Q. Why is the county
concerned about skyline
A. Because of public input, the county is concerned mainly about the visual impacts of structures on certain ridgelines. When new structures are built on skylined sites, the county receives many comments from Routt County residents and visitors encouraging the county to pass regulations limiting this type of development. In addition, many, if not all, of the sub-area plans have policies or action items that would result in limited or mitigated ridgeline/skyline development.
Q. At what stage in the
development of skyline
regulations is the Routt County Planning Commission?
A. In 1995, the county began the skyline discussion. The commissioners decided to postpone the discussion until they could identify the number of parcels and landowners this might impact.
In the fall of 2000, mapping was completed that identified these parcels, and approximately 3,000 property owners were notified. The county has had one meeting on Feb. 1, 2001, at which the planning staff made a presentation regarding the initiation and intent of this process and public input was received, and a second meeting on March 1, 2001, where discussion between the Planning Commission and the Board of County Commissioners took place. So far, no regulations have been drafted or proposed.
Q. Are there alternatives to regulations when it comes to controlling skyline construction?
A. Yes. At the Feb. 1 meeting, the county heard many comments opposing new regulations, even if those people agreed with the goal. It was suggested that guidelines be approved, and that the landowners, architects and engineers be educated as to the importance that the residents of the county place on the skyline issue.
Q. What other models of skyline regulation has Routt County looked at and how effective were those regulations?
A. Locally, the city of Steamboat Springs has adopted similar regulations. The town of Castle Rock, city of Fort Collins and Pitkin County have regulations in place. To the best of my knowledge, these have been effective and are enforced like other zoning requirements. There are other counties in the state that have skyline/ridgeline comprehensive plan policies in place that help shape development.
Q. Are skyline regulations a "taking" of property rights that could lead to legal action against the county?
A. From the research that I have done regarding U.S. Supreme Court decisions on the takings issues, I would say no. To briefly summarize the outcomes from significant cases, no one has the right to use his or her land in a way that might harm the public health or welfare, or that damages the quality of life of neighboring landowners, or the community as a whole. A property owner is not entitled to the most profitable use of his/her land. In addition, in order for a takings to occur, the entire property must be impacted. I have not found any Supreme Court decisions that support a takings claim when community regulations require design criteria or restrict development only on certain portions of a parcel.
Q. How soon could we see regulations if the Planning Commission and the Board of County Commissioners choose to go ahead with them?
A. That is difficult to say, but the board and Planning Commission have, in response to community concerns, placed a certain level of urgency on the regulations or guidelines, whichever is the result of the public hearing process. No schedule has been set, but the Planning Department has been keeping a list of those people wanting to be informed of any new meetings and information. These meeting dates will be posted in Steamboat Today as well.