Gilpin County Commissioners planning ahead to manage expected growth

Affecting use of lands, historic preservation, and climate change

By Randy Beaudette

A few of the highlights of the February 4, 2020 Gilpin County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) regular meeting was the second reading of the newly revised Historical Preservation Ordinance, another resolution that will change Vacation Accrual hours in the County Employee Handbook, and yet another resolution committing Gilpin County to Colorado Counties for Climate Action.

Madam-Chair Gail Watson sounded the gavel promptly at 9:00 am to announce the meeting along with Commissioners Linda Isenhart and Ron Engels, County Attorney Brad Benning, County Manager Abel Montoya, and Deputy Clerk to the Board Sharon Cate.

Metroplex update

Chair Gail Watson and County Attorney Brad Benning attended a meeting via telecom with officials at the Capital that focused mostly on General Aviation issues. Commissioner Watson shared some of her take-a-ways from that meeting. First of all, “Apparently the FAA has no thresholds for noise levels. Also, the Aviation fuel (AVGAS) that is commonly used for non-jet powered aircraft still contains tetraethyllead (lead).” Note: there are some unleaded AVGAS blends available and are designated as unleaded blends. (Wikipedia). Ms. Watson contacted State Representative KC Becker and State Senator Tammy Story to see if they would conduct a similar forum to discuss the Denver Metroplex Plan and include all the counties and municipalities that are impacted by this initiative. Attorney Benning didn’t have much to add except that he met with State Senator Story’s aids and they said Ms. Story is open to further meetings and talking about Gilpin County’s issues concerning the Metroplex.

Historic Preservation Commission (Ordinance 19-01)

  Gilpin County Commissioners approved the second reading, with corrections, of the Ordinance regarding Gilpin County Historic Preservation. The purpose of the document is to enhance our community’s local resources through the protection and preservation of the County’s architecture, cultural, and heritage historical properties, historical districts, and their settings by establishing appropriate regulation and incentives. The intention of the document is to create a reasonable balance between private property rights and public interest in preserving the County’s unique character through the nomination of the various sites for preservation. The ordinance also changes the name of the Historical Commission from The Historical Preservation Advisory Commission to the Historical Preservation Commission (HPC) and is comprised of all the members from the former Commission.

Boundary Line Adjustment (BLA 20-01)

Tami Archer from the Gilpin County Community Development Office presented a Boundary Line Adjustment (BLA 20-01) on behalf of Carl Schembri for Bonanza Land L.L.C. for properties in the Russel Gulch area. The applicant is requesting approval of moving the boundary line between two parcels, the Jefferson Lode (Parcel A) and Prompt Pay Lode (Parcel B) further southeast. This will allow the applicant to retain ownership of the historic Prompt Pay shaft house which sits on the property line between the two parcels and will create access to a parcel that is currently land locked. Parcel A will be designated as Parcel II covering .99 acre and Parcel B will be designated as Parcel I at 2.15 acres. Gilpin County Commissioners approved BLA 20-01 unanimously.

Vacation Accrual changes for County Employees (Resolution 20-02)

Gilpin County BoCC unanimously approved Resolution 20-02 that would change the Gilpin County Employees Handbook concerning Vacation Accrual. Currently the County Manager needs to approve waivers if an employee has accrued over 208 hours in any given pay period. The new wording will no longer require a waiver; employees may continue to accrue vacation hours without the potential by-weekly deadline of use or reduction of accrued vacation hours. If accrued hours over 208 are not used in the upcoming calendar year, the hours over 208 shall be forfeited the final payroll of the year.

Colorado Communities for Climate Action (Resolution 20-03)

A Resolution was introduced to have Gilpin County join the Colorado Communities for Climate Change Action. Colorado Communities for Climate Change Action or CC4CA is a coalition of 32 counties and municipalities across Colorado advocating for effective state climate policy. CC4CA members span the Western Slope and the Front Range. CC4CA is an increasingly influential organization at the State Capital that regularly meets with state legislatures and is invited to testify at legislative hearings, and has played a consequential role on climate related legislation during the 2019 session. The possible impacts of climate change on communities are less water, less snow, extreme weather events, infrastructure damage, health risks, and an increase of wildfire events. Commissioner Gail Watson will be representing Gilpin County with Commissioner Ron Engels named the alternate. Gilpin County Commissioners approved Resolution 20-03 unanimously.

Comprehensive Plan Proposal

Gilpin County BoCC also approved a contract between Gilpin County DJT Design Inc. for the development of an integrated Comprehensive Plan for the County. There are multiple phases and tasks of this project that will need to be accomplished, including four public input meetings, before the Comprehensive Land Use plan is implemented. Comprehensive Planning is a process that determines the County’s goals and aspirations in terms of community development. The result is called a comprehensive plan that outlines and regulates public policies on transportation, utilities, land use, recreation, and housing. Comprehensive plans typically encompass large geographical areas, a broad range of topics, and will cover long-term projects. Total compensation to DJT Design will be no more than $425,810 for two years with the majority of the costs being absorbed by multiple grants.

Legal Status Report

County Attorney Brad Benning reported that the County is currently engaged in a pending lawsuit stemming from a traffic stop by a Gilpin County Sheriff’s Deputy. The plaintiff is citing a First Amendment issue (Freedom of Speech), and a Fourth Amendment issue (Unreasonable search and seizure) called a 1983 action.

Three different violations have been sent out concerning the property located on Old Hughesville Road which include a violation of the camping ordinance, trash violation, and an inoperable unscreened vehicle on the property. The property owners have complied with all the violations and Mr. Benning agreed to send out a submissive settlement agreement.       

NOCO Places 2050 Work Plan

An informational presentation by NOCO Places 2050 Steve Coffin and Project Manager Alex Alma was held in the chambers for the Commissioners and those in attendance. NOCO Places 2050 collaborates to protect and conserve natural and cultural resources, while providing equitable access to the quality recreation experience for current and future generation.

Colorado’s Front Range is growing. From 2010 to 2018, the 7-county Denver metro area added 400,000 new residents, or an average of 50,000 people every year, increasing the total population to 3.2 million. Another 285,000 people are expected to move here by 2025, and by 2050, the area is projected to grow to more than 4.2 million.

Many of these people are doing what Coloradans have enjoyed for generations – heading to Colorado’s public lands to ski, hike, camp, fish, and otherwise recreate. Though Colorado’s population is growing, our mountains aren’t, and therein lies the challenge. Our exploding population is straining the capacity of our public lands, negatively impacting our wildlife and natural resources, and putting at risk what makes our state so special – our ability to enjoy our mountains and all they offer.

Managing this growth and its impacts requires a systemic change in the way our public lands are managed. It requires an approach that is:

  • Based on core values of stewardship, conservation, sustainability and equity with a focus on ensuring a positive recreational experience.
  • Focused on addressing issues and needs that are critical to protecting Colorado’s mountains, including watershed health, wildlife management, and ensuring access for all – utilizing a thoughtful and deliberate approach.
  • Holistic – Federal, state, and local governments must work together to identify ways they can cross bureaucratic boundaries to more effectively and efficiently allocate and share resources. Moreover, this issue is not limited to land managers; outdoor recreation interests must also be involved, and ultimately the approach must include transportation, tourism, economic development, and other interests whose decisions have a direct impact on the number of people visiting our public lands.
  • Adaptable – We can’t predict with certainty what Colorado will look like in the future or how recreational demands may change. We need an approach that is adaptable over the long-term so it can manage this uncertain future.
  • Proactive and deliberate – Constrained resources at the federal, state and local levels have resulted in a reactive approach to land management. To protect our mountains, we need a strategy that is proactive and deliberate.
  • Financially Sustainable – This approach must identify ways to provide the necessary resources and support, financial and otherwise, that will ensure that the protection and enhancement of public lands, wildlife, and the Colorado outdoor experience can be endurable over the long-term.

The focus of this group will be on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, but it is hoped that the model and approach that is developed will be replicable to other problem areas in Colorado.

(Source: NOCO Places 2050 Revised Problem Statement dated April 19, 2019)

Gilpin County Commissioner Gail Watson serves on the NOCO Places 2050 Executive Team. Gilpin County along with U.S. Forest Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, National Park Service, and surrounding counties have all signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work jointly on this collaborative project.

Approval of Minutes

Gilpin County Commissioners approved the Meeting Minutes from the January 21, 2020 regular meeting and the January 23, 2020 work session.

Executive Session

Gilpin County Commissioners recessed into Executive Session per C.R.S. 24-6-402 (4) (a) regarding the purchase, acquisition, lease, transfer, or sale of any real, personal, or other property interest; and CRS 24-6-402(4)(e) determining positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations; developing strategy for negotiations; and instructing negotiators;

Next Meeting

The next regular meeting will be February 18, 2020 at 9:00 am at the Gilpin County Courthouse, 203 Eureka, Central City, Co. For more information visit

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