In a marathon of public hearings, Chaffee County commissioner’s approved several major and minor subdivision projects before proceeding to a public hearing about three changes proposed for the county land use code.
While the subdivision hearings saw no opposition, there were county residents who spoke up against changes to sections of land use code.
Changes to Section 5.2.3.C.1 would add a 12 month requirement from the recording of the plat for the use of land for agricultural if the parcel is greater than 35 acres.
The next two interrelated changes are to Section 1.3.3.b.2.a and Section 1.4.2.c.1b4; the first amending appeals of administrative decisions under Board of Adjustment Powers & Duties, the second amending the enforcement process for land use violations. Combined, they limit appeals a resident accused of a land use violation by the county can make to the BOA, replacing an appeal with the prospect of prosecution, with the resident’s only recourse to go to court.
Commissioners unanimously moved to prepare a resolution covering the changes for review at their first commissioner’s meeting in May.
While current code says “appeals of administrative interpretation shall not be allowed for building use violations, that may be prosecuted by the court,” the county’s proposed change eliminates the words “for building Use” and “by the court.”
“This is an associated amendment that would amend the enforcement process in terms of land use violations, initiated by the county attorney on behalf of the county commissioners,” said planning manager Jon Roorda.
County attorney Jenny Davis said that the changes wouldn’t change anything in practice, because the state statutes don’t talk about building use, they talk about building structures or land use.
Commissioners questioned whether it was right to issue a violation based on an interpretation.
“The different criteria you could use to establish if there has been a violation – some of it is very subjective,” asked Commissioner Greg Felt. “There are others you could issue a violation based on an interpretation, and where do we draw the line with that? I would think the court would want us to have as firm a basis as possible for declining to review or hear an appeal internally here, before court.”
Davis said no. “That issue has come up in a current enforcement action there was an interpretation and the court was uninterested in that.”
“It’s a significant policy decision … to intercede,” asked Felt. “I don’t want to be at cross purposes with staff, but you put a citizen in a difficult situation.”
“My question is, does this in any way limit or curtail citizens’ rights to due process or adjudication of their situation?” said Commissioner Keith Baker.
“You’re bringing the enforcement action through me,” said Davis. “The new process would be more efficient. Going through the BOA would add unnecessary delay.”
“This change clearly involves Dr. Alison Brown,” said Jim Miller. “The staff has presented this as if this is not, but it is in direct response to that situation. I am not willing to give up my rights to appeal for any reason. We need as many checks and balances as possible. I have here a letter issued by Mr. Roorda on Feb. 14, to Brown, essentially citing her for a violation, stating the staff has decided that two parcels in this county will be treated as one parcel …the application Dr. Brown applied for, paying the $400, never received a response from the staff, and here we are today, saying we want to eliminate this option … the commissioners are running this county – not the staff. We need to maintain our rights to appeal to our elected officials.”
“It says the county shall provide written notice, but it doesn’t say anything about the director confirming this with commissioners,” said Felt. “Apply the law of unintended consequences. I want to make sure there is an avenue that these things don’t just get launched to the person in question.”
“Ms. Davis has never appeared in the Vely litigation but we held a status conference to set forth a procedure by which a single legal issue can be resolved one to the county’s request, the other to the Vely’s assertion,” said Randy Herrick-Stare, attorney in Vely’s civil case against Brown. “I think this is a good amendment.”
Prior to approving preparation of a resolution commissioners asked for language authorizing an informal review of enforcement actions before filing a court action.
Commissioners approved the Cactus Ranch Major Subdivision at 9412 CR 175; the division of 13.08 acres into six lots. Owners Wade and Sheila Veazey agreed to building envelopes that will be shown on the final plat. Served by a single road – one way in – one way out – the envelopes avoid the 100 year flood plain that runs across the property. The owners will set up a home owners association and covenants will include architectural guidelines.
The final plat for the Pinon Grove Minor Subdivision, located at 13700 West U.S. 50 was approved. The narrow lot will be subdivided into three lots, two with existing houses, served by a cull-du-sac with a shared driveway. The road easement going to the south will be expanded to allow for turn-around of emergency equipment.
Commissioners approved development of a resolution for the Broadview Rural Open Space Incentive, a major subdivision located on 193.4 acres just south of Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort. The space will be divided into 24 lots ranging from 2.22 to 6.6 acres. Some 67.1 percent of the acreage will be set aside for open space.
Developers Jeff and James Ince said the project would proceed in two phases and perimeter fencing would only be allowed in the open space area known as lot 19. Discussion ensued over the purchase of water augmentation certificates; specifically when phase two certificates will be purchased. County recommends early purchase.
“If we don’t require it now, that augmentation certificate might not be available later,” said Development Services Director, Dan Swallow.
“Our economic interest is strongly motivated to finish the whole project, not just phase one,” said Jeff Ince. “We’re self funding. We would self-escrow –we’re planning to pick up all the augmentation within a year.”
The final public hearing concerned the Brady Minor Subdivision final plat, located at 7013 and 7121 CR 107 Salida, which commissioners unanimously approve. The 13.54 acre site, with a new 40 foot right-of-way, would provide access for four lots developed by Brady Brothers and Brent and Valerie Sites. The new house to be built on lot 3 would be 24 feet back from the South Arkansas River but within a building envelope and with engineered foundation wall to meet the permitting requirements of the Army Corps of Engineers.