Grand County may revisit special zoning for three lakes area
Ryan Summerlin February 7, 2013
Grand County commissioners considered and ultimately rejected a moratorium on zoning regulations special to the Three Lakes Area.
In Grand County’s planning and zoning regulations, a section devoted specifically to the unique aspects of the lakes area of Grand County was a topic of discussion at the Feb. 5 Grand County Commissioners meeting.
This overlay of zoning codes was adopted in 1981 “to foster sensitive and creative solutions to design problems” and for the “protection and perpetuation of panoramic mountain and scenic views from parks and public spaces within the Design Review Area.”
The Three Lakes Area incorporates the Colorado Scenic Byway of Highway 34, which leads countless international and U.S. travelers to and from Rocky Mountain National Park. This area of the county, with its scenic reservoirs and natural lakes sharing boundaries with federally protected wilderness, was seen by some as deserving of more stringent guidelines for building and development.
But several citizens who attended the meeting pointed out the guidelines sometimes contradict codes in Grand Lake or other county zoning codes, and many times the overlay regulations are simply left to one’s own interpretation.
Scott Ready, a resident in the Three Lakes Area, shared photos he had taken of many “blights” in the area that in one way or another continue to exist despite the Three Lakes Design Review guidelines.
The topic was brought to the county’s attention when the county became aware of a fence in the Three Lake’s Area that did not conform to the Three Lakes Design Review Area guidelines.
The fence is solid; Design Review Area zoning codes state the fence should be split rail.
A notice of a zoning violation concerning the fence was issued to resident Chris Ziegler, who in turn hired an attorney. They subsequently informed the county they counted at least 28 solid fences existing in the Three Lakes Area.
County Planning and Zoning Director Kris Manguso then surveyed the area herself, and found at least 13 solid privacy fences that could be visible from Highway 34, she wrote in a memo to the board of commissioners. This “indicates this requirement within the regulations has not been consistently enforced for many years,” she wrote. “Further review of the DRA regulations show that many of the requirements have not been consistently enforced.”
Manguso’s department proposed a moratorium to review the regulations.
Grand County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran started out the meeting suggesting the regulations have more or less accomplished what was intended with new developments in the area. But the loss of trees from the pine beetle epidemic has in some cases negated the intent of the Three Lakes Design Review regulations, she said. Some development hidden from trees to screen from view are now exposed.
Rocky Mountain National Park weighed in on the subject and advocated for continuation of the Design Review regulations in a letter dated Jan. 23.
“We believe that maintaining the aesthetics of the Three Lakes Area is important to the visitors who come to Rocky Mountain National Park and for the residents of our gateway communities,” it states.
Grand County commissioners rejected a moratorium, but agreed the regulations may need to be reviewed and possibly amended by a citizen committee from the Three Lakes Area. The county soon will be seeking citizens to join the committee to accomplish this task.