ALAMOSA — It’s one of the most overlooked offices in Alamosa County. It’s also where the safety of residents starts. The Land Use Office interacts with just about every other office in county government.
Jinger Tilden, building inspector/code compliance officer, Bryan Mestas, code enforcement officer, Shannon Griffin, assistant code enforcement officer and Rachel Baird, administrator, make up the office.
Alamosa has adopted all the recent building code regulations and is a strict compliance county, Tilden stated.
“The Land Use office is where things get started,” Tilden said. Anytime someone wants to buy a property or build a new structure, they should be checking with the Land Use Office, she added. Not only to ensure the planned building will be up to code but to ensure any previous land use code violations do not encumber the property. Any violations go with the property, not the landowner. So, if a seller has been cited for a violation, the new owner will have to pay the fines and clean up the property.
It’s up to the buyer to do their due diligence, be educated and check out the rules and regulations for Alamosa County, they said.
The trio explained there are three steps in enforcing the Alamosa Land Use Code. The first is a fine of $100, and the property must be cleaned up within 30 days when another inspection is done. If the property is still not in compliance, there is an additional fine of $300 and another 30 days. If the property still is not brought into compliance, the office can take the violator to county court. According to the regulations, the county could clean up the property and attach the cost of the cleanup to the land. That has only happened once because the landowner passed away.
Currently, three cases are going before the county judge, they said. One is a violation of someone living in an RV that hasn’t received a permit; the second is concerning a dog kennel; the third is a burned structure where vagrants are living.
There are 124 cases they are currently dealing with, 58 since the beginning of the year.
Most of the problems they see are on property that is north and east of Alamosa and north of U.S. Highway 160.
Citing some of the issues they have run across includes finding trash and discarded human waste dumped in plastic bottles.
Although RVs can be parked on the property, there is a permit that has to be issued. There are also conditions which must be met to receive the permit which allows living in the RV for six months. Conditions include owning the property and having an onsite water treatment system. At the end of the six months, the individual and the RV must be moved. Another permit can be applied for during the next calendar year.
One of the problems they see is that other counties in the valley have steep permitting fees and because land is less expensive in Alamosa County, many are moving here which in turn creates problems for the Land Use Office.
Another one of the problems they encounter is greenhouses. It does not matter what is grown in the structures, they still need to be permitted. If someone is growing marijuana and sells over $5,000, they must have a Special Use Permit. If the individual has over 12 plants, they must be registered with the state or have a caregiver license.
“People don’t know what it takes to do this job,” Mestas said. “We take risks, but its to make sure the county is taken care of” and the safety of the current and future residents of Alamosa County, Tilden added.
If anyone has a complaint the Land Use office should know about, a complaint can be filed online at www.colorado.gov/pacific/alamosacounty/land-use-building. All of the rules and regulations can be found there as well, along with property searches.