Gilpin Commissioners Sign Thorn School Grant Contract

John Scarffe

Gilpin County

Chair Buddy Schmalz opened The Gilpin County Board of County Commissioners regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 24, at the Gilpin County Courthouse with a moment of silence for recent tragedies outside our area and flood disasters on the Colorado Front Range. During his report, County Manager Roger Baker said Gilpin County Sheriff’s Officers had spent 155 hours enforcing road blocks as a result of the floods.

Public Works Director Curt Logsdon said County roads were in relatively good shape. “The biggest thing we’ve had is mud loss,” he said. Gap Road may not be smooth but it can be traveled, he said. Traffic has doubled from 700 cars per day to 1,400 per day after the flood.

County Planner Ray Rears gave the Commissioners a grant contract from the State Historical Fund for Thorn Lake School. The County was awarded a grant to prepare a site for the school and to ensure its final move to convey its importance to Rollisnsville and the Toland Valley. “Our goal is to place the structure in the ideal location, setting and design ensuring its significance and integrity is maintained, which this plan will help us achieve,” Rears said.

The total cost of the survey is $3,800, with $1,900 coming from the grant and the remaining $1,900 coming from County historic preservation funds. Rears asked the Commissioners to sign the contract, and Commissioner Connie McClain said this was a special project to her and moved to approve it. The Board approved signing the contract unanimously.

Community Development Director Tony Petersen updated the Board on the County’s housing study funded by a $50,000 community development block grant administered through the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA). Petersen said they have to fulfill one last step of holding this public hearing at a Board meeting, and everything else is done. The Commissioners don’t need to do anything.

Out of nine findings, three were most significant, Petersen said. Finding number two described the Gilpin County housing market as limited by type and price range. Housing is over-represented by single family homes priced between $150,000 and $250,000.

According to finding number three, Area Median Income, the County is in fairly good shape, Petersen said. The supply exceeds the demand for those earning 80 percent of the Area Median Income, but the supply for those earning less than 80 percent is relatively low, based on market studies and supply and demand. A deficit correction addressing lower income groups who can afford to pay an average of $675 per month would require housing subsidies.

According to finding number four, The County has deficiencies in housing for seniors and lower income groups. The demand level for those earning less than 80 percent is at 29 percent.

In response to a question from the public, Commissioner Gail Watson said she and Connie McClain are working with a number of seniors to form a board and do some fund raising for senior housing, but they are probably two years away. Other counties have a waiting list, and that’s why they are working on that now.

Next on the agenda, during a public hearing of the Board of Adjustments, Newell and Jane McNeil requested a variance to construct a deck at the property on 215 Weasel Way. An existing deck already encroaches on the exiting setback.

Newell McNeil said his neighbors don’t have any concerns about what he wants to do. The existing deck is at eight feet. “We want to build a deck at a lower elevation so we would only have three steps to get to the ground. Due to changes in our health this is a precautionary step. It gives better access to the back side of the house. The Board approved the variance request unanimously.

A group, His Followers Limited LP, requested a boundary line adjustment to move the property boundary between four mining claim parcels in the Russell Gulch area just below the Church Placer. It would give them more options of building sites on the property. “No new parcels are being created,” Ray Rears explained. “We’re just moving the lines around. It’s ultimately the Board’s discretion whether they want to approve this and whether you’re comfortable. I’m recommending it be approved and am trying to address all concerns.

A man who owns property accessing the mining claims approached the board and said he is concerned about access. Schmaltz told the man, “This is not a time for public comment,” and Rears explained that the County does not get involved in easement disputes. The adjustment was approved unanimously.

The meeting ended with an executive session to receive legal advice on potential litigation and to discuss potential acquisition of property. The next regular meeting of the Board will be on Tuesday, Oct. 8, at 9 a.m. at the Gilpin County Courthouse.

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