County conflicted over skyline rules

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— The Routt County Planning Commission will explore developing a regulation to prohibit new construction that would disrupt the skyline, despite county commissioners expressing concern about the issue in a joint meeting Thursday night.

Planning commissioners unanimously passed a motion to table the issue until Aug. 30. At that meeting the commission should pass a recommendation for some type of skyline regulation to the county commissioners, Planning Commission Chairman Troy Brookshire said.

Going into the meeting, the two boards needed to decided if they should move ahead with developing regulations or nonrestrictive guidelines. Right away, planning commissioners expressed their disapproval of going towards guidelines instead of regulations.

"You can educate people all you want, but the first thing they say is, 'Where does it say I have to do that?'" Planning Commissioner Bill Taylor said in an argument against guidelines.

However, county commissioners Doug Monger and Dan Ellison did not agree with the Planning Commission's sentiments.

"I still find it hard to believe that the public is behind this," Monger said.

He said the planning commission is using area plans to fuel its motivation to push for regulations, but those plans don't cover a significant portion of the county roads identified as skyline viewing areas. The existing proposal would restrict building permits for houses that, if built, would disturb the skyline as seen from certain roads determined as scenic routes.

The routes include U.S. 40, Colorado 131, Colorado 134 and 46 percent of the county road system. A map is on display at the county planning department showing about 4,500 properties that could fall under a skyline regulation.

"I continue to have a problem with the scope of this thing," Monger said.

His argument was that encompassing the entire county under the regulation may not reflect the entire county's sentiments about protecting skyline views. The majority of the people in Hayden, for example, who see a house in the skyline there may not think it's an eye sore.

Monger said he simply wants to see more information in black and white before he can clearly decide if he supports the issue. He said he didn't feel comfortable with the subjective nature of skyline buildings and didn't know if he believed if a mansion in the skyline looks worse than a mansion on the side of the hill.

"The skyline regulations alone I have a problem with," Monger said.

However, he said he is still open to discussion and admitted to seeing some need for regulating skyline building.

"I'm willing to support some form of regulation," Monger said. But he added that "tons" of more information needs to brought forth to support the issue before he would vote for it.

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