A proposed text amendment to the Chaffee County Land Use Code has languished for nine month with no formal county action. It was first proposed Sept. 9, 2017, by Larry Payne, 11000 Happy Jack Lane. Payne raised it again during the March 20 county commissioners meeting because, he says, there has been no due process regarding the proposal.
“They’re fogging me,” said Payne. “According to the county review process, they’re supposed to acknowledge and act on it. I kept following up with Administrative Assistant Patty Baldwin and she kept fending me off, telling me ‘we’re working on it.’ Finally, in March I reintroduced it and I did it in public. I want to see some action.”
According to county statute process 4.4.2,A1.2, text amendment proposals follow due process and a set timetable. Within 15 days of submission of a proposed text amendment change, the “director” shall schedule the amendment for consideration by the Planning Commission and the Board of Commissioners. Notice is to be given to the submitter that the process is underway, and a public hearing must be scheduled within 45 days of the submission. Payne said his proposal has not received due process.
“I didn’t think it was a formal proposal,” said Planning Manager Jon Roorda during the March 20 commissioners meeting, when Payne asked, during public comment, why his proposal had been ignored.
The proposal suggested that sound measurements taken in the county’s rural areas be made 300 feet from the property line. Payne says this is more in keeping with the space between rural homes than the county’s current use of a 25-foot residential property line measurement.
Payne says he first presented the proposed amendment in September in writing, handing it during a commissioners meeting to commissioner Keith Baker, who passed it along the dais, and that it ultimately reached Roorda.
“I highlighted the proposed wording in red. How is that not official?” asked Payne. “Apparently he misinterpreted it – but the wording is very clear. There is no way you could misinterpret what I wrote.”
He said over the ensuing weeks and months, he communicated via email with county staff and was repeatedly told that “it was being taken care of, that the county is coming up with it … the county’s changes to definitions related to kennels is covering it.”
Months went by. Payne said he still saw no progress, and no public hearing was scheduled. On Feb. 26 he sent an email to Director of General Administration Bob Christianson, writing, “I submitted the proposed text amendments to the Land Use Code on Sept. 9, 2017. I read the proposal at the Sept. 12, 2017, public hearing and handed a copy to Mr. Baker, who in turn handed it to Mr. Roorda. I have yet to be notified of any action taken on my proposal, while several other land use code changes have been made over the past several months. Do I need to submit a formal grievance letter or can we get this resolved?
“They fogged me totally until March, when I reintroduced it,” said Payne. “I don’t think they were doing anything with it. I think it shows a continuous effort by staff people to deny due process. I asked them to acknowledge it within 10 days. I got back zip.”
Having heard nothing, Payne re-submitted a copy of the proposed text change, this time to County Clerk Lori Mitchell during the March 20 commissioners meeting. He asked that it again be logged and dated as formally received.
Payne says the proposal would address CRS 25-12-103, which requires noise measurements to be made at 25 feet from the property boundary (matching the municipal residential sound measurement). His proposed amendment would affect LUC Section 7.8.17.A Kennels.noise, changing the sound measurements to 300 feet from the fence line in rural zones.
“It’s wrong to use city code measurements in rural zoning,” said Payne. “In the city, 25 feet from the line is probably in a living room. That makes no sense for rural areas. Here, 25 feet from a fence line can still leaves you maybe 1,200 feet or more from a house. I proposed that residential noise levels be measured within 300 feet surrounding any adjacent property residences. You take kennel sound measurements on a fence line, or run a tractor or farm machinery by it for that matter, and of course you could hear a problem.”
Payne says he is owed a public hearing and the county is long overdue providing a response about the text amendment.
“They’ve been putting me off. I don’t know what is behind it, but this staff does not want to consider this and it shouldn’t be their choice to ignore it.”