‘Cutting edge, but it’s not illegal’
EAGLE – Forget about paint colors. New homes in Eagle County will soon have to be some shade of green.Eagle County commissioners Peter Runyon and Arn Menconi Tuesday voted for a new set of building regulations called “Eco-Build.” Those regulations require all new single-family homes built in the county – but not its towns – to meet a host of requirements intended to reduce energy and water use, as well as cut down on the amount of stuff headed to the landfill.
The new regulations establish a “point” system new homes have to meet. Points are accumulated by recycling construction waste and using energy-efficient building techniques and appliances. Smaller homes have to hit lower point totals than bigger ones. Missing the mark means extra fees. New homes that rack up significantly more points than required can get a 25 percent break on building permit fees.Builders can also get points for using lumber taken from beetle-killed forests, but only if that wood is used in more than half of a home.
“In general, this is a concept that’s been well received,” said Jim Turnipseed, president of the Eagle Valley Home Builders Association.But, Turnipseed said, he and other association members are concerned the new regulations weren’t approved by the Eagle County Planning Commission. Without that vote, he said the homebuilders could only give the regulations their “qualified” support.The Roaring Fork Valley Regional Planning Commission did approve the regulations.
Commissioner Tom Stone voted against the regulations, in part because he believed they open up the county to possible lawsuits because the new rules apply only to single-family homes and duplexes, and not townhomes and condos as well.County attorneys Bryan Treu and Walter Mathews said the county would win any potential lawsuit, but acknowledged the regulations are a “gray area.” “It’s cutting edge, but it’s not illegal,” Mathews said.
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