Quandary: Are outhouses allowed in Summit County? | SummitDaily.com

Quandary: Are outhouses allowed in Summit County?

Oh wise and sure-footed one, why are these shopping carts parked here (at the grocery store) for years?

Well, like any over-crowding in Summit County, blame the tourists. You see, the grocery store where these carts wander keeps a daily count of the amount of customers who enter the store. This count is combined with a monthly shopping cart count and both are sent to the corporate office where number-crunching ninjas determine exactly how many carts are needed at each store.

The boom and bust nature of our tourist seasons leads to some serious fluctuation in how many carts are really needed. So what do you do with all the extras during the shoulder seasons? They are left on the sidewalk of purgatory to await their fate. Basically, we are stuck with the excess, so embrace our captive carts. Looking for a way to exercise? Cart-wrangling can be an excellent way to burn calories. Just strap on a headlamp and head for the parking lot late one night. Points are given and calories burned for every cart that successfully makes the trip from the parking lot to the store; extra points for the free-range carts not held in the corrals. Of course, this game comes with certain assumed risks so watch for cars, be smart and, as always, don’t blame the goat.

I hope you have the scoop. Does Summit County still allow outhouses? When, why, where?

Thank you,

Not a Pot

You can, in fact, still have an outhouse in Summit, but there are some serious restrictions so don’t just go out and build yourself a stink shack just yet. In fact, outhouses are only allowed on properties where they already exist, so if you are thinking future plans, you are you-know-what-out-of-luck. However, if your humble abode already has an outdoor facility, you might be able to keep it.

If the house-of-odor resides on a property that is not a full-time residence, it is still in the running for a resting place. However, the property must be limited-use occupency meaning that no one can live there for more than 90 consecutive days, or 120 days in a year. Also, if there is water supplied to your house for any other use, your crap chalet has to go. Cisterns count as water-supplied fixtures as well, since the issue here is the production of waste-water. As environmental health manager Dan Hendershott explained, outhouses are only acceptable because they do not produce waste-water and so do not leech into the ground. Once waste-water is added to the mix, the outhouse becomes a far less environmentally-friendly option.

Some other important points to note on how you conduct your business: your outhouse, or pit privy, must sit 4 feet above the soil and must be approved by the environmental health department before it can be used. Along with having other fixtures on site or a permanent resident, an outhouse planted in rocks would also be denied use. Even if you go through all of the requirements and find that your outhouse meets every regulation, please don’t just start using it. Potential outhousers must contact environmental health and receive written permission before all systems can go. For a full list of regulations visit http://www.co.summit.co.us/index.aspx?nid=554 and look at the onsite wastewater treatment system regulation of Summit County, Colorado.

Have a question for Quandary? Send an email to quandary@summitdaily.com

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