Permit requests flooding county |

Permit requests flooding county

Joel Stonington

Building permit applications have flooded Pitkin County ahead of a final vote Thursday on a more restrictive land-use code, and some are saying the new regulations would violate their rights. “In the last two days we’ve had 25 building permits,” said Cindy Houben, director of community development. She said the applications are likely the result of changes in building regulations within the urban growth boundary and other stipulations.”We anticipated a number of people would be concerned about special interests and not about the betterment of the big picture in order to get in under the wire,” County Commissioner Jack Hatfield said.The first of three county meetings this week on the land-use code revision was packed to standing-room only. Recent half-page ads in Aspen newspapers have decried the new code, and some people voiced similar concerns Tuesday. “We’re going to be forced to build this year just to protect ourselves,” said Heidi Houston, a local real estate agent. “No matter what, I’ll go build a house this summer because I know I have to because I’m going to lose my rights.”Others at the meeting lamented a late change in rules regarding how close people can build to streams and wetlands.”The introduction at this late time of this new language has significant potential impacts on a lot of people,” said Gideon Kaufman, a local land-use attorney.Commissioners voted for a 25-foot buffer for wetlands and a varying stream setback of 50 to 150 feet, depending on the application and staff recommendation.”The county has taken the position that they are going completely environmental,” Houston said. “Old people who lived here forever and thought they had something may be surprised when they actually figure out what they have.”County commissioners replied with passionate comments regarding wetlands and riparian areas.”Ninety percent of all Colorado’s species are found at one time in riparian areas, which make up less than 3 percent of Colorado’s land mass,” Commissioner Michael Owsley said. “We’re talking about an incredibly valuable resource.” Discussion on the code continues with public hearings from 2 to 7 p.m. today and Thursday, when the county expects to give final approval to the code. Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is

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