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PROCEEDINGS OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 1999
PUBLIC HEARING REGARDING THE PROPOSED LAND USE CODE
(#512 & #513)
The Board of County Commissioners reconvened at 6:30 p.m. 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; Jill Bennett, Senior Planner; Sean Wheeler, Planner I; Marc Engemoen, Director Public Works; Mark Peterson, County Engineer; Doug Ryan, Environmental Health Planner; Deni LaRue, Community Information Manager; and Jeannine Haag, Assistant County Attorney. Recording Clerk, Sherry Graves.
Chair Olson stated that the purpose of tonight's hearing is to provide an opportunity for public input regarding the proposed Land Use Code; she outlined the rules and procedures for the evening and noted that each speaker will be allowed five (5) minutes to speak. The proposed Land Use Code is in its 6th printing; each revised edition has been based on comments and suggestions received from many diverse sources. Public input, comments from the development review referral agencies, advisory boards and commissions, municipalities, special districts, special interest groups, County staff, the County Planning Commission and the Board of County Commissioners have all had a role in bringing the Code to this stage of the process.
The following persons addressed the Board either in support or opposition to the Code and most voiced their concerns with certain parts of the Code: Gladys Russell, John Clarke, Tom Jackson, Tom Bender, Stanley Long, Anne Manvel, Kevin Lundberg, Lynn DeMaranville, JoAnn DeMaranville, Kimberly Stenberg, Blair Kiefer, Sam Arndt, John Moen, Ramon Ajero, Doug Kindsfater, Janna Six, Jeff Hindman, Mark Easter, Elizabeth Miller, Paul Schott, Steve Furniss, Jack Swets, Steve Anderson, Doug Bachli, Evelyn King, David Lauer, and Lenora Knisley. Ms. Russell submitted her written comments concerning guidelines on the minimum amount of land a homeowner must have to build a greenhouse and suggested a formula allowing homeowners a proportional square footage for greenhouses based on their lot size and change Section 4.3.a.M to allow homeowners to create and sell decorative flower pots on site to be sold in the greenhouses. Mr. Clarke supports the proposed Land Use Code but had a few concerns; he noted that clustering is important and provides quite a few options for property owners and he feels the landscaping and parking requirements should be voluntary-just guidelines telling people what we would like for them to do. With regard to home occupations, he noted that the changes are problematic; the statement "That the products that are for sale should be produced on the premises" would outlaw most existing home occupations and 1000 sq. ft. is not appropriate for home occupations and 10 vehicle trips is unenforceable. He suggested limiting the number of people who can work in a home occupation to the people who preside on the premises and one outside employee and this would be easy to check through payroll reports. Also, he continued that the statement "No hazard materials" will create a problem because propane is technically a hazardous material. Mr. Jackson discussed Community Sewer Systems listed on Page 23 of the staff report submitted tonight of the Planning Commission recommendations (3.c); he noted that the words economic, cost, and feasible have been crossed out four times and so it appears that no one cares what any of these regulations cost and this disregard for cost is going to make it impossible for the children of the future to have 4-H projects or to live in Larimer County. He suggested that the Board spend more time running the government instead of trying to govern the lives of the people. Mr. Bender stated that he has been making comments for five years regarding what he would like to see changed and he has seen very little results. He does not believe that the Code encourages good stewardship and he submitted his written comments and stated that it is too bad that after five years, the most feared outcome of the 1994 Northern Larimer County PLUS Forum has been realized in that the so-called Partnership Land Use System process has rejected citizen consensus for a genuine collaborative partnership of economic, social and environmental responsibility to manage growth, to promote sustainable agriculture, and to encourage environmental stewardship by creating a cooperative working relationship with caretakers of the land. The process has ignored the vision these citizens had and he cannot support this Code until the citizen's consensual vision is respected and incorporated in the Code. Mr. Long spoke on behalf of the Amateur Radio Community and addressed Section 8.9.9 (Maximum Structure Height) of antenna structures and he urged the Board to consider adopting the document PRB1 that the Federal Communications Commission issued, which still gives local control to maintain safety conditions but allows for the technical provisions for safety aspects of the operations of the station but also governs better propogation. Ms. Manvel, spokeswoman for the League of Women Voters, submitted and read aloud written comments endorsing the Larimer County Master Plan, soon to be implemented with the adoption of the proposed Code, noting that it is a significant achievement and farsighted in the intent of preserving valuable environmental resources, maintaining viable agricultural lands, and retaining the sense of place that is Larimer County. She noted that the Leaque strongly supports adoption of the Code. Mr. Lundberg stated that it is interesting that the majority of persons that have spoken, most find that the Code doesn't work for them. He asked that at the end of the process that the Board step back and take a long look at the sum total of what they are doing. He continued that if this is the best we can do, we are doing a very poor job and he urged the Board to reject this Code and start over and do it right and do it in a way that represents the people who are being effected--the rural citizens of Larimer County. He stated that it is evident that it is the political left that supports this Code. Mr. DeMaranville stated that the Code seems to be a rule book with all the rules going one way; he noted that the section on interpretations, violations, business uses, remedies and penalties and inspections gives unlimited power to a select few on the staff and they can be judge, jury, and executioner if they are so inclined. He continued that there is nothing in PLUS about keeping code enforcement files and one of the biggest problems is the legal non-conforming use in small businesses. Ms. DeMaranville asked the Board if they have been so focused on what they want that they don't see what they will get - any time you pass laws with no intent to enforce them, you make mockery of the law--you will have a County under Gestapo-type rule where neighbors turn in neighbors and she noted that the atmosphere is already hostile between government and the landowners of Larimer County. Ms. Stenberg, spokeswoman for the Home Builders Association of Northern Colorado, addressed several outstanding issues that the HBA has with the Land Use Code. As indicators of success, they would like to see in the Code: 1) Whether or not a variety of housing types and price ranges is produced as a result of the Code, which addresses the continuing need for affordable housing; 2) A variety of lot sizes and land use types that are approved by the implementation at the Code; 3) With regard to the application submittal to approval timeline, they want to make sure that the new Code is not going to extend the land development process any more than it already is. She stated that the HBA takes exception to the recommendation in the staff report on page 5, item #16 (Subsection 5.3.2.H) to replace "Planning Director" with County Commissioners because by requiring this type of policy, you will extend the time it will take to go through the development process. Mr. Kiefer referred to the Code as "The Thing"; he asked the Board what they mean by "Proposed", as in his dictionary, proposed means "Suggested". He also asked what "Partnership" means? He stated that this Code is supposed to be for the benefit for all the people in Larimer County; he has worked his land for 25 years and now all of a sudden he has a partner - it is a matter of "Takings" from those that have by those that do not have. This is Larimer County's property rights theft of 1999 and before this Code is passed, the Board and staff must have some empathy, common sense on these issues, and fairness in this Code. Mr. Arndt stated that he had 60 acres at the intersection of I-25 and Highway 34, but the Highway Department has ripped him off and this Code makes him feel like he is being robbed further and he doesn't like the 80/20 proposition. Mr. Moen stated that his family homesteaded their ranch in Virginia Dale over 100 years ago and he can't believe some of these rules in the Code; he asked what happened to the government that the people voted in and he requested that the people that this affects should be able to vote on this Code. He continued that we all love Larimer County because the people that were here before us made it such a great place and the newcomers are trying to ruin it for us and we don't want them telling us how things should be done. Mr. Ajero thanked the Board for their efforts over these many years for working on this Code; his concerns are: 1) Code and Master Plan, as written, still will not be effective in curbing sprawl in rural areas and he doesn't agree with a previous statement made that all development is sprawl; 2) He wonders whether or not the Code will truly achieve the goal of having new growth pay its own way; 3) He supports the recommendation of the Planning Commission of allowing residual land in conservation developments to be split up in 35's or greater, but he doesn't support their refusal to pass along the recommendation by the Engineering Department regarding 5% versus 15% warranty collateral for road and drainage facilities and asked the Board to revisit that issue. He believes that many of the proposed uses in residual lands and conservation easements are developed uses and are not in agreement with the principals in the Master Plan; he stated that this Code is an improvement and he supports its approval. Mr. Kindsfater stated that his family has also been here since the 1890s and has been instrumental in the growth of Larimer County and he is very opposed to the implementation of this so-called partnership land use document; he noted that a partnership is the essence of willing participants pursuing a common goal and this is County government trying to implement a new set of covenants in the rural areas of Larimer County and the standards that exist should remain, maybe cleaned up, but leave County standards in tact. He continued that approval of this Code should be postponed or completely revamped as it adversely affects everyone's personal freedoms and is a "Takings". Ms. Six stated that she feels this Code has been painstakingly researched and commented on; the Code is trying to anticipate future problems and address them as the population of Larimer County doubles in less than 25 years. She opposes the Planning Commission recommendation to Subsection 5.3.7.A.5 which states that on a 80/20 clustering property, the roads and parking areas and road right-of-ways could be part of the residual land. She also disagrees with Subsection 5.3.2.H, and exemptions should be so rare, that the Board should decide and not the Planning Director. Mr. Hindman stated he has been very involved in land-use issues in Larimer County for a long time and he has mixed feelings about PLUS as it may too little too late and may not fix the problems, but it is better than the current system because what we have now is not working. He stated that the problem in Larimer County is underlying zoning because FA and FA-1 zoning is not compatible with rural areas. We need to recognize all the hard work that has gone into this Code; he noted that he believes that the opponents of PLUS are a very vocal and well organized minority and motivated by self interests and not the County's best interests--he respects their opinion and he is sympathetic to the plight of farmers, but he urged support for the silent majority of Fort Collins. Mr. Easter voiced his support for going forward with land-use planning in Larimer County as change is happening quickly and it is imperative to plan for change. He stated that this Code is the first step in the process but he is concerned that some of the key issues it tried to address, it did not address, such as sprawl and rapid growth. With regard to the term of "Adaptive Plant Species" (Section 8.2.8.B), he is concerned with the word "Adaptive" for allowing adaptive plant species in wetlands and he asked that the Board carefully consider the recommendations of the Environmental Advisory Board on this issue. With regard to wetlands buffers, they are receiving very little protection in this Code and he thinks buffer zones need to be expanded to 100 ft. minimum buffer. Ms. Miller asked the Board to not lose site of the goal of preserving the rural integrity of Larimer County and try to create situations to make sure that at least 80% of the County is left open. Mr. Schott stated that we need to control growth and the 80/20 concept will provide a more rural type setting. The Code is a step in the right direction and we do need to control growth but we need to look at it more. Mr. Furniss thanked the Board and staff for their persistence for providing the structure and format in which so many viewpoints can be heard in the decision-making process and he complimented the landowners and property rights advocates for their ability to make such a strong statement of their position, but he doubts if they speak for the majority of people in Larimer County and he disagrees with some of their basic claims as he does not believe that property rights are absolute or exempt from regulation. He continued that Court decisions definitely recognize compelling public interests and the benefits that accrue to the community at large. Mr. Swets stated that 60% of Larimer County is owned by the government and he thinks that is enough; he advised the Board to "Listen to the people that live here, they are the ones that know", but Larimer County hasn't learned that yet. He asked if this document is a contract; Ms. Haag responded in the negative, noting that it is a regulation. Mr. Swets said then the document is absolutely meaningless. Mr. Anderson stated that the Code hasn't really changed since its inception and it really hasn't been a partnership because very few property rights comments that have made it through to the final draft - the 80/20 land division gives 80% of the land to the general public at no cost to them and no responsibility--the 20% doesn't leave enough for 4-H projects. The County has trouble taking care of the open space it has now and this plan demands a Management Plan in perpetuity from the landowner and if the County is going to do that, they should set a good example. He asked the Board to take this "thing" apart and redo it because the citizens of Larimer County did not elect you to control our lives. Doug Bachli addressed the authority of the document; he believes the Commissioners are the key to the success, present and future, of this document and they are the elected leaders and the voice of the people and they need to represent the people. He discussed Section 22.2.2.A (Initiation of Appeal); he noted that the old Code gave 60 days for appeal and the new Code only gives 30 days; it seems to him the window should be enlarged and not lessened. In Section 21.2.D (Remedies and Penalties), he disagrees with the word "Believes" because that puts the burden of proof on the accused and this statement should be eliminated. Evelyn King submitted written comments entitled "Trust your Government" and read facts she has researched and summarized that growth does not appear to be a problem in unincorporated Larimer County. She stated that "The Master Plan says the Code should be fair and most people expect they can trust their government and that it will be fair, but how can we expect our children to be tolerant and appreciate diversity if the Larimer County Government believes it should rise up and declare "All new residents shall live in clusters"... She asked that the Board do the right thing for all current and future citizens in Larimer County and put some trust back in government and honesty in the words of the Code. She proposed changing Section 5.1.2 to read "The subdivision process may be used to subdivide and develop any legal lot" and that 5.3.2.A and 5.3.2.H be deleted from the Code. Mr. Lauer stated that he thinks the Board should represent the people of Larimer County and not just a small and very vocal and very articulate group of landowners. He stated that he is here representing himself and the "Friends of the Poudre" and he doesn't feel that the Code goes far enough to protect the wetlands or the drylands of the County and he sees the County's role as partnering with other municipalities. Ms. Knisley asked the Board if they have really considered the property owners when drafting this new Code.
In response to the two questions from Mr. Bachli regarding Section 22.2.2.A; Ms. Haag stated that 30 days was determined to be a reasonable amount of time for appeal of decisions of County Commissioners through the Court process. With regard to the word "Believes" in Section 21.2.D, Ms. Haag stated that it was meant to impart that you have good cause or some evidence that there has been a violation, but you don't necessarily have to have absolute proof for bringing action.
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 Monday, September 13, 1999 in the Commissioners' Hearing Room in the Larimer County Courthouse at 200 West Oak St., Fort Collins, Colorado.
Motion carried 3 - 0.
The hearing adjourned at 9:00 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