New option is added for Dolores Valley plan

County considers dropping TDR rule for additional structure

During a July 7 public hearing, the Montezuma County commissioners will consider various changes to the Dolores River Valley Plan. And an option added last week would significantly alter the plan.

To protect water quality, the river corridor has special regulations since the plan was passed in 2002. The main components are limited density of one home per 10 acres, a system of transferable development rights (TDRs), and a 100-foot setback from the river for most structures.

The commissioners tasked the planning department to review the Dolores Valley plan regulations listed as Section 8 in the overall Land Use Code for the county.

Last week, the planning commissioner recommended landowners with 10 acres or more be granted TDR certificates, saving them the cost of the survey requirement, but to otherwise keep the plan in place.

“It provides a landowner with a physical certificate for their TDRs that can be sold, and it saves them the minimum $700 survey cost. The county will cover that expense for the survey,” said planner LeeAnn Milligan.

TDRs are a type of market-based zoning. They can be bought and sold, but there are a finite amount, about 620 within the county portion of the Dolores River Valley.

The system allows landowner A to build more than one home on a 10-acre lot via the purchase of a TDR from landowner B who chooses to not build a home on his/her 10-acre lot. (Landowner B could still buy another TDR on the market at a later date for his land)

So far no TDRs have sold, so the market price for one is undetermined, and the only offered was reportedly for $100,000.

Other options on the table include allowing residences within a 3-mile influence of Dolores to have one additional home per 10 acres without an additional TDR if both are tapped into the town’s central sewer system.

Last week, a new option was added to the mix to be reviewed at the July 7 meeting.

Option B-2 reads: Amend the LUC to allow accessory structures of up to 1,500 square feet anywhere within the DRVP boundary with no requirements for TDRs. The purpose, according to the planning department, is to respond to citizen concerns over the difficulty in securing TDRs for residential accessory units.

Planning documents state that “this scenario could more readily expand residential uses on their property as a use by right.”

Under this configuration, the 10-acre base density would stay in place, but accessory structures may be allowed under the same parameters as everywhere else in the county (up to 1,500 square feet).

“It is another option for the commissioners to consider,” Milligan said.

The major change under the new option is that TDRs would not be required for the accessory structure. However, if the lot is to be split at a later date, TDRs would then be required for the subdivision properties that exceed the base density of one unit per 10 acres.

The planning department said further code analysis is required to ensure a thorough and complete amendment to the land-use code. The staff is requesting an additional 30 days minimum to review and formulate the proposed amendments.

The public hearing on the Dolores Valley Plan will be held at the County Annex, 107 N. Chestnut St. on July 7 at 1:30 p.m.

jmimiaga@cortezjournal.com