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Chaffee County planning staff Jon Roorda and Christy Barton have issued a staff memo recommending against a citizen-proposed amendment to the county’s land use code to adopt the Colorado state statute regarding the definition of an “outfitter” and the definition of “outfitting services.” The proposal would apply this to the county’s definition of outfitting facilities.

The proposed amendment and staff’s position will be the topic of two upcoming public hearings regarding Chaffee County Land Use Code Article 15 outfitting. The first is 7:15 p.m. April 24 before Chaffee County Planning Commission, followed at 9:15 a.m. May 8 by a public hearing before county commissioners. Both sessions will be held in the commissioners room at 104 Crestone, Salida

While county process is designed to allow any member of the public to suggest changes to land use code, that same code allows staff to recommend modifications or alternatives to the proposed amendment.

Resident Dave Moore made the land use code change proposal, then waited longer than the time allowed by county statute for the county to schedule the public hearing.

“I’m glad it will finally get a hearing,” said Moore, who said he’s worried that the inconsistent application of the current land use code will have unintended consequences. “If we continue the way things are, it feels like the county wants to keep us all off balance; free to define outfitter any way they choose. Matching the state statute would clear this up.”

Moore said the staff’s stance rejects the need for the county to clearly define what or who is an outfitter or how Chaffee County rural residents would know whether they are in compliance with county land use code regarding recreational activities launched from their property. He noted that the current outfitting definition does not focused solely on professional guiding activities.

The county’s current definition of outfitting facilites in Article 15 of county land use code is “the improved structures and facilities related to guiding services for outdoor expeditions, including fishing, camping, biking, motorized recreation and similar.”

Moore’s proposed amendment would apply the state’s definition of outfitting which reads: “’Outfitting services’ means providing transportation of individuals, equipment, supplies, or wildlife by means of vehicle, vessel, or pack animal, facilities including but not limited to tents, cabins, camp gear, food, or similar supplies, equipment or accommodations and guiding, leading, packing, protecting, supervising, instructing, or training persons or groups of persons in the take or attempted take of wildlife.”

Moore’s proposal goes on to request application of the Colorado state definition of outfitter, contained in Article 12-55.5 Outfitters and Guides (professions and occupations) which reads, “Outfitter means a person soliciting to provide or providing for compensation outfitting services for the purposes of hunting or fishing on land the person does not own.”

Development staff disagrees with the need to change the code.

Roorda and Barton say that the county’s current code definition regulating outfitter facilities applies to more types of outfitters than those listed in state statute, such as “sled dog rides, commercial riding stables, rafting, etc” so the county’s current definition should stand.

Their memo is silent about the fact that current code makes no distinction between people actually making a living from outfitting, and those landowners with all the gear (perhaps stored in a shed on their property) who are simply joined by friends to enjoy an activity, or who allow guests to hunt on their property. It went on to say that “the (county’s) current definition allows for more flexible regulation of local outfitting facilities.”

The memo made the unproven claim that “land use regulations are best determined at the local level and not at the state and federal levels” … that “they generally are not state-wide concerns”, and that simply deferring to the state definition “would be a loss of local control over our LUC.”