Jail time for code violations?
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
BRECKENRIDGE – Developers who knowingly violate their permits could be facing mandatory jail time under a tough new ordinance.
The code change is aimed at boosting compliance with development permits, especially with regard to preservation of the town’s historic components.
“There are some council members who feel we don’t have enough teeth (under existing law),” said spokesperson Kim DiLallo. “We spend a lot of time and energy making Breckenridge as historically rich as it is … This is a step to get compliance with permits.”
Town Manager Tim Gagen said that violators already face potential imprisonment under existing laws. But to his knowledge, no developer has ever been jailed for violating a permit.
“This puts more responsibility on the developer. If you knew it or not, you’re in trouble,” Gagen said, explaining that the new law would take away some of the judge’s discretion in applying penalties.
The draft ordinance up for discussion at the May 8 town council work session significantly expands criminal violations associated with the town’s development code and development permits, with five days minimum in the county jail possible for developers who knowingly violate terms and conditions of a permit.
Jail time and a minimum $500 fine would be mandatory for anyone “unlawfully engaging in development without a permit, or using or occupying real property without a valid development permit,” according to the draft ordinance.
“As you can see, (this) represents a big change in the way the town would enforce the development code and development permits, town attorney Tim Berry wrote in his memo.
Gagen said there haven’t been any particularly egregious examples of development code violations in recent years. Most cases involve changes to fabrics in historic houses. In one case, about two years ago, a remodel of the historic Brewer residence resulted in a town enforcement action.
That case is what spurred some interest in updating the code.
“It brought to light some of the holes in our ordinance,” DiLallo said.
The new code language also authorizes the town to withhold further development permits, building permits and certificates of occupancy until existing violations on a property are corrected, and also establishes procedures for revoking permits.
The development code ordinance is scheduled for a work session discussion between 5:15 and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 8.
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