County adopts land-use rules
Pitkin County’s controversial growth-management legislation became law last night in a marathon session lasting more than five hours.
On the advice of County Attorney John Ely, the growth-management package was adopted in accordance with a Colorado law that allows the legislation to go into effect immediately, rather than 30 days after it’s voted in. The county commissioners also ended the moratorium on the construction of large houses – more than three weeks ahead of its scheduled expiration.
The commissioners hammered out a number of changes to the legislation before adopting it. A confirmatory public hearing on the final legislation will be held July 12.
The package of legislation has taken nearly six months to draft. It puts a 5,750-square-foot cap on house size and creates several ways to qualify for additional floor area. It gives lot owners the choice of going through the growth-management-quota system or exempting themselves by buying transferable-development rights or providing affordable housing.
The legislation was approved 3-2, with Leslie Lamont, Mick Ireland and Dorothea Farris voting for the package, and Shellie Roy Harper and Patti Clapper voting against it. The vote to end the moratorium, in effect since January, was unanimous.
Before the final vote, the board engaged in some parliamentary maneuvering. That came when board Chairwoman Harper moved for approval of the package without a section that calls for development applications to compete with each other. That motion failed.
Ordinarily, ordinances go into effect 30 days after they are formally adopted. But because the moratorium was scheduled to end July 12, less than a month from now, Ely recommended making the law effective immediately for the purpose of “preserving public health, safety and welfare.”
The vote came after commissioners spent a couple of hours going over changes to the legislation and after a public hearing.
Harper complained that the short time allowed to create the regulations has not allowed county officials to research how growth problems are being dealt with elsewhere in the country. But she expressed mixed emotions about the effort, saying that preserving the character of the county is important to her.
“I’ve found in the past five months that people don’t like big houses,” Harper said.
Farris expressed more confidence in the final product. “I think we have addressed a lot of the goals,” she said.
Lamont noted that the commissioners and county staff had suffered one major setback in backing off from the goal of making new development pay for affordable housing.
“We had a dramatic come-about with dropping the fair share housing requirements,” Lamont said. But she agreed with Farris in saying that many of the important goals had been met.
Lamont went on to admit the job is not yet done.
“There are a lot of next steps to take,” she said. Creating a transferable-development-rights program for agricultural land and from property which goes through the takings process after failing to pass a hazard review would add to the pool of TDRs, she noted.
Clapper’s remarks presaged her “no” vote. “I just am not really comfortable with moving forward at this time,” she said.
Ireland presented figures which he said indicated that, at the present rate of expansion, construction jobs would double in eight years, going from more than 2,000 jobs in the upper valley to 4,000. Growth in general, he said, is following that curve.
“There is an end-game to this,” Ireland said. “I don’t want to be here when we have to go to CDOT and say we need a six-lane highway.”
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