Communications tower at Justice Center temporarily on hold

Floodplains, Fire Code, Thorn Lake School

By Lynn Volkens

Gilpin County Commissioners Buddy Schmalz, Connie McLain and Gail Watson met the morning of April 9, 2013. They dealt with a tax lien situation that was a first for Gilpin County, as well as variance requests, a revised floodplain ordinance, the Thorn Lake School, and several routine agreements with other agencies.

Cancellation of Property Taxes

   Commissioners cancelled the property taxes for the New York City and County mine, legal description S:12 R:73W, owned by Patsy Dudley of Commerce City, CO. There had been a tax lien sale certificate on the property but when the treasurer’s deed was requested, the property could not be located per the Gilpin County Assessor’s documentation. The lien holder demanded 30 days to prove that the property existed. As of March 21, 2013, the property was not proven to exist and the tax lien certificate was County redeemed; all money paid back to the lien holder. Taxes were added back to the schedule for tax years 2008 through 2012 and the Assessor deactivated the account and deemed the taxes uncollectable, which allows Commissioners to cancel them. Letters had been written dating back to 1997 in an attempt to quiet title and resolve a conflict of ownership. The is the first time this situation has happened, County Treasurer Alynn Huffman told Commissioners and the County’s attention was brought to it  only because the property ended up with a tax lien against it. The unpaid taxes that were canceled amounted to $418 for years 2008-2012. The money reimbursed to the purchaser of the tax lien was $1,007.

Communications Tower-Justice Center

  Commissioners postponed approval of an agreement for construction of a communications tower at the Justice Center because there are liability issues regarding the location of the tower guide wires. They will revisit the agreement after the issues have been resolved.

Pactolus Lake Road Variance

  The Boulder River Ranch Holding Company requested and received a temporary variance, good only for one year, to install a temporary vault-type Individual Sewage Disposal System (ISDS) at 255 Pactolus Lake Road. The system will serve a new structure housing a fishing equipment pro-shop on the first floor and a two-bedroom employee apartment on the second floor. The 2,000-gallon vault proposed will have an alarm to indicate high water and will be pumped as needed with the owner providing a copy of the maintenance contract and copies of pumping receipts upon request of the County. Commissioners had numerous questions regarding the choice of a vault system, even temporarily, and will revisit the variance in a year to evaluate, at that time, the best type of ISDS for the site.

Coyote Circle Variance

Lawrence Krug, Jr., owner of property at 1147 Coyote Circle, requested a variance to construct a 1,400 square foot garage/workshop four feet from the east property line. County regulations require a setback of 30 feet. County staff recommended denial of the variance as there are other feasible locations on the 2.86-acre site which would meet the setbacks and there are no physical constraints on the site preventing an alternate location. The County had received a letter from residents of one neighboring property who expressed concerns related to noise or use of the workshop/garage for other than personal use, however also said they have no objection to the variance as requested. Acting as the Board of Adjustment, Commissioners continued the public hearing to 10:00 a.m. April 23, 2013. They asked the applicant to have his land surveyed, redesign the garage so that it was not so close to the property line and bring a letter from the closest neighbors stating they had no objection to the variance.

  Floodplain Ordinance

  Following a public hearing and second reading, Commissioners approved Ordinance 13-01, a Floodplain Damage Prevention Ordinance. The County is required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to adopt updated floodplain regulations that comply with National Flood Insurance Program rules. Gilpin’s floodplain ordinance was last adopted in 1989. The point of the ordinance is to minimize flood losses. Failure to update the ordinance would result in an increase of insurance premiums for Gilpinites carrying flood damage policies and could lead to suspension of federally backed flood insurance policies.

The County’s updated ordinance is based on one obtained from the Colorado Water Conservation Board, which County Planner Ray Rears customized to meet Gilpin’s needs.   One of the revisions is that which requires a one-foot freeboard, the distance between the level of the floodplain and that of the lowest point of entry to a structure, for non-critical facilities. Critical facilities must have a two-foot freeboard. Basements will not be permitted for structures built within a floodplain, except when granted via variance. The updated ordinance also adds a section regarding the basis for establishing special flood hazard areas. They are identified by FEMA and are depicted on Flood Insurance Rate Maps.

The County Planner or County Building Official was designated as the Floodplain Administrator in charge of implementing and enforcing the ordinance’s provisions, including approval  and denial of permits for development within a floodplain area. Commissioners have final say should there be an appeal of the administrator’s decision. In Gilpin County the main floodplains are located in the Apex area and along the waterways such as near Tolland and the South Beaver Creek areas.

Thorn Lake School

  As Gilpin’s Historic Advisory Liaison, Rears asked for the go-ahead to apply for a grant to assess the historical Thorn Lake School and provide a plan for repairs and use of the structure. The County owns the one-room school house which was built in 1896. It currently sits on a trailer in Rollinsville. It’s been moved several times, once serving as a fire station in Rollinsville and then moved to Gap Road to serve Mid-County Volunteer Fire Department. Eventually it became an outbuilding and in 2007, it was moved again to Rollinsville with the intent of using it as a visitor center. The County acquired it in 2012. $720 was spent to stabilize the building so it could withstand the winds. The County would like to permanently locate the structure on County-owned land in Rollinsville, to be used as the focus of a future history park that would showcase the Rollinsville and Tolland Valley. Although the project was advertised online nationally, the only bid received was from a two-man team with one partner being Bret Johnson, a Denver architect who serves on Gilpin’s Historic Preservation Advisory Committee. Oversight of the project would be done by County staff. Commissioners approved the grant application allowing Rears to seek $1,900 from the Colorado State Historical Fund. The County will match it with $1,900 from County Historic Preservation Funds for a total project budget of $3,800.

Child Support Services MOU

  Commissioners approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Gilpin County and Jefferson County for services to establish paternity, establish support obligations and secure child support. For providing these services, Jefferson County will retain around $3,000 of federal and state funding that Gilpin would have been paid to provide the services. This has been the arrangement for several years as the County would have to spend much more to hire its own employee to do this work..

Insurance Assistance Guide Grant

Betty Donovan, Director of Gilpin County’s Department of Human Services, asked Commissioners to support a Colorado Health Benefit Exchange grant application to fund an Assistance Guide position to help Gilpinites secure health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The Act takes effect on January 1, 2014 with pre-enrollment beginning October 1, 2013. Gilpin is partnering with Clear Creek for this program. Clear Creek will act as the fiscal agency for both counties. Donovan said approximately $165,000 in funding is being sought to provide for a total of three positions for a period of 18 months. She estimated there are as many as 750 individuals in Gilpin County who could benefit from the assistance. With an Assistance Guide, these people will be able to get on-site individualized help to acquire insurance, rather than trying to do it themselves online or through a large call center. Commissioners directed County Manager Roger Baker to write a letter in support of the grant.

Forest Money for Schools

  Commissioners reviewed an Intergovernmental Agreement between the County and the two school districts located within Gilpin regarding National Forest Payments received by the County. Gilpin County will retain one-third of the funding and distribute the remainder to Gilpin County Re-1 and Boulder Valley School Districts in amounts based on the proportion of pupil enrollment during the preceding school year. In past years, the total amount received by the County has been around $25,000.

Gaming Impact Advisory Committee

  Commissioner Schmalz and JeffCo Commissioner Casey Tighe are in the running to fill a vacant seat on the Local Government Limited Gaming Impact Advisory Committee. This committee reviews applications and hears presentations from applicants for the annual Limited Gaming Fund grants. They then make recommendations to Reeves Brown, Director of the Department of Local Affairs and he makes the final decision on who receives grant funding and in what amount. Commissioners of Gilpin, and Boulder, Clear Creek, Grand and Jefferson Counties (the counties that are contiguous to Gilpin) were sent a ballot to vote for either Schmalz or Tighe. Each county gets one vote. Historically, Teller County, the other Colorado gaming county, has had a representative on this committee, and Gilpin has never had representation. Gilpin Commissioners marked their ballot, “Schmalz.”

Departmental Reports

  At the Parks and Recreation Department, the March report shows 1,371 individuals visited the Community Center for a total of 5,073 visits. Drop-In admission fees raised $3,026 in revenue and membership fees raised $389. The department is re-evaluating the Fitness program hoping to improve the selection of classes and be responsive to what patrons want. There is a survey available on the website. The youth basketball season ended. League play for Women’s volleyball begins in April.

The Public Works February report notes that a group from Fort Carson visited to see and learn about the Biomass system.  The month was a busy one for clearing snow and dealing with ice flows, specifically on Hughesville, South Beaver Creek, Wedgwood and Smith Hill Roads. Thirty-seven County vehicles received repairs or preventative maintenance costing a total of $5,343. Eighty-eight tons of trash was hauled away, at a cost of $1,872. That brings the year’s total of hauled-away trash to 178 tons. Forty-six tons of material has been recycled. The department is working on a Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment grant application to assist with recycling and composting. Fifty-four punch cards were sold in February.

The CSU Extension Office First Quarter report notes that Central City and Black Hawk Public Works Departments will be
operating weed control procedures independently this year. Extension Agent Irene Shonle had worked with both cities to successfully obtain grants for weed control from the Department of Agriculture. Back by popular demand is an upcoming series of classes on dealing with fire. A Fire Preparedness workshop has been scheduled for April 27 from 2-4 p.m. at the Community Center. Another class dealing with the newest science on home ignitions and how to create an attractive defensible space will be held May 11 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Nederland Community Center. A Living with Wildlife series is also in the works. Planting of the community garden is expected to start mid to late May.

Attorney’s Update

  County Attorney Jim Petrock said the Brannan Sand and Gravel litigation is scheduled to be heard in the Court of Appeals next week. Petrock explained that the Court could rule that Brannan has no standing in the case, and the case would be dismissed; the Court could rule that Brannan does have standing, which doesn’t mean they win the case but that they would likely appeal to the Supreme Court; or the Court could rule that the lower court, (the District Court) erred in its ruling and send the case back. The last scenario is not likely, said Petrock.

Work Sessions

  Following the business meeting, Commissioners met first with Public Health Coordinator Ann Marie Bailey, to discuss the Gilpin County Health Status Report completed in January. They will do more research and begin working on a long-term Public Health Improvement Plan. A future work session has been scheduled for Public Health on May 7, 2013.

Commissioners then met with Community Development Director Tony Petersen to discuss a request from Coal Creek Canyon Fire Protection District for Gilpin County to adopt the 2009 International Fire Code and 2003 International Urban Wildland Interface Code. Coal Creek Canyon’s department wants to require cisterns and sprinklers and flow requirements, stipulations which Commissioners have removed before adopting code for Gilpin County fire departments. The Coal Creek Canyon department currently serves 124 households in the extreme northeast corner of Gilpin County. Noting that Coal Creek Canyon Fire Protection District would be back sometime in the future to ask for approval of the 2012 International Fire Code, Commissioners decided to wait and address the issue then.

Heads Up

  Gilpin County Commissioners meet next on April 23, 2013.

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