County mulls changes to blight ordinance |

County mulls changes to blight ordinance

Proposed additions include junk recreational vehicles, unused tires

A junk mattress and box spring left on the side of Highway 34 in fall 2017 prompted local citizens to lobby Grand County for more clearly defined blight codes. After several days on US 34 someone spray painted “free bed bugs” on the side of the mattress, apparently as a joke.
Courtesy of Stan Spencer

After holding multiple workshops on the topic of blight over the last few years, Grand County’s Commissioners may soon be making changes to the county’s regulations.

On July 23, Grand County’s Commissioners convened a public workshop to discuss blight and several proposed changes to the county’s blight ordinance. Officials from Grand County’s Community Development department presented a series of proposed changes to the language contained within the county’s blight ordinances.

“We tried to clarify the definitions of what is considered blight in Grand County for ease of public understanding,” reads a memo from the Community Development department.

The current language in the county’s blight ordinance includes two separate provisions — one covering rubbish, junk, garbage, weeds and brush, and another covering structures that “present a substantial danger or hazard to public health.”

The proposed changes to the blight ordinance would create four specific subsections of the blight ordinance covering junk vehicles, junk recreational vehicles, unsafe structures, rubbish, junk and weeds.

While the county’s blight ordinance does not currently include a specific provision dealing exclusively with junk vehicles, junk vehicles are regulated under the blight ordinance covering rubbish, junk and other forms of trash.

The proposed change to the junk vehicle ordinance includes the addition of a sentence exempting vehicles that qualify as collectors’ cars, as defined under state statute. Officials from the County Development department noted owners of collectors’ vehicles can register those vehicles with the state and obtain an affidavit that would allow their vehicles to be exempted from the county’s blight ordinance.

Commissioner Kris Manguso noted during the discussion that agriculture equipment, like an old farm tractor, is exempt from all county blight ordinances.

The proposed blight changes also include an entirely new provision about junk recreational vehicles. The county’s current blight ordinance does not specifically regulate recreational vehicles and only includes clauses pertaining to vehicles in general. The proposed change would specifically define junk recreational vehicles as inoperable items, such as camp trailers, snowmobiles, boats and campers.

Among the issues that sparked Spencer’s concern about trash, blight and code enforcement was this building near his property in the Three Lakes region that contains an open well, which Spencer called a hazard for children.
Courtesy photo / Stan Spencer |

The proposed ordinance also covers unsafe structures and would include the addition of the word “dwelling,” as well as provisions for manufactured and mobile homes.

Officials from the County Development department noted that the current blight ordinance does not address the issue of mobile homes. County officials have also proposed adding an element within the section covering rubbish, junk and weeds to include unused tires.

The commissioners took no formal action on the proposed changes to the blight ordinance, but the topic is scheduled to come back before the commissioners on Aug. 5, when they could potentially vote to approve the proposed changes.

The topic of blight has been on the agenda for Grand County’s Commissioners at various times since at least late 2017.

In October of that year, a mattress and box spring were abandoned on the side of US Highway 34 near Grand Lake. Local citizen Stan Spencer brought the issue of the abandoned mattress to the commissioners as an example of Grand County’s ongoing blight problems.

Since then, Spencer has lobbied county officials for a more clearly defined blight code and for greater enforcement of existing blight regulations.

During the workshop, Spencer told the commissioners he thinks the county is on the right track, but he stressed his concerns about ongoing public safety issues related to blighted and abandoned structures.

Grand County Commissioner Rich Cimino lauded Spencer for his continued engagement on the issue.

“Thank you, Stan,” Cimino said. “You have been a very positive influence for the county.”

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