Pitkin County land-use applications return to pre-recession levels | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County land-use applications return to pre-recession levels

Staffing, money and space are chief among the issues faced by the Pitkin County Community Development Department, officials said Tuesday.

During a work session, members of the department told Pitkin County commissioners that the number of land-use applications the office processes are returning to pre-recession levels of about 130 to 140 per year. The current trend is leaning toward remodels and redevelopment, said Cindy Houben, director of Community Development.

“It’s redevelopment and intensity of redevelopment,” she said.

That uptick has led to higher workloads, Houben said, telling commissioners, “We hope it doesn’t sound like a big whine fest.”

But there are challenges, she and other staffers said. Code enforcement is among them. The job of enforcing codes — which ranges from citing homes for having Christmas lights on during the non-holiday seasons to flagging unauthorized, earth-moving vehicles — falls to Community Development. It once was handled by an officer who worked for the county attorney’s office, but that position no longer exists.

“I always liked that the position was with the attorney’s office, but more informally he (the former officer) worked with us,” Houben said.

County planner Lance Clarke said that just recently a county employee spotted three earth-moving vehicles in the Woody Creek area that weren’t authorized to do work.

“They didn’t have the permits, and we had to take the time to write up the notices,” he said, saying that in the past, the code-enforcement officer would have been called in to handle the job.

Code enforcement can be its own job, but when Community Development staffers are working on applications ranging from chicken coops to monster homes, it’s not a feasible scenario, staffers said.

Houben said that adding staff is desirable, but the work space won’t accommodate it. Creative scheduling and flex time are possibilities, said Commissioner Steve Child, who called the session a “reality check.”

Community Development’s presentation was the first in a series of discussions with the commissioners from the county’s departments.

The purpose is to fill in commissioners on the challenges and functions of each department with no formal decisions or directives made by the commissioners.

Community Development comprises the county’s planning, building and environmental health sections.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com


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