Steamboat Springs For some people, the very sight of a home high above the valley, glistening in the skyline, is enough to make them pull their hair out. At least that's how John Whittum feels when he looks behind his house in the Strawberry Park area.
His property backs up against Cooper Ridge, and rising way above his home is a trophy house that is completely in the skyline.
"It's a huge elephant that someone put up there," he said Friday. "I have to look at that thing 20 times a day."
Like pouring salt in the wound, Whittum said the house is usually unoccupied because it is someone's second home.
"It has remained unoccupied for years," he said.
But when Whittum received a letter from the Routt County Planning Department that his property could be affected by a new skyline building regulation, he thought what many property owners thought: It could have an effect on the value of his land.
Then he thought of the house on Copper Ridge and realized all his property was surrounded by ridgeline.
"If everyone would build on those ridges, my land would devalue," he said.
County officials are considering a regulation that would stop construction in skylines, unless there are no other places to build.
The proposal for the regulations, presented in January, stated that people applying for building permits will not be able to construct a house that is above the skyline, as seen from one one-quarter mile to three miles off one of the identified roads by the county as a scenic route.
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 to fall under the ban.
If there is no other place to build, then the landowner would have to mitigate the visual impact, such as using earthtone paint or using an architectural style that would blend the building into the ridge.
A map is on display at the county planning department that shows about 4,500 properties that could be affected by skyline regulations.
On Feb. 1, the Routt County Planning Commission and county commissioners held a public meeting on the issue.
Most public opinion was against the regulation, with reasons ranging from not wanting anymore government controls on land to its effect on property values.
On Thursday night, the commissioners met again to talk about where to go from here.
"We have heard again and again and again from thousands of people that this is a concern," County Planning Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush said at the meeting.
She was referring to the numerous public meetings that have been attended in the past 10 years to create the sub-area community plans in Steamboat, Stagecoach and Elk River areas.
Concerns raised in those meetings is what is motivating county officials to consider the regulations.
But before County Commissioners sign anything, they made it clear at the meeting that some different options should be looked at.
"If we are going to adapt a regulation countywide, that's where we're going to run into some problems," said County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak.
She said that the regulations, if passed, would have to be area specific, because not everyone in Routt County may feel the same way about skyline building.
County Commissioner Doug Monger said he doesn't support the regulations, so far.
"There's too many have-nots wanting to regulate the haves," he said.
However, Monger encouraged county planners to get something more substantial on paper to work with.
On Friday, Monger, who prides himself as a product of the agricultural community, admitted that it would be difficult sell.
"It depends though on how much teeth is in it, and how much it bites, where it bites and how hard it bites," he said.