The Mancos Town Board continued its discussions on encroachment permits and looked over a draft ordinance at its meeting last week.
Encroachment permits are issued by the town to allow another property owner to “encroach” on the town’s right of way. The draft ordinance drawn up by staff was based on the town of Ouray’s.
The town’s public property includes streets, alleys, sidewalks, curbs, gutters, curb walks and rights of way.
No action was taken at the July 10 meeting, as staff members were just looking for board feedback.
“This item will most likely be discussed at least one more board meeting before ordinance adoption is recommended due to the complexity of this issue,” Town Administrator Heather Alvarez wrote in a staff report.
A “fixed encroachment” refers to “an encroachment upon public property that cannot be moved by a person without the assistance of tools, machinery and/or equipment.” A “temporary encroachment” is defined as an encroachment “that can be easily moved, changed or removed by a person without the assistance of tools, machinery and/or equipment,” according to the draft.
A fixed encroachment needs to be approved by the Town Board, while a temporary one requires staff approval.
The topic was broached at a May board meeting when local resident Brent Schoradt sought to convert a backyard structure into an accessory dwelling unit. He needed permission because the structure encroached upon town property by 0.9 feet.
In June, the board approved a revocable permit for Schoradt. In May, Schoradt said he wanted a more permanent guarantee that the permit wouldn’t be revoked, but he also wanted to begin the remodel this summer – before the town arrived at a decision on the encroachment issue. So the revocable permit was issued to allow him to move forward with his project.
During last week’s meeting, board members discussed the draft ordinance, with Alvarez drawing their attention to fiber conduit installations, temporary encroachment procedures and whether an added dwelling unit should be required in exchange for a permit. The idea behind the last item – which was raised at a prior board meeting – was for the permit issuance to help create needed housing in the community.
“It’s a great idea in theory, but in practice we don’t know how to make that work,” Alvarez said.
This item was taken out after board members said that it wasn’t fair to force homeowners to create an ADU when all they wanted was to be in compliance with land use requirements.
They also talked about the need to better regulate the process of issuing building permits. Trustee Cindy Simpson worried that fixed encroachment permits could encourage people to build improperly – using an encroachment permit as a sort of Band-Aid if they “accidentally” encroached on town land.
“That shouldn’t be allowed,” Simpson said. “I see this as trying to get the liability issues dealt with in terms of existing encroachments.”