When does camping become an alternative lifestyle?
If you go
What: County commissioners host a work session on a formal definition of permissible camping on private land in Routt County
When: 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 4
Where: Commissioners Hearing Room, Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave.
Steamboat Springs — Since the early 20th century, camping has represented an economical vacation that allows people to return, if relatively briefly, to a simple, even nomadic lifestyle involving tents, and more recently motor homes with satellite TV.
But that’s not exactly what the Routt County commissioners will be discussing Tuesday.
The commissioners convene at 2:30 p.m. for a work session billed as an opportunity to “provide direction to the Planning Department regarding how, or whether, to redefine the definition of camping in the Zoning Regulations.” And there doesn’t seem to be anything simple about defining the difference between short-term camping on private land and establishing alternative longer-term living arrangements like yurts.
The county discussion about the permissibility of camping when it is extended to the point of becoming an alternative housing arrangement, from tents, to yurts and RVs, arose in late summer when neighbors of the unofficial Pine Springs neighborhood, located a short distance south of the Steamboat Springs city limits, lodged a complaint with the county.
Brittany LeTendre, an owner at Pine Springs, told the commissioners Sept. 23 that it was her understanding that the primary concern with informal living arrangements was sanitation.
She said she uses a composting toilet at her informal home and doesn’t understand why that wouldn’t be sufficient to make a variety of temporary housing options acceptable.
“We’re not asking for much when we put our tent or our RV on our property,” LeTendre said. “As long as the sanitation issue is taken care of, I don’t think it needs to have a time limit.”
The commissioners also heard from some longtime residents with permanent homes who asked them not to interfere with long-term camping elsewhere in rural Routt County.
During a preliminary conversation with County Planning staff Monday, the sentiment of the commissioners was to treat management of long-term camping at Pine Springs, which is not an approved subdivision or a location where property owners can obtain a building permit, separately from informal camping on larger parcels around the county.
But the devil is in the definition of camping and how to translate that description into the county zoning code in formal language that is defensible and enforceable. No formal decision is expected at Tuesday’s work session.
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