In response to Mr. Casto’s letter of Jan. 12, asserting county officials are doing a poor job of supporting business, I feel that in order to come to an informed judgment, the public needs the correct details of the situation presented. In that the letter does not identify the individual involved beyond being the owner of Big D’s Pumping, I will extend the same courtesy.
In June 2005, Mr. D applied to the planning department for a rezoning of his property from agricultural to rural residential so that he could build a house and garage. At the approval hearing, he was reminded that he could not use the residential garage for his trucking business, to which he said he understood and had no intention of doing so.
In July 2007, Mr. D applied to the building department and received a permit to build his garage as a residential accessory building. He was reminded at the time that the building could not be used for his trucking business and that he was building to residential standards.
The building department was contacted in May 2010 because of repeated and excessive mud on the state highway at Mr. D’s access point. Upon checking into the complaint, building officials found that Mr. D was using the garage as his primary area for maintenance and repair of his fleet of heavy trucks for his business. The numerous violations were well beyond just zoning, with major fire and safety violations, considering the use. Mr. D was notified by phone calls followed by a letter that the violations needed to be corrected. We also informed Mr. D that because of his location on a curve on a state highway, we doubted he could get an access permit for this type of business from CDOT because of safety reasons.
Mr. D was given the option of going through the rezoning process and meeting safety requirements with his garage or moving the operation to a new location, in which case he would be given a temporary use permit to continue to use his garage while he acquired a new building. There was no response.
During the period from June 2010 to May 2011, Mr. D was sent a series of notices (five) informing him of the continuing violations, repeatedly with no action by him.
After more than a year with no action, Mr. D was given a notice of violation (red tag) in May 2011 and ordered to either contact the building department within 10 days or cease using the garage in violation. At this point, he did contact us and stated that for safety and convenience reasons, he wanted to move his business to a new location. He was then given a temporary use permit which allowed him six more months to use his garage while he constructed his new shop. That permit expired in December 2011 but in that Mr. D was nearing completion on his new shop, we extended the permit.
As you can see from this timeline, county staff has been actively working toward resolution of what was a knowing and deliberate violation and that staff have given Mr. D more than a year and a half to resolve the problem. While the length of time on this situation is unusual, the procedure and willingness to work with citizens is not.
Our county commissioners are decidedly pro-business and as a reflection of that policy, county staff is also. We have been instructed to simplify and streamline county regulations and processes and have either completed or are working on completion of that task depending on the regulation. We have the lowest property taxes of any surrounding county and have held the line on the county budget to keep them that way. We expect you to hold us accountable in our actions with the citizens but would only ask that before you make judgment on those actions, get the facts.
Rio Blanco County Planning Department