Brittany Le Tendre contacted me yesterday to tell me about a problem they are having as tiny house dwellers on their own private land. I will let Brittany tell you all about it.
My name is Brittany LeTendre, my profession involves protecting the land and natural resources. I’ve lived in Steamboat Springs for about 6 years now with my boyfriend Dalton Reed who was born and raised in the county. Dalton has built up a reputation over his 30 years of life in Routt County as “the guy who can fix and repair anything” and save it from the landfill.
We were actively looking for property in the community that was affordable and would allow us to create an off the grid organic hobby farm and we were fortunate enough to find a 5 acre parcel zoned “Agricultural Forestry” in Routt County. We bought this land knowing it is an “unbuildable lot” due to it being under 35 acres. Dalton and I had done our research before we bought this property knowing that things were going to be done a little differently. We asked Routt County planning director, Chad Phillips if we could have goats and chickens on the property and he confirmed that we can and that we can build a structure for these animals. Agricultural Forestry is a very open ended zoning in Routt County and allows many “uses by right”.
The zoning states that you are allowed to camp on any property zoned AF with no time limit as well as build structures that are related to an agriculture application. Routt County camping definition: The use of temporary living accommodations such as tents, teepees, yurts, motorhomes, and trailers.
Before we purchased this property we bought a 1964 International school bus that had already been converted into a motorhome in hopes of using it as a simple and unobtrusive way to enjoy our property.
On our property we have, a beautiful garden with potatoes, onions, and rhubard growing (use by right), chickens (use by right), a motorhome (which is stated as a use by right) and we plan on getting goats for milk and cheese . Our farm is completely off the grid. We are using solar panels (use by right), we’re hauling water, we’re using a composting toilet, and we’re hoping to build a wind generator (use by right). We’ve been abiding completely by the County’s standards.
One week after we drove the bus onto the property, Routt County sent us a letter in the mail. Therefore we called them and invited them to do a site visit so that they could see that we weren’t doing anything wrong. They visited and within a few hours they called us and informed us that we were in violation of the county regulations. They said that our motorhome needed to be moved everytime that we were not staying in it. They then proceeded to say that if we leave the motorhome on our property that it’s considered motor vehicle storage. We have other places to keep the motorhome in town, but this is where we will be using it – therefore, why would we need to remove it. They also stated that camping is “what any normal person would define as camping”.
I know that we’re not all real estate lawyers and county planning directors, but Routt County is asserting non-applicable regulations even though we’re in compliance. If the County’s intentions are now different from what is outlined in the purchase agreement, then who is at fault? We are simply trying to enjoy our new property under the terms of the purchase agreement.
I’ve started the petition “Routt County Planning Department: Stop the Routt to Elitism: Ask Routt County, Colorado to stop harassing Dalton Reed and other Pine Springs property owners” and need your help to get it off the ground.
Will you take 30 seconds to sign it right now? Here’s the link: