The little guy with a 5,750-square-foot house |

The little guy with a 5,750-square-foot house

Joel Stonington

Pitkin County commissioners voted Wednesday to take away the option some people had to build 1,000-square-foot additions to their homes.The decision disregarded a Planning and Zoning Commission recommendation and the pleas of audience members.Previously, people who had owned houses smaller than 5,750 square feet for at least five years were allowed a 1,000-square-foot addition without purchasing a transferable development right. During first reading of land-use code revisions, staff claimed people expecting 1,000 extra square feet abused the exemption. Commissioner Patti Clapper brought the issue back for discussion at second reading, and staff recommended allowing 500 square feet. Many property owners said losing the option would decrease the value of their property.”I’m a little guy,” said Annie Katz. “This is going against the regular local guy living in the community.””There was a commitment made, almost a covenant with the people,” said Paul Taddune, an attorney who represents the Starwood development. “There are a lot of little people out there.”Planning and Zoning commissioners unanimously voted to recommend that Pitkin County include the 500-square-foot exemption in the land-use code. “All this talk about the little guy, there are a lot of little guys,” said P&Z member Peter Thomas. “There are people who have legitimate expectations and needs – simply adding to the livability of their property.”But county commissioners didn’t buy it, and in a 3-2 vote, removed the 1,000-square-foot option, with Mick Ireland, Jack Hatfield and Michael Owsley voting in the majority.”For me it’s impossible to deal with the notion that someone living in 5,000 square feet is being punished,” Ireland said. “We’re having the conversation around a foundation that for much of the world would be the whole village.”Owsley said he had similar thoughts. “I can’t believe that someone with 5,750 [square feet] is a little guy,” he said. Discussion on the code continues with public hearings from 2-7 p.m. today, when the county expects to give final approval to the code. Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is

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