Garfield County OKs revised code, ups housing requirement
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” The Garfield County commissioners on Monday adopted a land-use code that contains a significant change in how the county regulates affordable housing.
The revised code requires that developers of all new subdivisions of five or more residences designate at least 15 percent of the development’s housing units as affordable. The new code will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2009.
The new affordable housing requirement is a significant step for the county to take. That’s because the county’s old land-use code did not have a countywide affordable housing requirement in place for all new subdivisions.
Previously, the code required that 10 percent of new subdivisions in certain areas near Glenwood Springs and Carbondale be designated affordable housing. But in areas of western Garfield County, the old code required affordable housing in only new subdivisions if a developer sought a higher density than is outlined in the county’s comprehensive plan.
Another substantial change in the code is the institution of an expedited review process for individuals who want their special-use permits amended for small or minimal changes. Before the code revision, a minor change to a special-use permit necessitated a whole new hearing before the county commissioners, who would later have to sign off on the permit change.
“I think this code provides a more realistic approach to current development context in Garfield County, rather than relying on regulations from 1978,” said Fred Jarman, building and planning director for the county. “It enables the county to better address the challenges in today’s context.”
Commissioners Larry McCown and John Martin voted in support of adopting the new rules. Commissioner Tresi Houpt voted against it.
Houpt said, while she applauded the work that went into crafting the new land-use code, there were some pretty “significant” things she had concerns about. One of those included regulations that allow energy companies to put up small temporary housing units without having to obtain a special-use permit from the county.
“There are some main points that I do not agree with and we need to work harder on,” Houpt said.
Martin noted the code revision was only expected to take six to eight months to complete, but it ultimately required five years to finish.
“(The new code) means a whole new land-use approach in Garfield County. It is easy to read. It’s easy to use,” Martin said.
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Ghez, 55, has long been a familiar name around the Aspen Center for Physics, a nonprofit launched in 1962 that seeks to bring the best minds in the world together for collaboration and innovation.