County tells Black Forest to clean it up


The Black Forest Fire left many homes in ruins. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • The Black Forest Fire left many homes in ruins.

After the Black Forest Fire, El Paso County Commissioners let some things slide.

A lot of people had burned-up rubbish on their land, construction equipment, and trailers that provided temporary shelter while they rebuilt. Temporary exceptions to normal code in the area allowed residents to keep that stuff on their land for two years, in an effort to give them time to recover. 

But County Commissioners decided unanimously today to let those exceptions expire. That means most residents will need to clean up their act, though the Commissioners did allow exceptions to be made on a case-by-case basis.

Apparently, the decision has made some neighbors — who feel that the area is becoming trashed — happy. But others say the decision puts them in a terrible position, as the continue to try to rebuild their lives.

Read on for more:

Development Code Exceptions for Black Forest Fire Properties Allowed to Expire

Temporary Exceptions May Be Allowed After Administrative Review on a Case by Case Basis

El Paso County, CO, Tuesday July 7, 2015 – The Board of El Paso County Commissioners today confirmed the immediate expiration of code exceptions which were put in place make it easier for residents to rebuild after the 2013 Black Forest Fire. The Board’s unanimous decision allows the Development Services Department to work with individual property owners with extraordinary circumstances on an individual basis to allow them to continue to live in recreational vehicles (RVs) for a limited time pending the completion of construction work on their homes.

The Board heard from a number of Black Forest residents who are in the process of rebuilding bur still living in RV’s due to financial hardships, pending insurance litigation and medical issues. The Board’s decision gives those residents with active building permits, pending insurance settlements or other extraordinary circumstances the opportunity to work with the Development Services Department on a case by case basis.

The Board also heard from residents who expressed concerns that some of the properties burned in the fire are still littered with rusting fire debris, burned out vehicles, multiple trailers and piles of demolition and construction materials creating localized blight and reducing the value of their properties. With the Board’s decision today, County Code Enforcement Officers are directed to resume regular enforcement procedures associated with the rubbish ordinance and all other applicable Land Development Code provisions in the Black Forest area.

Commissioner Darryl Glenn, who represents the Black Forest Area, noted that allowing the two-year old exceptions to expire provides clear direction in establishing a way forward for the entire community. Commissioner Dennis Hisey added, “It’s time to go after the rubbish; the rusting debris from burned out houses that still exists on some of those properties.” Commissioner Amy Lathen added, “We always make a concerted effort to work with those who are suffering but this allows our staff to get in there and begin working with property owners to clear out the rubbish.”

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