Please send input to: Paonia@townofpaonia.com
Dear Planning Commission members and Commissioners Roeber, Suppes and Lane:
The Town of Paonia has recently been provided an overview of the proposed Delta County Land Use Code. In response to that presentation and in reviewing the third draft of the Code, we respectively offer the following comments:
Control of the areas surrounding the Town of Paonia limits
Under the current Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with Delta County, Paonia has the right to decide land use in the area to which we supply water. This consists of about a three mile radius of the Town and abuts the Town borders. The draft Land Use Plan eliminates most of this area from our primary decision making and instead allows any of the permitted or “allowed by right” activities to be administratively approved without consultation with the Town nor with public input. These include zones that allow intensive agriculture (factory farming, CAFOs), medium industry, and heavy industry. These uses, even with 1,000 foot setbacks, are not compatible with the developing culture and economy of the Town and will harm the Town and its citizens’ right to earn a living.
The North Fork Valley is home to a high concentration of organic agriculture, farm-to-table producers, award-winning Colorado wineries, and growing agri-tourism. Many of these are within a three mile radius of the Town of Paonia, and many residents of our town rely on these nearby businesses for jobs, for locally produced goods, and for bringing people into the valley who then support other businesses in town. Taking away the Town’s ability to regulate activities adjacent to the Town’s borders violates previous agreements.
While a portion of these lands are primarily used for agriculture, and may never be developed beyond those uses, there exist significant residential areas within those lands which are more urban than agricultural. Designating them as A5 is not appropriate to the kind of living situation currently in place and opens the door to enhanced agricultural activity that could harm the people living in those areas. The same is true in many of the areas designated A20. Further, classifying anything as A35 within a stone’s throw of the Town borders is not reasonable. Sanctioning activities in these areas which, according to the rubric, are allowed by right or permit with only administrative review, is likely to harm the health, safety and welfare of people living in these areas without giving the residents any recourse to prevent that harm. These kinds of actions do not serve the people living adjacent to the Town nor the Town itself.
We ask for one of two possible solutions to this issue:
- The area encompassing the land included in the Growth Management Agreement dated January 14, 2003 be zoned as an Urban Growth Area.
- That a new Growth Management Agreement be signed by the Town and Delta County which cedes land use decision making of the area in question must obtain the approval of the Town of Paonia, and that this agreement be completed prior to the finalization of the new Land Use Code.
Prohibition of any marijuana uses
The ban on marijuana uses in any zone is not in the best interest of the long term growth and financial prosperity of the county.
Cannabis is legal in the State of Colorado. It is a highly lucrative form of agriculture and far less intrusive and harmful than confined animal feeding operations. It conforms to the County vision of itself as an agricultural center and can further this perception beyond just the confines of the County borders. It can bring in much needed income into the County as well. In short, this ban demonizes a legitimate form of agriculture.
The Town of Paonia and Cedaredge both have marijuana issues on the ballot for this November. If the voters agree to these shops, limiting the ability of local farmers to grow products for these shops reduces the economic viability of the County. It also curtails the ability of shops to provide to potential customers with a line of locally grown and possibly organic “boutique” versions of cannabis products. It disallows businesses that could create custom edibles and other kinds of wares which could help spur small business and bring much needed money into the hands of the citizens and the tax coffers of the County. This ban could also harm the financial viability of such shops by eliminating the special products which could help the towns effectively compete with other shops in nearby counties.
In the end, this ban is short sighted and blind to the realities of the marijuana trade in the State. We should be capitalizing on it, increasing tourism because of it, and putting much needed dollars into the pockets of farmers and craftspeople instead.
Right to Farm
Colorado’s Right to Farm statute provides protections to existing agricultural operations and agricultural lands and also protects changes in the type of agricultural product and changes in ownership. These protections, however, are limited to agricultural operations that were established prior to the commencement of the use of the area surrounding such agricultural operation for nonagricultural activities.
Expanding the right to farm protections to include uses in the agriculture land use category regardless of when they are established prevents existing residents’ right to protest agricultural impacts on established land uses no matter the harms they may inflict. This directly contravenes Chapter 1, Section 2B of the Land Use Plan that states: “The right to develop…does not include the right to physically damage or adversely impact neighboring landowners.” As stated above, it will allow activities by right or permit which can harm the existing residential properties adjacent to it. It also tilts the table in favor of agriculture above all other uses, which is detrimental to the economic diversity, health and vitality of the county.
The Right to Farm section should conform with the State’s comprehensive laws, not undermine them.
We appreciate the opportunity to comment on the proposed plan and look forward to further revisions based on community input.