Montezuma County Commissioner Larry Don Suckla voiced concern Monday, Aug. 13, about the number of planning issues pending before the county. He said he had been told there are currently 84 issues backed up before the Planning and Zoning Commission, adding that was unacceptable and the process needs to be expedited.
County Administrator Melissa Brunner said not all of those cases involve delays on the part of the Planning Commission or Planning Department, because in some cases, the applicants themselves are holding off because they aren’t completely ready for their application to be put forward.
Suckla suggested making the Planning Department’s assistant a full-time instead of a part-time position, noting that the latest estimate from the assessor’s office is that the county will have a surplus next year of $700,000 to $900,000.
“Eighty-four people are waiting to do their land-use issues,” he said, later adding, “It’s our job to make this expedient so they can do what they want.” He said someday the county could potentially miss out on a multi-million-dollar venture such as a solar farm because of the backlog in the planning process.
“We could have a vote to do away with the land-use code,” he said. “That would fix that.”
The other commissioners laughed, and Keenan Ertel pointed out that such a drastic measure would first require a public hearing.
Suckla said he has heard that the Planning and Zoning Commission, which is appointed by the county commissioners, “gets too far in the weeds” and “could make decisions quicker.” He said if they didn’t speed up, they might need to be replaced.
Commission Chair James Lambert said he was not sure where the hang-up is in the process.
During the public-comment period, commission candidate M.B. McAfee said it was the commissioners’ job to be sure that people appointed to boards such as P&Z “are experienced and know the jobs they’re doing.” She said that was something to consider when appointing people to such a body.
– By Gail Binkly