As reported in the Plaindealer's Nov. 30 issue, the Board of County Commissioners was deliberating on how to fill a vacancy on the Ouray County Planning Commission. Two BOCC members noted one candidate's affiliation with the Ridgway-Ouray Community Council (ROCC) and "were concerned about the influence of one organization on a county commission." They also noted that three planning commission members are ROCC members.
The commissioners should base selection of planning commission members on each individual candidate's qualifications regardless of affiliation with any nonprofit service organization. To exclude a qualified candidate from consideration because of their ROCC membership is both unfair to the candidate, in our opinion, and a disservice to the county.
It is true that ROCC members often volunteer to serve on county and municipal planning boards and committees. Since 1993, the organization has been known for civic engagement. Many of our more than 200 members are indeed visible throughout the community, whether monitoring recycling stations at Ridgway Concerts in the Park, running the annual ROCC Parking Lot Sale or cleaning up highway trash.
Each year, ROCC donates thousands of dollars in grants to local causes, schools and nonprofits. ROCC continues to advocate for renewable energy resources in the region, affordable housing, sensible land use policies and responsible growth. In 2016, ROCC partnered with San Miguel Power Association to help the Ridgway schools switch from CFL to LED lighting, thus saving the schools $15,000 per year in electricity expenses and improving the students' learning environment.
Our organization is inclusive and transparent with no hidden agendas. ROCC business meetings, posted on our website, http://www.roccnet.org, are open to the public. All citizens are welcome to attend. ROCC members, like people everywhere, have widely differing opinions that are resolved through democratic processes such as voting.
We don't believe the commissioners have any reason for concerns about our organization's influence on the planning commission. Those ROCC members who volunteer their time and talents for positions such as planning commission seats do so with a sense of civic responsibility and willingness to work hard for the betterment of Ouray County.
In fact, ROCC's mission is quite consistent with the spirit of the county's Land Use Code. Consider the LUC's introduction: "The purpose of the Ouray County Land Use Code is to promote the health, safety and general welfare of the present and future inhabitants of the county by planning for and regulating the use of land so as to provide planned and orderly development and protecting the environment in a manner consistent with constitutional rights."
ROCC's mission statement reads: "ROCC works to enhance Ouray County's quality of life through education, protection of the environment and promotion of social justice."
We appreciate our commissioners' many contributions toward keeping this county a great place to live and work. We hope they will continue to partner with us in those efforts.
Don Swartz and Kate Kellogg, ROCC Co-presidents