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Commission OKs changes to land use code

Posted: Thursday, Jan 24th, 2013

Alamosa County Land Use Manager Juan Altamirano gave commissioners an update on a series of changes to the county’s land use code. The changes tackle everything from medical marijuana operations to limits on RV camping inside the county’s borders. Courier photo by Rudy Herndon

Courier staff writer

ALAMOSA — Land use planning codes can be tough to decipher.

But Alamosa County officials are hoping that they’ve come up with a document that members of the general public can understand.

County commissioners voted unanimously on Wednesday to approve amendments to the code, as recommended by the planning commission and others.

The changes spell out everything from relaxed landscaping requirements in county subdivisions to special uses for medical marijuana retailers and growing operations.

But much of the county commission’s discussion focused on the issue of temporary uses — specifically, the amount of time that a recreational vehicle (RV) owner can camp out at a single location.

Alamosa County Land Use Manager Juan Altamirano told the board that he and other officials tried to address the issue out of concern for the public, and to limit blight.

The changes came in response to instances where people were living in “inhumane conditions,” he said.

In one case, someone improperly hooked a propane tank up to his or her RV. According to Altamirano, the tank lacked the arresters that regulate the flow of gas into the vehicle. Haystacks surrounded the same RV, he said.

“It was such a potential hazard,” he added.

Piles of junk accumulated around other stationary RVs, he said, and some people lived inside RVs that were not properly insulated.

“We would have had a lot more issues had we not begun to enforce that stuff,” Altamirano said.

In response, the county limited the amount of time that people can live inside their RVs at any one place, capping it at two weeks.

Commissioner Marianne Dunne said she felt that period is too limited, noting that some people might camp out in their RVs for a month, or even an entire summer.

Commission Chairman Darius Allen said he appreciates Dunne’s concerns. But he later added that the revisions give officials a way to monitor RV use in the county.

Sanitation is perhaps the biggest related problem that the county faces, Allen said.

If it turns out that county officials need to address that issue at a later date, they’ll have the power to do so.

Altamirano called the code a living document, and told the board that his department will review it six months down the road to see what’s working and what isn’t. At that point, any proposed changes will be brought back to the county commission for its approval, he said.

In the meantime, Altamirano plans to post the amended code on the county’s website, www.alamosacounty.org.

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