Letter to the Editor: Summit County should assist, not hinder, projects aimed at adding workforce housing

Richard Mason
Summit County

Last weekend, I attended a memorial luncheon my neighbor had put together for his wife of 47 years. They lived in their beautifully maintained and manicured Peak 7 home for well over four decades. While it was nice to catch up with neighbors and to meet traveling relatives, I left the luncheon almost incensed with news I learned during the event.

With his wife’s passing, my neighbor’s social security family income has been sliced in half. Having run a local small business and raising a family in the county, he is finding his savings are not going as far as he would like. To supplement his income, he had decided to rearrange some “interior” walls within his home, install an additional kitchen and offer an accessory apartment to the local workforce. He began that process in March of this year … and to date has not been able to make it through the county’s planning department to receive a building permit.

The list of hoops that he and his architect have had to jump through has been endless and nonsensical. Some prime examples include:

  • Unnecessary surveys and driveway gradient analysis
  • Exterior landscape retaining wall changes
  • unnecessary fees and services
  • $16,917.68 water tap fee

While I haven’t had bad experiences with the county’s planning department on my two residential projects (started 1999 & 2014), I’m wondering if something has changed. Given the housing shortage, and the drastic changes being discussed for land use approvals which will make little to no difference in housing availability … you would think that staff would welcome my neighbor with open arms. I am so surprised that fees are not being waived, and that incentives are not available from Vail or Breckenridge Grand Vacations since it is more than likely that their employees will be housed there.

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