2023 Land Use Code Revision
The Delta County, Colorado Commissioners and Planning Commissioners are currently deliberating on a 2023 draft revision to the Land Use Code (LUC). This proposed revision is likely the most drastic change that has been made to the land use code in the history of this county.
Through extensive analysis and community outreach, Delta County Coalition has identified several issues with the current LUC draft revision which will likely have a negative impact on many residents.
Until these issues are adequately addressed, we recommend that the County Commissioners at a minimum table the revision to allow for additional input from the community. Furthermore, we recommend that this revision be outright rejected, if it is deemed that the required effort to remedy the issues far outweighs “going back to the drawing board”.
Delta County Coalition understands that this revision is several years in the making. However, this effort occurred during a major nation-wide pandemic that severely impacted the community’s ability to participate at an adequate level in its development.
DCC Recommended Changes PDF
The details of the issues Delta County Coalition has identified and our proposed changes can be found in the following PDF document. Please note that this document is still work in progress and will change as things progress with the county’s deliberation process. We have also summarized many of the most important issues below.
Land Use Code Revision Issue Summary
NOTE: This list is likely to change and some issues may already be obsolete or will become obsolete as the draft LUC revision evolves. Some county officials, which we are in active communication with, have already voiced their intention to address many of these issues.
The following is a summary of issues we have identified at some point in the process of drafting the Land Use Code revision.
- Allowed By Right – Changes many land uses from “Allowed By Right” to “Permitted”. This is perhaps the most controversial change in the proposed revision and would impact many landowner rights and require county involvement/fees for many land uses which are currently allowed.
- Small Business Restrictions – Would require permits for small business/light industry (non-retail), whereas these use cases are currently Allowed By Right.
- Zoning Permits – Would require zoning permits for rural/residential land uses, which are at the moment Allowed By Right.
- Water Taps – Would require that all new homes be connected to municipal water taps, even if they already have a permitted well, spring, or other water rights.
- Cottage Industry & Home Businesses – Contains many additional restrictions on cottage industry and home businesses.
- RV Restrictions – Imposes unnecessary restrictions on RV category dwellings, which includes tiny homes, yurts, and in some cases mobile homes. This would likely have a negative impact on affordable housing.
- Building Codes And State Codes – Includes language which would allow county to enforce state permits, which we feel is unnecessary.
- No Additional Development If Grandfathered Hauled Water – Would prevent properties with grandfathered hauled water rights from further development, without obtaining a municipal water tap.
- Permits Voided Later For County Mistakes – Current language could result in an approved permit later being voided because of mistakes on the part of the county.
- Active Compliance – Would change the county’s long standing complaint-based compliance system to one of active compliance, which would allow for county officials, employees, and compliance officers to proactively investigate and pursue violations without a complaint being filed.
- Fines – The proposed revision lacks provisions to ensure proper due process and lacks clarity in several areas.
- County Immunity – Adds a non-liability clause that claims immunity for Delta County, its employees, and officials from being responsible or liable. Many issues around government liability are already covered by the state Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (CGIA) and we feel this addition unnecessarily removes the need for professional responsibility.
- Special Events Greatly Reduced – Reduces the allowed number of days for special events from 75 days per year to 3 total events, the max duration of an event from 30 days to 7, and reduces the max number of attendees from 500 to 150. This could greatly impact the public’s right to gather and adversely affect tourism.
- Additional Dwellings
- Permits – Would require permits for additional dwellings after the first one.
- Additional Residences Or Communal Living – Contains language which could restrict land uses based on as of yet undefined density restrictions.
- Fire Hydrant Requirements In Rural Areas – Would require fire hydrants for additional dwellings without any exceptions or provisions for rural areas or water companies without adequate capacity for fire hydrants, effectively banning additional dwellings in these cases.
- Additional Dwelling Compliance – Introduces confusing limits and extra regulation on additional dwellings.
- Farmworker Housing Water Requirements – Could require water taps for farm worker housing, disqualifying well, spring, or other water rights.
- ADU Limits – Would limit Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) to one per lot, no matter the size or use of the lot, and restricts them to 1000 sq ft.
- Residential Uses – Introduces additional limits to residential changes, such as duplexing of a basement and other changes currently Allowed By Right.
- Traffic Studies – Potentially requires a costly traffic study if building a new house and exactly which standards are applicable is unclear.
- Variances –
- Cell Towers – Allows many wireless/cell tower activities, including 5G, with fairly lax rules. We recommend processes which include more community participation in such decisions.
- Appeals Due Process – We recommend adding a provision that no members of the Board of Adjustment may be members of the Planning Commission at the same time to assure checks and balances and due process.
- Appeals For Landowners – Limits appeals to a 10 or 15 day deadline from 30 days which would negatively impact due process for landowners when dealing with compliance issues.
- Lien And Foreclosure – Gives the Director of Planning and Community Development the ability to place a lien on property, perfect lien, and foreclose.
- High Impact Use Notice – Reduces the requirements for issuing notices to residents near high impact industrial/commercial projects and land variances. We recommend residences within a minimum of 1000 ft of high impact projects (such as those with extensive dust, noise, light, hazardous materials, etc) be notified to allow for feedback from the community.
- Enforcement and Remedies – Contains language indicating the potential for criminal prosecution for civil infractions for individual private property owners.
- Manufactured Housing Violations And Remedies – Would make homeowners liable for fees and penalties as the result of negligence on the part of a professional mover.
- Manufactured Housing Requirements – Duplicates state rules and regulations concerning mobile homes and inspections thereof. Many of these provisions are unnecessarily restrictive and already covered by the extensive 80 page mandated state inspection process.
- Street Plan Review – Would require county review for 35+ acre subdivisions, which have been Allowed By Right.
- Grandfathering Severely Limited – Could result in grandfathered non-conforming use of property being removed if discontinued for 12 months, even if as the result of emergency circumstances.