July 24, 2009

Woodside residents speak out on business

Lynda James
Correspondent

Residents of Woodside Park subdivision in the Pine Junction area of northeast Park County filled the Park County Board of County Commissioners' hearing room on July 16 to voice concerns about business uses of a 20-acre parcel in a residential (R-20) zone.

The hearing was continued until Sept. 3, but first those Woodside residents waited more than six hours - as other land-use cases were heard - before being given the opportunity to comment on the conditional use permit application by Terry Aumiller, the owner of the 20-acre tract.

The application requested a conditional use permit, or CUP, for a major home occupation in a residential zone. Aumiller's 20-acre parcel is across Nova Road from the Woodside Park subdivision.

Permit expired in 2006

Development Services Coordinator Tom Eisenman said Aumiller had been granted a five-year conditional use permit in 2001. It expired in 2006. Since then Aumiller has been operating American Restoration Inc. without a permit.

During that time, Aumiller also began a second major home occupation, American Roll-Off Inc., in addition to operating two minor home occupations in violation of the county's land use regulations, said Eisenman.

Aumiller filed the CUP application to come into compliance with the LURs. He said he thought the first CUP was in perpetuity, not for five years.

According to LUR Article 5-704, only one home occupation per resident is allowed, with a maximum of three, and none can generate more delivery services than a home.

Other standards include: a limit of two additional employees; no exterior evidence of a business; no storage of volatile materials; proper and out-of-view storage of all equipment and materials; and no creation of any nuisance, such as odor, noise or dust beyond the property line.

Eisenman showed pictures of roll-offs, Dumpsters, and large storage containers being stored on an abandoned road easement next to Nova Road in full view of neighbors.

Aumiller said he was in the process of selling American Roll-off to his brother and that all the roll-offs would be gone by Aug. 1. That would bring him into compliance with the number of home businesses allowed.

Noise, trash complaints

Eisenman said the Planning Department had had complaints of noise, trash build-up and trash blowing from the property.

Aumiller said Mountain View Waste had been emptying the Dumpsters twice a week between 5 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. He had spoken with the waste company, and it had agreed to change the pick-up schedule to later in the day.

Woodside resident Nancy Wyman testified that noise was also emanating from large trucks backing up with beeping devises coming into and out of the property all day. She also said that tires, mattresses, propane tanks and trash were all stored next to each other, creating a fire hazard, and all were stored in plain view of the neighbors. She also noted that none of that was in view of Aumiller's house.

Aumiller said the trucks were hauling excavation materials away from an area he was excavating for future development. He also said when he was finished excavating, probably within six months, he would move the Dumpsters and construction material to the excavated site, which would be out of view of the neighbors.

20 employees in winter

Aumiller said he had five full-time employees, and that grows to 20 employees during the winter, when the company is the busiest. He said four employees work either full-time or part-time on the property.

Aumiller was asked if he had an excavation permit from Park County or a Mining Reclamation permit from the state.

He said he did not have either and that he wasn't mining because he was giving away the material to excavation companies, not charging for it. He did say he would apply for an excavation permit from the county.

Fire code violations

Elk Creek Fire Protection District Fire Marshall Elizabeth Woodward testified that, acting on behalf of the fire district as a referral agency, she had inspected the property and found several fire code violations. She said Aumiller was working with the district to correct the violations, which included exit signs, use of extension cords, need for fire extinguishers and the existence of a 500-gallon diesel fuel tank on the property.

The fire district also submitted a letter stating all driveway roads needed to be a width of 20 feet; a fire alarm system and a Knox Box needed to be installed; and any new construction or remodeling would require additional fire-protection permits and a water cistern and sprinkler system for fire suppression.

Mining

County Attorney Lee Phillips said that, by definition, if material left the site, it was considered mining. But that was not an issue for the commissioners to consider. It was in the state's jurisdiction.

Bob Banks, Woodside Home Owners Association president, submitted letters and e-mails from 30 homeowners. He showed pictures he had taken the day before that showed materials, Dumpsters and roll-offs in view of Nova Road.

Banks said most homeowners were not opposed to the business but wanted all business-related materials stored out of sight.

Banks said that, according to the LURs, home businesses should have a negligible effect on the neighborhood. "This is a commercial business, not a business in the home," he said.

Banks and others testified that Aumiller had said he would clean the property at the Park County Planning Commission hearing. Since it had not been cleaned up, the issue was now one of lack of trust.

Howard Davis, a Woodside resident, testified he was concerned about fire danger, with propane tanks and a large plastic tank that looked to be a 500-gallon fuel storage tank on the property. He also noted a truck for sale on the property that he did not think belonged to Aumiller.

Property values

Davis and Phil Scudder, a Realtor, were concerned with the effect of the business on property values. Scudder said he and other Realtors were having trouble selling in the area.

Sharon Work-Evridge said she and others thought the debris was from construction on site. They became alarmed because it lasted too long and then got bigger. She said she applauded Aumiller for having his business and hiring local employees, but she wanted the site to look like a home site, not a business site.

Alan Wyman said he had assumed the site was zoned commercial, and he and his wife had just bought in the wrong area. He asked that the CUP be denied because Aumiller had abused the previous permit and had expanded over what had been approved. He said he was not against this type of business, but it should not be on residential property.

Commissioner Dick Hodges asked residents who testified if they were against home businesses or if they would work with Aumiller to find a solution to negative impacts.

Most were willing, but they said they didn't trust Aumiller would hold up his end of the bargain because of his past actions. Nancy Wyman said as a neighbor, she did not want to be put in the position of acting as a county code enforcer.

Aumiller said he hoped that, in the future, residents would come to him with any complaints so they could be solved before complaining to the county.

Conditions proposed by Planning Commission

Aumiller also took issue with three of the five conditions proposed by the Park County Planning Commission. They were: no outdoor storage; no roll-offs and Dumpsters; and no flammable materials.

Aumiller said the propane tanks stored on the property were used in the winter for heating purposes when working on fire and water-damaged homes. He also said he needed Dumpsters when removing damaged material from homes. It was easiest to store them on this property and have Mountain View Waste empty them. He said he needed outside storage, particularly of construction materials and equipment.

Commissioner Mark Dowaliby said Aumiller could probably find a site on the 20 acres where material could be stored outside and not in any neighbor's view.

Commissioner John Tighe suggested a screening plan be submitted that was approved by the county.

Hodges said the county needed to strictly enforce any screening condition to keep all material out of view.

Meeting on screening

The hearing was continued to Sept. 3 with the instruction that Eisenman and Banks meet with Aumiller to develop a stipulated condition regarding screening of materials used in the business. During that time Aumiller was instructed to obtain an excavation permit from the county and conduct a vehicle trip analysis associated with the business.

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