May 29, 2009

Elk Falls Rezoned

Elk Falls Guest Ranch, also known as Lower Lake Ranch, received a conditional rezoning from residential to agricultural at Park County's Board of County Commissioners' meeting on June 4. The decision had been continued from May 21.

The 206-acre ranch in northeast Park County is owned by Drayton and Vera Dunwody. It is located north of Pine Junction with access off U.S. 285 at Shaffers Crossing. Both the Elk Falls and Woodside Park subdivisions are adjacent to the property.

Original Banquet Building The original banquet hall building at the Elk Falls Ranch overlooks three ponds. (Flume file photo by Wendy Grumet/The Flume)


Thirteen conditions were attached to the rezoning. The first condition limits the uses of the property and prohibits commercial camping, recreational use of firearms except by the owners, and off-road vehicle use.

Another condition limits outdoor events to three per day, the number of attendees to 250 per outdoor event and the hours of events taking place outdoors from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

No new structures may be built without prior approval of the commissioners. Pavilion 3, which had been destroyed, may not be rebuilt, but another structure of the same size may be built. Some residents had requested a limitation on the location of the new structure, but no such limitation was imposed.

In addition, all structures that are repaired, remodeled or restored can not result in an increase in potential occupancy. All structures must be documented as to square footage and occupancy by a registered engineer before a remodeling permit will be issued.

A traffic impact analysis report and copies of well permits must be provided prior to the issuance of any developmental permits.

Driveways and septic systems must comply with Park County regulations before any development permits will be issued.

A Colorado storm water permit must be obtained before any construction or land disturbance begins.

All structures must comply with fire code regulations before they can be occupied. The property must also mitigate wildfire hazards before any development permits are issued.

Exterior lighting and noise levels must comply with the county's land use regulations.

All representations made by the Dunwodys during the rezoning process are a condition of the approval and binding on them and any future owners.

The rezoning to agriculture from residential had been opposed by some residents of the Elk Falls subdivision because of concerns about traffic and noise. Other area residents had supported the rezoning because of the preservation of open space under the Dunwodys' plan.

The Park County Planning Commission had previously recommended approval with 12 conditions.


A contract was approved between the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) and Park County for a Colorado State Hazard Mitigation Program grant. The $7,500 grant requires an equal match in funding.

According to the contract, the money will be used to develop, print and distribute a focused and detailed Community Wildfire Protection Plan for the Fairplay-based North-west Fire Protection District.

A resolution was approved for a proposal by the Park County Senior Coalition for a community block services grant from DOLA. The resolution stated the proposal was for federal funding that would be used for employment and nutrition services.

The amount of money requested was not stated in the resolution.

The resolution authorized the board chairman to execute a contract between the coalition and DOLA, subject to the county attorney's approval to the form and legality of the contract.

GIS Department request

After the commissioner meeting, Park County GIS Director Craig Barraclough reviewed the history and progress of digital parcel mapping of the county in the commissioners' administrative session. (GIS stands for geographic information systems.)

Currently, the department is working on filling in gaps and correcting overlaps and other errors in the digital mapping that was completed earlier. Now in the third year of correction work, Barraclough said it was taking much longer than anyone anticipated.

At the same time, the department also must modify maps with every new land-use decision that involves creating new lots or adjusts existing lot boundaries.

Barraclough asked the commissioners to consider ways to "speed up production" of maps that must accurately depict every square foot of land in the county.

The northeastern part of the county was digitally mapped by the Platte Canyon Fire District in 2003 for increased fire fighting responses. Some funding came from DOLA.

In 2004, Park County received an energy mineral impact grant to digitally map the remainder of the county. With that grant, an independent contracting company digitally converted 2,150 subdivision plats, 860 land survey plats, 900 mineral surveys and 4,300 land deeds.

Some of the map's uses and the need for accuracy were outlined by Barraclough, such as tax assessment, law enforcement, fire mitigation and response, land ownership, risk and environmental analysis, emergency preparedness and land sale transactions.

Some of the issues that the department has faced include unreadable or missing source documents, old land surveys that were completed using points that can no longer be found, and hundreds of mining claim surveys that overlap. He said some Township, Range and section corners are as much as 600 feet off in some documents.

One person in the department has been dedicated to completing the digital maps, but that person is regularly pulled off the work to complete projects for county departments and citizens' requests for information.

Some options suggested by Barraclough included contracting out the work or hiring another mapper for one year, running a second shift in the department, or creating an isolated work space to reduce work interruption or training other staff, particularly in the Assessor's Office, which also uses the data extensively. The Clerk's Office also heavily uses the data.

Barraclough said that once accurate mapping is completed and on the county's Web site, the time of several departments and their employees would be freed up because citizens could find answers to many questions by accessing the Web maps.

The commissioners supported the department applying for additional grant money.

Barraclough said grants were limited for strictly mapping purposes, but available for other departments that depended on the data, such as law enforcement and emergency preparedness.

Park County Commissioner John Tighe said he would alert departments at the next department directors' meeting to consider including money to complete the mapping when they apply for grants to meet other needs.

Tighe asked Park County Assessor Dave Wissel if some of the assessor's budget could be used this year for mapping.

Wissel answered that 2009 is a new appraisal year and most of his budget had been used already to re-assess properties, add new property improvements and process appeals for this year's appraisals.

The commissioners suggested that county funding should be requested in the 2010 budget proposals instead of asking for money in this year's budget.

Wissel said that he had requested funding for a mapper during budget proposals for the past three years, but had received none.

He also said he knew of a retired Park County resident who was interested in completing the digital mapping project.

The commissioners made no commitment on funding but said a proposal on time and amount of money needed to complete the project could be considered in the 2010 budget.

After the discussion on funding for GIS mapping, the Park County Sheriff's Office requested permission to apply for a grant to obtain Taser guns, which are electroshock weapons. The commissioners approved the request.

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