Section 9 is a rancher's gift

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Dear Editor,
I was out of town for the first visual impact public hearing, but I made it to the second a month later. The biggest surprise to me was the large ranches “lawyered up” and sent the message that they were definitely against the new section 9; they gave no sound reasons whatsoever. I could not figure this out. Because I was interested in what our local ranchers felt about it, I got together with four different rancher friends and am totally confused now.
Section 9 is a rancher’s gift. It reaffirms that Ouray County is a “right to ranch” county (ranchers are exempt from Section 9). It cleans up the original Section 9 rules, makes it easier to understand and administer, includes room for variances and is expanded to deal with the future growth that is at our door step. Help me here, please. A regulation that doesn’t affect you, that makes clear what we value and extends the visual impact areas to include more, similar view sheds that we would like to protect, leaving no parcel unbuildable. What’s not to like ?
In 1985, an updated Master Plan said, “Citizens have remained here, or were attracted to Ouray County, because of the physical qualities and characteristics of the county—a low density, agricultural/mining, rural county which places a high premium upon the maintenance of its natural resources and the preservation of its open space vistas, abundant wildlife and overall aesthetic beauty.” I believe that this is still the overriding sentiment of this community today.
Personally, I believe that our collective values (the master plan, zoning regs and the land use code) trump varied, individual wants. On Aug. 7 and 8 all Ouray County citizens, not just the large ranchers, will have the chance to weigh in on their values. These are the dates set for the Public Hearing for Visual Impacts (Section 9) to be heard by the County Commissioners, who will then make the decision which way we move.
Please become informed and be a part of the public process.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Tom McKenney, Ouray County