County to republish land-use code

Joel Stonington

Pitkin County has decided to republish the entire land-use code, at a cost of up to $50,000. “It’s less than a lawsuit,” County Commissioner Dorothea Farris said. “It’s not worth going to court for.”County officials are worried that if they don’t republish the code it could leave the county vulnerable to lawsuits. By law, if significant, more restrictive changes are made at second reading, it should be published again. The county’s clerk and recorder, Jeanette Jones, said the first version cost about $30,000 to publish as an insert in The Aspen Times. Though with additions, she said a high estimate for this second round is around $50,000. The money will come from the Pitkin County general fund. Before second reading of the code, Community Development Director Cindy Houben said she hoped the county would not have to publish the code again.”We put the most restrictive form in the code that’s published before second reading,” she said. “We don’t have the money to republish. We want to get it right.”Second reading consisted of three straight days of five-hour meetings, during which commissioners discussed many sections of the code. The most restrictive change to come out of those discussions, commissioners said, was stream setbacks. The setbacks now include riparian areas.”We were expecting to not have changes that were more restrictive,” Farris said. She said it the decision of what to republish was complicated. “It’s all so involved,” she said, “that it just seemed like the right thing to do.”Early in the process, it initially looked like the code would cost $100,000 to republish. County officials looked for a way to save money such as mailing every house a postcard saying a copy of the code would be available to pick up. But that wouldn’t comply with the law. Farris placed blame for that law on newspaper industry lobbying efforts. “It’s a lot of money for newspapers,” she said. Houben said she doubted the code would have to be published a third time. “I don’t know if we’d all be standing,” she said. Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is


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