OURAY COUNTY Non-commercial camping regulations approved

By Bill Tiedje

Individuals camping on private land in Ouray County for more than 30 days may soon be required to register with the county and comply with sanitation and occupancy standards, or face fines of up to $1,000 per day.

The Ouray County Non-Commercial Camping Ordinance was approved on first reading by the Board of County Commissioners on June 10.
Non-commercial camping for fewer than 30 days is currently permitted in all Ouray County land use zones, except the Colona Zone.
Ordinance 2014-01 would also limit long-term camping to one site per parcel, with a minimum parcel size of three acres.
The ordinance states that the current definition of non-commercial camping in the Ouray County Land Use Code has "led to confusion and varying interpretations for implementation."
Under the new regulations, applicants for non-commercial camping permits must demonstrate to county land use staff, the county building inspector or the Director of Public Health that acceptable sanitation facilities will be used, such as: a septic system; a compost toilet; or, a properly maintained portable toilet.
The 30-day limit, requiring a county permit, would count any 30 days of camping, consecutive or cumulative, in a calendar year and no fee can be charged by the land owner.
During Tuesday's BOCC meeting, Chair Lynn Padgett suggested three changes to the ordinance, which were eventually passed as amendments: making reference to the health of all residents, including campers; adding a limit on number of occupants; and, prohibiting the creation of a nuisance for others (humans) or wildlife.
"I take ordinances pretty seriously because they are regulations," Padgett noted.
In discussing her proposed occupancy requirement that would be added to the Land Use Code definition of non-commercial camping, Padgett pointed to a camping incident in Silverton where 10 college-aged campers, each with their own car, stayed overnight.
Padgett queried what the county was trying to limit with the ordinance, noting both cars and campers could be of issue.
County Attorney Marti Whitmore commented that the ordinance would effectively limit all camping to one campsite, be it a yurt, tent or RV.
"My preference would be to be silent unless there is an issue," said Commissioner Don Batchelder, explaining he felt limiting the number of tents was overreaching.
"Staff is in a tough spot of unclear situations right now," Padgett replied, noting the need for non-subjective interpretations.
Batchelder, in turn, moved to amend the ordinance to define the occupancy requirements as consistent with the underlying zones, and the motion passed.
"It's a good start," said Padgett of the occupancy amendment. "And it could be applied consistently across the board."
Current single family home standards limit occupancy of single family homes to five unrelated individuals.
If approved on second reading, the ordinance will become effective 30 days after the second newspaper publication date, scheduled for June 26.
The BOCC also passed a resolution to send four "housekeeping" changes of the Land Use Code sections to the planning commission for review, including historic structures, land dedications, outdoor lighting and home occupations.
Padgett said she had encountered a lot of questions from the public about whether this was a "rubber-stamp process," meaning the planning commission was merely approving the board's changes.
Land use staff was directed to provide a memo giving more details as to what changes the planning commission recommends to the "housekeeping" revisions.
Commissioner Mike Fedel commented, "I think I would recommend they attend the planning commission meeting and give their input," referencing concerned groups who felt the county was asking for "rubber-stamp" from the planning commission.
In other business, the board discussed an insurance claim with Berkeley Aviation and a $25,000 anonymous donation to county emergency services with regard to the plane crash that occurred on Mar. 22 in Ridgway Reservoir.
Padgett suggested the board keep the donation for discretionary emergency response uses, while Fedel favored using it toward matching emergency preparedness grants.
It was agreed to put the funds in a separate fund for emergency services as needed.
The board entered executive session on Tuesday to discuss the insurance company's offer to pay roughly $3,000 of the approximately $8,000 requested for emergency response related to the Mar. 22 incident.