April 12, 2013

Commissioners pass new animal regs

Horse owners had been vocal about old regs

Lynda James, Correspondent

Terri Miller

Pine Junction-area resident Terri Miller has been active during the revision of the animal regulations that were adopted on April 4. She told the commissioners she supported most of the changes but was still concerned about the regulations that govern livestock on acreages of between 10 acres and 159 acres. (Photo by Lynda James/The Flume)

Major changes to how many animals and what kinds of animals are allowed on property zoned residential (R) were approved by Park County’s Board of County Commissioners on April 4.

The new regulations amend the 2008 animal regulations and define livestock as a unit consisting of one female and her offspring.

The maximum number of large livestock units was increased from two to four on property zoned R.

Prior to 2008, the number of allowed horses had been four for lots of less than four acres, but a land-use regulation amendment signed in November 2008 lowered the number of allowed horses to two from four. (See the April 29, 2011, Flume.) That eventually raised a stir in the Woodside Park subdivision near Pine Junction and elsewhere.

Another major change approved at the April 4 meeting was the inclusion of equine animals, goats, llamas, sheep and alpacas as large animals that can be kept on R zoned parcels.

Before the April 4 change, only two horses and 4-H animals were allowed in the R zone.

Sheep were added to the list by the commissioners at the meeting at the request of Bob Banks, president of Woodside Park Home Owners Association, Units 2, 3 and 4.

The HOA had requested about a year ago that the 2008 animal regulations be revised to allow more animals on property zoned R because the 2008 regulations made several lot owners in the subdivision have too many horses, or have burros illegally.

Banks said the HOA supported the new regulations.

Small livestock such as poultry and small furbearing animals remain limited to 10 per acre in the R zone.

The amount of open space required on a parcel for each animal was reduced from one acre (43,560 square feet) to 20,000 square feet, which is a little less than one-half acre.

Private stables are also now allowed. Previously, a stable was not allowed on R property.

The word “horse” was changed to “equine” throughout the regulations. This will allow animals such as burros and mules as well as horses.

A new section was added that allows beekeeping. The two hives per acre are permitted with the maximum number of hives varying from five to 25 depending on what the property is zoned – except for agricultural (A) zoned land, which has no limit.

Agricultural zoned land also has no limit on the number of large or small livestock and domesticated animals.

Two tables, one with the number of specific kinds of animals allowed and one with the number of acres, are multiplied to determine the number of each kind of livestock that can be kept on parcels zoned R-20, R-35 and A-35.

For example, the animal table lists 4 for equine and the zone table lists 2 for parcels between 10 and 20 acres. When multiplied, the number of equines allowed is 8.  For parcels between 21 acres and 70 acres, the number in the acreage table is 4, so 16 equine animals are allowed under the new rules.

Limit on total animals

One issue raised by the commissioners and also a member of the public is that a property owner could have a maximum number of all the species that are listed.

Thirteen different species are listed as large livestock, including cattle, equine, elk, swine, goats, sheep and ostriches.

A separate category in the table limits  small livestock with a number of 25. Previously,  the table listed only poultry and rabbits with a number of 25 each.

When the number of each species is added together, the result is 66. When multiplied by 2 (acreage table number) for parcels between 10 and 20 acres, a total of 132 animals are allowed.

Multiplied by 4 (acreage table number) for parcels between 21 and 70 acres, then 264 animals are allowed.

“I’m in favor of most of the regulations,” said Terri Miller, a resident of the McKinley subdivision west of Pine Junction. “They are a huge improvement over the ones proposed in November.”

Miller testified that the two tables mentioned above were confusing and didn’t seem to have a logical basis.

For example, a cattle unit has a number as one; equine and sheep both have a number of 4; goats have a number 5; and swine has a number 2.

She suggested the commissioners pass the regulations for property zoned R, but send the tables that govern animals on property with other zones back to the planning commission for revision.

Miller said that many counties use a livestock table, but it is based on equating all livestock to the area needed and the impacts of a cow/calf pair.  Total number of all animals is then limited by the specific number of acres instead of a range of acres, such as 21-70 acres.

Bob Banks

Bob Banks, president of Woodside Park Home Owners Association Units 2,3 and 4 in northeast Park County, told the Board of County Commissioners that the HOA supported the approval of the new animal regulations on April 4. The regulations were developed at the request of the HOA and other citizens. (Photo by Lynda James/The Flume)

Using tables such as Miller mentioned, a 21-acre parcel would be limited to fewer animals than a 70-acre parcel.

“I’m in favor of less regulation, but we have to look at protecting the neighbors,” Commissioner Mike Brazell said. “There’s a potential for a zoo on (land zoned) R-20 or R-35.”

Commissioner Dick Hodges said the planning department and planning commission had worked on the new regulations for a year. He said that if, in the future, too many animals became a problem, then the county could look at a revision.

Hodges also announced that the HOA for Woodside Units 2, 3 and 4, represented by Banks, was not the same HOA as where his property is located.

Commissioner Mark Dowaliby said that how many animals and what kind to allow in the regulations becomes an issue every couple of years.

County Administration Officer Tom Eisenman said that the animal regulations had been revised in 2003, 2007 and 2009.

However, a previous email from Eisenman in 2010 provided a document showing that the resolution to amend the animal regulations was signed in November 2008.

At the April 4 meeting, manure composting was added for all properties that allow livestock except for land zoned R. Composting must be in containers unless the property is larger than 20 acres. Open composting is allowed on property over 20 acres in size.

On property zoned R, manure must be removed from the property when it has accumulated to an equivalent of filling a five-cubic-yard Dumpster.

A new section was added advising property owners to check with the Colorado Division of Water Resources to see if the well permit allows livestock watering.

Other zones

Previously, livestock was not allowed on parcels zoned Mixed Use or zoned Mining.

Under the new regulations, one small livestock unit per tenth of an acre is allowed on property zoned Mixed Use.  Large livestock and roosters are still prohibited.

Land zoned Mining is now allowed to use large livestock for mining labor purposes, with no limit on the number.

If the mining property is used for residential purposes, then the animal regulations for property zoned R apply.

The unanimous vote to approve the animal regulations included a condition that if problems arose, the tables in the animal regulations would be revisited.

The revised animal regulations may be found at www.parkco.us under Government and Land Use Regulations.

Water lease

The commissioners signed a lease with Mountain Mutual Reservoir Co. to lease 15 acre-feet of water for the Road and Bridge Department to use in road maintenance and road improvements.

The lease will cost the county $5,250 and expires on Oct. 31, 2013. An additional two acre-feet may be leased if needed, for a cost of $350 per acre-foot. The lease may be renewed on a year-to-year basis.

Eleven separate water rights are listed, along with where water may be taken by the county.

Of those 11, six are on the North Fork of the South Platte in the northeastern corner of the county.  

According to the lease agreement, three on the North Fork are senior water rights: two from 1863 and one from 1867.

The other three are listed as 1872,  1905 and 1967.

Two leases are on the Middle Fork of the South Platte. One is northwest of Fairplay with a 1974 date, and the other, about halfway between Fairplay and Hartsel, has an 1867 date.

Three of the leased rights are in Jefferson County. One has a date of 1893. One ranges from 1868 to 1882, and the other ranges from 1861 to 1865.

During times with less stream flow, more so during a drought, the date of a water right becomes important due to  “calls on the river.”   

A river call happens when streams or rivers do not have enough water to support all the water rights.

When a call (prohibited use) is placed on a stream or river, a date is listed with the call. Only water rights older than the listed date may take water. Water rights that are younger than the date of the call cannot use water.

For example, in May of 2012, the call on the Upper South Platte and the North Fork was 1871, including all of Park County that is in the South Platte Basin. And it only got worse during the summer.

Garver Brown, District 23 water commissioner covering South Park, said the most senior call on the South Platte in 2012 to affect all of Park County was 1866. Individual calls in specific places on the South Platte dated back to 1861.

This year is shaping up to be similar. Nine calls have been on the Upper South Platte and North Fork in Park County so far in 2013. On April 9, the call had a seniority date of 1909, which is up from April 4 when the call date was 1885.

Currently, one of the leases in Jefferson County, the Harriman Ditch, is under an 1883 river call.

Hodges stated his concern that the leased water may not be senior enough that the county could use it all summer for Road and Bridge projects.

Last year, the water leased by the county from Denver Water was not available due to the drought restrictions on water use by Denver Water.

Lee Phillips, the attorney for the county, said that if the leased water from Mountain Mutual is called out, then the call would be so senior that no one would be allowed to take water from the streams or river.

Emergency management

The commissioners renewed a “call when needed” agreement for the third year with Castle Rock-based Rampart Helicopter Services LLC to provide helicopter services during a wildfire on nonfederal land in Park County.

The agreement has a maximum amount of $100,000 per year at a rate of $1,850 per hour, but no payment is required unless the service is used.

Vehicles carrying fuel for the helicopter are charged on a per-mile basis ranging from $1.90 to $3.45 per mile, depending on the size of vehicle used.

In the past two years the service has not been needed.

The agreement does not guarantee that a helicopter will be available. The company also has agreements with Douglas and Jefferson counties as well as the U.S. Forest Service.

Other items

The commissioners signed a resolution allowing all ambulances in the county to be inspected on the same day to receive renewed licenses.

They also signed a resolution proclaiming April 14-20 National Telecommunicators Week to recognize the county’s 911 communications dispatchers.

The resolution says in part that the proclamation is to “support and honor the men and women whose diligence and professionalism keep our county and citizens safe.”

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