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Discussion, Debate Over Accessory Buildings In Basin Continues

Summit County

Summit County Council Member Chris Robinson says the Council will continue to work on a new ordinance governing accessory buildings—with less than three months left before a moratorium on those buildings expires.

Meanwhile, the Council heard from one of Robinson’s neighbors who is concerned about the issue.

Robinson told KPCW that residents should stay tuned, and they are planning another meeting to receive public comment.

The county is looking at the concept of accessory structures, which are built in addition to the primary residential structure on a lot.  Robinson said he wants to find a solution that doesn’t go from one extreme to the other.        

“But I think there is a need for regulation.  I just don’t wanna go from having the ability to do whatever you want, to having the one size fits all that’s very limiting, that would allow people to only use a small percentage of their land.”

The Temporary Zoning Ordinance for side buildings (or TZO) is due to expire on September 10th.    But the Council two weeks ago modified it, so it doesn’t apply to smaller buildings of 5000 square feet or less.

The proposed ordinance has set a maximum building size of 12,500 square feet.  But Robinson has questioned if that should apply, regardless of the overall lot size.

He also said he doesn’t favor limiting the uses of accessory buildings.        

“People buy these larger lots, with the hope of, the desire to have the place to store their recreational vehicles, or to ride their horses, or stables.   But I don’t wanna limit it to agriculture.”

During the Public Comment segment at Council’s June 16th meeting, they were visited by Debbie Scoggan, who like Robinson lives on Old Ranch Road.    She showed them photos of accessory buildings proliferating on some of the lots there and said a major priority for the community is visual open space.        

“I have to scratch my head when I hear the term, “private property rights” used as a defense against regulating the size of accessory buildings on someone’s lot.  Because I have Rocky Mountain Power coming onto my lot, cutting down my trees and creating black fire rings on grass that’s being grown.  I have the State Department of Water Resources telling me how many acres, how often and how much water I have to put on my crop.    And then we have ordinances dictating minimal night-lighting, and downturned amber lights on buildings.  These are just a few examples, how private property rights are relegated to the greater welfare of the community.”

She called for more aggressive regulation from the county, and said they need to consider the purpose for the accessory buildings.      

“I hope nobody gets mad at me.   But are they being used to say, “Hey, look at all my junk and all my toys.”  That I have a problem with.   I’m sorry if you disagree, but that’s a concern.”

Council Member Doug Clyde said that, he, personally, is also concerned about the uses.      

“So a garage is a garage.  It’s not a manufacturing plant for something else.”

County Council Member Doug Clyde.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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