Koye Carlstrom: Encourage right projects

In response to the Jan. 20 article, “Routt County Building Department studying possible cut in permit fees,” I would like to propose another option that would be in all of our interests.

As some probably already have started to see, construction and development industries are dragging out of the recession, lagging behind most other industries, as is often the case. We all can hope that this resurgence will bring many more proposals and projects to Routt County, but I think it is important that we encourage the right projects.

These proposals and projects are driven by their locations and intended use and the plan review, zoning laws, codes and code enforcement help to ensure that the community does not have awkward, ugly buildings that are out of place, unsafe and do not function properly.

It is only good business for an investor or a developer to hope for the maximum payback in the shortest amount of time, but the community is a long-term investor in all structures that will be built.

The community should want and try to appeal to these investors and developers, but also attempt to steer them in the direction that works best for the long-term investors, themselves.

Of course, buildings are the largest consumers of energy and resources in our nation and there has been great progress made on the sustainable building front lines. Studies have proven, by building in environmentally responsible fashion, that money as well as resources can be saved during the long-term life of the buildings. This means that the long-term investors in the buildings will inevitably benefit the most from the responsible building practices used today.

There is a catch, though; it costs more to build using sustainable building practices and products, and in turn it is more expensive and less appealing for the short-term investor.

There have been local and state municipalities all across the country that use tax breaks, fee exemptions and even loan programs to incentivize investors and developers to look at adaptive reuse and sustainable building projects. The current situation of the permit fees in this county provides an excellent opportunity, even if small, to start providing some of these incentives.

It is a long-term investment for the community to encourage developers and even home builders to act in an environmentally sensible manner, and we can even help encourage their decisions through tax breaks and fee exemptions.

Koye Carlstrom

Steamboat Springs

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