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Commission recommends Land Use Code changes

Once again, the Archuleta County Planning Commission tackled the issue of camping in recreational vehicles on private property and, again, approved recommended Land Use Code changes to be sent to the Board of County Commissioners.

The commission was asked to reconsider the issue, as well as the issues of accessory structures and mining operations that do not require a permit following an Oct. 5 joint meeting with the BoCC, though recommendations on all of the issues were passed by the planning commission in September.

As it has been for months following the county planning department’s series of “Road Show” meetings, RV camping was again the hot topic, with the result of a simplified LUC amendment to be recommended to the BoCC.

The earlier, Sept. 23, RV camping motion accepted by the planning commission stated that RVs could be occupied for camping on a residentially or agriculturally zoned property for up to 120 days between May 1 and Dec. 31, with a camping permit.

The motion continued that proof of sanitation (either a septic permit from SJBHD or a maintenance agreement or receipts for pumping directly out of the unit) would be required for stays longer than 14 consecutive days.

Also, the motion defined that no more than two additional units would be allowed more than 14 days (although the original number allowed is never explicitly mentioned), and that all RVs must meet setback requirements.

Beginning discussion on the topic, planning commission member Ray Lattin voiced concern over the 120-day camping limit for pipeline workers (it was determined that pipelines projects fall under separate regulations and are therefore not subject to residential camping restrictions).

On a somewhat related note, commission chair Kirk England noted the need for agricultural operations to use RVs in the previously determined camping off season, as well as the limit of two RVs per tract of land.

At that point, Commissioner Chalyn Fitzgerald presented a proposed amendment of her own, which, among other changes, limited the number of RVs allowed on a tract of land to the number registered to the property owners of the land, a point Lattin said would be unenforceable, adding he would like to see agricultural operations exempted.

Discussion over the number of RVs allowed continued, as did sanitation issues, before the topic was opened to public comment.

Public comment, in general, agreed with the specialized need for agricultural operations and outfitting operations, the desire that sanitation issues not be regulated by both the county and the San Juan Basin Health Department, as well as concerns over the numbers of RVs allowed.

In the end, the commission decided to reference other regulatory agencies in regard to sanitation, while not explicitly limiting the number of RVs allowed per tract, and gearing the amendments solely toward residential properties, thereby exempting agricultural operations. The proposed camping season was also removed.

The newly-approved amendment simply states, “Recreational vehicles are allowed to be occupied and used for camping purposes on residential property for up to 120 consecutive days in a 12-month period. At no time shall solid and liquid wastes be discharged or otherwise disposed of on the surface of the ground or into any well, cave, open ditch, stream, lake, or reservoir and shall be consistent with State and local regulations. All recreational vehicles must meet setbacks for the property as specified in Table 4.”

The motion for the amendment passed 3-1, with Fitzgerald as the dissenting vote.

Also at the Nov. 4 meeting, a motion to reconsider the previously passed accessory structure regulation recommendation failed, meaning the amendment will be recommended to the BoCC as it currently stands.

The Sept. 9 amendment to accessory structure regulations, including storage containers, added that accessory structures could be built before primary residences and, among other changes, states that accessory structures cannot take up more than 7 percent of a lot’s land area.

The planning commission then reconsidered another set of previously passed regulations involving mining operations that do not require a permit.

At its Sept. 23 meeting, the commission approved an amendment to allow mining operations without a permit for an agricultural operation where no material would be exported from the parcel.

At that meeting, it was decided that mining operations would not be allowed within 1,000 feet of the nearest residence not owned by the landowner and could not exceed 30,000 cubic yards per year, with limits of a four-acre footprint and 3-to-1 slopes.

At last Thursday’s meeting, language of the amendments was revised, explicitly disallowing the use of county roads without a permit, determining that equipment associated with the mining may only be operated on roads on the landowner’s property within the boundaries of the operation, and removing a section that stated, “The operation is not subject to a permit from the Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety (DRMS).”

Also at the Nov. 4 meeting, the planning commission approved changing the definition of a mobile home to coincide with the 2006 International Residential Code. The item was approved as presented.

The proposed changes are now expected to be taken to the BoCC for approval at a future meeting.

randi@pagosasun.com