Steamboat Springs Most of the public comment heard by about 33 people, the Routt County Commissioners and Regional Planning Commission Thursday night was against any regulation for skylining. But officials pointed out most who spoke were large landowners, and work done in community plans in the past few years reflect thousands of people's concerns for building houses on scenic ridges.
The landowners and ranchers who spoke against skyline regulations made passionate points.
"No matter how many ways you look at it, this is our land not yours," rancher Ed Andrews told the county officials in protest of any regulations on skyline building.
Other comments centered around whether a skyline building restriction on private land would constitute a "takings" by the government.
"I do believe there is a takings here," landowner John Shaw said. "You do pay more for land with a view. If you take the rights away to build on that area, you are taking away the value of the land. That's a takings."
Elk River Valley rancher Bill May pointed out that if it is a takings, it cannot be taken without just compensation.
Assistant Planning Director Chad Phillips said if regulations were put into effect reflecting the guidelines the Planning Commission has devised, no one would be taking away building rights. Instead, a landowner who tries to attain a building permit for a house to be built in the skyline would either have to move the house out of the skyline or mitigate for visual impacts of the building.
"That's not necessarily a takings," he said. "Nothing is being taken; you can still develop on your property."
The possible regulations, according to guidelines being discussed, is that people applying for building permits will not be able to build a house that is above the skyline, as seen from one-quarter of a mile to three miles off one of the identified roads by the county as a scenic route, Phillips said.
The routes include U.S. 40, Colorado 131, Colo. 134 or one of the primary county roads, which includes 46 percent of the county road system. From those roads, the house also would have to be viewed from a one-quarter mile section of the road.
A map is on display at the county planning department that shows about 4,500 properties that could be affected by skyline regulations.
John Spezia commented in favor of skyline regulations. He said he thought the biggest problem he thinks people are having with the possible regulations is that it is a complicated issue and there may be some misconception on what the real impacts would be.
"There is a lot of miscommunication here," he said. "If we remain polarized, we will all go down."
Spezia suggested smaller work sessions be organized so information on the issue could be better explained.
Planning Commission Chairman Troy Brookshire expressed frustration after hearing comments. Though all the commissioners were directed to pursue the skyline issue after hearing concerns from Routt County residents who participated in community plans like those in Stagecoach, Steamboat and Elk River, for example, Brookshire said public comment at the meeting was making him question his efforts on the issue.
"If that's what the public wants then I don't know if we want to spend any more time and energy dissecting this thing," he said.
However, he also questioned if the people at the meeting really knew what it is they were for and against. The repercussions of not getting skyline building restrictions into zoning laws would be numerous houses lining ridges in the future.
County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said the commissioners will probably discuss the issue more with Planning Director Caryn Fox next week and then schedule another public meeting on the issue in a month.