ALAMOSA — At the Wednesday Alamosa County Commissioners meeting, two land use issues were addressed.
The first was a hearing for a blight violation appeal against Justin and Tammy Clark who live on County Road 10 S.
Ginger Tilden of the Land Use Office explained that the current zoning of the property is rural. There has been uncovered building material and unregistered vehicles on the property, all in violation of the land use ordinance.
She explained to the commissioners, that the office issued the first violation in 2015. Since then Clark’s had been given two violation notices. Neither of which resulted in bringing the property into compliance.
Permits to build a fence to hide the property from the highway have been issued. However, the fence has yet to be constructed.
Because the Land Use Office had been dealing with the Clark’s for four years with no progress in bringing the property into compliance, it was the recommendation to the Alamosa County Commissioners that Clark’s not be given any further extensions. Tilden also asked that the county go in and clean up the property and attach the costs to the property for payment.
Justin Clark opened his statements saying he wanted to uncover why the Clarks’ were being targeted for being a “blighted.” He does not feel the property is a blight. He added that the issues with the Alamosa County Land Use Office have been doing on for some time. He also said photos by the Land Use Office had to be taken “while standing on our property.”
Tammy Clark then added that they have not seen any report of who turned them in as having blight property.
The Clark’s said they have been working on a fence to hide their property from the highway. She also admitted that because the land is low, anyone passing by could see over a fence.
Justin Clark said no one ever explained to them what a “blight” was and that they had been cleaning up the property. Tammy Clark added that they own a construction company which keeps them busy in the summer. She also said half of the cars on the property are registered. Some belong to employees and have been towed to their property because Justin is repairing them.
As for the building materials, Tammy Clark said they are building a greenhouse, but can’t get a permit because the property is in blight. The appliances, campers and trailers on the property are not trash, she stated.
Helen Sigmond, commissioner, told the Clark’s it didn’t matter who owns the vehicles, they need to be registered.
Michael Yohn, commissioner, explained that the land use ordinance spells out what the county can do to correct a blighted property, which includes cleaning up the property. However, “you are responsible for the property.”
Darius Allen, commissioner, believed there might be a different issue with the property. He wondered if the solution to the part of the problem the property is that it zoned wrong because the vehicles are being repaired. Tilden explained that would be a Special Use Permit are allowed. However, there have to be similar uses in the area, which do not exist in this case.
Justin Clark said that if they were given 90 days, he believes the property could be brought into compliance, which they have every intention to do.
Allen said the county tries to work with residents and all the counties in the Valley have similar issues.
Sigmond made the motion that passed determining that the Clark property is in violation of the land use ordinance and gave the Clark’s 90 days to clean the property up. If it is not done, then the county will take administrative steps to clean the blight up. Allen seconded the motion with the addition that the Land Use Office give the commissioners a report every 30 days on the progress of the Clark’s.
No to special use permit extension
The other land use issue was that of Geoffrey West who requested a Special Use Permit extension for a $2.6 million travel sports facility. The proposed project is to build baseball fields that will allow 30 traveling sports teams to play baseball on “world-class fields.”
West was asking for additional time because he has been hampered in working on the site due to several factors. This includes getting the infrastructure in place before starting any construction with limited funds.
Sigmond reminded West that special use permits require some construction in 12 months. Which, according to Rachel Baird, Land Use supervisor, has not happened. Baird also said that her office had given West a great deal of latitude because of the economic benefit the project would bring to Alamosa County.
West tried to argue that he has done dirt-work to show that he has been working on the site. However, Baird said dirt-work is not construction and did not believe the county should compromise the Land Use Code any more than has already been done for West.
All three commissioners liked the concept of the project and the revenue it would bring to the community. However, they believed West should have a comprehensive plan developed showing what the site will look like and then get the financing. At that point, he can reapply for a Special Use Permit.