Routt County commissioners ask for draft resolution equating greenhouses with ag barns
Steamboat Springs — The Board of Routt County Commissioners voted unanimously June 14 to direct its staff to draft a resolution, which, if formally approved, would recognize greenhouses, even those on residential lots, as agricultural buildings. That would effectively absolve the owners of the need to obtain building permits and related fees in order to erect greenhouses, just as if they were building a barn.
County regulations currently allow greenhouses of no more than 120 square feet, which are accessories to an existing home, to be built without need for a permit. If formally passed at a future date, the 120-foot limitation would be lifted for noncommercial greenhouses — those that don’t sell produce inside the greenhouse and don’t have employees.
However, the covenants invoked by homeowners associations would take precedence. And in some cases, the size of greenhouses would be constrained by the county’s property line setback regulations in the various zone districts. Also, greenhouse owners who wish to install plumbing and electrical would still need to go through the building department for that infrastructure.
CSU Extension Agent Todd Hagenbuch told the commissioners the motivation for most advocates of locally-produced food who desire larger greenhouses here is to extend this area’s short growing season to May 1 to Oct. 15.
“Really, in this climate, it does not make sense trying to grow tomatoes on a large scale in January,” Hagenbuch said. “It doesn’t make sense from a heating cost standpoint.”
However, Stagecoach resident J.J. Southard has other ideas. Southard said he is looking into a form of greenhouse, “that would be one where people could use Entran heat and create a (growing) season throughout the year.”
“I want to supply restaurants with peppers,” Southard said.
Commissioner Tim Corrigan, who expressed some concern about allowing greenhouses of all sizes to be built without building permits, said he anticipates the subject will come up again at the future hearing to adopt or not adopt the resolution.
That hearing date has not been set.
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