Resized rehab center in rural Routt County deemed a ‘use by right,’ gets the go-ahead | SteamboatToday.com
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Resized rehab center in rural Routt County deemed a ‘use by right,’ gets the go-ahead

Family units as defined by the Routt County Zoning Code

A. A single individual or a collective body of persons in a domestic relationship based upon blood, marriage, adoption or legal custody, living as a separate, independent housekeeping unit, or a group of not more than five (5) unrelated persons, all living together as a separate housekeeping unit.

B. Notwithstanding the foregoing, a family shall be deemed to include five (5) or more persons (but not in excess of twelve (12) persons) that are not related by blood, marriage, adoption, or legal custody occupying a residential Dwelling Unit and living as a single housekeeping unit if the occupants are handicapped persons as defined in title III of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of1988, or disabled persons as defined by §24-34-301, C.R.S. A household that includes five (5) or more persons identified above shall not be excluded from the definition of "family" by the residence in the household of additional necessary persons(and their families) employedin the care and supervision of such handicapped or disabled persons.

Editor’s note: This story was edited on April 1 to reflect that Routt County Planning Director Chad Phillips did not issue a special use permit for the Foundry rehab center March 31, but cleared the project to move forward after the number of residents to be accommodated at the center was reduced, bringing it within thresholds in the county zoning regulations that make it a use by right.

Routt County Planning Director Chad Phillips confirmed Tuesday the county has recognized The Foundry rehab center as a “use by right” after the proponent, Scott Borden, reduced the number of residents the facility would accommodate from 18 to 12.

A special use permit for the facility was rejected by the county commissioners on a 2-1 vote March 24, but a revised application since submitted by Borden changed changed the way the way the project fits county zoning regulations.



Phillips said the reduction in residents brought Borden’s plan to establish the rehab center on 48 acres off Colorado Highway 131 south of Steamboat into compliance with one of the definitions of an unrelated family in the zoning regulations.

The regulations were written to conform with federal and state law.



Family units as defined by the Routt County Zoning Code

A. A single individual or a collective body of persons in a domestic relationship based upon blood, marriage, adoption or legal custody, living as a separate, independent housekeeping unit, or a group of not more than five (5) unrelated persons, all living together as a separate housekeeping unit.

B. Notwithstanding the foregoing, a family shall be deemed to include five (5) or more persons (but not in excess of twelve (12) persons) that are not related by blood, marriage, adoption, or legal custody occupying a residential Dwelling Unit and living as a single housekeeping unit if the occupants are handicapped persons as defined in title III of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of1988, or disabled persons as defined by §24-34-301, C.R.S. A household that includes five (5) or more persons identified above shall not be excluded from the definition of “family” by the residence in the household of additional necessary persons(and their families) employedin the care and supervision of such handicapped or disabled persons.

Commissioners Doug Monger and Tim Corrigan originally found the proposed operation too intense for that part of the county. Commissioner Cari Hermacinski disagreed.

Phillips brought the new application to commissioners’ attention Monday as they met with County Attorney John Merrill during a weekly work session.

“We concluded it was a use by right,” Phillips said, and as a result the project was cleared to move forward.

The zoning language that changed the status of Borden’s project is contained in the second of two definitions of unrelated families in the zoning code. Typically, families not based upon a blood relationship, marriage, adoption or legal custody who are living as a single “housekeeping unit” in Routt County are limited to five unrelated adults.

An exception is made if the occupants are handicapped individuals — as defined in the Civil Rights Act of 1968 and as amended by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 — or disabled persons as defined by Colorado statutes. In that case, as many as 12 unrelated adults may live in a single dwelling. People recovering from addiction are considered handicapped under the law, Phillips said.

The constraints on the new permit mean that Borden will not develop a new 3,600-square-foot bunkhouse on his land, but limit occupation at any time to a dozen clients sharing an existing six-bedroom home.

Borden acknowledged Tuesday that he knew last week he could gain approval for the The Foundry by limiting the number of residents staying there for 90 days of treatment to a dozen residents. He previously sought permission to house 18 residents because it would make his business plan more flexible.

Now, he said, he’s focused on running his new facility in a way that won’t alienate his neighbors.

“I’m grateful to be able to start with something,” Borden said. “I believe that once we have some time to get established, it will be embraced as a good neighbor in a quiet, respectful setting. We’re looking forward to operating as we’ve described and hope it isn’t such a controversial topic next time around if we seek to expand either at the current site or another site.”

Both a previous hearing in front of Planning Commission as well as the county commissioners’ hearing brought letters of support along with vocal opposition from rural neighbors living in the area about 10 miles south of Steamboat Springs. Phillips said he intended to send notification of the change to everyone who had sent written comments or made oral statements at one of the hearings.

Marc Small, who lives close by the planned rehab facility, said he was unhappy over the change.

“What’s a family?” Small asked. “We own a ranch. My grandkids live here; my grandkids are family to me. Twelve individuals who have never met each other before are not a family in my eyes. This is going to become hotel row because that’s what you can do. They’re running a commercial enterprise, and that’s not what we wanted in the South Valley. We need a rehab center, just put it in the right place.”

Borden said he understands the concerns of his neighbors.

“I don’t fault the opposition,” he said, “because it’s an unknown. This is a totally new idea for this valley. If you don’t have experience with it, I can see that you’d be unsure of what it is.”

Corrigan said initially he was taken aback by the change in The Foundry’s status but has come around to believing that the end result is satisfactory.

“I was surprised when I first heard about it,” Corrigan said. “I think my immediate reaction was that I was a little bit unhappy. But after I spent a short time thinking about it, I think it’s actually a pretty good resolution.

Corrigan said limiting the number of residents to 12 and eliminating the second residential building addressed his concerns with the intensity of use.

“The fact that they were going to be putting in a rehab facility didn’t bother me at all,” he said. “If a couple years from now, they show it isn’t an overly-intense use, I wouldn’t be opposed,” to the proponents bringing forward a proposal to expand.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1


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