Skyline measures get last look

Commissioners will make final decision Tuesday

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— At odds with the Board of County Commissioners over the stringency of proposed skyline regulations, county planning commissioners offered their opinions on the issue last month, but the Board of County Commissioners will have the last word on what those restrictions will look like.

The board will make its final decision Tuesday night. If the county commissioners approve the regulations, future homes built on certain skylined ridges in the county will be subject to restrictions on their height and appearance.

A skyline area map proposed by the board would apply the new regulations to the Steamboat Springs, Stagecoach and Upper Elk River regions of the county.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners reduced the scope of skylined ridges that would be affected by the restrictions because it was concerned support for regulations was weak in some areas of the county.

The County Planning Commission does not agree with the downsized map and recommended Jan. 30 that the board include all incorporated areas of the county in the map.

"Whatever we do ... we should do it countywide," county planning commissioner Terry Hunter said at the meeting.

County planning commissioners are likewise concerned that additional changes to an earlier draft of the regulations removed some of the proposed restrictions' teeth.

The board thought the regulations were too subjective last summer and simplified them to require that houses protrude no more than 15 feet above the skyline.

The 15-foot maximum pertains to what people might see from any county road.

The earlier draft prohibited new structures or additions to existing structures on land designated as skyline on the skyline area map unless measures were taken to alleviate the visual impact.

People applying to build in skylined areas had to prove, through photographs and other documents, that natural surroundings would lessen the visual impacts of their proposed building from designated county roads within a three-mile radius.

If the protrusive qualities of surrounding trees and vegetation could not be proven, the proposed house could protrude no more than 10 feet above the skyline and three of five procedures were required to lessen the visual impact.

The procedures included reductions in the size of the building, redesign of the roofline to blend with or imitate the surroundings, landscaping to lessen the building's impact and the use of earth tones on the building's exterior that resemble the environment.

County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak argued those provisions were open to interpretation by planning staff and prospective builders.

At its Jan. 30 meeting, the Planning Commission said it would have preferred to keep the mitigation measures intact, but it recommended the board's removal of the measures. County planning commissioners agreed weakened regulations, were better than no regulations.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the commissioners' hearing room.

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