Pitkin County addresses addresses | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County addresses addresses

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – Standards for assigning address numbers and street names in Pitkin County won initial approval from county commissioners Wednesday, but immediately forcing new addresses upon unsuspecting residents is not part of the plan.

Commissioners voted 4-0 (with George Newman absent) to adopt a new section of the county code defining standards for street addresses; a public hearing and second vote are scheduled Oct. 24. The ordinance formalizes what is already being done when, for example, someone constructs a new house in an unincorporated area of the county, according to Ginny Bultman, of the county’s Communications Department.

“All this does is set down in words what we’ve been doing for the past 21 years,” she said.

Trickier is what to do about existing homes that don’t comply with the code – driveways that access three or more houses, for example, and are defined as a street by the new code. About 150 driveways have been identified as accessing three or more “addressable” structures, or residential dwellings, commissioners were told.

“We’re not talking about the chicken coop that also happens to have a phone in it,” Bultman said.

About 55 of the driveways are in platted subdivisions such as Mountain Valley, Brush Creek Village and Hidden Meadows. They are a concern because it can be difficult for emergency responders to quickly find a residence.

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No effort will be made to bring nonconforming residences into compliance with the address code until the staff has come up with an implementation plan for such an action, said Cindy Houben, community development director. That plan will go to commissioners for review and approval, she added.

In addition, the county has no funding or staff to tackle the issue of nonconforming residences proactively.

There will be some exceptions to the move-slowly approach, though.

“When an egregious hazard of public safety is brought to our attention, we’ll have to deal with it,” Bultman said.

And there will be cases when a new residence constructed on a driveway that’s already serving other homes triggers the need for naming that driveway as a street and assigning house numbers, Commissioner Rob Ittner predicted.

The ordinance establishes a committee to administer the system of assigning addresses, but the intent is to let affected residents on a driveway, for example, come up with their own name for their street when it becomes necessary, Bultman said.

And a standard that called for street names to be “pleasant sounding” was eliminated from the code.

Names that reflect local character should be embraced, Commissioner Rachel Richards argued, citing Aspen’s Slaughterhouse Bridge as an example.

“I don’t want to make this too much of a clean, sterile process,” she said.

County resident Marcella Larsen, in an email to commissioners, voiced objections to the address code and urged commissioners to delay action until property owners who could ultimately face the cost and hassle associated with being assigned a new address are notified.

janet@aspentimes.com