Skyline rules up for debate

Views versus property rights

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— The Routt County Regional Planning Department has received dozens of letters and around 200 phone calls from property owners who are curious or concerned about a new skyline regulation proposed for the county.

"The first reaction is that the county is going to restrict the development rights," said Assistant Planning Director Chad Phillips. "That's just not true."

The Routt County Planning Department will host a public meeting on the proposed skyline regulations at 7 p.m. Thursday in Centennial Hall at 10th and Oak streets in Steamboat Springs

County officials say the skyline regulation is a response to public concern about houses being built on scenic ridges and hilltops. The gist of the regulation, if and when it gets put into the zoning code, is that people applying for building permits will not be able to build a house that is 40 feet above the skyline, as seen from one of the roads identified by the county as a scenic route, Phillips said.

If trees or rocks shield the view of a structure, then it wouldn't be in violation of the proposed regulation.

Phillips said another concern has been raised by people wondering if they will have to hire an engineer to determine if their home is or isn't 40 feet into the skyline. However, Phillips said landowners probably will be able to do it themselves.

All it takes, he said, is a balloon and a 40-foot rope tied to where the house would be built. Then, he said, go to one of the "scenic route" roads identified by the county.

"If the balloon is in the skyline, then the building could be in the skyline," Phillips said.

Houses planned to be built in the skyline, under the proposed rule, would have to be moved or mitigated for visual impact.

At 7 p.m. Thursday, the planning department will host a public meeting at Centennial Hall at 10th and Oak streets to explain the proposed regulation and hear public comment.

Landowners and others for or against the skyline rule are encouraged to come.

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