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The Chaffee Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) and the Planning Commission, in yet another joint work session on Tuesday, Nov. 19, again took up the issue of a county definition of outfitting. A subcommittee had worked up a set of proposed definitions organized as a use table. While thorough, the new use table might be confusing to the general public, simply trying to determine whether their activities will run afoul of county rules.

In recent months, the definition has been at the base of conflicts regarding what constituted outfitting. Residents have weighed in on concerns about whether commercial or non-commercial outfitting needed to be considered, and exactly what is the difference between active and passive outdoor recreation. Chaffee County’s Land Use Code arrived at a point where residents have worried whether something as simple as taking a ride with their grandchildren would constitute an infraction.

“Commercial is irrelevant to the impact,” said Commissioner Greg Felt. “It could be two staff with four fishermen – or a fly shop like [Ark Angler] dealing with 500 fishermen a day – and they’re both commercial.”

Whitewater rafting. (Courtesy photo)

During the joint session Planning Commissioner Marjo Curgus presented the results of committee work: a proposal that would create an “outdoor recreation” commercial category to cover a wide range of outdoor-related uses, effectively deleting current definitions of active and passive outdoor recreation, as well as the definition of “rafting enterprise.”

The proposal went on to create three additional categories to cover “outdoor recreation establishments with overnight accommodations,” “outdoor education,” and a “club” category. It would also replace the old “commercial recreation facilities” with an “indoor entertainment” category.

“Adoption with a resolution that would restate the desire by the BoCC that the intent is not to take away people’s uses,” said Curgus. “There are fears that the land use code limits people’s uses, but this protects them. For instance, there is a broad definition as a permitted use for things like GARNA activities.”

Fishing for brown trout on the Arkansas River above Salida. (Courtesy photo)

While the proposed use table could be viewed as cleaning up the confusion over outfitting, owners of horse stables, might not be as happy with the three new definitions of stables in the proposal. The current two categories (horse boarding and equestrian center/arena) under the proposed changes would become three: commercial stables, private stable and equestrian center/arena. Among questions that have come up since the joint session from those with horses, is whether or not there might be stipulations limiting the number of horse trailers on roads, or whether a private stable with an exercise arena might be in violation of the county’s interpretation of boarding.

“We’re constrained by defining ‘outfitter’… we were able to re-frame it differently,” said Planning Commissioner Bill Baker, who served on the committee. “This is a pretty elegant solution – the concern was what about GARNA, or the grandpa just putting together a big ski tour? It was a good process.”

The proposal, as presented, took note that the county might need to clarify the types of ownership used in the definitions …what is a public establishment, a commercial establishment and a private, non-commercial establishment.

(Photo courtesy of iStock)

“The intent is for these things not to be a problem,” said Commissioner Keith Baker. “By refining this, it removes the concern that some neighbor doesn’t like what you’re doing with your friends and calls the sheriff on you.”

Discussion on the proposed changes will continue during the 4 to 5:30 p.m. Dec. 9 joint work session of the BoCC and the Planning Commission. Before the adoption of any changes, the public will have a chance to weigh in. According to the Chaffee Planning and Zoning Department, it is likely this won’t be until after the first of the year.