PROCEEDINGS OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
Monday, September 13, 1999
CONTINUATION OF PUBLIC HEARING REGARDING
THE PROPOSED LAND USE CODE
(#513 @ 3000 & #514)
The Board of County Commissioners met at 1:30 p.m. for continuation of the Public Hearing regarding the proposed Land Use Code. Chair Olson presided and Commissioners Disney and Rennels were present. Also present were: Larry Timm, Director of Planning; Al Kadera, Planner II; Marc Engemoen, Director of Public Works; Doug Ryan, Environmental Health Planner; Deni LaRue, Community Information Manager; and Jeannine Haag, Assistant County Attorney. Recording Clerk, Sherry Graves.
Chair Olson stated that this is the second hearing being held for public comment for the proposed Land Use Code for Larimer County; she noted there will be a five (5) minute time limit for individual comments. The following persons addressed the Board either in support or opposition to the Code and, even those in support, voiced some concerns with certain parts of the Code: John Smethurst; Mark Korb; David Lauer; Jack Swets; Thomas Quan; Paul Ehrlich; Gerald Russell; John Knezovich; Kelly Ohlson; Betty Anderson; Greg Wild; Jackie Worthington; Lenora Knisley; Wanda Pink, Patricia Grant; Ed Pink; Jan Heustis; Dan Stroh; Karen Rose; Evelyn King; Gerald Porche; Robert Jones; Ron Ruff; and Ben Mahrle.
Mr. Smethurst submitted and read aloud his written comments; he stated that this Code is "too broke to fix" and should be scrapped and the process started again. He stated that the current code is fatally flawed and citizen efforts to fix it have been a disaster; he noted that public comment has been overwhelmingly negative, but very few changes responsive to that comment have been made. He continued that the process should be started again with the following foundation: 1) Public good should be paid for by the public, not the individual, as the proposed code has rural landowners paying for open space through the 80/20 rule for Conservation Developments; 2) People are more important than animals - the proposed code has the rights of individual animals over those of the landowner; 3) Our county should be an inclusive place as the proposed code phases out single wide mobile homes furthering the county's discrimination against those with few resources; 4) Continued farming and ranching in our county depends on economic factors - the proposed code cannot save farming and ranching through regulation; 5) Densities in the rural parts of our county are much lower than in the urban parts and when you have fewer people you need fewer rules; and 6) Rural landowners are a minority and the proposed code fails to protect this minority from the demands of the majority urban dwellers. Mr. Korb, speaking for himself and on behalf of the Larimer County Planning Commission, stated that he heard a number of comments at the previous hearing which seem to indicate that the Planning Commission did not listen to the comments made and he emphasized that the Planning Commission did indeed listen to the comments brought to them and, when appropriate, they did respond to those comments. He also submitted and read aloud his written comments, which to summarize, are: The purpose of a County Master Plan is to serve as a policy documents for development decisions in the unincorporated areas of Larimer County and it is the duty of the Planning Commission to make and adopt a master plan for the physical development of the unincorporated area of the County and this was accomplished in late 1997; he reviewed the key concepts of that Plan. He continued that reasonable regulation of private property has long been a part of the American system and governmental regulation is not, inherently, a violation of the constitutional concepts prohibiting a taking of private property without compensation so long as the regulations, i.e., zoning, building codes, permitting and assessments for public impacts, still permit reasonable use of property. The proposed land use code has taken into account many requests from many sources and it has created a balance between the interests of the community as a whole and the privilege of private property. He urged the Board to adopt the proposed land use code without substantial modification. With regard to the issue of wetlands, Mr. Lauer asked the Board to do all they can to protect them as they are extremely critical to every living thing; he asked that they don't compromise the integrity of the wetlands. He continued that on the issue of preserving agriculture, there should be an active partnership between the Board and the Growers Cooperative that has been forming over the last few years to provide migrant farm workers housing; he noted that the proposed land use code is a means of rectifying past inequities in the value of land and it is not a "Takings". Mr. Swets stated that we are talking about peoples' lives, peoples' prosperity, and peoples' future and when agriculture goes down the tubes, everything else goes with it. He said that we should abandon this document and replace it with one that requires competence by this County. Mr. Ehrlich submitted and read aloud his written comments; he stated that the landowners and farmers in this country are the minority owners of the land, but they provide the majority of people with food at low wages. He thinks the Board should consider tabling the proposed land use code until further study and opportunity for citizen input is provided and it should be prepared in a final draft and presented to the voters for approval or rejection. He continued that if we allow this land use code to become reality, then our children and grandchildren will pay the price of higher taxes, higher housing costs, and even less opportunity to dream and build or to succeed or fail, and to feel important for belonging to a positive thinking community. Mr. Russell noted that it is less restrictive to live in town than in the country; he stated that he is tired of all the restrictions and he bought his place to be left alone and he is definitely against the proposed land-use code. Mr. Knezovich stated that he is here today to offer the Commissioners some perspective; he noted that even though he lives in the city, as does 80% of the population in Larimer County, which pays 85% of the tax base, he asked who they really represent? He stated that the County has to adopt a new Code because there is a need for rules and regulations, but he noted that it is important for the Board to listen to the rural segment of the community and represent them because they don't think they are being heard. Mr. Ohlson stated that this Code process started a half a decade ago, and he is not pleased with the plan because he does not think it will get us where the Master Plan is and will result in rural clustered sprawl. With regard to the 80/20 concept, he stated that it is unintentionally unfair, but he thinks it is time to move forward because it can be improved. Ms. Anderson stated that she considers herself part of the minority (rural landowners) that oppose this Code; she noted that the majority who approve of this Code seem to be city dwellers who do not own rural property and the rural landowners object to this "takings" of their private property development rights. She asked why wouldn't the majority favor this plan--their rights are not being violated and they will benefit from this "takings", as the 80% open space will remain available for their "viewing"? She quoted from Amendment V of the Constitution "...nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation..." and she asked what compensation are the landowners being offered. She also asked if the Commissioners are aware of the 5,000 citizens that signed the petition asking that PLUS be drastically changed or a new planning document written. Mr. Wild noted that his family homesteaded their property in the 1880's and he is a real estate appraiser and it is his firm belief that the new proposed land use code is a "takings" of an individual's property rights. He asked the Board to simplify the Code and use the Army Corp of Engineers' regulations and restrictions on wetlands. He addressed the citizens that live in the city limits of Fort Collins, Loveland, and Estes Park; he stated that this land use code is probably going to pass and those of us living in unincorporated Larimer County represent a very small minority in Larimer County and our property rights are being adversely affected. He asked the citizens if they would enter into a partnership agreement in which every clause that pertains to you says "...you must, can only, limited to, you are required, must comply, must provide, must include, must be arranged, must be constructed, must contain, must meet..."? And the language in the agreement pertaining to the County says "...may waive, may consider, can consider, may be allowed, may require, at the discretion of the Planning Director..." Ms. Worthington stated that if there are too many rules and regulations, the rural landowners can't survive; she requested that if the Board does adopt this Code, that they listen to the landowners and correct a lot of the rural issues. Ms. Knisley stated that there are too many rules and regulations and this issue should go to a vote of the people; she asked how much has been spent so far on this Code. She stated that she thinks farmers are much more intelligent than the planners. Ms. Pink stated that she moved here 2 1/2 years ago from Michigan to get away from congestion and she doesn't like the 80/20 rule and it is a violation of her civil rights to be told what she can do with her property. Ms. Grant submitted written comments which stated that the Code is too restrictive and an infringement on citizen freedom and property rights; she stated that the 80/20 requirement should be voluntary and it will be very difficult to amend the Code once adopted. She continued that we do need a new land use code, but not this one; she stated that the code needs to provide guidelines, but without attempting to completely control people's lives and property. Mr. Pink stated that our Constitution and Bill of Rights were written by people that probably had less education than we have today, but the foundation they laid down was great, but it seems as if as the years go by, we have intrusions into this Bill of Rights and Constitution and he is totally against this document because of its intrusions. Ms. Heustis stated she is opposed to the land use code and thinks it should be called PLUC instead of PLUS because it will pluck their God-given rights from them; she stated that they do not want to leave their land and they definitely do not need more rules and regulations. Mr. Stroh stated he has been highly involved in PLUS for four and a half years and the Board has had 100's of negative comments about it and yet still going forward with it; he noted that this is government by ambush. He stated that many citizens have spent so much time in a honest effort on PLUS and then this control document emerges. He asked the Board if they have any idea what this PLUS system could do to the appraisal/property rights aspect of what a farm or ranch is worth? Ms. Rose stated that one of the Commissioners recently said that philosophy is no longer on the table in relation to PLUS and we must address only the specifics of the laws because PLUS would be adopted. She begged to differ because it is not philosophy, it is principles and they are never off the table in America; she stated that you cannot separate the principles of the laws in PLUS from the laws themselves. She continued that PLUS appears to be a partnership, not with those that own the property and pay the taxes in the rural unincorporated areas of Larimer County, but a partnership with an idealistic group of urban environmentalists and the over regulatory and fanatically controlling planning staff who have bamboozled the Board into believing that residential growth will soon cover our farm land. She noted that the County has had a decrease in building permits since 1995 and each and every year it continued to go down; she stated that this plan is not remotely related to the "incentive based, streamlined, efficient, fair vision" you sold to the obligatory participants in this process. Ms. King asked the Board if this Code is fair, why are there so many complaints about it and why do we need this extremely regulatory code? Gerald Porche stated that the County is supposed to be a servant of the people, not control them. Mr. Roberts stated that the first and foremost responsibility for any elected official is to protect and preserve the rights and freedoms of the citizens. He quoted from the Declaration of Independence "...Governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed and whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and to institute new government..." Mr. Ruff stated that he has been farming and ranching all his life and he has been told he is the luckiest man in Larimer County because he recently sold his land for development. He stated that this Code will destroy the value of land and agriculture and the 80/20 concept is a "Takings" and agriculture cannot function with it. Mr. Mahrle stated he moved here from Florida to get away from people being crowded onto desirable pieces of property to keep other pieces of property open and he sees this document doing three things: 1) Restricting private property rights; 2) Putting unreasonable burdens on businesses; 3) Shifting power from our elected officials, who have to answer to the electorate, to a staff who has put in very subtle, but strong positions of control in the Code, and they don't have to answer to anyone.
At this time the public comment portion of the hearing was closed and opened for specific questions to be addressed. With regard to questions about appraised values of property, Chair Olson invited anyone interested to check out the video from the Commissioner's Office of the hearing on January 5, 1999 at which tax attorneys and other experts were invited to address those concerns. Mr. Timm stated that a comment was made earlier that the land-use code was intended to save agriculture and it isn't doing an effective job; he noted that saving agriculture is not one of the objectives of the land use code, because saving agriculture has to do with many factors that have nothing to do with land use codes. He continued that the land use code really deals with the development of land when one decides to no longer farm or ranch and they wanted to make the code as easy on agriculture and ranching operations as they could. Mr. Timm stated that another comment made was that the residual land must be used for agriculture and that is not the case, it is just one of the options. Chair Olson stated that they also held a roundtable workshop with people in agriculture, and they also have that on video for people to check out; he noted also that there is video of the workshop with the homebuilder's association and their analysis of the proposed land use code. The question was raised regarding the cost of the land use code to date; Mr. Timm responded that the code has cost $117,000 through August, 1999 and $47,000 of that cost was for printing the code to make it available to the public. With regard to the comment about landscaping standards and their effect on low-income housing, Mr. Timm noted that they apply only to new development and not to individual lots in a new development; he continued that the landscaping requirements mainly apply in commercial development and may apply in the development of a subdivision where there are two land uses that are not compatible.
With regard to mobile homes, Mr. Kadera stated that the first mobile home resolution for Larimer County was adopted on March 18, 1970 and for the most part, this code is the same; he noted that there are a few changes because of changes in State Statute and because of some discussions they had with the Steering Committee. For instance, double-wide mobile homes have been permitted on any legal lot in Larimer County and the change they made is they included dimensions in this code of 24x36 ft. because that is what State says is a double wide manufactured home. Mr. Kadera stated that single wides can be used for farm help in a farmstead and you can place a single-wide mobile home on a legal lot with a building permit if it has standard siding, a pitched roof with standard roofing materials, and some area is added to it; he noted that the change is that if someone wanted to acquire such a permit, they would have 2 years to comply and the part they left out was the placement of a single wide mobile home, by virtue of a petition signed by 70% of the property owners within 800 ft. of the location, was omitted from the regulation. Mr. Kadera stated that there is nothing in this code that would prevent someone from creating a new mobile home subdivision. With regard to uses under FA-Farming, child care centers were permitted as a use by right; he noted that they split that use into a child care home, which allows up to 8 children, without any kind of review, as consistent with the State requirement. There is a separate use for child care centers, where there are more than 8 children, and those require special review and they did the same for elderly care centers. Home occupation uses went to a section of the code called Accessory Uses and home occupations are permitted wherever you have a single family dwelling. Public Schools went from a permitted use to a location and extent review; he noted that up to 8 children, who are not members of the family, can be home schooled, but anything more becomes a private school and requires special review. Public park playground was a permitted use and now requires location and extent - again a public use under State Statute. Public recreation facilities is covered under parks and playgrounds and that use was never defined in the old zoning regulations, so it was omitted. Churches and church schools were permitted uses and they put a limit on the number of vehicle trips a church can generate before it requires special review. Guest houses were replaced in all zoning districts with guest quarters and extended family dwellings. Riding horses went from use by right to an accessory use category. Commissioner Disney discussed single wide mobile homes and the issue of affordable housing and stated that this is a serious issue in this County; he noted that the County recently adopted an affordable housing policy and the Board is trying to do what is appropriate for the County. Chair Olson discussed the comments made about the discretion of the Planning Director; she noted that one of the goals of the new code was to try and take the pile of documents, in which there is overlap and disagreement on many issues, and tried to write a clear set of rules written in a way that can be understood. She stated that their goal was to shorten the time for review and one can always ask for a hearing before the Commissioners if they don't like the answer they get from the Planning Department.
Commissioner Rennels asked if there were any specific questions that anyone in the audience wanted to ask the Board or staff. Ms. Pink, who owns 80 acres, asked about the 80/20 concept; Mr. Kadera stated that the 80/20 ratio only applies to development if you want to subdivide the property. He continued that under State law, she could legally divide her 80 acres into two 40's or a 35 and 45 or she could ask for an exception to the 80/20 requirement down to 50/50 if she voluntarily reduces the number of lots by 10%. Mr. Ehrlich, who owns a 35-acre parcel which is being farmed, is he should sell the water first and then apply for the subdivision process; the Board said that is his choice. Ms. King asked if she can ask for an exception and have it attached to her deed so that, at the time a developer might want to buy her land, he would know she was granted that exception, which may enhance the value of her property. Mr. Kadera stated that they haven't discussed any time limits on exceptions. Mr. Porche asked about the rationale for requiring that county roads be built according to county road standards. Mr. Engemoen responded that there are different standards that apply, for instance, if the road only serves a single family residence, there are no standards; however, if you are into a 35-acre subdivision that serves a number of residences, there are some minimal standards recently adopted to try and make sure the road is passable for emergency vehicles to protect the health and safety of those living in the subdivision. He stated that paving requirements are only if there is so much traffic on the road, that a gravel road can't handle it.
M O T I O N
Commissioner Rennels moved that the Board of County Commissioners continue this land-use hearing until 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 15, 1999 in the Commissioners' Hearing Room in the Larimer County Courthouse at 200 West Oak St., Fort Collins, CO.
Motion carried 3 - 0.
The hearing adjourned at 4:25 p.m.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 1999
PUBLIC HEARING REGARDING
THE PROPOSED LAND USE CODE
The Board of County Commissioners met at 1:30 p.m. with Larry Timm, Director of Planning, for a Public Hearing regarding the proposed Land Use Code. Chair Olson presided and Commissioners Disney and Rennels were present. Also present were: Al Kadera, Planner II; Marc Engemoen, Director Public Works; Doug Ryan, Environmental Health Planner; and Jeannine Haag, Assistant County Attorney. Recording Clerk, Sherry Graves.
Chair Olson stated that the first item would be to approve the Minutes from the September 8, 1999 Proposed Land Use Code meeting.
M O T I O N
Commissioner Rennels moved that the Board of County Commissioners approve the minutes from the September 8, 1999 Proposed Land Use Code meeting.
Motion carried 3-0.
Commissioner Rennels then asked if Mr. Timm and Mr. Kadera would address the 20 items that are listed in the Citizens for the Preservation of Property Rights flier that has been publicly circulated in opposition to the proposed land use code. Mr. Timm and Mr. Kadera spent the next hour responding to the variety of issues that are listed in this flier. Commissioner Rennels noted that there were two issues on this flier that she wanted to discuss during the Board's discussion phase of this process: 1) The item that requires the owners of Bed & Breakfast Inns to live inside the building and limit the number of beds for guests; and 2) The item that prevents owners from parking and using an RV on their property for more than 30 days a year.
The Board then went through the staff report dated September 8, 1999 to determine which items they were in agreement on and would become consent items, and the remainder would then become the discussion items.
Under Section I, Planning Commission Recommendations: Item numbers 2, 3, 4, 5, 11, 13, 14, 21, 24, 26, 28, 29, 30, 31, 35, 36, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 44, 51, 52, and 57 were agreed to become consent items. Section II, Planning Commission direction to Staff, will be discussed. Section III, Code References, will be consent. Section IV, Rural Land Use Process, Item A will be consent, B - 1, 2, 3, and 4 (except for page 9-2 pertaining to fees), will also be consent. Section V, Items A, F, G, I, J, and Attachment 1 will be consent; Items B, C, D, E, H, and K will be discussion. Also for discussion will be some items that were raised as a result of two days of public comment: 1) The information from the amateur radio members; 2) The suggestions from the Home Builders Association; 3) Farmstead Accessory Dwellings; 4) Roads and recycled asphalt; 5) Agriculture issue regarding the number of beds for Farm Labor Housing; 6) Mobile homes; 7) Conservation Development; 8) Length of time to appeal (30 days vs. 90 days); 9) Wetlands definitions and issue; 10) Housing for farm workers; 11) How the Code affects leased ground; 12) Applying for an exception from the Conservation Development requirement in advance; 13) Greenhouse issue - sell only what you grow; 14) Section 5.3.7.A 1 regarding the Special Area Plan - who is responsible for development and paying for this special area plan?; 15) Discuss the memo from the Rural Land Use Board - their input for the Code; 16) Discuss the e-mail regarding the air strips; and 17) Section 9.1.3 E (page 9.2) - Discuss limitation on use of land and fees. The Board also requested a separate discussion regarding concerns with the building permit process to be held at a future worksession.
M O T I O N
Commissioner Disney moved that the Board of County Commissioners continue this hearing to September 29, 1999 at 2:00 p.m., at the Larimer County Commissioners Hearing Room, 200 West Oak Street, Fort Collins, Colorado.
Motion carried 3-0.
Meeting adjourned at 3:30 p.m.
CHERYL OLSON, CHAIR LARIMER COUNTY
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
MYRNA J. RODENBERGER
LARIMER COUNTY CLERK & RECORDER
( S E A L )
Sherry E. Graves, Deputy County Clerk
Gael M. Cookman, Deputy County Clerk