By Beecher Threatt
On Tuesday the Board of County Commissioners revisited its list of land use priorities and heard how one shortcoming in the current code is affecting an applicant for a special use permit.
At their meeting two weeks ago commissioners reviewed a resolution listing land use code priorities for the Ouray County Planning Commission to address. This week, looking at a draft resolution from that conversation, Commission Chair Mike Fedel questioned why changes to Section 9, Visual Impact, was so low at number five on the list, as he thought they had agreed it would be near the top.
"We have got to get this (Section 9) done," Fedel said. "There is turmoil out in the field."
County Attorney Martha Whitmore commented that the first, second and fourth priorities in the draft resolution had already been addressed by the planning commission and are set for public hearing on Oct. 16. Those include issues discussed last meeting of changes to designations Board of Visual Appeals and Board of Zoning Adjustment, rescission of unnecessary sections and revision of requirements for final plat approval.
Planning commission alternate member Dudley Case, in attendance on Tuesday, told commissioners that the commission is continuing its work on Section 9, and he is meeting with other members to finalize the recommendations. Case emphasized that only two planning commission members are meeting at one time, to ensure compliance with the Colorado open meetings law.
The resolution remained as drafted and was approved.
Chad Baillie, a county resident on Highway 550 just north of Ouray, appeared before the BOCC for the continuation of a public hearing on his application for a special use permit to build a structure to house a cabinet shop. Neighbors on either side had objected to the permit, and research by the neighbors at the county assessor's office revealed that the Baillie property and a neighboring property are currently surveyed incorrectly. The continuance granted in May was to give Baillie time to sort out the lot line problem.
About 15 years ago, a property owner recorded a non-county approved lot line change to two parcels, most of which is Baillie's property now. The unapproved lot lines had been used until now by surveyors and title companies during transfers of the property.
Land use staff informed the BOCC that it could not issue a special use permit without correcting the error, which would require an exemption to make the property a legal nonconforming parcel, which would then necessitate a variance be approved because a house on the property would violate setback regulations. Baillie would have to file applications for exemption and variance, with fees totaling $1700. Whitmore explained that a special use permit could not be issued on an illegal, nonconforming parcel.
Baillie objected that the county had assessed and collected taxes on the unapproved parcels for years, and he should not be penalized for the county's acceptance of the recorded lot line change. Staff and commissioners disagreed, but commissioners voiced sympathy for Baillie's situation. They voted to continue the special use permit hearing to allow him time to file the applications.
County Planner Mark Castrodale said one of the land use priorities approved by the BOCC, regarding a process for making changes to illegal nonconforming parcels, would alleviate the problem, but he did not foresee the planning commission addressing the issue and holding a public hearing to change the land use code before the end of the year.