Perils of the land-use code | AspenTimes.com
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Perils of the land-use code

Dear Editor:Property owners, developers, builders, planners, architects, suppliers, workers, real estate persons, attorneys:Your jobs and careers are at stake in the Pitkin County portion of the Roaring Fork Valley. The culprit is the soon-to-be-adopted Pitco Land Use Code. Within that code are property-right restrictions that will burden this valley like nothing has before. Specifically onerous are the new property line setbacks from roads, streams, rivers, ponds and any other water or riparian habitat that Pitco staff identifies. In many cases as much as 150 feet would be required (presently set backs are typically 20-50 feet).Imagine your dream, streamside setting where you were going to build your home, now can’t be built. Your 150-foot stream setback puts you into the 150-foot road setback that is the other boundary of your lot. The possibilities are endless for ruining thousands of acres of presently buildable properties. When Pitco planning and zoning were asked how much land would be affected, they answered they didn’t know and that they hadn’t done any studies of the impact. My knowledge of the code is derived from plus or minus 60 hours of studying the 376-page new code and a 20-hour review of the old code. I attended all but one of the public hearings and first reading of the new code. Before the meeting on setbacks I carefully studied Pitkin County maps and their sphere of influence. I identified water details on these maps and outlined them with the proposed setbacks. My nonscientific approach indicated that 30 to 35 percent of buildable properties along and beside water details would not be buildable because of the new setbacks. I used the same approach to figure out how much land would be taken on road setbacks. Eighteen to 20 percent nonbuildable. Staff had no numbers or answers as to impacts. Scenic view protections may give the attorneys some work to keep them in the valley, but the rest of us should beware. Section 7-20-120 lays out some ambiguous dialogue in the code. This section tries to limit where you can build so people driving by can’t see your home. There are no guidelines on how far the effect reaches. No dimensions and no viewplane limits. The old code had viewplane restrictions on Highway 82 and Highway 133 only. The new code has almost every road in the county up for approval. My questions to staff: Where is the environmental impact report on the view issue? How much land does it affect? Where are the viewplane guidelines? Their answer was they don’t have that information.You probably can build your home on your lot, that’s if you put a berm in front of it, build it in a ravine or behind a stand of trees. In each scenario you lose your view that you paid handsomely for. And don’t think you can build near your ponds or in the middle of your pasture or meadow. Please read the code. The meetings start for the second reading on Tuesday April 11, at 2 p.m.Owen MinneyBasalt


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