Work on property near CB South issued county citation – The Crested Butte News

Intended agricultural use, county approved barn

[  By Katherine Nettles  ]

Bulldozers, diggers and other heavy construction equipment have caught the attention of many drivers and bikers along Highway 135 just south of Crested Butte South over the past two months as the large patch of land east of the highway has undergone changes that have troubled neighbors. as well. The plot, which was once owned by the Allen family and changed hands last year, has been approved by Gunnison County for certain developments like the construction of a farm barn, but the new owner has been given an order to shutdown this month for removing excess building materials. property without a permit. It also navigates a Conservation Easement (CE) held by the Crested Butte Land Trust over part of the property.

Hunter Family Real Estate Ltd. owns the 520+ acre parcel of land, described in Gunnison County records as being south of Allen Homesites and CB South. Stewart Hunter contacted the Crested Mound News by email, confirming that his family purchased the ranch a year ago and intends to continue using the land primarily for agricultural purposes. “We are making various agricultural improvements and may make other residential improvements in the future,” Hunter wrote. “We live in the valley and I’ve spent most of my life in ranching.”

Hunter confirmed that 180 acres of the parcel are subject to a conservation easement with the CB Land Trust and a further 360 acres are not subject to any easements. A barn is approved for construction in the CE part of the property, but residential development is not.

According to Cathie Pagano, the county’s assistant director for community and economic development, Hunter submitted an agricultural exemption request for the construction of a barn structure described as 82 x 64 feet with a calculated total area of ​​5,727 square feet, including an attic and a covered side. area at 180 Upper Allen Road in June 2022. His office ruled the exemption met county standards and approved it in July “for storage and maintenance of ranch equipment, gear, feed for animals and livestock vaccination/castration, and branding equipment located on the farm,” according to the Notice of Approval.

“Gunnison County regulations allow exemptions for road construction permits, building permits, access permits and ground disturbance for properties and/or structures that meet the definition of a holding. agriculture and/or agricultural structure,” Pagano wrote in a statement.

However, Gunnison County issued a stop work order and notice of violation this month to Hunter for work outside of those parameters. Pagano explained that “removal of more than 350 cubic meters of material on the property” is a level of land disturbance that requires a land use change permit subject to administrative review, and although the owner has since submitted the required administrative review application, county staff has not yet reviewed it.

In a letter to Hunter dated Sept. 9, 2022, Gunnison County Senior Land Use Planner Rachel Sabbato wrote, “These parcels have been approved for an agricultural exemption in coordination with the conservation easement held by CB Land Trust and big game management by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. . Use of the parcels for anything other than what is defined as agriculture or farm structure is prohibited as defined in the Gunnison County Land Use Resolution (LUR) of each. Sabbato quoted that according to the land use resolution, “the cutting of roads or the construction and maintenance of a road that provides access only to an agricultural holding will be permitted.

“It is apparent from the heavy machinery and other miscellaneous building materials on the site that this parcel is used to support the mining of building materials which generates over 300 cubic meters,” she continued. “This was confirmed in the letter received from Tyler Harpel dated September 1, 2022. Use of the property for the extraction of building materials in excess of 300 cubic yards is not exempt under the Exemption Permit agricultural.

“All activity at this excavation site must cease immediately until this permit is issued,” Sabbato continued. Pursuant to the LUR, Sabbato described that a review fee of $3,054 would also be assessed, in addition to the necessary administrative review application fee.

Pagano said his office does not have specific CE information on any portion of the property, “But we are aware there is an easement on the property and the CB Land Trust owns the easement,” a- she declared.

CB Land Trust executive director Jake Jones said he had been in touch with Hunter somewhat over the past year, but it was relatively new territory for the Land Trust.

“It was kept in 1997 by the Allen family,” says Jones. “It has been preserved as a historic working landscape. The owner retained a number of rights in the agricultural conservation easement for agricultural purposes. »

Jones believes change is what people respond to. There is the presence of heavy construction equipment, piles and large berms built on the property which now obstruct the view of several neighbours. Some of those neighbors have contacted both the county and the Land Trust to express their dismay.

“I have heard many neighbors of the property asking for clarification on what can and cannot be done on the property. To me it is really important to define the authority of the Land Trust in protecting the easement of conservation against the county permitting process and, in this case, the agricultural exemption to the land use code,” Jones said.

“Conservation easements are complex; they are unique to each property,” he added. “The Land Trust takes its responsibility to protect our conservation easements very seriously and we also work hard with landowners to protect private property rights.”

Jones says that to her knowledge, no landowner has ever breached a conservation easement that violates the Land Trust. “The ranches we have in conservation are owned by historic landowners. This is the first time that something like this has happened, that a ranch has changed hands and the vision of this property has changed,” he said.

Each EC has its own legal wording, of course, and Jones pointed out that he hasn’t observed any easement violations on the property. But should a conflict arise, the Land Trust has general measures in place to deal with it. The first step, Jones said, is to notify a breach and then work to resolve the issue. If the issue is not resolved through these initial efforts, it will go to mediation, and if that is unsuccessful, the final step will be litigation. “We have never been in the position, to my knowledge, of having to argue to defend the terms of a conservation easement,” Jones reiterated.

Hunter did not comment on the stop order or details of any development on his property, such as roads or berms, but he did comment on the prominent event tent that has been erected in recent weeks. He said it was for a family party and then a wedding. County staff said there were no issues there because the county requires special event permits for events with more than 50 vehicles or 200 people, but weddings and funerals (which don’t not part of a business operation) are exempt from licensing requirements.

Kevin A. Perras