Pitkin County to grant building permit extensions | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County to grant building permit extensions

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

ASPEN – Pitkin County will again grant a recession-fueled extension for expired and expiring building permits, but county commissioners on Tuesday called for imposing some conditions on the grace period.

A slim majority of commissioners indicated they are willing to extend expiration of the permits until the end of August, but said a residential project that would face new land-use requirements if an existing permit lapses should have to comply in order to gain the extension.

And, Commissioner Rob Ittner suggested a partial payment of permit fees to qualify for an extension. Building permit fees are typically paid when the permit is issued.

Ittner and Commissioners Rachel Richards and Michael Owsley said they would agree to another reprieve for the still-stagnant building industry, but Commissioners George Newman and Jack Hatfield declined to grant another round of extensions.

Last summer, commissioners approved a blanket extension of any permit that would expire before Dec. 31, 2010; those permits now expire Aug. 31, 2011.

“I’m pretty comfortable leaving this as it stands right now,” Newman said.

“Enough is enough,” Hatfield agreed.

So far this year, however, the county has already seen additional permits expire, and others could lapse before June 1, according to Lance Clarke, deputy director of the Community Development Department. Once a permit expires, a landowner or builder can face additional costs associated with applying for a new one.

The permit for a 15,000-square-foot West Buttermilk home expired in January, prompting a request for an extension from local land-use planner Glenn Horn that helped trigger the broader discussion about another blanket extension. The Buttermilk project, however, will have to meet new requirements to gain the extension, according to the majority sentiment expressed Tuesday. Under the current code, the county would require the purchase of four transferable development rights for such a house, Clarke said.

According to the county’s tally, 10 permits are in jeopardy of expiring by June 1. There were 11, but one application has been withdrawn, Clarke said.

A building permit expires if it is issued but the fees are not paid within a year; if construction does not commence within a year after the permit is issued; or if construction begins, but is then suspended for six months or more.

When the extension was granted last year, the county was looking at 36 potential permit expirations. Delaying the expiration to Aug. 31 meant delaying payment for thousands of dollars worth of fees, Clarke said.

“Every time we push out a date, it just pushes out the potential revenue stream,” he said.

“We have lots of people that we know are intending to wait as long as they can, probably until August to pick up permits or get things rolling again,” Clarke said.