Commissioners relax land use rules for fire victims

By Garrison Wells Published: July 2, 2013 | 5:10 pm 0

At least the residents sifting through the ashes of the Black Forest fire won't have to worry about red tape, as well.

The El Paso County commissioners approved a resolution that suspends certain land use rules so residents in the midst of clean-up and rebuilding can live in recreational vehicles and mobile homes while they rebuild.

Residents are recovering from the Black Forest fire that destroyed 511 structures and burned 14,280 acres.

They're cleaning up debris, sifting though the ashes for valuables and looking at rebuilding homes, outbuildings and other structures destroyed or damaged by the blaze.

Relaxing land use regulations in that area "keeps coming up in every encounter we have with people," said Darryl Glenn, the county commissioner for the Black Forest area.

Glenn has taken the lead in organizing the county's Black Forest Long Range Recovery Planning Committee to help residents as they struggle to return to their properties.

The commissioners pushed the decision through quickly to help speed up recovery, Glenn said.

In some cases, ready to get on with their lives, residents were already taking things into their own hands.

Last weekend, "recreational vehicles apparently moved in by the streamload," said Mark Gebhart, deputy director for the county's Development Services Department.

To get the word out, a meeting has been set for Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon at Mountain Springs Church to provide residents with details of the suspension of land use rules and answer questions.

"We especially wanted to get this information out before the July 4th weekend because we know that many residents are working on these issues over the weekend," he said.

The suspension only applies to properties with damaged or destroyed homes.

Residents who use RVs or mobile homes will get a six-month and one-year review to make sure that rebuilding is continuing on the properties.

In the meantime, a June 28 meeting that focused on debris removal and burned trees can be viewed on the El Paso County You Tube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_d3yLZKtpg and additional recovery information can be found at www.BFFassistance.com.

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