly large acreages to be economical. Many of the land holdings are in excess of 1,000 acres. With eight active ranches in the valley, it remains the dominant land use with over 60% of the land area. They are located primarily in the northern one-half of the valley, at lower elevations and furthest from recent development. Each ranch represents an ecologically-balanced system of production, fine-tuned
~*~Ibid., Table 128, pg. 168.
to each location over the years. An elaborate system of ditches irrigate meadows of native grasses; this hay is cut and becomes winter forage in direct proportion to the number of animals which can be supported on the remaining non-irrigated land. This non-irrigated grazing land includes national forest, managed by the local district office in Frisco through annual review of 10-year term permits.
Fees are established annually, based on the National Beef Cattle Index (price per 100 weight). Each "range allotment" can support a given number of animal units (cow with calf, typically), and has been historically defined by its geographic features (ridges and streams) and adjacency to ranchland. In certain cases, an allotment may be shared by several "permittees." In all cases, however, a permittee must demonstrate ownership of "commensurate property" in order to obtain a permit. This amounts to a corresponding minimum acreage which can support the same number of animal units (theoretically through the winter) as are allowed on the forest over the grazing season. The season varies frcm one side of the valley to the other, due to exposure. The Williams Fork allotments (west exposure) usually open as early as June 10, while those on the Gore side (east exposure) usually remain closed as late as the first of July.
These allotments and the fees collected are generally recognized as a Federal subsidy (through the Department of Agriculture) in order to perpetuate agricultural production and multiple use of public land. It is also generally recognized that ranching is very hard work, and especially in recent years, is also considered a rough way to make a living.^"
Ranching in Sunmit County has always been considered marginal due to the extreme climate and restrictive growing season. The original pioneer spirit and desire for an escape to the frontier established the settlanent of the area; Manifest Destiny as it was first conceived has now been replaced by a new breed of pioneer, as demonstrated by the recent census the migration from heavily populated areas of the east to the sun belt, and Colorado represents the sun belt's recreation area.
Interview with Sid Lopez, Range Conservationist, Dillon District, Forest Service, March 25, 1983.
Recreation and Cultural Features
Along with settlement of ranches in the valley, the remote setting and abundant wildlife also encouraged recreation use. Several ranches evolved as semi-resorts or dude ranches, offering lodging and meals, and trips into the back country on horseback for fishing, hunting, and general outdoor enjoyment. In the simmer, the people in the valley would congregate for social activities at the Slate Creek Hall, built with donated materials and conrnunity labor. Heeney, after Green Mountain Reservoir flooded the Knorr ranch in 1939, became a sunnier cabin area, with lodging, gasoline and fishing tackle provided for sale.
Public campgrounds were built at Willow Springs, Blue River and Boulder Creek to accomodate visitors along the Blue River. Later, after consolidation in 1976 of public land under national forest administration, an estimated $250,000 was spent to build new and upgrade existing facilities around Green Mountain Reservoir. Campgrounds (primarily for self-contained vehicles), picnic areas and boat ramps currently accommodate an estimated 1,000 people at separate sites around the reservoir shoreline. In 1981, visitors spent 1,200,000 hours recreating around and on the reservoir.
Hunting, fishing and canping remain the prominent recreation use of the valley. Fishing occurs virtually year-round, while hunting of big game and fowl occurs roughly one-half the year based on seasonal permits. Access to fishing areas is limited due to the ownership pattern previously discussed; most of the valley and riverfront is privately owned. However, the State Division of Wildlife has obtained or received by donation several acres of riverfront access at key locations.
Purchases were made possible through the game cash fund from the sale of hunting
and fishing licenses statewide. Donated acreage includes wetlands to be reclaimed
on an experimental basis and came about as a result of a mitigation requirement
attached to issuance of a Corps of Engineers 404 permit on wetlands elsewhere in
the county. Hunting access has also been limited to public land sites or access 2
by county road.
^JSDA, Forest Service, RIM Report, 1982.
Interview with Alex Chappell, Wildlife Conservation Officer, Colorado Division of Wildlife, May 14, 1983.
While the State agency is responsible for management of State wildlife, the land and consequently wildlife habitat is managed by the Forest Service, an agency of the Federal government. The division and the national forest representatives have worked closely in recent years to solve this access problem.
Access to the Eagles Nest wilderness area and other national forest areas is also severely restricted by private land. This has created intense pressure at those access points available to the public, resulting in environmental damage due to overuse.
With the construction of Green Mountain Reservoir, simmer cabins developed at Heeney and other shoreline areas. In sane cases, lots were platted, averaging less than one acre. These cabins rsnain dependent on well or spring water and individual septic systems, in an area of poor groundwater availability, expansive soils, and high slippage potential.^ These factors have severely limited build-out of these lots.
Except for the sale of metes and bounds parcels, additional development did not occur until the mid-1960's. This began a growth trend which continues today, based primarily on increased ski area development first Vail Cl962) and Breckenridge (1960), then Keystone and Copper Mountain (1971, 1972).
While the ranches remain in chunks upward to 8,000 acres, parcels in divisions of 20 acres (40 acres and above) have become more and more common. Primarily sold to the second homeowner or a county resident in search of a more rural lifestyle, these parcels relate directly to the existing zoning classification of A-l (minimum lot size of 20 acres) and to Senate Bill #35, State land use legislation passed in 1972. These parcels or lots are often purchased by two parties intending to subdivide the 40-acre tract to two 20-acre tracts.
As of January, 1982, the County Planning Office listed 359 housing units in the valley, all single family except for 38 mobile homes, with an additional 15 single-
Colorado Geological Survey, unpublished field notes, 1978.
family hones under construction. 348 units total were considered occupied by first heme owners. The resident population was 263 in 1982; the second heme was over four times that, at 1,137.^
In addition to platted subdivisions and large lot parcels, residential development has also occurred on "illegal" parcels. These appear as recorded deeds after zoning was adopted in 1969, sometimes, and after Senate Bill #35 required all subdivisions less than 35 acres to follow local subdivision regulations, they ware often created only by metes and bounds descriptions.
^Urban Economic Research, Inc., Table All, pg. 13.
Ill: planning history
and present planning conditions
The Lower Blue became zoned along with the rest of the oounty when the county ccumissioners adopted zoning regulations in 1969. The original zone districts have not changed since then, except for the elimination of one and the addition of two. A zoning map was prepared and zoning districts matched to existing land uses in most cases, without apparent direction from a master plan. Heeney has the only business zone (B-l: highway business), drawn around the existing commercial uses of the Green Mountain Inn and Betty's Bait & Tackle Shop.
Residential zones were applied to those areas with predominant residential character such as previously platted subdivisions. The residential classifications which were chosen matched lot size, and include R-ME (residential mountain estates, min. 80,000 square feet), R-l (min. 40,000 sq. ft.), and R-2 (min. 20,000 sq. ft.). The remaining land was classified as A-l (agricultural, min. 20 acres). NOne of these zones has an intent statement, although one might derive their general purpose from the list of permitted uses.
A-l, covering approximately 97% of the valley, permits single family dwellings, agricultural uses (except fur farms, animal sales yards, or food processing plants), dude ranch and/or resort, lumbering, animal hospital, and certain public uses such as schools, etc. Mining is also allowed, including milling and/or refining of peat moss, minerals, sand, gravel and other materials.
In 1971, R-P (residential planned, max. 15 units per acre) and PUD (PLanned Unit Development, no maximum density) were added to the list of classifications.
Both of the new zones state a purpose, with PUD specifically available "to encourage flexibility in the development of land, to promote its appropriate use, and to preserve the natural and SCENIC (emphasis added) features of open areas.""1" The zone description refers to a specific process for a PUD submittal, including provisions that a Final Development Plan and a development schedule be submitted and approved. If the PUD does not progress according to the approved schedule, the Planning Commission "can and shall initiate proceedings to remove
"'"Summit County, Zoning Regulations.
the PUD district from the zoning map."1 The property then reverts back to the original zone. A review clause stipulates a review of the PUD every 24 months, apparently as a way to correct issues over the life of development.
Approval of a PUD has in recent years generated the need for a formal agreement signed by county officials and the proponent, accompanied by a map of the Final Development Plan. These documents are then recorded and kept on file as a permanent record of the transaction. This process has come about as a result of the vagueness of most of the early PUD's. Without an agreement, there has been little authority to request changes as a result of the 24-month review.
This zone generally has became quite popular as a result of the design flexibility it encourages. Density for a project is usually arrived at through study of adjacent uses and project compatibility with master plan policies for the specific area. For the Lower Blue, this translates to one dwelling unit per twenty acres, compatible with the existing A-l zone and county policies which direct more urban growth to established growth areas.
Senate Bill #35
Senate Bill #35 (S.B. 35) was approved in 1972 by the State legislature, with a
wave of land use-oriented legislation, aimed at accomplishing long-term planning
goals for the State. It specifically addresses the previously indiscriminate
subdivision of land, limiting jurisdiction to those parcels less than 35 acres
in size. Apparently the 35-acre designation was a somewhat arbitrary number,
based on the traditional 40-acre, section, minus five acres for surveying 2
imperfections. However, it does not prevent subdivision of lots 35 acres or greater.
Penalty for subdividing without meeting local subdivision requirements involves a minimal fine. However, the law has been a significant deterrent canpared to past subdivision activity. Recent case law, though, has limited its effectiveness for planning, since there is no mechanism for a clerk and recorder's office to deny the recording of a deed which may also constitute an illegal subdivision.
Boulder County Planning Office, Staff Research, 1972.
Follow-up by the local jurisdiction to void the split of property has proven fruitless, the only recourse being to prevent use of the parcel.^ Therefore, zoning, which controls both lot size and use, appears to be the more effective land use control.
For the Lower Blue, as described above, the law was at first largely ignored.
More recently, subdivisions have occurred which reflect both the A-l zone lot size and S.B. 35, avoiding any processing or review by the county. Three of these subdivisions (40 lots) have been created in the past three years.
The primary intent is residential development on lots which range in size fran 35-80 acres. Most of the land was non-irrigated grazing land, split from adjoining ranches. In order to further subdivide a 40-acre lot (or increment thereof), the parties must meet county subdivision requirements. Attempts so far have been unsuccessful, but only due to the substandard condition of major roads. Many are too steep or too narrow to meet the subdivision standards.
In all three cases, no cannon association was formed with the subdivision, so there is no cannon entity which could share the expense of upgrading the roads. This situation will be discussed in greater detail later in the report.
In an effort to streamline the permit process and to develop a logical sequence to land use decisions, Summit County adopted Cannon Review Procedures (CRP) in 1976. A sequential review process was established for all proposed development, including special use permits, rezoning requests, subdivisions and site plans. Besides establishing the framework of decision to be made by the reviewing bodies (planning cormission and county commissioners), they were also intended to incorporate the legal requirements for public hearings, and to help developers avoid costly reviews with timely responses to proposals.
These review steps are:
1. Pre-application conference with staff;
2. Preliminary submittal, reviewed by staff and the planning commission;
^Pennobscot vs. Board of County Commissioners, Pitkin County, Colorado Supreme Court, 642 P.2d. 915, 1981.
3. Detailed submittal, often involving a public hearing with the county commissioners if the project proposes a zoning change;
4. Final plat, if subdivision is contemplated; and
5. Site plan review, necessary for a building permit.
The procedures have generally made the planning process a more orderly one. Proposals in the Lower Blue are reviewed under this system by the Lower Blue Planning Gcrrmission, created in 1980 vhen the Regional Planning Commission was abolished. Now, proponents submit their projects for review to one of four planning commissions, based on geographic area (watershed). Appointed each year by the county ccnmissianers, the Lower Blue Planning Commission is an advisory body comprised of five members and two alternates, who are both land owners and residents in the valley.
Past Master Plans & Current Master Plan Policies
Master planning for Sunmit County began in 1963. As the county grew and the State legislature began to pass land use enabling legislation granting broad planning authority to local and county government, master planning and the setting of long-term goals to address growth gained in importance.
The first major step was taken when the Regional Planning Commission adopted Interim Land Use Guidelines in 1975. These specifically encouraged residential and carmercial growth to occur adjacent to the existing towns and growth centers, such as ski areas. With the implementation of a review process CRP's which clarified the review of development proposals, work began on what was then envisioned as an effort to comprehensively codify all land use policies and regulations.
Known as the Comprehensive Land Use Code, Section Cue was to be the master plan, including goals and objectives, and Sections Two and Three were to be the county zoning and subdivision regulations, revised for compatibility with the master plan.
Sunmit County, Common Review Procedures.
Section One of the Code was adopted in July, 1978, and included master plan goals and policies, intergovernmental agreements with all but one town in the county, and growth center maps for each. These growth center maps defined a four-year projected growth area around each town or ski area, into which commercial and residential growth was encouraged to develop. At the end of this four-year period, the area would be reviewed for possible expansion. The discussion here is past tense, because the document was stayed from execution as soon as it was adopted, when 15 lawsuits vere filed against it.
After being declared invalid and unconstitutional in District Court, it was appealed successfully to the State Supreme Court. But a decision was not forthcoming from the Court until late 1981. In the interim, public support for the plan waned, and a new planning effort was initiated in 1980 after a new power balance was elected into office.
The new master plan is a policy approach, and was endorsed by the county caimis-sioners in November, 1981. It addresses six categories of issues or areas of concern with broad policy statements for each, and has no maps to accompany it. Considered wholly advisory, it has yet to be significantly tested either politically or legally (see Appendix). The categories of concern are:
ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES & HAZARDS
These were first identified as issues through, public input, and general direction was determined from this input to formulate the goals and policies. The six goals are briefly summarized below:
1. Land Use
- preserve the mountain character of Summit County but accomodate growth.
- balance the rate of growth with providing (urban) services
- maintain a variety of open space within and around development
''Interviews with. Summit County Planning staff, February, 1983.
2. Environmental Resources & Hazards
- maintain and protect the county's wildlife and its habitat
- maintain high quality/quantity of county's water, air and land
- develop a variety of transportation opportunities
- increase availability and affordability of housing for residents
- broaden the county's economic base to be year-round to stablize population and employment
- work toward the coordinated provision of essential services and facilities
Policies accompany each goal, with the encouragement of certain activities being repeated throughout the document. Specific goals which address the prevailing conditions in the Lover Blue include:
1. The encouragement of clustered development, out of agriculturally productive areas, critical wildlife habitat, and visually sensitive areas.
2. The preservation of historic and/or cultural features, and open spaces along the major transportation corridors between the towns.
3. The establishment of year-round tourist and non-tourist industry, a stable population base, and a stable resident housing supply.
4. The minimization of public costs to provide essential urban services, such as water, sewage treatment, and other services having fiscal impact to the county and its communities.
The goal of revising the zoning and subdivision regulations is being pursued. Revisions are not expected for public review until late summer, 1983.
Current Development Trends
Development pressure county-wide has led to two potentially significant changes in policy and regulation, which directly affect future residential development in the Lover Blue.^
Lot Size Variance
The Board of Adjustment will now consider, on a case-by-case basis, the granting of a lot size variance for parcels zoned A-l but less than twenty acres. This variance is perceived as a better altnerative to the previous practice of rezoning the parcel to the next available zone, R-ME. These rezonings included a restriction of one dwelling unit no matter the parcel size. This often resulted in one spot of R-ME surrounded by A-l. Also, a restriction of one unit on a four to 19.99-acre parcel might prove difficult to enforce when the minimum lot size for R-ME is two acres. Most variances have been granted only after a substantial body of evidence has been submitted, indicating the parcel was created before zoning regulation (1969) with the intent to build a residence, and that there is effectively no other use of the property. The applicant must also shew adequate access, water and sewage disposal.
While most of the ten or so variances granted since 1980 have applied to mining claims (5.14 acres) in the Upper Blue, at least one has been granted in the Lover Blue valley. As discussed previously, there may be other parcels which qualify, allowing the construction of an undetermined amount of dwelling units.
Primitive Road Standards
In August of 1981, the county adopted primitive road standards as an addendum to the existing subdivision regulations. These new standards provide for steeper and narrower roads to be built in rural areas of the county, provided they are privately owned and maintained. Based on a lower density, a maximum of 100 trips per day is allowed on these roads, which roughly translates to 14 lots. Grades range up to 8% in flat or rolling terrain, and up to 10% in mountainous terrain (greater than 15% crosslope), and widths are allowed as narrow as 20' for two lanes or 10' for one lane with passing provided at selected intervals. Provision for switchbacks and reduced curve radii were to help reduce substantial cuts or fills.
These standards were instituted shortly after attempts to subdivide 40-acre lots were denied because of substandard roads. Prior to their adoption, there was no separate provision for private, rural roads all roads were treated as if they
ware to be perpetually dedicated and maintained by the county. The specific design standards resulted fran a close look at existing primitive or rural roads and an examination of rural subdivisions which predated the existing regulations.^
For the Lower Blue, the effect of less restrictive standards appears to be uncertain; except for those existing subdivisions described in the previous section where the roads may be upgraded specifically with the intent to subdivide the existing lots to 20 acres. It is likely this will be done individually, one application at a time, since each lot is separately owned.
The ultimate result would be a doubling of density in the area, consistent with A-l zoning, but without any policy review of the resulting development, effectively creating a "de facto subdivision.
Recent & Pending Development Proposals
Recent development applications in the Lower Blue, since adoption of the 1975 guidelines, have generally respected the concept of intense development both residential and ccrrmercial being attached to existing urban service areas and infrastructure. While there have been incidents of conflict over the interpretation of the "dude ranch and/or resort" use in the A-l zone, proposals generally have been held to the one unit per 20-acre density. In 1978, the first major PUD was approved in the valley.
Spring Creek Ranch, located at the extrane northwestern comer of the county, was rezoned PUD, using A-l density and pemitted uses as guidelines. (Since PUD is a distinct zone, there was no other mechanism except to change the zoning classification out of A-l, even though the intent was to maintain agricultural uses on the property and adhere to the A-l density.)
At 6,000 acres, the Final Development Plan stipulated 300 dwelling units, single and multiple family, including ancillary recreation uses, such as horse bams and a hunting lodge.
More recently (in 1981 and 1982), at least two applications, for smaller acreages, have been processed based on the same principles of cluster residential PUD design,
^Interview with Max Kantzer, former Summit County Engineering Department director, May, 1983.
at a 1/20 density. Since approval of Spring Creek Ranch, lots were platted in the first filing.1 However, development has fallen far behind the original development schedule, and the ranch has returned to its original source of revenue, raising cattle.
Other development proposals have been for special use permits for gravel mining and private fishing facilities. Special use permits, under the Canmon Review Procedures, have few standards to meet.
For a gravel permit, an applicant must first secure local government approval as one aspect of obtaining a mined land reclamation permit from the State permitting agency. In addition to reviewing the proposed operation for zoning compliance, the county usually stipulates certain conditions of operation and an annual or two-year review of the permit. Without specific design standards, these conditions are often a result of simple negotiation, due to local leverage over the proponent for the State permit.
The Lower Blue has had a history of gravel extraction adjacent to the Blue River, especially in and around Silverthome. Many of these pits are near depletion, yet the demand for gravel and sand for concrete and road base continues as the rest of the county continues to develop. As a result, a new pit has been opened (in summer, 1982) and others may follow.^ All the locations available are further north toward the more rural areas of the valley as well as adjacent to both Highway 9 for easy transport and adjacent to the Blue River for discharge of waste water.
Remaining Development Constraints & Future Resource Development While there have been development proposals approved in the Lower Blue, there are still other factors which constrain development. These factors are water, sewage disposal and access, and warrant discussion here because of their naturally limiting effect on the development potential of the Lower Blue.
A well permit is a common requirement for obtaining a building permit for a single family residence. Besides demonstrating a permit from the State 2
^"Interview with Alice Fessenden, Summit County Planning Department, March 28, 1983.
Engineer's office, one must be able to tap a groundwater source of sufficient quality to meet State health standards. The ability to tap such groundwater source varies significantly in mountainous terrain.
In addition to groundwater sources, surface rights in the Lower Blue are also a development ccntnodity. Water rights are a precious commodity to the west in general; more especially an the western slope of Colorado, since there appears to never be enough for the growing Front Range. Trans-mountain diversions proliferate in Surtmit County, serving Denver, Aurora and Colorado Springs. But more recently, even local communities have sought additional sources of water to meet their projected development needs.
Such is the case with both Silverthome and Breckenridge. Both towns turned to the potential purchase of water rights from ranches in the Lower Blue; Breckenridge has actually consummated a deal, by purchasing the 2,500-acre Clayton Hill ranch land and water rights. Because both the ranch and Breckenridge obtain water from the Blue River, a simple change in the point of diversion transfers the water to Breckenridge. This does, however, involve an elaborate and lengthy adjudication process, through which the water' s use is also transferred fran agricultural to domestic use and a certain quantity of water (in cublic feet per second) is allocated. The process is handled through the State Water Court, where other water users are allowed the right to review and protest the change, if damage is determined. When adjudication is completed, Brecneirdge anticipates transfer of water sufficient to meet its projected growth needs. This will result in the idling of approximately 500 of the 60Q acres traditionally kept in hay production to support cattle on the ranch through the winter.'1'
Silverthome has undertaken several negotiations with ranchers, but is only interested in purchase of water, not land. This represents an extremely limited position, since without water, a ranch becomes non-productive in the traditional system described above, and therefore is worthless to the rancher.
The effect for the Lower Blue is removal of over 2,5QQ acres from agricultural
use. Breckenridge is currently looking to sell or develop the ranch, to recover
its costs, approximately $5 million. 2
Interview with Doug Delano, Town Manager, Town of Breckenridge, June, 1983.
Along with water, the ability to show a method of sewage disposal is also necessary for a building permit. The success of a disposal system too can vary significantly, depending on the composition of soils. Due to extrane cost and rural nature of the valley, a public system has not been developed. The Dillon-Silverthome Joint Authority operates the only plant in the valley, serving upstream users in Dillon, Dillon Valley and Silverthome, and is near capacity.
All other methods of disposal used in the valley are individual, usually a septic systan with leachfield.
Spring Creek Ranch was the first development in the county to rely almost exclusively on Pure-Cycle, a new method of disposal totally recycling all waste in a closed systan. (On five-acre lots, it was still not possible to get an acceptable percolation rate for a conventional system, given the type of soils in the area.)
A septic systan is most used for single-family dwellings, but can be adapted to multiple-family units. However, a lagoon systan is usually more cost-effective and less damaging to the site if several multi-family units are contemplated.
To date, there are no multi-family dwellings in the Lower Blue; the few carmercial/ lodge structures are using septic systans.
In addition to the variables of available water and successful sewage treatment, access to building sites ranains a signficiant constraint in mountainous or hilly terrain. As previously discussed, the ability to build a negotiable road system may directly control the number of possible lots, and therefore growth in general. In sane cases, insensitive design of roads has created substantial cuts and fills. Even though the housing units may not be visible, evidence of the road systan remains, often becoming a substantial maintenance problem.'*'
Interview with Max Kantzer.
IV: defining the scenic resource of the lower blue
TECHNIQUES FOR VISUAL ANALYSIS
Scenic resources are defined as "naturally created element(s) of any landscape i.e., waterforms, landforms, vegetation, unique features such as rock formations."1 The particular soenic quality of a landscape becomes a judgment of its uniqueness, of its unusual or highly attractive (nature) in the visual environment. The terms scenic resource and scenic quality are sometimes used interchangeably with visual resource and visual quality. To help understand these terms, we will examine several systems which have been developed for classifying the visual environment, all in an effort to quantify the landscape for planning purposes.
Soil Conservation Service
The Soil Conservation Service (SCS), through its system developed to inventory general landscape quality, defines visual resource as "the definable appearance of a landscape...as described by its visual elements: landform, water, vegetation and structures...these four elements can be described and measured without refer-ence to quality.. .or beauty. Visual resource quality is a rating given to an area based on its relative uniqueness in a given geographic area and its desirability as a visual resource. The landscape is then rated either distinctive, average or minimal quality according to each visual element it contains. Land-forms which are visually dominant, vegetation which is diverse or unique, water features such as water bodies, shores and streams of high clarity, structures which provide unique identity (bams, etc.), and combinations of the above these are all distinctive visual qualities, and given the highest quality rating (VRQ^). To this rating, landscape use and visibility are added.
1David Vince, "Visual Environment of Summit County" (unpublished Master1 s thesis, School of Environmental Design, University of Colorado at Denver, 1974), p. 124.
^USDA, Soil Conservation Serviae, Technical Release #65 (Engineering Division, Washington, D.C., October, 1978), p. 3.
Use is either direct or indirect, or a combination, and rated most to minimal importance to the general public or local carmunity. A one of a kind landscape use which is used frequently and has a high cultural or educational value is a most important landscape use (LU^). A visibility evaluation rates the number of viewers, their probable expectations, and their relative ability to see the specific landscape as high, average or low visibility. A landscape seen by a large number of homeowners or tourists on a daily basis over an extended time period, and seen frcm a major highway or recreation whether at grade or elevated is a highly visible landscape (V^).
A mapping system is then used which combines the quality rating (VRQ), the land use (LQ), and its relative visibility (V). The result is a screening system for establishing an area's priority (high, medium, low) in future planning activities.
In this way, the SCS planning staff has a quantifiable sense of what areas will need greatest professional attention in planning matters.^
Visual Management System
Another system of analyzing the visual environment, developed by the Forest Service
(USFS) is called the Visual Management System (VMS). VMS is used by forest planners
for landscape management when considering everything from timber cutting permits
to campground development to powerline location. "The American people are concerned
about the quality of their visual environment. Because of this concern, it has
became appropriate to establish the 'visual landscape' as a basic resource, to be
treated as an essential part of and receive equal consideration with the other
basic resources of the land." At the same time, public demand has increased
for goods and services produced on much of the same land. It has thus became
necessary to both inventory the visual resource and provide measurable standards
for the management of it.
VMS was designed to help the Forest Service to make appropriate planning decisions for activities proposed on public land, as a cearponent of broader decision-making processes. It is designed to function at any level of the land planning process, using basic premises which identify and categorize the visual landscape. 1
^USDA, Forest Service, Forest Service Manual 2380 (USDA Landscape Management) as quoted in Agricultural Handbook #462 (USDA Forest Service, April 1974), Vol. 2, .
Chapter 1, pg. 2.
\fSDA Forest Service. Agricultural Handbook #462, (Superintendent of Documents, WpQh. D.f!.) Volume 9 7'heb: 1. d. 2.
j - >
VA^i^rW &*&* f
(yzki/s \v ktAM^ty^
The premises (or assumptions) upon which this system is based place priority on those areas seen by the most viewers, for the longest time, and for the most public purposes, much like the SCS system. Diversity, viewer expectation and distance also are key elements to categorizing the visual landscape.
Once the visual environment has been divided into visual management units, usually by watershed, an inventory is conducted, often by computer, to determine variety class. As in SCS, these are ranked either distinctive, common or minimal. This inventory is usually taken from points along major travel routes or other highly frequented view areas, such as scenic overlooks or ski areas. The travel influence zone all land seen from major travel routes is established according to foreground (within h mile), middleground (3s to 3/5 miles), and background (greater than five miles). Additional area can be added to these basic distances according to the aspect or exposure of a particular landscape
along the route. Fran this, a measure of the landscape's visual sensitivity can be assessed highest (level 1), average (level 2), or lowest (level 3).
An area of highest visual sensitivity is "considered to be more important to preserve in its natural state than is an area of lowest sensitivity.11 Highest visual sensitivity indicates at least h of the forest visitors have a major concern for scenic qualities. Visual sensitivity analysis is actually a barometer to future activities, or "the degree to which a landscape will reflect negative visual impacts of various modification activities." This sensitivity "rating" is sometimes combined with an analysis of the landscape's visual character.
This constitutes the mental image or impression left by the landscape, defined as either panoramic, feature, enclosed or focal landscapes. The physical setting
and its ability to "absorb" manmade activity is influenced by vegetative cover,
slope, aspect and location, forming a composite landscape.
These areas, as in the SCS system, are given a relative planning priority.
By ocmbining the variety class, sensitivity rating and distance, appropriate management direction can be taken for a given area. This management direction dictates the visual quality objectives noted in the above diagram. These objectives include preservation, retention, partial retention, modification and maximum modification.
Preservation as a visual quality objective would "allow ecological changes only,"
and is used in wilderness areas and other special areas. Retention provides for
"activities which are not visually evident." An example might be the cutting
of ski runs to simulate the natural pattern of avalanche chutes. The repetition
of form, line and texture from the natural environment is critical in order that
the activity is "not visually evident to the casual forest visitor."
Partial retention allows same evidence of the activity so long as it does not
dominate, and remains "visually subordinate to the characteristic landscape."
While a structure is allowed in this area, such as a microwave tower or retaining
wall, it must "fit" borrowing fonn, line, texture and color from its environs.
Vince, pg. 59.
VsDA Forest Service, Ag. Handbook #462, pg. 29-31.
Ibid., pg. 32-33.
Modification and maximum modification allow significant change, such as clear-cut timber sales and major structures, but must also adjust to their surroundings. In this way, they may be more easily absorbed into the visual environment. For this public agency, there remains a "bottom line" beyond viiich unacceptable modification of the natural environment cannot be tolerated. "Because all National Forest lands can be seen from aircraft or high vista points, a minimum visual quality objective should be determined."'*
Under VMS, total domination Â£>f the landscape) by manmade focal points such as
power lines usually means degradation of scenic quality. It may also mean bad
management practices for water quality and soil stability. Such is often the
case with poorly designed roads. Scenic quality, which has been degraded by a
dominant human activity placed in a highly visually sensitive area, can often be
rehabilitated; conversely, areas which have no visual variety or distinctiveness
can be enhanced through the addition of certain activities.
In Sunmit County, for example, recent efforts have been introduced which rehabilitate the dominant swaths cut by old powerline construction. By "feathering" the edge of the swath, a natural clearing is simulated in the forested landscape.
The development of these two systems for visual analysis reflects the necessity for each agency SCS and USFS to address the Impact of their various planning activities upon landscapes considered a scenic resource by the public. Developed more than ten years ago, these methods are now often used as a planning tool whether the land or activity is public or private. These two methods have been described to provide a framework for the evaluation of the scenic resource of the Lower Blue.
As previously explained, the scope of this study is limited to the private land in the valley. This is primarily due to the fact that the scenic resource on public land is adequately considered under the existing planning process for Federal agencies such as the Forest Service. The National Environmental 2
~*~Ibid., pp. 34-37.
2Ibid., pp. 38-41.
Policy Act (NEPA) sets forth strict requirements for the public review of activities which impact forest lands; a systematic approach has evolved to determine the effect of such activities on the visual environment (VMS); and there has been significant public interest shown for the area's uniqueness by the designation by Congress of the Eagles Nest Wilderness area. For these reasons, the scenic resource is normally given sufficient protection on public land.
Two VMS evaluations have been conducted of the valley by the USFS first as a part of a 1974 study by both the county and Forest Service of the entire county's visual environment, and most recently (1982) as an element of the White River National Forest Management plan. Major, moderate and low sensitivity areas were mapped, using Colorado Highway 9 to establish the Travel Influence Zone.
Conclusions reached in the VMS analysis from 1974 mention specific features to
preserve in the Lower Blue. (Results of the most recent evaluation will not be
available until public review of the Forest plan is initiated in the summer of
1983.) Recommendations focus on establishing appropriate criteria for activities
in the high, moderate and low sensitivity areas. Criteria for development in the
near and far views of key areas are also recommended. Ihe resulting categories
of high, moderate and low sensitivity are shown on Figure ____/'"The 1974 study
applied the VMS technique to both public and private land, and is used here as
the basis for the Target Area Analysis which follows this section. (Another
evaluation was also conducted in 1974 by a private consultant to Summit County.
This study by HOH was considered but not included here, as it only included h
the area covered by this report.)
The sensitivity analysis by Vince was considered "a foundation for the formulation of legal controls aimed at the retention of Summit County's visual environment. General recommendations included a comprehensive land use policy be adopted that 2
Vince, pp. 97-102.
Harmon, O'Donnell & Hettinger, "Lower Blue River Planning Area an Environmental Analysis & Development Potential Study," prepared for Summit Cty., August, 1974.
integrated public and private land use impacts; general development and construction procedures were also outlined with the intent to reduce their visual impact on the county as a whole. ^ Specific recommendations for the Lower Blue includes (1) designation of Highway 9 as a scenic highway; (2) inclusion of the area under
H. B. 1041 Area of State Interest; and (3) establish planning goals for the valley. These planning goals should include, but not be limited to;
I. Retaining ranchland to help preserve both scenic and rural character.
2. Preserving public access to the Blue River.
3. Prohibiting development on the slopes of the Williams Fork range due to its high visual sensitivity and wildlife habitat.
4. Limiting development to the rural density established under A-l at one unit/
5. Creating a scenic easement along Colorado Highway 9 to help retain the
ranching economy, rural character and scenic quality.
While the SCS priority syston has not been applied to the valley, it recognizes many of the same attributes to scenic quality as VMS. It also gives the reader a broader understanding as to how the value of a scenic resource can be established. As Figure demonstrates, most of the private land is considered highly sensitive to alterations from human activity. The area is generally flat or rolling, viewed from a State highway at a distance of less than h mile, in a generally enclosed valley which focuses attention on the immediate foreground and distant views of mountain peaks. Based on the evaluative criteria of the techniques discussed above, it is the assumption of this report that the Lower Blue is a valuable and unique scenic resource possessing both distinctive scenic quality and high visibility to a significant number of current and potential users.
It is for these reasons, in conjunction with Summit County's growth profile, that the valley makes a significant case study area, in which to recommend the application of appropriate planning techniques.
THE SCENIC "VALUE" OF THE LCWER BLUE
It has been called "one of the prime natural resources of Summit County...the rugged beauty of the snowcapped mountain ranges and the pastoral splendor of the 2
^Ibid., pp. 71-89.
2Ibid., pp. 99-102.
irrigated ranch lands represent the most dramatic contrast...and (this variety) is responsible for its aesthetic appeal."'*' The general value of the valley to residents and visitors can be attributed not only to its natural qualities, but also to other elements.
Besides its natural beauty, the Lower Blue is unique in the county, since it is the only area which continues to support working ranches. These ranchlands add rural character to the valley. This new dimension augments the valley's scenic quality adding an historic and cultural element to the landscape.
The scenic quality of mountain valleys is directly associated with its rural status and agricultural use. Valley bottomland at high altitudes like the Lower Blue has traditionally supported a cow-calf economy; the growing season is too short for crops except native grass hay. Historically, the land was homesteaded, cleared of sagebrush and flooded, through an elaborate complex of irrigation ditches.
This "crop" of native grass hay represents winter forage in direct proportion to the cattle herd grazing on the adjacent, non-irrigated land an efficient, ecologically-balanced system. It is, in turn, these vast meadows which provide a dramatic foreground to the mountain peaks beyond. The variety and contrast in this type of landscape gives it unique identity and scenic quality.
Rural character, while usually exhibiting an agricultural theme, is also used to express the general feeling of remoteness and openness associated with agri-cultural landscapes. It may include references to irrigated meadows, cattle, agricultural architecture, and machinery. In mountainous regions of Colorado, open land is often ranchland or public land managed for multiple use.
Another definition of rural character was explored in a recent study of Gunnison County. The study was on efforts to quantify the components in the quality of life there. Three major components were: 2
~*~Ibid., p. 51.
"Of Change & A Mountain," (Harvard Univ., Dept, of Landscape Architecture, 1979), Student Project Brochure.
/L ^Ibid., p. 124.
An historic perspective, which identified key ranchland and cultural heritage features;
2. A sense of elbow roan, a subjective perspective related to the image of the valley as open and undeveloped, with renching being the primary business which keeps it that way; and
3. A visual quality analysis, used to determine the most preferred and diverse landscapes.
This definition of rural character, as separate frcm the natural environment, was a tool in understanding a fundamental part of people's daily experience there, and constitutes a vital canponent of (their) quality of life.^
The scenic value and quality of life in the Lower Blue is also enhanced by this rural element. A oontinuum between the physical environment and its cultural features can be loosely diagrammed to show their individual contribution to the scenic value of the valley.
Rural character and scenic quality thus can be represented as inseparable for the analysis purposes of this report. Just as agricultural production is an enhancement to the scenic value of the Lower Blue (and other mountain valleys), so are there other elements which may contribute to its value. Because the scenic quality of the valley is dependent on the composition of the natural environment (as is agriculture), a more detailed understanding of the natural and cultural systems as contributing elanents to the scenic resource is briefly examined here.
Wildlife and Recreation Opportunities as Contributors to Scenic "Value"
The unique scenic quality of the Lower Blue is a function of its diversity.
This same diversity of vegetation and landfom contributes to prime wildlife habitat, and supports a host of big game and other wildlife species. Streams in the valley are of extremely high quality and support cold water fisheries.
In addition to hiking and horse riding, hunting and fishing constitute the primary recreation use of the area. Accurate recreation statistics for these uses are difficult to obtain, given their dispersed nature. However, a recent study by the State Division of Wildlife cites that the contribution of hunting and fishing to the State economy is comparable to that of the ski industry, roughly over $1 billion.^
Bor Summit County this figure and its effects are probably significant. This is based on the conclusion that much of the local economy is service-oriented and tourist-based. While the peak dollar contribution occurs from December through March, diversity in an economic base can be just as important as diversity in a natural system, promoting stability for local populations. Skiing, both alpine and cross-country, occur roughly five-six months of the year; hunting and hiking correspond to the remaining six months. Fishing occurs year-round. Agriculture may also contribute to this, to seme degree.
Diversifying the local economy has been a goal of Summit County since 1975, but no systematic approach has been applied for its accomplishment. There may also be social as well as economic benefits to the enhance of these uses. Because hunting and fishing as well as the attraction for hiking and horse riding is
Interview with Alex Chappell.
dependent on natural diversity in the environment, there may also exist direct and indirect dependencies between scenic quality and these uses. This dependence might be represented by an expanded version of the previous diagram:
These relationships are explored here as a basis for further discussion in later sections. The apparent interdependency of these various uses and the scenic resource may lend greater credibility to any planning techniques which may be viewed on their face oily for aesthetic considerations.
V: determining a target area for scenic resource protection
A STEP-BY-STEP PROCESS FOR IDENTIFYING THE MOST CRITICAL AREAS TO TARGET Taking the information provided by the Visual Sensitivity map alone did not acequately dictate which areas of the valley might benefit from a particular planning technique intended to sustain scenic quality. Therefore, a closer look at ownership composition, zoning and land uses historic and anticipated was used as a method for revealing sensitive areas most vulnerable to change. The process for arriving at a target area is shown below.
Figure ___is based on a cursory analysis of current ownership and land use as
indicators of areas which, if developed consistent with past patterns, may damage the current high quality of the scenic resource. Six general categories ware found:
1. Anticipated development: Land currently held by development corporations and/or individuals with the intent to subdivide and develop the tract.
Area 3 Ranchland
Historic ranchland in this category remains generally stable, based on large agriculturally-productive tracts, with long-term family corcnitments to the land. (Should this land change ownership, hcwever, the tract may fall into another category.)
Area 4 "De Facto" Large Lot Subdivisions
Large lot "de facto" subdivisions may obtain moire density but are likely to remain in separate lot ownership.
Area 5 Approved or Pending P.U.D. 's
Summit County is likely to approve the pending land use proposals and approved P.U.D. 's are likely to develop so that this category becomes the next to least likely to change. These P.U.D. 's generally conform to existing policy.
Area 6 Platted/Zoned Subdivisions
Areas where development has been initiated are assumed least likely to change based on past resources committed to their development, i.e., roads, lot sales and development, and long-term zoning. This includes such areas as Heeney, Avery Acres, Sierra Basque and Ute Park subdivisions.
The next step in determining the target area was to composite the index with
the Visual Sensitivity map (Figure____). Areas of high and moderate sensitivity
were overlaid with the index map, revealing a significant conflict area.
In order to narrow the scope of the report to that area in greatest need
of planning, the top four out of the six land use areas from Figure_____were
chosen to comprise the target area. Figure_____indicates their relative visual
sensitivity from any unplanned change in use. Ranchland (Area 3) represents the most significant land area, followed by speculative land (Area 1), large lot "de facto" subdivisions (Area 4), and isolated parcels (Area 2).
The choice to limit research to the top four categories was also determined in part by evaluating where the greatest opportunity still exists for a planning technique to work. Those areas with the greatest degree of development carmit-ment (Areas 5 and 6) are also those with the least opportunity for additional public review. Therefore, a survey of techniques for those types of land uses not so totally conmitted would be better time spent toward the eventual protection of scenic values in the valley.
EXAMINING THE ISSUES RAISED BY THE TARGET AREA
The final step in this process for identifying an area which needs preplanning to sustain its scenic quality is to examine each of the four specific areas, attempting to isolate which would help direct a research effort. As previously discussed in Chapter 1, the scope of this search will be limited to public and non-profit organization techniques. In general, for the public domain, specific State agencies such as the Division of Wildlife and the State Department of Highways may, at times, strongly influence the accomplishment of scenic preservation goals, but the majority of enabling State planning legislation is directed at city and county governments. This includes the requirement that counties adopt a master plan for the planning commission to use in directing growth, and the authority to exercise certain police powers to accomplish public health, safety and welfare needs. These police powers are incorporated into zoning and subdivision regulations; eminent domain can also be exercised as a planning tool. Using this authority, local government can shape private development of land, and can also take an active role by itself in shaping the landscape, given strong public direction.
On the other hand, the non-profit organization, by virtue of its own goals, can often accomplish significant scenic preservation besides local or State government. Its funding is provided by the private sector through donation of profits from estates, foundations or corporations. Through the direction of its board
of directors and its stated purposes, it can set 15) trusts, acquire land, and provide special financing strategies. Research will be concentrated on what mechanisms were used by conservation-oriented organizations and their general effectiveness.
SCENIC PROTECTION OF RANCHLAND
Of the four areas which emprise the target area, existing ranchland (shown on Figure____) is the most significant in size. The conservation of agricul-
tural ly-productive land relates well to scenic preservation, as discussed briefly in Section Four of this chapter. It is also an area which has seen much attention recently, since the Soil Conservation Service reported significant losses to the land base from urban development. Therefore, a survey of the information regarding this issue and planning mechanisms being used to retain these areas might provide insight into protection mechanisms for the Lower Blue.
ISSUES RELATED TO DEVELOPMENT OF SCENIC, NOJ-AGRICULTURAL LANDS Because of the depth of research anticipated to adequately examine the issue of agricultural conservation, a survey of public techniques for the land areas already out of production will be given somewhat less priority. Areas 1, 2 and
4 shown on Figure____present sanewhat similar issues to local government
that of establishing clear direction and intent to those who wish to develop rural land. The major issue still appears to be how to initially prevent or discourage taking agricultural land out of production.
Therefore, mechanisms for encouraging the retention of productive agricultural land within parcels purchased for development speculation, or those mechanisms which discourage conversion of land into large lot subdivisions to avoid public review might offer sane relief to the trend in the Lower Blue. Research, then, will also include a look at rural transition areas, and hew rural land might be prevented from being prsnaturely converted to urban sprawl.
CHAPTER 3: a survey of public and non-profit organization techniques aimed at scenic resource protection
I: public planning
approaches to scenic preservation
MASTER PLANS IN COLORADO
While each county in Colorado is required to have a master plan, it appears only two counties Pitkin and Boulder have used the full extent of their authority to plan for their futures.
Pitkin County Land Use Code
Pitkin County took a fairly aggressive approach to master planning and the use of regulatory controls, following a decisive political campaign in the early 70's. The major campaign issue was based on whether to attempt control of the booming development of the previous seven years. Ushering in a period of negative reaction to growth, a Goals Task Force was formed in 1971, shortly after the election, and was made up of concerned citizens. After evaluating the county's existing master plan, the Task Force recommended specific Programs for Action be implemented. Over the next few years, the Task Force continued to refine its goals, while an interim measure was adopted which included both goals and an action program. In 1976, the Pitkin County Land Use Code was adopted by the three county carmissioners.
"Believed by many to be the first major innovation in land use legislation in the past 40 years," the Code brought together master plan policies, zoning and subdivision regulations, and the development review process under one comprehensive document. The overriding premise which had shaped development of the document was that future development must support a stable economy based on optimum use of natural resources, but which would function at a level which maintained the thrust of the local economy yet contributed to the greatest
quality of return to local residents. The bottom line was quality, and every
. 2 current planning innovation was used to accomplish the ideal. 2
^Pitkin County, Pitkin County Land Use Code, April 1, 1976, introductory remarks, Joe Edwards.
Interview with Karen Smith, former Aspen/Pitkin County planning director,
March 14, 1983.
New zoning districts were designed to implement the general policies, resulting in substantial "downzoning" and the creation of major non-oonfcrming uses.
Every enabling land use statute was referenced as authority for the Code.
Later the same year (1976), a Growth Management plan was adopted for both Aspen and Pitkin County, as an amendment to the master plan, which set an annual growth rate comparable to what had prevailed before the boon of the late 60's.
Of particular interest to the scope of this study are policies on:
(1) scenic quality, (2) conpatibility with agricultural lands and operations, and (3) its general purpose statement. (The general regulations, Section 5 of the Code, will be discussed later.)
The purpose, besides providing a "unified regulatory system for land use"^ cites directly fran Colorado statutes. By adopting policies, districts and regulations under one document, those policies may be construed as regulatory in nature, an issue which caused Summit County much grief in its litigation. Although repeatedly challenged, especially in the early years, since its adoption, this comprehensive purpose statement has remained an important element of the document.
The policies on agricultural lands and scenic quality recognize their unique
interdependency (as this report has previously diagrammed in Section 4, Chapter 2)
and the dependence of the local economy on "its rural and natural setting" as an essential part of the quality of that economy.
Boulder County Comprehensive Plan
Boulder County, at about the same time, was also seriously reviewing its land use controls, in the face of becoming just another "bedroom" community to Denver, along the Front Range Urban Corridor. It was with the clear intent to remain unique that both the city and county began to implement land use controls which controlled and directed its booming growth."^
In contrast to Pitkin, Boulder County's master planning centered around an inter-governmental planning agreement with its principal urban center, Boulder. The agreement focused on the provision of "urban services," a term which applies to all forms of development residential, carmercial and industrial. 2
Pitkin County Code, pg. _____.
Interview with Jascn Brouillette, Boulder County planner, May 6, 19,83.
Development only occurs if the property is annexed, and potential annexations must meet urban service criteria. A map based on property lines recognizes three areas the city of Boulder's incorporated limits, its anticipated service area, and the Boulder Valley Planning Area.
The Planning Area represents land which will remain under county jurisdiction and which will not be annexed or see significant growth. The Service Area represents land in transition, to be annexed into the city when it can provide the full complement of urban services and facilities. "Adequate (urban) facilities and services" are defined as "the availability of public water, public sewer, urban fire and police protection, urban transportation, parks and schools based upon the criteria set forth...1,1 By requiring that all development be served by public water and sever, as veil as a host of other urban services, the remainder of the Boulder Valley will remain undeveloped, except for the "subccnrnunities" of Lafayette and Louisville.
Of particular interest to this study are the additional steps the county designed
to keep the valley both rural and scenic. These steps include a set of policies
which recognize the need to keep agriculture in the valley and its major entrance
road free frcm urban development, as well as regulatory techniques, which will
be discussed later. Under the subheading Camnunity Design, the intent of the
plan to provide for the development of land adjacent to the city is made very
clear. Area III the planning area of Boulder County "is not now planned
to accormodate urban development" for reasons stated above, in addition to the
fact that "it is primarily a rural and agricultural area and its character
should be preserved and protected."
Specific policies follow which reinforce these reasons: 2.Q9, which- states "the city and county will preserve unique features and characteristics as permanent open spaces," and lists several measures by which it might be accomplished; 2.11, "the protection of major entryways.. .to emphasize and preserve the natural setting and appearance of the cormunity"; and 2.12, the identifi-
^Boulder County, Boulder County Comprehensive Plan, (revised & updated 1977) adopted May, 1981, pg. 15.
Ibrd., pg. 13.
cation and evaluation of agricultural areas "to ensure their long-term existence and protection from development.
THE USE CP ZONING AND SUBDIVISION AUTHORITY IN BOULDER & PITKIN COUNTIES As alluded to above, both Pitkin and Boulder Counties used the full extent of their planning authority to ensure a consistent application of their policies. Pitkin County went on to establish General Regulations and Zoning Districts, a cannon review procedure, and special use regulations and standards, as necessary, to implement its General Policies.
Pitkin County General Regulations & Zone Districts
The most pertinent zone district to this discussion is the creation of the RS-160 zone, or Resource Zone. This was later amended to RS-20 and RS-30, less restrictive but with similar intent to force the clustering of heme sites onto less than 5% of the land area. The express intent of the zone is:
"to aid in the preservation of agricultural land,
to aid in the preservation of Pitkin County's scenic amenity,
to provide for a limited amount of small lots to be subdivided (without an elaborate procedure), and
to provide for development(s)...to be reviewed on their own merits." 2
Provided certain restrictions, such as no domestic dogs and continuing agricultural productivity was not thwarted by the subdivision, were covenanted or otherwise ensured through contract with the county or other means, the subdivision was relatively easy to accomplish. The major arterial highway Highway 82 also carried up to a 200' setback requirement, effectively limiting development within a highly sensitive visual corridor.
General regulations applied to all zones. Strict environment guidelines were initiated regarding soils and other resource-related factors; as with the general policies, compatibility with both agricultural lands and scenic quality had to be demonstrated by an applicant. For agricultural compatibility, this 1
^Pitkin County Code, pg.
meant (1) demonstrating no change to water uses; (2) showing that planned access to the development did not interfere with stock movement; and other strict guidelines. Submission requirements must also shew that 95% of the acreage remained available for food production, and that at least 90% remained available for feed production or irrigated pasture.
For scenic quality compatibility, the development must demonstrate that both construction and the final design would "lessen visual damage to the natural terrain, streams, vegetation, and other natural (site) features."1 This includes saving top soil for reuse after construction, revegetation using native materials, preservation of views, and road system impact evaluation.
By building-in such a substantial cross-reference system and overlap of
standards, the outcome of any development was fairly wall assured.
Boulder County's Non-Urban P.U.D. Zone District
Boulder County also redesigned its rural zone district to reflect the 35-acre provision of S.B. 35, making the minimum lot size 35 acres. In this way, they avoided confronting any issue regarding the over-extension of their authority as provided for in State enabling legislation. The county developed an incentive system in order to encourage the aggregation of property and to discourage any premature annexations. It was also concerned with providing for reasonable use 35 acres being too large a lot for the single family homeowner to maintain, but too small to function as an agricultural property.1
Approved in 1978, the Non-Urban PUD effectively provides for the doubling of density from one unit/35 acres to two units if the units are clustered and involve no more than 25% of the site. The rest must be platted as an agricultural outlot, with the development rights given to the county in the form of a conservation easement. As of December, 1982, 49 such PUD's had been approved, in contrast to ten approved since S.E. 35 became law in 1972. (Prior to that, 200-250 lots a year had been approved.)^ 2 3
Aitkin County Code, pg. ____.
Interview with K. Smith.
3 . '
Interview with J. Brouillette.
Boulder County relies heavily on zoning to implement its policies, believing subdivision has little weight and that the true land use control is in the use and lot size restrictions of zoning. In this way, it has largely avoided the pitfalls of S.B. 35 as previously analyzed (see Section 3, Chapter 2).
However, Boulder County extends all the way to the Continental Divide, and also includes foothills to timber line terrain. Most of the provisions mentioned so far only apply to the Boulder Valley, from the "Green Line" to the eastern boundary. The Non-Urban PUD does not apply to mountain property; the major land use controls in this area are access and water. A road cut permit, required under zoning regulations, is required before a building permit can be issued; to date, most lots (subdivided prior to any land use controls) cannot meet the road cut restrictions. Designed primarily to ensure adequate fire access and road stability, they have became the major obstacle to any mountain development.'*'
The long-term effect of the Non-Urban PUD has yet to be felt; little development
has occurred. Ranchers have used it as an opportunity to raise capital and
ensure a low level of harassment from future urban neighbors. While land prices
have doubled in the valley, the long-range effect of a conservation easement
on rural property has stabilized an otherwise speculative market.
Another advantage has surfaced recently for the county, now considered a property owner by virtue of the easement. It now has a position from which to negotiate, when the annexation policies of an adjoining community conflict with its comprehensive plan. The Non-Urban PUD has actually encouraged the aggregation of property, with several owners joining in one proposal to consolidate into one cluster the development of their worst agricultural land. It appears to be meeting its intended design, with the average application between 150 to 200 acres. 1 2 3
OPEN SPACE PLANNING AND ACQUISITION
Several counties in the State pursue the purchase of land for passive open space uses. The most prevalent are Jefferson and Boulder on the Front Range and Aspen/Pitkin County in the mountains. Each has established an open space program, directed by an open space plan, and has developed several mechanisms for acquisition and sources of funding.
The Purpose of Boulders Open Space
The City of Boulder's program for obtaining open space has been particularly successful. While realizing the function and purpose of open space is many and varied, it recognizes ten major functions of its open space:
I. Preservation of natural areas characterized by: (a) unusual terrain;
(b) unusual flora and/or fauna, native and/or unique to the area; (c) unique geologic formations; (d) water resources; (e) scenic areas and/or vistas; (f) wildlife habitat or fragile ecosystems.
II. Preservation of open space for passive recreation use, such as hiking, bicycling, etc.
III. Preservation of agricultural uses and areas.
IV. Preservation of open space lands for future land use needs.
V. Utilization of open space lands for spatial definition of urban areas.
VI. Utilization of open space lands for shaping and development of the city,
limiting urban sprawl and disciplining growth.
VII. Utilization of open space lands to prevent encroachment on flood plains.
VIII. Utilization of open space lands to encourage more intensive use of
IX. Utilization of open space lands for retention of aesthetic and recreational value of open land in proximity to and within the city.
X. Utilization of open space lands to obtain balance and harmony of open space and physical development for the human benefit.^
The Basis for Urban Open Space Acquisition
Initiation of open space planning by local governments seems most prevalent when the ccmnunity seeks to sustain its identity, and cannot rely on the boundaries of any State or Federal lands to help give it definition. As a result, a community may begin to surround itself with city-owned land in order to ensure identity as
Boulder Open Space Trustees, Boulder's Open Space Plan, as adopted May, 1980.
well as to provide for adequate passive recreational space for the enjoyment and mental health of its inhabitants. As a result, the ccmnunity beccmes more inwardly focused and dynamic, becoming an infusion of social and cultural interests.
Jefferson, Pitkin and Boulder County have all sought to purchase key properties which, if developed in any active way, would be detrimental to the well being of the entire cxsnnunity. Focal points, prominent geologic features and terrain such as isolated knolls and identifying features, and in same cases, the foreground properties of these landscapes, have been targeted for purchase.
The private landowners have not always cooperated in this venture, forcing Boulder County, as an example, to use its right of eminent domain to condemn the property as a very last resort. Seme negotiations have taken nine years to work out a reasonable sales agreement. In the case of agricultural land, many of the original owners have leased back their former property from the local government, and continue to operate much as before.'*'
Financing strategies for these counties and cities often come from voter initiatives or ref erendums. The citizens of Boulder approved a one cent sales tax
increase in November, 1967, 40% of which was earmarked for acquisition and 2
protection of open space lands. The residents of Aspen also approved a sales tax measure allocating the sixth penny of a seven-penny tax for open space acquisition.
Boulder County placed a sales tax measure on the ballot which was subsequently defeated; it now allocates approximately $1 million per year from the general fund for open space acquisition, often in the form of "rolling options," where l/7th of the property is paid for each year. Pitkin County built a substantial recreation facility using Bureau of Outdoor Recreation funds; these funds are no longer available. Many of the priority lands established for acquisition have been acquired by Aspen. A non-profit organization called Pitkin County Parks has begun soliciting funds for open space acquisition, replacing the county as the prime actor but following its general criteria for purchase of the identified parcels.^
''Interview with Stephanie Berry, City of Boulder open space, May 12, 1983.
3 ] i
Interview with J. Broillette.
II: private non-profit approaches to scenic preservation and agricultural conservation
Several organizations exist nationwide for the preservation and conservation of natural resources and our cultural/historical heritage. Two prominent non-profit groups are discussed below, in addition to a newly formed statewide organization.
THE NATURE CONSERVANCY
This organization is one of the oldest non-profit organizations of its kind.
Founded in 1951, it is recognized by the IRS as a charitable organization, able
to receive tax-deductible gifts and donations of land and money. The Conservancy
manages "the largest privately-run nature preserve system in the world."
Its primary function is to protect habitat and natural systems, especially
those of endanagered species plant and animal through identification of
special ecological areas and their acquisition, by gift or purchase.
Its general fund is supplied annually through contributions of individuals and businesses, and is used as an operating budget. The Land Preservation Fund, a revolving fund of $32 million, represents its most flexible acquisition tool.
This fund can be used temporarily and quickly where needed to make purchases of threatened land. The fund is paid back by local chapter; it can also be used as interim financing for projects and is used to provide commercial lines of credit. It has become known as a major acquisition organization, but does rely on voluntary conservation efforts as well as conservation easements and formal dedications of land for conservation purposes. The organization will also act as a go-between for parties interested in conveyance of land and those whose primary purposes are the stewardship of land, such as the American Farmland Trust (AFT)
*The Nature Conservancy, "Fact Sheet," 1983.
Interview with Sydney Macy, Director, Colorado Field Office, Nature Conser-vancy, March 10, 1983.
^The Nature Conservancy.
AMERICAN FARMLAND TRUST (APT)
Formed by the same person who helped to form both the Conservancy and the National Historic Preservation Trust, this relatively new organization, also non-profit, is "ccrrmitted to the protection of farmland and of farmland opportunities. By relying on both private sector initiative and conscientious public policies," the AFT tries to balance retention of prime agricultural land in production and the responsible development of less productive land.
The organization concentrates on three approaches:
1. Private real estate transactions: Using its own revolving fund and lines of credit to forestall sale of farmland through the purchase of conservation easements. These easements reduoe estate taxes and allow substantial tax deductions; applied on a case-by-case basis, APT maintains a farmer can sometimes "realize a better after-tax return on his equity by protecting the land than by selling the farm out of agriculture."
2. Public policy development: Through analyzing Federal, State and local government policies, AFT identifies those which encourage "farmland losses by promoting the wrong kinds of development." Working with policymakers, the organization has helped to develop "right to farm" policies which can "help protect agriculture from conflicting uses of land next door."
3. Information clearinghouse: The organization maintains a newsletter and
, 2 monitors other pertinent information on farmland protection efforts.
In the Lover Blue, a conservation easement was received by the trust for the Mt. Powell ranch, an approximately 8,Q00 acre ranch recently sold by one of the oldest residents of the valley to A1 Cohen, owner of Cohen Construction Company of Denver, a well-known multi-million dollar construction enterprise.
Ihe Nature Conservancy has been approached by Breckenridge concerning the Clayton Hill ranch which it purchased for water rights. However, the Conservancy is concerned primarily with protecting pristine, natural areas or habitat for endangered species.
THE THjgr FOR PUBLIC LAND (TPL)
A somewhat younger organization, TPL states in its 1982 annual report that its purpose is to "conserve land as a living resource for present and future
''"American Farmland Trust, "Protecting America's Farmland," (brochure no date). 2Ibid.
generations." It toorks closely with, urban and rural groups and government agencies to:
acquire and preserve open space land to serve human needs;
share knowledge of non-profit land acquisition processes;
pioneer new methods of land conservation and environmentally sound uses.
TPL strives to be financially self-sufficient and to practice a land ethic by improving public access to public lands, by fostering cannunity-owned parks and gardens, and by establishing agricultural land trusts." 1
The organization claims it has increasing demand for its services from both urban and rural areas. These services include workshops for citizens interested in forming conservation land trusts, and gifts and donations of land and money under three programs: Public Land Program, Urban Land Program, and Land Trust Program.
In an effort to increase available park and recreation land, TPL acts as a public service intermediary, like the Nature Conservancy, to acquire by gift or purchase, open space land at bargain sales prices, enabling the landowner individual or corporation to gain tax benefits. Under its Public Land Program, TPL claims to have saved public agencies $8 million by acting as professional negotiators
and by providing flexible purchasing arrangements not available to public agen-
. 2 cies, especially in the current economic austerity.
Its Urban land Program has helped neighborhood development groups to pick up
blighted or abandoned land in cities and facilitated trusts set up to develop
and maintain the land for open space and recreation.
"Training workshops and technical assistance form the major component of TPL's Land Trust Program." 4 By helping to form local non-profit corporations such as a land trust, TPL is fostering the use of a local, non-regulatory mechanism for protecting agricultural land. These local trusts negotiate for conservation easements on local farm or ranchland, and monitor the easements in perpetuity, through changes in ownership. TPL believes this to be the most effective method of protecting agricultural land and its value to both the quality of life and
^The Trust for Public Land, 1982 -Annual Report, Statement of Purpose.
local economy, because it is based on an organization whose members have a direct interest in the land.-*-
Colorado has six land trusts, formed with, the help of the Trust for Public Land. They include areas such as the productive fruit land near Grand Junction at Palisade, and the scenic ranchland of the Crystal River Valley near Carbondale, the Upper San Juan River Valley near Pagosa Springs, the Yairpa River Valley near Steamboat Springs, and the Durango area.
These local trusts have met with variable success, but are also quite new, in
most cases less than three years old. The most successful appear to be the
Upper San Juan Land Protection Trust and the Mesa County Land Conservancy.
The Upper San Juan Valley is much like the Lower Blue characterized by high
mountain valleys and snowcapped peaks. Its major easement is on a 500-acre
ranch, where the prime motivation was the reduction of estate taxes in order
for the sen to keep the ranch and remain on the land. "This is the only way
I've found to pass on the ranch to my son Carl and his family so they won't
be forced to sell the ranch to pay estate taxes," a oerrment frem the 90-year-
old landowner, Mary Grimes.
TPL believes that long-term agricultural land protection will work only if there
are three key ingredients: local agricultural leadership, ccnmunity support for
regulations, and compatible surrounding land uses. Experience with these local
land trusts has shown them that "lowered taxes and strong community support are
as important to agricultural land protection as the transaction aimed at
preserving a given piece of land."
COLORADO OPEN LANDS (COL)
Just as the previous national organizations engage in private action for public purposes, so does a recently-formed Colorado organization called Colorado Open Lands (COL). Created in January of 1982 by groups and individuals who participated in the Colorado Front Range Project, COL is "a public, non-profit
"*Trust for Public Land, "How Do Land Trusts Work?", (Memo Prepared for the California State Coastal Conservancy, Dec. 9, 1981), revised Feb. 7, 1983.
^Trust for Public Land, "Upper San Juan Land Protection, Inc.: How an Agricultural Land Trust Got Started," Oct., 1981.
3Jennie Gerard, Criteria for Agricultural Land Preservation, Trust for Public Land, Oct., 1982T-
corporation established to promote and actively pursue the preservation of open space in Colorado."^ The impetus for its formation came from responses to the citizen-based Front Range Project initiated in 1979 by Governor Lamm, which, in turn, mirrored concern over Colorado's rapid growth which surfaced during the project. It represents a private sector initiative aimed at achieving "the publicly identified goal of open space preservation." These business interests recognized the need for business involvement, since the perception and existence of open space contributes to the stability of the tourism industry and helps to keep high quality, management level employees in the Denver area; this, in turn, gives Colorado a competitive edge in economic development by attracting major industry to the State.
Its primary purpose is to fill the void left by decreased Federal monies, the traditional source of funding local governments have relied on to accomplish open space planning. It seeks out those areas which a public entity has expressed a desire to keep in open space; projects can range from preservation of agricultural lands to buffer corridors between communities, to the development of urban parks and bikeways. The organization fulfills much the same kind of enterpre-neurial role as the previous organizations, but focuses solely on Colorado, considering its role as action-oriented. It has focused on a priority of parcels statewide, identified as critical to preserving Colorado's open space
heritage and resources.
Cne of these parcels is the Evans Ranch, a 3,400-acre parcel acquired by COL.
Under a six-month agreement, COL must form a partnership which will, in turn, acquire the property and hold it up to two years until a suitable permanent, conservation-minded buyer can be found. It is the organization's first major transaction, and represents the beginning of a preservation program to be marketed this summer. The specific services COL offers include:
- Assisting public entities with the development of and implementation of land preservation projects and programs.
- Providing a catalytic and facilitating service to both public and private entites for the practical implementation of open space projects.
'^'Colorado Open Lands, brochure (no date).
Interview with Marty Zeller, project staff, Colorado Open Lands, Apr. 29, 1983.
4Ibid. i t
- Evaluating the range of fund-raising and financing alternatives and structuring programs to obtain the maximum leverage of public and private resources.
- Providing practical knowledge and expertise on a full range of innovative acquisition techniques, i.e., less than free purchase or gifts, bargain sales, life-estates, easements, rolling options, and others tailored to the individual requirements of the project.
- Working with landowners seeking advice on various preservation alternatives, tax benefits available, and options for land use and estate planning.
- Utilizing the potential of creative land use and preservation techniques such as limited and partial developments, density transfers, and land exchanges.
- Working with and assisting other non-profit organizations active in land preservation in Colorado.
- Assisting in the preservation and dissemination of technical and descriptive material on the practical application of preservation techniques. 1
COL feels previous efforts at ranchland preservation have relied too heavily on volunteer organizations to be wholly effective; limited development of the land has also been incompatible, often forcing the rancher to leave. A new method which is being tried is the concept of equity sharing by forming a partnership with local investors, the rancher doesn't bear the entire burden of ranch finances but can remain the managing partner and continue to ranch. This and other innovative concepts are being actively pursued by the organization in its effort to promote voluntary and non-regulatory action for open land preservation. ^
'"Colorado Open Lands.
Interview with M. Zeller.
Ill: an out-of-state perspective on planning approaches to agricultural conservation
CALIFORNIA'S APPROACH TO CONSERVING AGRICULTURAL LAND
Because of the unique tie of scenic quality to ranching in the Lower Blue, research into at least one out-of-state effort at agricultural and protection seemed necessary. This subject could in itself be a tremendously involved research project, so research has been limited to a program which reflects both policy and implementation approaches to the issue.
CALIFORNIA'S "ROOM TO GROW" SERIES
Initiated in 1981, the California "Rocm to Grow" program grew out of public concern over the loss of productive cropland to urban development, and the need to find solutions for balancing these competing needs. This issue is especially dramatic in California, where canmercial agriculture represented one-third, or $13.2 billion, of the State's economy in 1981, yet the State has a growing population of over 24 million people.1
A series of 20 papers was to be produced under the program,published by the State's
Office of Planning and Research (OPR). The series covered data-gathering techniques,
policy formulation for preserving agriculture, and implementation strategies for
local governments. The project was even given a deliberately ambiguous title and
logo to reflect its tightrope position of balancing these interests.
Early on, researchers clarified the difference between preservation and conservation, as it related to agriculture. Since preservation means to keep in its current state and is often associated with wilderness areas and other pristine environments, conservation was chosen as the more appropriate term, because it implies the wise
use of a resource, and maintaining the productivity of soils is largely a con-3
servatran effort. 1 2
1Califomia Office of Planning & Research, "The Project" (Roan to Grow: Issues in Agricultural Land Conservation & Conversion), Feb., 1982, pg. 1.
^Detwiler & Rikala, "A Question of Balance," (California Office of Planning & Research: Roan to Grow), (no date), pg. 3.
A survey of the State's counties was completed to identify what techniques were already being used. This included information on how data was compiled on agricultural uses, an analysis of relevant (master) planning policies re: agricultural land conservation, and what kinds of implOTientation devices each county had designed to conserve its agricultural land.
It must be pointed out here that there are seme fundamental differences between California and Colorado planning and land use controls. First of all, California not only requires master plans (termed general plans) of its townsand counties, but also specifies at least nine elements must be discussed. Three affect agriculture the land use element, conservation element, and open space elsnent. Failure to adopt, say, the open space element would declare a city or county ineligible for Williamson Act subvention payments.
The Williamson Act is a California law which enables local governments to enter into contracts with landowners who agree to restrict their land to agricultural or open space uses for revolving ten-year terms. In return, the landowner benefits from lowered taxes. Subvention payments refers to a payback system the State provides to its cities and counties which replace the lost revenue from Williamson Act contracts, thereby encouraging and supporting the use of the Act as a conservation and planning tool.
Another significant difference is California's requirement that all regulations be in conformance with a general plan. Colorado, in contrast, views the master plan as a wholly advisory document, and requires no consistency between it and a local government's regulatory system.
The survey results noted significant differences in how counties approached agricultural policy, partly due to their geographic differences, but also due to out-of-date policies and inconsistencies. As a result, OPR set about the task of providing current information to the public and its local governments on the basics of an effective agricultural land protection program:
1. Basic data: Knowing how much land exists and how to monitor conversions;
2. Planning activities: Up-to-date general plans and adopting urban "spheres of influence"; and
3. Implementation devices: Using zoning techniques, other State programs, the Williamson Act, and open space easements. ^
Papers which followed the survey provided state-of-the-art information on mapping techniques available through State and Federal resource agencies; guidelines on how to address agricultural conservation in general plans and specific examples of clearly-worded policy statements; and analyses of zoning and subdivision ordinances which promote consistency and long-term agricultural productivity.
At the general plan level, these issues should be addressed:
- The appropriate areas for agricultural uses (based on data collection and analysis);
- The establishment of land use designations, allowable uses, minimum parcel sizes, and density standards;
- The minimization of the pressure for conversion of agricultural lands to urban uses
- Provisions for economic incentives to agriculture.
The plan should be internally consistent, and policies should provide clear direction for action.
Zoning and subdivision ordinances "are probably the two most important local tools for shaping (the) landscape.. .Driven by the police power delegated by the legislature, and guided by policies of the local (master) plan, these two ordinances can direct development to its proper place, and keep agricultural lands free from asphalt assault."' Besides consistency among all regulations, there are several elements of the zoning ordinance which can help protect agriculture:
- Designing an exclusive agricultural zone which limits inccmpatibla uses, and includes only those which have a direct relationship to the kind of agriculture prevalent in the zone;
^Detwiler, "Saving the Good Earth: What California Counties are Doing to Conserve Agricultural Land," (Office of Planning & Research: Room to Grow), Oct., 1981, pg. 3.
Mahan, "Zoning & Subdivision Ordinances: Dynamic Duo for Conserving Agricultural Land," (OPR: Rocm to Grow), June, 1982, pg. 1. V
- A "right to farm" provision which protects ranchers from nuisance suits from adjacent residential development;
- A minimum lot size large enough to sustain the type of agriculture to be encouraged, both economically and practically;
- A planned unit development (PUD or PD) district, as either a fixed or overlay zone, which allows a flexible approach to applying density, allowing most of the land to remain open and available for agriculture.
While all of these are essential elements to include, the most important is the minimum lot size. "The rather popular use of five and ten-acre minimum lot sizes in Exclusive Agriculture districts is an indication of the vulnerability of much of (our) agricultural land to ("ranchette" and "estate") type of development."''' Because there are many factors which determine agricultural suitability, some counties have developed a complex matrix for establishing the relative value of a parcel's agricultural suitability.
For a subdivision ordinance, QPR's reocmmendations do not apply, because of the
significant differences in enabling State legislation between California and
Colorado. It should be pointed out, too, that subdivision regulations usually
contain only appropriate design standards, primarily for roads. Road standards
are only a small part of the issue here. Generally speaking, however, in terms
of land use controls, "the zoning and subdivision ordinances are the two most
powerful local laws governing land use (in most States). They say what, how
much, where, and how development may take place within a city or county.
They can protect agricultural land by prohibiting it frcm being used for purposes
not ccmpatihle with agriculture, by establishing appropriate agricultural lot
sizes, and by creating standards to ensure that development does not threaten
this land. Their effectiveness depends to a large degree upon the (master)
plan and the oarmunity's total land use program."
As an additional note, another part of a sound agricultural protection program for California camtunities is a State law which requires each town through a
"'Ibid., pg. 8. 2Ibid., pg. 12.
special local ccmrdssion to determine a "sphere of influence" or "probable ultimate physical boundaries and service areas of local governmental agencies." Ironically, this is what Summit County and its principal communities attempted to do with the Land Use Code, and it got them in court...
"For exanple, the county may want to designate land in a city's sphere-of-influence as a mixed agricultural district if the city intends to propose annexation for a residential or PUD in 15 or 20 years. Conversely, if the city wishes to direct development to one part of its sphere rather than another, the county's agricultural zoning can strengthen the city's position.
The agricultural zone can serve as a holding zone to prevent sprawling and piecemeal development during the ensuing 15 to 20 years." 1
In the last paper 'Scams Do It, Sore Don't: What Local Governments are Doing to Conserve Agricultural Land" issued before the program was dismantled by a new administration, six examples of agricultural land protection programs were exposed in order to transfer the information onto other interested carmunities.
Of specific interest to this report are the parallels that can be drawn to previous research.
Stanislaus County relies on an approach similar to Boulder, where urban uses
are allowed only upon annexation to the adjacent city. The city and county have
agreed to "an urban transition land use category" in its master plan, like Area
2, the anticipated service area for the City of Boulder. With, the additional
incentive provided by Williamson Act contracts on agricultural land in this
transition area, there appear to be few abuses of what could be "a potential haven
for land speculators." It is also interesting to note that this policy is
"generally well accepted by both citizens and developers because it shows where
the county will allow future growth."
Siskiyou County, on the other hand, responded to concerned citizens in the Scott Valley by initiating a valley master plan, complete with a set of agricultural conservation policies. The plan was adopted by the county supervisors (commissioners) after a vote of confidence from the residents. Strong reliance is
^Ibid., pg. 13.
Castrillo, "Seme Do It Seme Don't: What Local Governments are Doing to Conserve AGricultural Land," (OPR: Rocm to Grow), June, 1982, pg. 2.
^Ibid., pg. 3.
placed on the valley's two cities spheres-of-influence whose growth, in turn, is measured by their separate growth management plans. County policies limit the use and parcel size of prime agricultural land and establish a rebuttable, presumptive method for reclassifying non-prime land, allowing seme division of parcels but to a minimum lot size large enough to limit incompatible land uses.
In sumnary, what remain the basic elsnents of a good agricultural conservation program are:
- Basic data: Good decisions and policies rest on good data.
- Planning activities: Up-to-date master plans and policies that are not open to interpretation.
- Implementation: Consistency in applying policies and in converting than into action}
Ibid., pp. 9 & 10.
CHAPTER 4: applying the surveyed public non-profit techniques for protection of the Lower Blue's scenic resource
I: how can master planning for the lower blue help to protect its scenic quality?
A REVIEW OF SUMMIT COUNTY'S MASTER PLAN POLICIES
Prior to a discussion of specific recommendations for each area identified in Section 4, Chapter 2, an analysis of the framework frcm which those particular remedies gain direction is appropriate. Local governments use the master plan to dictate both their own programs and resources, as well as to help direct the private sector in appropriate marketplace opportunities and behavior for the benefit of the community as a whole.
While Sunmit County has set forth master plan goals and policies, in the light of research, the goals seem very broad, and do not appear to recognize the unique resource or economy of the Lower Blue valley as separate from those of the other basins. This could be an important difference, since the three other basins have ski areas which drive their economies and influence the use of their resources. In contrast, the Lower Blue contains ranching and "off" season recreation.
If the scenic resource is to be maintained at present levels, then more specific
goals and policies may need to be developed which recognize the valley's unique
rural qualities and summer-oriented attraction. Strong implementation of these
policies also implies strong protection of the resource. In California's Room
to Grow project, the role of a master plan is clearly stated:
"The state legislature and the courts have established the local (master) plan as the central feature of each local governments' land use planning and regulation program. Through the plan, a community analyzes the opportunities and constraints affecting its physical, social and economic development, establishes long-term goals and policies to guide land use and development, and identifies specific measures to carry out the goals
and policies. The (master) plan is particularly important in helping elected officials balance the canmunity's competing and often conflicting needs for different land uses, such as housing and agriculture. Once adopted, the plan serves as a constitution for future development and resource conservation by virtue of state requirements that zoning, subdivision, public works projects, and other local actions must conform to it."l
While the State of Colorado does not require master plans in the same sense as California, state statute clearly dictates that one be adopted and that it be used to advise local government, specifically the planning commission, in the wise use of its local resources. Another difference here is that zoning and other regulatory mechanisms provided for in Colorado state statutes need not conform to the plan. However, inconsistencies between advisory and regulatory
tools may frustrate the accomplishment of any long-term ccmnunity goals, and
. 2 may render the community development process arbitrary.
In its new master plan, Summit County intends the plan to be "used as a guide
in making recommendations and decisions about Sunmit County development."
While the planning process has included sane analysis of the county's opportunities and constraints and is intended to guide development, specific measures
have not been identified which implement those goals. Programs of action are often the result of this community process which includes not only development of goals, but objectives and policies, each step becoming more and more specific to the issue.'* Summit County has only stated goals and policies; the goals seem appropriately worded for their intended saope, but the evidence suggests the policies do not offer sufficient direction in hew to protect scenic quality or hew to avoid the conversion of agricultural land.
In writing policy statements for general plans, "it is important that (they) provide clear direction for action. Wherever possible, "shall" should be
substituted for "should" and other equivocal language."
^Mintier, Approaches to Agricultural Land Policies in General Plans (OPR; to Grow), April, 1982, pg. 1.
H. Smith, Citizens Guide to Planning (Chicago: Planners Press, 1979) pp. 73-76.
Summit County, Master Plan Goals & Policies, November, 1981.
Interview with Planning Staff,.Summit County, February 25, 1983.
^H. Smith, pp. 64-65, 69.
Mintier, pg. 6.
To contrast these goals and policies, the following are examples of other poli
cies in master plans involving scenic quality, both in California and Colorado
"Major entryways into the...valley shall be identified, protected and enhanced in order to emphasize and preserve the natural setting and appearance of the community."
"Agricultural areas shall be identified and evaluated to insure, to the greatest extent possible, their long-term existence and protection from development.!
"Goal: to encourage productive use of the county's natural resources to provide employment and income for county residents."
TO preserve and protect exclusive agricultural use (of) those lands identified on the County Agricultural Resources Map as best suited to the commercial production of food, (and) fiber. ..and to prevent conversion of ccrtmercial agricultural land to nonagricultural uses."
Residential use in agricultural areas shall be for those persons directly involved in the farming operation..."
Maintain existing parcel sizes of...agricultural lands and allow land divisions only for exclusive agricultural purposes."
Definitions of a goal, objective, policy, and standard are also included:
"Goal: The ultimate purposes of an effort stated in a way that is general in nature and irrmeasurable."
"Objective: A measurable goal."
"Policy: A specific statement guiding action and implying clear commitment."
"Standard: A specific, often quantified guideline defining the relationship between two or more variables."
An example of a standard might be: "One hundred (100) acre minimum parcel size for all land classified as prime grazing lands."2
^Boulder County, pg. 14. flintier, pg. 4.
While the Summit County plan contains many good ideas, encouraging and discouraging certain activities or practices probably does not provide sufficient direction to acocnplish the fact without measurable goals and policies which imply action, through implementation and program development. Nor is a goal likely to be accomplished without a specific policy which also establishes a standard for implementation which is based on data collection and analyses.
The evidence suggests Summit County may have additional remedies which it can utilize in establishing future direction for the Lower Blue. There are three major areas of concern which may benefit from additional direction on a policy level, not only in order to provide for adequate maintenance of the scenic resource in the Lower Blue (and perhaps elsewhere in the county), but also in helping to provide clearer direction for an implementable strategy for accomplishing the stated goals. They are: agricultural conservation, scenic retention and open space, and full-season economic development.
Establishing an Agricultural Conservation Program for the Lower Blue
As previously stated, there is probably an inseparable relationship between
ranching and the scenic quality of the Lower Blue (see Section 4, Chapter 2).
Therefore, if stability can be achieved within the agricultural base of the
valley, a significant step has probably been taken toward maintenance of the
valley's scenic quality. Achieving stability would not only affect the most
significant amount of land sensitive to change (as identified in Section 5,
Chapter 2), but it would also tend to sustain the rural character and the
rural lifestyle of the valley. (A spinoff benefit might also result, however
small, in stemming the increasing loss of productive agricultural land in the
production of national food and fiber.)
"The actions of a local government to conserve agricultural lands may be ineffective and even self-defeating unless they are undertaken as part of a carefully thought out, coordinated strategy. At the local level (in California) the (master) plan provides the framework within which to develop an effective program of agricultural conservation program.1,1
^Ibid., pg. 1.
There is probably no better place to start than at the local level in Colorado to establish strong agricultural land conservation goals, objectives and policies under the framework of a master plan, and then to apply appropriate standards which reflect these goals. Surrmit County has admittedly a very small fraction of the State's agriculturally productive land, but for the Lower Blue at least it is directly related to the quality of the visiting public's experience, and therefore, indirectly related to the economic base, through tourism, of the County as a whole.
Agricultural productivity should be given a sincere chance to remain, if for this reason alone. At least two other reasons might also be considered.
First, it is one of the least expensive land uses to the taxpayer while paying little in taxes, agriculture and its cormunity demands almost nothing from the general fund. It does produce revenue, however small in proportion to its size, but my produce even more indirectly, through its relationship to scenery and the area's general attraction to visitors. Compare it to almost any other land use such as skiing or residential development re: its fiscal impact and demand for public services. Another reason to consider it is for its use of public land. Like skiing, mountain ranching is dependent on public land. While it might be argued that the contribution is small, annual permit fees operate as a user fee, in proportion to the use, maintaining the multiple use concept of public land and contributing to the Federal budget.
As the evidence indicates, designing policies for agricultural conservation should be based on significant data collection and analysis, which focuses on its historical basis, environmental factors, and economic trends. In addition to designating the appropriate areas for agriculture, the policy might also establish land use designations using a map of existing agricultural areas which should be maintained.
Minimizing urban/agricultural land use conflicts is also a critical part of this strategy. In a master plan, steps need to be taken to minimize pressure
for conversion to urban uses. The land use policy which Summit County currently
has which "encourages" development to locate adjacent to existing communities
complements this step. However, encouragement is probably not sufficient
ccnmitment. The following is an example of a thorough commitment to protect
agricultural land as wall as being a clearly-stated policy:
"It is the policy of the county to preserve the economic viability of agricultural lands and operations within (the) county to ensure that large tracts of land now oarmitted to or capable of agricultural uses shall be preserved, where practicable, as a food resource area.
To this end, it is the policy of the county to:
a. Ensure that development surrounding agricultural lands or near such lands shall not make continued agricultural operations impractical or economically infeasible by reasons of divisions of agricultural land into parcels of unworkable sizes, shapes or composition.
b. Encourage the exclusion of primarily agricultural areas from taxing districts...
c. Avoid development or development patterns that will require water to be taken out of agricultural uses.
d. Encourage the preservation of agricultural lands and uses within the undeveloped portions of proposed or approved development....
e. Protect agricultural operations from disruptions associated with neighboring non-agricultural development, including depredation of domestic pets.
Facilitating Scenic Retention and Its Relationship to Open Space Programming While Summit County intends to maintain its wildlife and the high quality and quantity of its natural resources, there have thus far been no specific programs developed to manage the balance between acoornodating growth and these other goals. Open space programming has been a distant discussion, impeded primarily by the perceived vastness of the existing open character of the County.
Much reliance has been historically placed with the Forest Service, and other State and Federal entities, as agents for maintaining the high quality of the natural resources. With the County continuing in a high growth profile, critical areas may became more apparent.2 1
1Pitkin County, pg. ____.
Interview with Summit County staff.
discussed in Section 4, Chapter 2, goals of retaining scenic quality in the Lower Blue and encouraging surrmer-oriented, "off-season" business may complement one another.
Along with diversifying the tourist economy, moving toward a year-round economy could be promoted as part of a coordinated strategy to improve overall conditions in the community. A program to encourage non-tourist dependent business such as agriculture might aid this diversification.
USING INTERGOVERNMENTAL COOPERATION TOOLS TO POSTER SCENIC PROTECTION Another approach to scenic retention on a policy level might be increased cooperation between agencies and other levels of government. This might prove essential to realizing this goal given the jurisdictional conflicts which can arise between State and county, or county and town. Two future planning issues which appear to be surfacing in the Lower Blue are (1) the improvement of Highway 9, and (2) the annexation policies of the Town of Silverthome.
The Status of the Scenic Highway Designation Process
In addition to strengthening existing policies, Surrmit County could join with
Silverthome to develop a scenic highway designation process.^ Scenic highway
designation originally meant added funds from the Federal Highway Administration.
These funds went for design and construction of scenic overlooks and pullouts,
and for the purchase of billboards. Federal funds are no longer available through this program and the State Highway Department does not have a program for local designation of routes or even standards to apply to areas adjacent to
these routes. The only formal control appears to be the Highway Access Code.
Having no State program seems somewhat odd and inconsistent, since a majority of the State's highway system traverses spectacular mountain terrain and is a souoe of State and out-of-state attraction. Also, the State Highway Department, through its districts, designs and coordinates all improvements. However, there is nothing to prevent local communities from establishing certain routes within their jurisdiction as special areas. Highway 82 into Aspen and the Boulder
Interview with Karen Countryman, Silverthome town planner, March 25, 1983.
^Interview with Bill Stouder, Federal Highway Administration, March 17, 1983. "^Interview with Jill Spencer, Colorado Division of Highways, May 24, 1983.
turnpike in Boulder County are both locally-designated scenic routes. These particular sections of highway "present" the caimunity by forming their major entrance, and therefore are deemed a significant planning issue in those communities.
Colorado 9 is not the major entrance to Surrmit County, but does serve as an attractive and unique alternative route for the majority of visitors. It is a scenic route through a special area, given its unique moral and mountain setting.'*' These special qualities have long been recognized by the county, as exemplified by its history of inclusion for such designation in the Highway Department five-year planning program since 1974. However, local action
appears necessary to designate the highway as scenic.
Because of the road's deteriorating condition, policy-making and planning should probably begin now to establish its importance as an asset to both Silverthome and the county as a whole. Forrral policy on the matter would help to establish the road and the valley as a special and unique asset to the oamnunity, and help to establish a firm basis from which to develop future programs and regulations. From this position, local government (county and town) may be able to negotiate better and more appropriate design of improvements and facilities as a part of the design process.
Intergovernmental Planning as a Mechanism for Achieving Cannon Goals Another critical step at the master planning level in realizing scenic protection for the Lower Blue may begin with negotiation between Silverthome and
the County. Retaining open space qualities in a county can be thwarted if
aggressive annexation policies are pursued by its incorporated areas.
Silverthome has doubled in size in the last two years, with much of the land
still remaining undeveloped or even unimproved. It has also surpassed its
limits in both water supply and sewer capacity for its buildout. An intergovernmental planning agreement has proven quite effective in the stabilization of adjacent, non-urban areas in the case of Boulder and Boulder County.
'Interview with K. Countryman.
Interview with J. Spencer.
Interview with J. Brouillette. ^Interview with K. Countryman.
5Interview with J. Brouillette.
Hovever, this issue must be presented in a positive manner, not as the county seeking to control the town, but rather as an effort to stabilize the valley's speculative trend, and achieve long-term goals for both town and county.
This inter-governmental planning agreement might also stabilize the ranching cmxrrunity, promoting it as a long-term use in the valley by establishing logical limits to urban growth within a reasonable time frame. In addition to stabilizing land prices, the agreement could become a key part of the county's agricultural conservation program. It should not be viewed as fixed, but rather as a useful tool in promoting orderly, phased growth. The agreement could take the form of the one betwee Boulder and Boulder County, which is included in the county's comprehensive plan; or it could be a separate document, reinforced through consistent policies (including annexation) in each entity's master plan.
.er, pg. 5.
II: applying the planning techniques to the target area
After evaluating general techniques which establish a framework for scenic retention, attention can now be turned to the application of specific remedies for the target area identified in Section 5 of Chapter 2. The recctmended techniques encompass both remedies available to the public sector as well as options available to the private sector through non-profit organizations.
They reflect, to a certain degree, their feasibility for use in Colorado by virtue of the research base presented in the chapter above. The intention remains, however, to present workable planning techniques for this valley specifically, tsnpered by at least one out-of-state perspective.
SCENIC PRESERVATION FOR RANCHLAND
Based on examining Land Ownership & Land Use in the valley, the generation of the Index of Potential Change and its carposite with the visual sensitivity analysis, the scenic resource can probably best be preserved by retaining agriculture in the valley. The added dimension of rural character from active ranching may also reinforce the value of scenic quality within the valley. Therefore, techniques which retain the agricultural base will help to accomplish this goal.
The techniques below are offered in part as a preventive cure for the speculative trend analyzed in the valley. As an integral part of this preventive strategy, these techniques are offered not to penalize, but rather to reinforce the lifestye and income upon which the ranchers depend. For seme, the mere imposition of government and its powers is sufficient to begin a confrontation.1
Interview with A. Chappell.
Heretofore, the ranching community has demanded independence from the growth and impacts associated with it, known veil to the rest of Sunmit County.
But in recent years, as they have grown older and the county has built up, the demand for rural living and its associated romance has increased.^
The relative age of the ranching canmunity may be playing a significant role in the turnover of property as they have died or retired, substantial change likely occurs. Same view their land and years of work on it to be their sole assets, available to their offspring or to themselves as a retirsnent package. Without offspring to succeed them willing to stay on the land, they are often left with no alternative but to sell. This trend was dramatically portrayed in a recent article in the Denver Post, based on the death of a prominent landowner in southwest Colorado Marie Scott entitled "Taxes Win Out."
"Ridgway In life, multimillionaire cattle queen Marie Scott amassed and preserved seme of the most scenic land in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. In death her memory has been haunted by relentless efforts to divide the remainder of her spectacular estate and grab a staggering chunk of the proceeds nearly $7 million for taxes."
In short, Miss Scott owned 100,000 acres of ranchland. Upon her death, what
had not already been sold or given away has been subject to an inheritance
tax of $7 million, nearly 70% of the estate's assets.
The inheritance tax often stands in defiance against the substantial efforts of ranching families to ensure the children a reasoanble chance of succeeding their parents on the land without the necessity for sale of "the back 40."
Other factors also appear to be eroding this effort:
1. Inflated, speculative land values of comparable property, raising the per-acre price of agricultural land, and hence the taxes;
2. The absence of offspring to succeed the current owner;
3. The desire by seme owners to quit ranching altogether; and
Interview with County staff.
2The Denver Post, May 29, 1983.
4. The relatively low price of beef combined with an inflationary econcmy resulting in barely breakeven income on what is already considered marginal agricultural land.
Without a strategy to combat these odds, ranch after ranch may be converted to non-agricultural uses. Below are potential approaches based on evidence previously submitted which could be combined with strong planning policy to became a formidable, yet reasonable, strategy for preserving the scenic ranching country of the Lower Blue and, perhaps, other valleys in Colorado.
The A-l zoning district should be carefully studied and analyzed against agricultural conservation goals. In addition to a statement of purpose which links the zone and these policies, data needs to be collected and an evaluation made to
determine the appropriate minimum lot size which accounts for the special
environmental conditions in the valley. It is probably not possible to ranch on 20 acres at 8,000' elevation; therefore, this lot size is probably inappropriate. A review of zone categories used in the State which exceed the 35-acre limit of S.B. 35 might also prove beneficial. Boulder County, for instance, chose not to exceed the 35 acres, but rather designed their zone to be the same
size; Weld County has gone beyond the 35 acres to larger lots based on the
character of their agriculture. Pitkin County relied on the historic 160-
acre homestead size, and met with limited success. However, if a change in use is proposed, sane of these same questions might be addressed by determining the appropriate density.
Many ranchers view the one-per-20-acres as their development right; this number can be a prime determiner of the potential sales price. It can be argued that many have relied on this, in a zoning sense. When revision to the zone is contemplated, density at one unit per 20 acres might be retained as an incentive if it is connected to other important development standards. In this way, the
^Interviews with S. Lopez, A. Chappell, M. Zeller.
^Mintier, pg. 5.
Interview with J. Brouillette.
^Interview with Sandy Stuller, former Aspen/Pitkin County attorney, July 25, 1983. ^Interview with A. Fessenden.
maximum density could only be achieved if development was in character with the scenic retention and agricultural policies and intents of the county.
"The larger the minimum lot size, the fever hones and thus, the greater the likelihood of land remaining open for agricultural use."1
The Office of Planning and Research in California, as previously discussed in Section 3, Chapter 3, evaluated two methods of determining density: area-based zones and large-lot zones. Area-based zones are either fixed or sliding-scale ratios which encourage clustering of hones rather than subdivision to a minimum lot size. It would seem the more appropriate approach for the Lower Blue. Because the rancher is least likely to be a developer, but rather to sell the property to a developer, this process tends to place the responsibility of maintaining existing rural and scenic character with the new owner, rather than appearing to penalize the rancher for ranching. In this way, a minimum standard might be established for development of visually sensitive areas.
Another essential component which should probably accompany the zone district revision is open space planning. Planning at the sane time for open space retention in the valley might offset any taking issue. The plan might use any or all of the following mechanisms as compensatory to any density or loss of development right issue:
1. Development right purchase. As previously described in Boulder County's
experience, the purchase of this land right can help to perpetuate agri-
cultural use of the property. By lessening development pressure, the landowner can continue to operate; by purchasing the development right, the public sector has actively carried out public policy as well as shewn a recognition of the dilarma faced by the landowner. Purchase is likely to involve delicate negotiation and may even necessitate involvement of a
third party. An added benefit to the landowner may be the realization of reliable operating capital; it could also involve a lowering of, if not at least a consistent, taxing rate.
'"Mahan, pg. 6.
Interview with J. Brouillette.
Interview with M. Zeller.
2. Conservation easement. This technique has already been initiated in the Lower Blue by at least one landowner on a significant ranch, both in terms of acreage and location. The primary incentives for the use of this technique, as previously discussed, are a levered annual tax structure and tax deduction benefits on income.'*"
While lowered taxes are welcome, they are already quite low, based on agricultural use. An easement on the property would, however, promote a more stable tax structure. Tax deductions on income for donation of a restrictive easement on property usually benefit those who have substantial income to offset; however, for most ranchers in Colorado, there may not be sufficient income to warrant the use of this technique.
However, it can be used as an effective estate planning tool, helping
to reduce the role of inheritance tax.
This method might also play an important role for development corporations which may find they can benefit substantially; use of this mechanism as an integral part of the development permit process may premot it as an incentive to keep meadow land in its open, scenic and rural state.
The easement can be received by many organizations a local trust foundation can be formed, a national non-profit organization can receive it, or the county itself can monitor it as a function of the development process. This last situation will be discussed later under Speculative Property techniques.
3. Capitalization. This approach is an economic effort on the part of the
landowner to secure operating capital for new equipment or new stock.
Limited cash flow is often the reason fcr sale of agricultural land.
To offset this problem, two suggestions have been made, designed to keep
the rancher/landowner afloat in such a fluctuating economy.
One is the partial capitalization of the ranch through restrictive deed sales. One landowner has apparently accomplished this intending not only to ranain fluid and continue to ranch the land. This mechanism 2
"*T.P.L. annual report, pp. 9 & 10.
Interview with K. 3mth, M. Zeller. ^Interview with M. Zeller.
ensures that his children will not be faced with a substantial tax debt upon his death. The sale of newly established, very large parcels will provide capital which can be applied to either the purchase of additional property in other areas for new equipment, or the upgrading of stock.
The new owners are consequently restricted in their deed to leasing the property back to the rancher for agricultural use, and also limited to one hone on each parcel. Since this constitutes a restriction greater than the A-l zone, it overrides the zoning district, and prevails much like a covenant.
Another approach is the suggestion that a rancher form a limited partnership, seeking out local investors as silent or limited partners. The rancher would retain control and managing authority, but additional capital would be available to the operation. The local partners should be preferable to outside interests, presumably because of their interest in the local eccmany and the quality of their environment, but also due to the independent nature of ranchers in general, being less inclined to do business with outsiders.
Both of these approaches are creative financing strategies, much like business corporations utilize. In this economic environment, the ranching industry must consider both creative financing and estate planning as an integral part of doing business.1
INVESTIGATING THE ISOLATED PARGETS FOR POTENTIAL CONFLICTS
The next most critical move which should probably be taken to preserve scenic
quality is to evaluate the identified isolated parcels for their potential
harmful effect. Many of these parcels may be in critical view areas as veil
as adjacent to the Blue River. Both the retention of these views and access
to the Blue River are important public goals which, if these parcels were
developed under current zoning, may present a serious conflict.
As a continuing effort, open space planning could initiate this evaluation of these paroels. The use of techniques previously suggested may also apply to 1 2
1 Interview with M. Zeller.
resolving any potential conflict. Additional approaches include: fee simple purchase, by the county or other public or non-profit agency; and transferring development rights.
Fee simple purchase has been a long-standing policy of the Division of Wildlife which uses its game cash receipts to purchase critical habitat and access to fisheries and other wildlife areas. As has been noted in Section 2, Chapter 2, the Division has purchased key sites in the lover Blue. In evaluating parcels for potential acquisition, the goals of this and other public agencies might be considered in helping to establish criteria for purchase.
Transferring development rights is a broad term used to imply that a development right can be separated from one parcel, and transferred onto another. A transfer betwaen owners is complicated, but can be done; the key is to consolidate ownerships under one proposal, as in Boulder County's Non-Urban P.U.D., or to establish an appropriate receiving zone on which to apply the additional development rights. ^ Because the isolated parcels are isolated and/or small, they may not constitute an appropriate receiving zone. Purchase and then transfer of the rights to another area in the Lower Blue may be worth investigating; however, there should probably be definable limits established for the appropriate character of that receiving zone so as not to upset goals established for the entire valley.
Consolidating ownerships on a comprehensive basis in order to develop a reasonable long-term plan for the cluster of residential use rather than have it spread indiscriminately throughout the valley may be an idea worth pursuing. However, it may only apply to certain unique parcels, and should probably be undertaken with seme caution. If the resulting plan still conflicts with scenic retention or the goal for retaining agriculture, the application of another method might prove to be more appropriate.
All the previous techniques require funds. It would not be fair to suggest that they be applied without sane discussion of where funds might be developed. Traditionally, local government has relied on its taxing authority or the Federal
Smith, pp. 151-152, 168.
government to help provide funds for special purchases. While Federal funds have not been available recently, a county sales tax initiated for the purpose of purchasing development rights or key open space areas might be one source of revenue. It would probably require thorough voter education since a crisis has not surfaced, but could be accomplished if presented as a veil thought-out strategy for maintaining the character of both the towns and the county as a whole. Emphasis might be placed on the Lover Blue as the initial need, with further planning initiated in areas between the towns.
Another source of revenue which has recently been made available is from the State's Conservation Trust Fund and the Colorado lottery. The county will benefit on a per capita basis, with an estimated $25,000 being available in its initial year. Given that the towns are rapidly developing recreation facilities for their populations, funds available to the county might assume the role of ensuring adequate passive open space which ccmpelements public land ownership patterns.
MECHANISMS FOR THE SCENIC PROTECTION OF SPECULATIVE LAND The land use and ownership map identifies four major properties which are classified in a speculative development mode. Their traditional ranching use has been suspended or is on borrowed time based on the explicit or long-term intent of the new owners. (See Section 3, Chapter 2)
Because they are large landholdings, these properties offer an opportunity to cluster development into unseen or secluded areas of the property. This may be the key to maintaining their existing scenic quality. All of these properties are also located in the southern half of the valley, closer to the growth-generating influences of circulation and winter recreation.
In the face of development, techniques for retaining scenic and rural qualities may be most effective as a function of the development review process. The final development plan can often be shaped by zoning and subdivision provisions, and other design mechanises instituted to preserve existing site character.^ 1
1Smith, pp. 152, 166.
If the scenic character of the Lower Blue is to be retained for the long-term enjoyment of residents and visitors, it follows that development should help to reflect the rural character of the valley. Rural character can be enhanced by retaining those elements which are associated with agriculture bams, ranchhouses, meadow land irrigated by historic water rights. While cattle might not be raised on the property, horses and other equestrian uses can perpetuate rural qualities, and keep the land productive. The development plan should make every attenpt to isolate the most productive lands, in order to allow their continued productivity and reduce the conflicts vfoich often arise between residential users and their pets, and the agricultural operation.
"DE FACTO' SUBDIVISIONS SYMPTOM OF A GREATER PROBLEM
This final category does not offer many remedies, since the critical opportunity to influence the planning process was never available. If for no other reason, it is because of that fact that this land type is included. It is more indicative of an issue than suggestive of a solution: These subdivisions can be created in avoidance of the public planning process. There is, however, one limited opportunity available for reducing these subdivisions' visual impact.
As was pointed out earlier, many of these lots have been purchased by two parties, with the intent to later subdivide to 20-acre tracts, the minimum lot size in A-l. It is fortunate that many of these lots are not highly visible, and their development may not have a significant effect on the scenic quality of the valley. However, given that the proposed 2-lot subdivision met all existing subdivision standards, there would be no avenue available to deny the subdivision. If the county were to institute an incentive to cluster the tvo units as in a nan-urban P.U.D., the negative visual impact from a house on a prominent point might be averted.
Clustering the two hones on smaller lots with the remaining property held in cannon also might provide more security for the landowners given their remote location, as well as allowing greater effective use of roads and the renaming
open land for horse grazing and other uses. Because subdivision of the property requires local government approval, this process might be easily substituted for the current process.
The real issue here, though, is preventive. What can local government or concerned organizations do to prevent the displacement of ranching and the cookie-cutter subdividing of rural mountain land when the State hasn't provided enabling legislation for its prevention? The answer becomes one which the State legislature must take up. Before that will happen, State legislators must be brought up-to-date on the effects of land use legislation such as S.D. 35 enacted over ten years ago.
CHAPTER 5: final recommendations and issues of further study
I: recommendations for scenic protection
Based on the evidence presented in Chapter 3, and discussion of its applicability to the current planning system in Chapter 4, the following is a summary of recommendations for scenic protection in the Lower Blue valley.
MASTER PLAN HEXXlMMENDATICNS
County policies should be analyzed and considered for revision in order to provide specific direction in the Lower Blue for protection of its scenic quality.
Three areas of consideration are recommended for program action:
1. An agricultural conservation program and appropriate policies should be investigated for implementation at the policy level. The program should strive to minimize the pressure for conversion of ranchland to urban development.
2. An open space program and appropriate policies should be explored, in pursuit of long-term scenic retention in the Lower Blue.
A comprehensive look at the county as a whole for this program may also prove beneficial to the implementation of an existing county policy that of maintaining open space between towns and oarrmunities.
3. A coordinated effort to enhance off-season economic development should be actively pursued. Such a program could complement the policies recommended above by encouraging outdoor recreation enjoyment of scenery and wildlife during the non-peak season.
In addition to these three programs, two other actions are recommended.
Given the deteriorating status of Highway 9 from Silverthome to Green Mountain
Reservoir, a local scenic highway designation process should be initiated
between the county and Silverthome. Adoption of such a program vould be in anticipation of any future improvements in an effort to guide and establish appropriate design standards. Such designation might also lend greater credibility to any specific standards established for development in the valley.
To coincide with the designation process, negotiation for an intergovernmental agreement between these two entities should also be initiated. The agreement is foreseen as a vehicle to help reduce development pressure on ranchland to the north of the town boundary as well as to reduce annexation pressure on the town. (It is hoped that the agreement would then give Silverthome an opportunity to grow within its boundaries as a distinct ccnmunity.)
TARGET AREA RECOWENDATICNS Ranchland
Through use of its zoning authority, the evidence strongly suggests that the county consider a comprehensive revision to its A-l zone district. Key elements of the district such as lot size, density, and permitted uses, should reflect the policies of an agricultural conservation program to ensure internal consistency between policy and regulation. This might include changing the current lot size to reflect as large a lot size as appears to be permitted by enabling legislation frcm 1/20 to 1/35. Another alternative might be the comprehensive pooling of development rights and redistribution according to the open space program and policies, or their purchase by public entities.
Yet another suggestion for conserving agriculture and its lifestyle in the valley is through support for and distribution of information regarding creative financing strategies for ranchers. This information should be developed and encouraged, especially use of conservation easements and other mechanisms which might help to reduce the burden of inheritance tax.
A comprehensive investigation should be conducted to determine the impact of the potential development of these parcels on the quality of the visual
environment. A determination can then be made as to the appropriate preservation device, should development be in conflict. These devices would include acquisition of development rights (or conservation easement), fee simple purchase or development right transfer to an appropriate P.U.D. proposal.
It is strongly recommended that an incentive program be developed to encourage Planned Unit Development, i.e., clustered development. The study has identified four large properties which are in a future development posture indicated by their ownership. Che method for incentive might be to change the minimum lot size from 20 acres to 35 acres. The 1 unit/20 acres overall density could still be used as a maximum, given the proposal met all design standards and policy criteria for retaining open space and/or agricultural productivity. Conservation easements might also be required bo ensure that the option of long-term agricultural productivity is potentially available.
De Facto Subdivisions
In accordance with the recarmendations above, a planned development (P.D.) process should be strongly considered to piggyback any request for subdivision of a 40-acre lot into two parcels. This process would apply specifically to those lots in large lot subdivisions whose roads and other subdivision requirements have met the county standard. A P.D. process could create an "agricultural (or open space) outlot and require that the two units be clustered on less than 25% of the original 40-acre lot.
II: areas of further study
As this study progressed, several points arose which there was neither time nor sufficient resource to study in great depth. These points do, however, appear to have significant bearing on the fate of scenic quality in the lower Blue.
THE IMPACT OF A COMPREHENSIVE DEVELOPMENT RIGHT TRANSFER SYSTEM If one were to consider the entire valley as one property, the options for appropriate development became significantly greater and simpler. With every increment of ownership, the process becomes more and more complicated. A system of transfer development rights (TDR) would appear to unoonplicate the design of appropriate development. While the costs of purchase and of monitoring such a system are somewhat unknown, the idea is most intriguing and definitely warrants further study. This is especially true in light of a recent Florida appellate court decision which unanimously supported an effort to implement such a system on a stretch of scenic Florida coastline. As reported in the July/August issue of "Planning" magazine, an attorney for the case of City of Hollywood v. Hollywood, Inc., believes the decision "resurrects a tool of considerable value in select situations in order to promote objectives that are otherwise difficult or financially impossible to achieve."1
ENHANCING ENABLING LEGISLATION TO CONSERVE AGRICULTURE
Of legal import here is the inability of counties to exceed the 35-acre lot size due to limits to their authority, as stipulated by state enabling legislation.
1City of Hollywood v. Hollywood, Inc. (Case No. 81-951; 4th D.C.A. Fla. 1983) as reported by Martin L. Leitner, "TOR Looks Better Than Vie Thought" (Chicago: American Planning Association, Planning Magazine, Legal Report) July/August, 1983, pg. 7.
A closer look at this issue should probably be taken up statewide, since most of the agriculture conducted in Colorado probably could not survive on a 35-acre parcel. While another study might be required by itself to determine an economical land unit a legislative lobby could instead simply support the idea of creating the option for planning in sufficient acreage to support agricultural productivity. The lobby could become quite strong, if a coalition of support is sought from a broad range of agricultural and rural entities.
SEEKING OUR REVENUE SOURCES FOR AN OPEN SPACE PROGRAM
Another issue of prime concern is how to finance open space programming which looks at purchases to accomplish its goals. Lottery funds have been mentioned as well as sales tax, but these might not be sufficient sources. This area definitely needs further investigation if any reliance is to be placed on purchase mechanisms.
DEVELOPING A SPECIAL USE PERMIT PROCESS FOR GRAVEL EXTRACTION A more comprehensive study of the future of gravel extraction in the Lower Blue seems appropriate since it is most likely to occur in the most visually sensitive areas. Resource mapping of sand and gravel might provide insight into appropriate permit areas. Design standards and specific review process for gravel extraction and crushing operations might be adopted which incorporates scenic and wildlife quality issues. In this way, short-term effects and long-range uses can be integrated, without significant interruption of scenic quality.
Sunmit County Master Plan & Policies, November, 1981.
A-l Zone District, Sunmit County Zoning Regulations.
Conservation Easement Statute 38-30.5 (101-11Q).
SIF1MIT COUNTY MASTER PLAN INTRODUCTION
The Summit Countv Master Plan is a document that -provides public information concerning the future plans of Summit County. The intent is to promote and protect the interest of the general public with an emphasis toward promoting the health, safety and welfare of the present and future populations of the County. The Plan is the policy document of the Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioners and will be used as a guide in making recommendations and decisions about Summit County development. This correlates with Colorado lav/ which requires each County to adopt a master plan that encompasses the Planning Commissions recommendations for development of the territory covered by the Plan.
The Summit County Master Plan has been developed through a cooperative effort involving each basin Planning Commission, the Board of County Commissioners, and the citizens of Summit County. Through a series of public meetings in which the positive and negative attributes of Summit County were explored, a number of categories were developed as being important to Summit County's future. The categories include Land Use, Environmental Resources and Hazards, Transportation, Housing, Economy, and Services. Within each category there are a number of important issues and concerns, some of which are:
Land Use The permanent population in Summit County has increased from 2,655 in 1970 to 8,847 in 1980 a growth rate of approximately 232%. An added element to the populations is the second-homeowner. The 1980 estimate of second-home residents is approximately 26,000. The increase in population and continued ability of Summit County to attract new residents and visitors will promote substantial development.
Growth has tended to occur in areas surrounding established towns and resorts partly because services required by development are more available.
With a limited amount of private land within Summit County it is important to encourage the type of growth that is harmonious with the land.
Environmental Resources and Hazards Summit County has an abundance of natural resources which enhance the lifestyle and economic base of the area. These include the terrain, vegetation, and climate which provide for recreational opportunities and wildlife habitat. Mineral resources have also been instrumental in Summit County's history.