County commissioners reject skyline regulations
Steamboat Springs — The Routt County Board of Commissioners failed to approve regulations Monday night that would attempt to preserve ridges from development.
The three-member panel rejected a three-page document that would establish skyline regulations for development on ridgelines that are visible from state and county roads.
The board failed to approve the regulations, which were endorsed by the Planning Commission, because the board said the document was too “vague” and numerous questions need to be answered.
After the more than three-hour meeting, the board directed the county’s planning staff to address the questions that were raised by several residents.
The board plans to schedule a work session in the near future that the public will be welcome to attend.
“We will try and come back with something that is clear, concise and answers the questions raised here tonight,” Commissioner Dan Ellison said.
If the regulations had been approved, about 2,600 lots in the county would have been affected.
A proposed map designates ridgelines where development is prohibited or where mitigation needs to be done to lessen the visual impact of a home or building.
These ridgelines were identified because if a building or home would be constructed on these properties, it would create a silhouette against the sky above the apparent or visible horizon.
To lessen the impact of the development on these properties, the Planning Commission came up with regulations for developers to follow.
Homes built on a skyline ridge would be limited to a height of 27 feet.
Other mitigation factors included limiting the building mass to 75 feet and using landscaping roof profiles and exterior finish to lessen the visual impact.
Of the regulations, the 27-foot restriction received most of the attention of the 40 residents who attended.
Tom Fisher, who owns property on a skyline ridge, said he would be unable to build a home because of the height restriction.
“You cannot build a two-story home within 27 feet,” Fisher said.
Proponents of the regulations thought the restrictions were too lenient.
“If this is approved, this is a license to build 27 feet above the ridgeline,” said Ben Beall, a former county commissioner who urged the board to impose more stringent regulations.
Other residents said the regulations should not be approved because they infringed on the rights of property owners.
“Isn’t there any freedom left in this world?” questioned Raymond Gray. “Are you going to control everything? This is stealing property rights. This is unbelievable to take away the rights of people who buy land and want to build a home.”
Ed Andrew threatened the board that if the regulations were approved, he would seek legal action.
Andrew said he would team up with other property owners to form a “war chest” and sue the county.
“This is a private land-right issue,” Andrew said.
Troy Brookshire, who is the chairman of the Planning Commission, urged the board to approve of the guidelines for the good of the Yampa Valley.
The commission approved of the regulations in November after more than a year of work has been done on the issue.
In the end, Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said she could not endorse regulations that affect the entire county.
Stahoviak said the county has not received input about the regulations from residents in West, North and South Routt.
Commissioner Doug Monger also voted against the regulations.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” Monger said. “I think we have made some headway, but there is still considerable work to do.”
Had the county approved of the regulations, Routt County would have become only the second county in the state to have such a policy. Pitkin County has approved skyline regulations.
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