LARIMER COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION

Minutes of May 20, 2015

 

The Larimer County Planning Commission met in a regular session on Wednesday, May 20, 2015, at 6:30 p.m. in the Hearing Room.  Commissioners’ Christman, Cox, Dougherty, Glick, Jensen, and Miller were present.  Commissioners Gerrard and Zitti were absent.  Commissioner Wallace presided as Chairman.  Also present were Terry Gilbert, Community Development Division Director, Matt Lafferty, Principle Planner, Rob Helmick, Senior Planner, Eric Tracy, Engineering Department, Doug Ryan, Health Department, Zac Wiebe, Natural Resources Department and Jill Wilson, Recording Secretary. 

 

The Planning Commission went on a site visit to Sundance Trail Amended Special Review.

 

COMMENTS BY THE PUBLIC REGARDING THE COUNTY LAND USE CODE: 

None

 

COMMENTS BY THE PUBLIC REGARDING OTHER RELEVANT LAND USE MATTERS NOT ON THE AGENDA:  

None.

 

APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES FOR THE APRIL 15, 2015 MEETING:   MOTION by Commissioner Cox to approve the minutes, seconded by Commissioner Dougherty.  This received unanimous voice approval.

 

AMENDMENTS TO THE AGENDA:

None.

 

CONSENT ITEM:

 

ITEM #1  SUNDANCE TRAIL AMENDED SPECIAL REVIEW  #14-Z1944:   Mr. Helmick provided background information on the request to amend an existing Special Review to allow the existing guest ranch to add wedding/meeting/community hall facilities and additional staff housing located at 17931 County Road 74E, Red Feather Lakes.  The existing facility is the Sundance Trail Guest Ranch originally approved in 1993.  The additional facility would be known as Aspen Grove at Sundance Trail Guest Ranch.  The applicant was asking to construct three new buildings and outdoor areas to support the use to house the events and all support including a kitchen, an additional staff residence, and owner/ managers residential units.  A parking area for up to 36 cars, including two handicapped spaces will be provided.  The applicants proposed events of no more than two per day, typically with no more than 40 attendees; a few events may have up to 80 but no more than 20 per year.  Because the existing use was an accommodation facility, the applicants anticipated that many events will be “destination” events including overnight visits.

 

DISCUSSION:

Commissioner Cox moved that the Planning Commission adopt the following Resolution:

 

BE IT RESOLVED that the Planning Commission recommend to the Board of County Commissioners approval of the Sundance Trail Amended Special Review, file #14-Z1944, for the property described on “Exhibit A” to the minutes, subject to the following conditions:

 

 

1.   This Special Review approval shall automatically expire without a public hearing if the use is not commenced within three years of the date of approval.

 

2.   The Site shall be developed consistent with the approved plan and with the information contained in the Sundance Trail Amended Special Review file # 14-Z1944 except as modified by the conditions of approval or agreement of the County and applicant.  The applicant shall be subject to all other verbal or written representations and commitments of record for the Sundance Trail Amended Special Review.

 

3.   Failure to comply with any conditions of the Special Review approval may result in reconsideration of the use and possible revocation of the approval by the Board of Commissioners

 

4.   This application is approved without the requirement for a Development Agreement.

 

5.   In the event the applicant fails to comply with any conditions of approval or otherwise fails to use the property consistent with the approved Special Review, applicant agrees that in addition to all other remedies available to County, County may withhold building permits, issue a written notice to applicant to appear and show cause why the Special Review approval should not be revoked, and/or bring a court action for enforcement of the terms of the Special Review.  All remedies are cumulative and the County’s election to use one shall not preclude use of another.  In the event County must retain legal counsel and/or pursue a court action to enforce the terms of this Special Review approval, applicant agrees to pay all expenses incurred by County including, but not limited to, reasonable attorney’s fees.

 

6.   County may conduct periodic inspections to the property and reviews of the status of the Special Review as appropriate to monitor and enforce the terms of the Special Review approval.

 

7.   The Findings and Resolution shall be a servitude running with the Property.  Those owners of the Property or any portion of the Property who obtain title subsequent to the date of recording of the Findings and Resolution, their heirs, successors, assigns or transferees, and persons holding under applicants shall comply with the terms and conditions of the Special Review approval.

 

8.   Final water system and treatment must have received approval from the CDPHE prior to construction.  Proof shall be provided to the County prior to or as a part of any permit application.

9.   Final on site sewer system design must be approved by the Health Department prior to or as a part of any permit application

 

10.   Final site plans must address the issues of the Engineering Department. 

 

11.   The conditions of approval from the 1993 application shall be modified with respect to:

 

 

 

# 3 Roaming dogs -- Dogs may be allowed off leash on site.

# 9   Camping – No more than 6 RV’s may be allowed on site at any one time including the owners RV.  Tent use by guests shall be allowed.  Any RV’s or tents used shall not increase the overall occupancy of the site. 

#10 signs – Are now regulated by Section 10 of the Land Use Code. 

 

Commissioner Miller seconded the Motion.

 

Commissioners’ Christman, Cox, Dougherty, Glick, Jensen, Miller, and Chairman Wallace voted in favor of the Motion.

 

MOTION PASSED:  7-0

 

ITEMS: 

 

ITEM #2  LARIMER COUNTY OPEN LANDS MASTER PLAN:   Mr. Wiebe provided background information on the request to update the 2001 Larimer County Open Lands Master Plan.  He mentioned that the Board of County Commissioners recommended the Planning Commission approve the proposed Master Plan.  The Open Lands Board in February 2015 also recommended approval of the plan.  He stated that the project started in 2012 through a collaborative process called ‘Our Lands, Our Future’ where funding was received to do a comprehensive look at recreation and conservation preferences in Larimer County.  He explained that it involved extensive public feedback and noted the many opportunities presented to the public to provide that feedback.  He mentioned the vision for conservation and outdoor recreation and showed the conservation priority areas and priority trails in the county.  He stated that during the process all of the Open Lands policies were updated.

 

PUBLIC TESTIMONY:

None.

 

DISCUSSION:

Commissioner Cox moved that the Planning Commission adopt the following Resolution:

 

BE IT RESOLVED that the Planning Commission approve the Larimer County Open Lands Master Plan as presented.

 

Commissioner Glick seconded the Motion.

 

Commissioners’ Christman, Cox, Dougherty, Glick, Jensen, Miller, and Chairman Wallace voted in favor of the Motion.

 

MOTION PASSED:  7-0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ITEM #3 AMENDMENTS TO THE LARIMER COUNTY LAND USE CODE #15-CA0155:   Mr. Tracy provided background information on the request for the proposed code change to Section 4.2.2 of the Larimer County Land Use Code to allow substantially damaged structures in the floodway to be rebuilt if damaged by something other than a flood.  He explained that citizens were concerned with the current regulations in the Land Use Code and had asked staff to come up with some alternatives to the current regulations.  Those alternatives were presented during worksessions and it was determined that two of the alternatives would be examined:

1.    To amend the code to allow substantially damage structures to be rebuilt if damaged by anything other than a flood. 

2.   Examine the high hazard classifications other than the floodway definition (ex. depth and velocity hazard areas). 

 

The first option was being presented to the commission to amend Section 4.2.2 of the Larimer County Land Use Code.  The second option was in process with a future depth and velocity study to be completed regarding the classification of high hazard zone and erosion buffer zones as additional overlay zones, which would more accurately identify the high risk areas in the floodway.  He stated that the consulting firm hired to complete the study was predicting that the high hazard zone analysis would be completed by July 31, 2015 and the erosion buffer zone analysis completed by August 31, 2015.  The results of the analysis would be presented to the Board of County Commissioners and if it moved forward then it would be presented to the public and presented in public hearings.  He mentioned the many worksessions that took place regarding the proposed amendments along with the open houses held in LaPorte, Big Thompson Canyon, and Berthoud.  He stated that the item was also presented to the Environmental and Science Advisory Board along with the Flood Review Board.  He explained that FEMA set the minimum standards for floodplain regulations.  Then at the State level, they were required to adopt every regulation set forth by the FEMA but the State could add on regulations to those.  At the local level, the entities were required to adopt every regulation the State had adopted but could also add on to those regulations.  The specific regulation being presented was a regulation proposed to be added on at the local level as currently FEMA and the State would allow a structure substantially damaged to be rebuilt.  Currently, the Larimer County regulations stated that if the structure was substantially damaged, which meant that the damage exceeded 50% of the market value of the structure (pre-flood value), that the structure had to come into compliance with the entire Section 4.2.2 of the Land Use Code.  Certain uses were not allowed in Section 4.2.2; as a result, if it was substantially damaged and had to come into compliance then that use was no longer allowed.  He explained that Larimer County adopted higher regulations because the National Floodplain Insurance Program (NFIP) states that ‘FEMA has established minimum floodplain management requirements for communities participating in the NFIP.  Communities must also enforce more restrictive State requirements.  However, communities should seriously consider enacting regulations that exceed the minimum state and federal criteria.  In fact, the NCIP requires communities to at least consider additional measures which are found in 44 CFR 60.22, Planning Considerations for Floodprone Areas.’  He reiterated that the proposed amendments to the Land Use Code were to allow structures in the floodway to be rebuilt if damaged by something other than a flood.  If destroyed by a flood, the structure could not be rebuilt but a variance could be applied for through the Flood Review Board. 

 

Commissioner Cox asked if after the high hazard study was completed then the language would change to be applicable for areas in the high hazard areas.

 

Mr. Tracy replied yes if the County Commissioners chose to move forward with those results.

 

Commissioner Christman asked if erosion was considered a flood event.

 

Mr. Tracy replied yes if a flood caused the erosion.

 

Commissioner Dougherty asked if the County Attorney had received the information regarding the different guidelines pertaining to lending on properties that were in a floodway.

 

Mr. Tracy stated that the County Attorney would review the information and provide their comments to the County Commissioners.

 

PUBLIC TESTIMONY:

Lee McConnell, stated that he had lived on the river for 86 years and wondered what the definition of a high hazard area was.  He believed that a high hazard area was a floodway or living next to a river.  He stated that people that lived in the mountains next to trees would be in a high hazard area if there was a fire but they were allowed to rebuild.  He mentioned that lenders and realtors knew about the regulation and property values had dropped.  He felt that the amendment was excessive.  He noted that the floodway in LaPorte was significantly different then those in the Big Thompson River.

 

Commissioner Jensen asked what he would like to see done.

 

Mr. McConnell stated that one could rebuild for anything from a fire to a tree falling on the home but not for a flood, which he did not feel was fair.  He understood it was a risk in the floodway but that’s what they chose.  He felt that one should be able to rebuild and assume the risk.

 

Commissioner Miller asked if rebuilding would be worth it if it caused risks to people downstream.

 

Mr. McConnell stated that he had not seen that risk and could not comment on it.

 

Craig Greenwell, 2722 McConnell, stated that he had a house and structure outside of the floodway but had two parcels located in the floodway.  He presented a letter of information to the Commission.   He noted his experience with FEMA, codes, etc.  He stated that he lived by the drainage swale for Cotton Willows Subdivision, an irrigation ditch, which he was not allowed to fence off, and had a road issue.  It put him in a scenario where he could not get relief from the county or put up a fence because he was in a floodway, which was overregulated by the county.  He felt that there was an unclear story with unclear motivations and property owners were taking the burden.  If a flood occurred he wondered if it was it because the county road was too high and against the drainage plan in that area and damned it up.  He stated that FEMA set the underwriting policy, and if the structure was elevated then no rise was shown.  FEMA and the State had accepted that culpability.

 

Commissioner Jensen asked if the entire amendment should be discarded.

 

 

 

 

Mr. Greenwell would like to see the ability for anyone to rebuild for any reason including a flood.

 

Joni Suther, mentioned the regulation process the county had to go through in extension of the FEMA regulation.  She asked for clarification for current developed structures and permit development.  She understood not developing in a floodway but wondered what that meant for structures that were already developed and wanted to do an addition, etc.  She asked about grandfathering of a property.  She also mentioned how it was difficult to get a loan from a prospective buyer. 

 

Mr. Tracy explained that the Flood Review Board set criteria for the high hazard area, the product corridor.  They determined a depth and velocity product of 6, 8 or 10 for the pilot study, which meant taking the depth of water multiplied by the velocity.   He noted that it was a easier to determine and define where a flood might occur and the risk for that flooding compared to a fire hazard area.  He noted that FEMA had completed research, looking at a 30 year mortgage period, and over 30 years if one was within a 100 year floodplain there was a 26% chance of seeing a flood. 

 

Commissioner Wallace asked if the depth and velocity product of 6, 8 or 10 meant different levels and after the analysis the degree of danger based on three different scenarios would be able to be determined

 

Mr. Tracy stated that the three different scenarios would define different areas.  A depth product of 6 was wider than a depth product of 10.  He explained that the floodplain modeling would look at the area where the depth and velocity product where at 6, 8 and 10 and define a zone.  He noted that a depth and velocity product of 6, 8 or 10 was a level where damage to structures started to occur.  He stated the definition of development within the Land Use Code and explained that when there was a developed area that was destroyed then any rebuilding would fall under the same definition of development.

 

Commissioner Glick asked what would happen if the county did not adopt the floodplain regulations.

 

Mr. Tracy explained that the county was a participating member of the NFIP and was obligated to adopted regulations that the State and FEMA had adopted.  If not adopted by the county it would jeopardize the participation with the NFIP, the county would be suspended, assistance from the NFIP would not be offered to the citizens of Larimer County.  He noted that the  regulation presented today was not a national amendment. 

 

Commissioner Glick mentioned the incremental changes and additional studies that were being proposed, which might cause additional changes to the Land Use Code. 

 

Mr. Tracy stated that the change was supported due to what had been seen during the two flood events in Larimer County.  There were multiple structures within regulatory floodways that were not substantially damaged by a flood.  If that particular structure was damaged by a fire, tornado, etc. they would not have been able to rebuild the way the current regulations were.  The hope of the additional analysis would be to look at risk through depth and velocity  and identify the areas where  any structure would see substantial damage within a certain a flood zone.

 

Commissioner Miller asked why a more restrictive plan was being proposed compared to the State and National regulations.

 

Mr. Tracy stated that the FEMA regulations were applicable throughout the country being for a big, large river system such as the Mississippi compared to a river in a canyon in Colorado.  When setting a regulation, those regulations that were applicable to Larimer County would not be applicable to other areas in the country like the Mississippi.  FEMA set the minimum regulations to be applied.  When setting regulations at the local level, the flood risk for that area needed to be examined.  He mentioned a letter from FEMA, who supported the current county standards.  He understood that the county’s standards were much higher than FEMAs but FEMA was in support of that and understood that our standards were applicable to our area.

 

DISCUSSION:

Commissioner Dougherty stated that he had researched information from mortgage lenders and some lender requirements stated that if there were any sort of land use code that prohibited rebuilding they would not loan on that property.  He had a problem that a big percentage of purchasers were being taken away for homes in a floodway.  He stated that he could only support the regulation if the prohibition regarding rebuilding was removed as he did not believe the proposed regulation would allow homeowners to sell their homes.

 

Commissioner Cox did not believe that the financial aspect should be examined but the land use and public safety should be discussed and examined.  She felt that the County Commissioners should discuss the financial aspect.

 

Commissioner Wallace stated that it was a temporary fix as it was possible that areas restricted by the regulation may be changed.  She did not think that all the restrictions should be lifted, and she was in favor of the small fix.  In terms of public safety, it needed to be changed but be based on more data.  She suggested that other changes be examined in the future.

 

Commissioner Jensen stated that he had attended all three public meetings and worksessions on the proposal.  The majority of feedback he had received from the meetings was that citizens supported the incremental change because it did not preclude you of rebuilding as the appeal process was in place.  He supported the incremental change and additional studies that would occur in the near future. 

 

Commissioner Miller agreed with the other comments and supported the amendment but felt that more information and a deeper look into the whole regulation should be completed.

 

BE IT RESOLVED that the Planning Commission recommend to the Board of County Commissioners approval of the Amendments to the Larimer County Land Use Code, Sections 4.22.F & 4.2.2.G.7, file #15-CA0155, as follows:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SECTION  4.2.2.F OF THE LARMIER COUNTY LAND USE CODE

 

F.    Floodplain overlay zone districts.

1.    FW—Floodway district (comprised of FEMA floodway and local zone AE floodway).

a.    Allowed uses can be found in the zoning table in section 4.1

b.    Requirements for uses in the FW—Floodway district:

1.    All uses must comply with subsection 4.2.2.D.

2.    Larimer County regulates the 0.50-foot rise floodway except in mountainous areas where mountain floodway criteria is sometimes applicable.

3.    Encroachments are prohibited, including fill, new construction, substantial improvements and other development within the adopted regulatory floodway unless it has been demonstrated through hydrologic and hydraulic analyses performed by a licensed Colorado Professional Engineer and in accordance with standard engineering practice that the proposed encroachment would result in less than a 0.00 foot increase (requires a no-rise certification) in base flood elevations within the community during the occurrence of the base flood discharge.

4.    In the event fill is allowed, it must be protected against erosion by the use of rip rap, bulk heading or vegetative cover appropriately designed and certified by a Colorado Registered Professional Engineer.

5.    Structures must not be intended or used for human habitation.

6.    Structures must be constructed so the longer axis of the structure is parallel to the direction of the flood flow.

7.    Whenever possible, the placement of the structure must be on the same flood-flow lines as those of adjoining structures.

8.    No new or expanded on-site wastewater treatment systems shall be installed in a floodway.

9.    Substantially damaged structures within a floodway where the damage was by any cause other than a flood event can be repaired or replaced in the floodway as long as the lowest floor is at or above the regulatory flood protection elevation and the repair and reconstruction meets all other applicable sections of 4.2.2.

10.  Substantially damaged structures within a floodway where the damage was caused by a flood event can not be repaired or replaced in the floodway.

 

 

 

 

2.    FF—Flood fringe district (comprised of FEMA flood fringe and local zone AE flood fringe).

a.    Allowed uses can be found in the zoning table in section 4.1

b.    Requirements for uses in the FF—Flood fringe district:

1.   All uses must comply with subsection 4.2.2.D.

2.   Substantially damaged structures within a floodfringe where the damage was by any cause can be repaired or replaced in the floodfringe as long as the lowest floor is at or above the regulatory flood protection elevation and the repair and reconstruction meets all other applicable sections of 4.2.2.

3.    FH—Flood hazard district (comprised of FEMA zone A flood hazard).

a.    Allowed uses can be found in the zoning table in section 4.1

b.    Requirements for uses in the FH—Flood hazard district are outlined in subsection 4.2.2.D.

c.    Encroachments are prohibited, including fill, new construction, substantial improvements and other development within the FH—Flood hazard district unless it has been demonstrated through hydrologic and hydraulic analyses performed by a licensed Colorado Professional Engineer and in accordance with standard engineering practice that the proposed encroachment is not within the area that is defined as the 0.50-foot floodway in the analysis performed by the engineer.

d.    Substantially damaged structures where the damage was by any cause can be repaired or replaced as long as the lowest floor is at or above the regulatory flood protection elevation and the repair and reconstruction meets all other applicable sections of 4.2.2.

4.    SF—Shallow flooding district (comprised of FEMA shallow flooding and local zone AO shallow flooding, and local zone AH shallow flooding).

a.    Allowed uses can be found in the zoning table in section 4.1

b.    Requirements for uses in the SF—Shallow flooding district are outlined in subsection 4.2.2.D.

c.    Residential construction - All new construction and substantial improvements of residential structures must have the lowest floor (including basement) elevated above the highest adjacent grade at least 1.5 feet above the depth number specified in feet on the FIRM (at least 3.0 feet if no depth number is specified). Upon completion of the structure, the elevation of the lowest floor, including basement, shall be certified by a registered Colorado Professional Land Surveyor. Such certification shall be submitted to the floodplain administrator.

 

 

 

 

d.    Nonresidential construction - With the exception of critical facilities, outlined in subsection 4.2.2.E, all new construction and substantial improvements of nonresidential structures, must have the lowest floor (including basement) elevated above the highest adjacent grade at least 1.5 feet above the depth number specified in feet on the FIRM (at least 3.0 feet if no depth number is specified), or together with attendant utility and sanitary facilities be designed so that the structure is watertight to at least 1.5 feet above the base flood level with wall substantially impermeable to the passage of water and with structural components having the capability of resisting hydrostatic and hydrodynamic loads of effects of buoyancy. A registered Colorado Professional Engineer shall submit a certification to the floodplain administrator that the standards of section 4.2.2 are satisfied.

SECTION 4.2.2.G.7 OF THE LARMIER COUNTY LAND USE CODE:

 

7.    Expansion of nonconforming structures and uses:

a.    The flood review board shall hear and render judgment on requests for expansion of nonconforming structures and uses from the requirements of section 4.2.2 of the Larimer County Land Use Code.

b.    No such structure or use may be expanded, improved or enlarged unless the improvement expansion or enlargement itself complies with the provisions of section 4.2.2 and does not cumulatively (over a rolling ten year period) exceed 50% of the market value of the original structure excluding minor work and regular maintenance of existing buildings and facilities.

c.    When a building or other structure, including but not limited to a manufactured home, has been damaged so that the market value of repair or replacement does not exceed 50% of the market value before the damage occurred, the structure may be restored to its size immediately before the damage occurred. Such reconstruction shall be constructed as required by section 4.2.2, and shall not be deemed to be a substantial improvement or enlargement. Any restoration or replacement of a structure, including, but not limited to, a manufactured home, damaged to an extent exceeding 50% of its market value before the damage occurred shall be deemed to be a substantial improvement or enlargement , and the entire structure shall be protected from flooding as required by section 4.2.2. Any restoration or replacement of a substantially damaged structure shall only occur if the use is allowed within the applicable overlay zone. All applicable general standards from section 4.2.2.D apply. Substantial damage is not cumulatively tracked. If a permit is applied for and the damage repair and improvement exceeds 50%, it shall be deemed a substantial improvement.

d.    Whenever an existing manufactured home, which is nonconforming or is located in a nonconforming manufactured home park or subdivision in the floodplain overlay zone districts, is replaced by a new manufactured home, regardless of the reason for the replacement, the new manufactured home shall comply with the requirements of section 4.2.2

 

 

e.    If any person makes substantial improvement to any nonconforming building or structure or changes the use thereof, such person shall permanently change the building or structure or use to conform to the requirements of section 4.2.2

 

Commissioner Glick seconded the Motion.

 

Commissioners’ Christman, Cox, Glick, Jensen, Miller, and Chairman Wallace voted in favor of the Motion.

 

Commissioner Dougherty voted against the Motion.

 

MOTION PASSED:  6-1

 

 

 

REPORT FROM STAFF:  Mr. Lafferty reminded the Commission of their upcoming meetings. 

 

ADJOURNMENT:   There being no further business, the hearing adjourned at 7:52 p.m.

 

 

 

These minutes constitute the Resolution of the Larimer County Planning Commission for the recommendations contained herein which are hereby certified to the Larimer County Board of Commissioners.

 

 

_______________________________                      ______________________________

Nancy Wallace, Chairman                                          Mina Cox, Secretary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXHIBIT A 

 

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That part of the SE 1/4 of SE 1/4 of Section 6, Township 9 North, Range 72 West of

the 6th P.M., lying and being South o f the County Road which traverses said propert y ,

and the N 1 / 2 of the NW 1/4 and the SE 1/4 of the NW 1/4 of Section 8, Township 9

North, Range 72 West and the NE 1 / 4 of the NE 1/4 of Section 7, Township 9 North,

Range 72 West of the 6th P.M., lying South of the Count y Road known as Red Feather

Lakes Road, except property described in deed recorded July 29, 1994 at Reception No.

94063864 and Correction Deed recorded December 22, 1994 at Reception No. 94100713,

County of Larimer, State of Colorado .

 

Also known as : 17931 Red Feather Lakes Road, Red Feathers Lake, CO