Burn permit revisions fanned ahead

John Scarffe, Gilpin County.  A proposal to revise the County’s burn permit ordinance passed its first reading during a regular meeting of the Gilpin County Board of County Commissioners at 9 a.m. on December 5, 2017, at the Central City Hall. The Gilpin County Courthouse, the Board’s usual meeting place, is under renovation.


County Attorney Jim Petrock said this is the first reading on revisions to an existing ordinance regarding the open burning permit system. “All we need is a motion to schedule the second reading of this ordinance.”


At the Board’s November 14 meeting, Gilpin County Sheriff Bruce Hartman told the Board that the County’s burn permit ordinance needs to be updated. “Some people think they can burn in the summer, but we wanted to reinforce that they can’t, and maybe it was time to redo the ordinance.” A letter from Timberline Fire Chief Paul Ondr points out that “While this has worked well for many years, it is time for a few minor changes.”


Ondr and Hartman agree the changes are needed, and if the changes are made, Ondr will work with the Sheriff’s office and County staff to update the permit application, Ondr wrote. The ordinance in place today states that open burning of slash piles is prohibited in the County unless persons obtain an open burning permit.


Uniform permit applications will be provided to all fire districts in the County. Applications will be reviewed, and permits issued by the district with jurisdiction over the burn site.


A proposed revision would add: “All applicants must obtain an ‘Open Burning Permit,’ from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment prior to applying for a County permit.” Ondr wrote that this is a requirement of the Department but was not addressed in the ordinance.


The ordinance specifies slash pile construction. Another proposed revision would change the maximum size from 8×6 feet to 8×8 feet. The revision states: “Piles shall be constructed so that the maximum size of the pile does not exceed eight feet in diameter by eight feet in height.”


Clarifying a common question about burning in barrels, the revised ordinance would state: “Burning in drums or barrels is never allowed. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment does not allow this due to incomplete combustion from lack of oxygen that creates excessive odors, toxic pollutants and smoke.”


Slash pile burns cannot occur during fire bans and can occur only with a minimum of four inches of snow cover. Burning slash during a snow event is encouraged as a means to manage smoke emissions, according to the current ordinance.


A revision would add that piles should be ignited between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and extinguished by sunset. “No pile burning is permitted outside the above time frames.”


Board Chair Gail Watson asked if it is possible to get the permit through our department. Jennifer Hinderman, business manager for Timberline Fire Protection District, said the state permit is required.


It goes to Timberline for review. Hinderman reviews it and sends out someone to check the piles. Commissioner Ron Engels said this has come a long way since the first draft.


The Board approved the ordinance on first reading and scheduled the second reading and public hearing for January 9, 2018, at 10 a.m.


The Board denied a 2016 petition for tax abatement from 321 Gregory Street, LLC, Grand Casino in Central City, and approved a 2015 and 2016 tax abatement petition from 132 Lawrence Street, LLC, Z Casino in Black Hawk.


Petrock said he is recommending denial for the petition from 321 Gregory Street because the petitioner did not own the property when the taxes were payable. This is only for the 2016 tax year.


County Assessor Anne Schafer said that Grand Z, formerly The Reserve, has a lack of standing. Engels said the valuation on Grand Z has changed in 2017 so the owner will see the decrease.


Schafer said a protest was filed in 2017. It was stipulated or adjusted so there will be no refund request in 2017.


The petitioner said he has a copy of their contract that states the buyer can petition for a refund of taxes. Petrock said: “We’ve reviewed that, but you can put it in the record.


“We do not believe this contract allows abatement during the years the seller owns the property.” The Board denied the petition.


Schafer said that 132 Lawrence Street, formerly Bullwackers, is now the Z Casino property. It was developed by Mark Hemmeter in 1992 at a price of nearly $30 million. It was purchased by Penn National Gaming for $7.1 million in 2003, but the enterprise value was impacted by large lease payments for an adjoining property.


The property was then acquired in 2014 by a quit claim deed by 132 Lawrence LLC as part of a company purchase from Penn National. Records show a recorded price of $5.129 million. Also as a part of the quit claim deed, 132 Lawrence acquired Silver Hawk, a former kids club, and the parking lot.


The assemblage was acquired by 132 Lawrence St for a combined recorded price of $12.863 million for 2016. The property was appraised by the taxpayer’s consultants, BBG, for a value of $11.46 million.


The Assessor’s office agreed to the value of $11.5 million for the assemblage for both 2015 and 2016. The abatement is in excess of $10,000 so Shafer brought it to the Board, and the Board approved the abatement at the $11.5 million value.


The Board approved an Animal Shelter agreement with Clear Creek County for Charlie’s Place with an annotation of changes. Watson said the Board has discussed this and had changes in the agreement, but the Clear Creek County Board already approved it, so she recommends approval.


Engles said to accept it as it is but ask staff to annotate the changes they want to see. The agreement contains a couple of references to construction and completion, which are out of date since the facility is completed.


Watson brought up County owned property at Colorado Sierra Alpha Unit #1. “When the county receives property, do we have one year to return it to the tax rolls?” she asked. Petrock said the County is supposed to list it in a year but does not have to sell it.


Watson said, “We have a lot of property the county owns that we need to discuss. This particular property is a lot that is a one-acre parcel in our most dense area. We should either sell it or conserve it — do a conservation easement.”


Commissioner Linda Isenhart said that places in the area sell at a pretty good price. A nice park with a picnic table would be nice.


Watson said that it would be County owned for anyone who has access to it. It would create a nice park.


Engels said; “If we want to just put up a sign and make it available to the public at minimal investment, I’d be willing to move forward with that now — a one-acre pocket park.”


Isenhart agreed: “I’d like to give that land a bit of a breather. It’s a good idea to have some space.”


Watson said, “Just a park bench and a small sign.” Petrock suggested letting the adjacent neighbors know.


Watson said: “It’s not required but it would be nice. We’ll revisit it at the next meeting. We should clean up the property the County owns.”



(Originally published in the December 14, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)