Pitkin Trustee's Special Meeting: July 17, 2018

by Pitkin News july 18, 2018


Special Meeting

In a busy week for local town boards a number of issues have been addressed. Earlier this month the Town Council approved an ordinance that places Pitkin under fire ban classifications set by Gunnison County. Whenever a fire ban is adopted or a stage altered by the County Commission, Pitkin follows suit. The ordinance did not specify enforcement procedures so at a special meeting on July 17 the Town Council passed an ordinance that names the officers of the Pitkin Volunteer Fire Department as Town Fire Marshals. The Fire Chief, Assistant Chief, EMS Director, Captain, and two Lieutenants are empowered to enforce fire bans and work with local residents and visitors to assure compliance. If necessary, the Fire Marshals may issue citations for violations, requiring an appearance before Municipal Court and possible fines. Such action would require the Town Council to formally hire a judge and implement a process for holding Municipal Court sessions.

At the special meeting the Trustees also passed as resolution to satisfy Gunnison County and state requirements to hold what is termed a coordinated election. The resolution paves the way for the proposed sales tax increase in Pitkin to appear on the Gunnison County general election ballot November 7. Only Pitkin voters will cast a vote on the proposal. Specific details of the proposed sales tax increase are still under discussion by the Town Council.

Board of Health Meeting

Meeting as the Board of Health on July 17 the Town Council worked on several issues related to the Town’s OWTS (septic system) regulations. The Town’s OWTS ordinance provides that an Environmental Health Agent and a Town Sanitarian are authorized to implement and enforce septic system regulations. However, neither the Town’s ordinance nor Regulation 43 (Colorado law regulation OWTS) provide a definition of the positions or the responsibilities. Mayor New suggested the Council should define the duties of the Environmental Health Agent and make a determination as to whether or not that should be a paid position. It was discussed that prior to implementation of Regulation 43 there was a volunteer Environmental Health Clerk who provided notification to property owners of the need to have systems inspected and kept compliance records. Mayor New believes duties need to be more detailed and serve as a check and balance in assuring that OWTS regulations are followed. Brad Wick noted that the OWTS ordinance requires that the Board of Health (Town Council) assure compliance with Regulation 43 rules, but that it is unclear what specific process is to be followed. Mr. Wick suggested that rather than define positions at this time the Board should develop a clear understanding of implementation procedures and then define duties of clerks or sanitarians charged with administering the regulations. It was agreed that in the future the Board will work to clarify procedures and develop position descriptions and that in the interim an individual will be designated as Interim Health Clerk to maintain inspection records and notify property owners of required inspections.

The Board of Health next took up the issue of several OWTS systems which have not been finalized, including the system at 724 State Street which was the subject of a hearing in June. The Town is working to finalize the permitting process for these systems and the Board discussed how to secure the necessary information to assure compliance. It was agreed that there may be a need to further clarify site inspection requirements during actual installation of the system. No specific action was taken as the Board will continue to seek final approval of the subject systems. During this discussion it was noted by Trustee Suzy Metzler that the current inspection form for existing systems seems to indicate that inspection ports are required on leach field lines. Ms. Metzler noted that Regulation 43 does not require inspection of existing systems but the Town has done so for over 20 years. However, the requirement to install inspection ports is cumbersome and causes additional unnecessary expense to property owners. The Board agreed to clarify inspection requirements for existing systems.

The Board of Health received a complaint concerning the waste treatment system at 702 State Street owned by Ramon Reed. The waste treatment system at 702 State Street consists of an incinerating toilet and gray water disposal system. The complaint alleges the system is subject to periodic inspection by a NAWT (National Association of Wastewater Technicians) certified inspector and questions whether or not gray water is properly treated. While the Board of Health members agree that all systems, including alternate systems such as incinerating toilets and Arrowhead systems, should be inspected, it was noted that the Town’s OWTS regulations provide no inspection criteria for such systems. Further, state guidelines and the NAWT procedures provide no specific inspection criteria. The Board struggled with whether or not 702 State Street is in violation given the lack of inspection guidelines. Mr. Reed commented that the Town’s OWTS regulations do not appear to require inspection of his system as it is not a traditional septic system (Onsite Wastewater Treatment System) as he has no septic tank. Mr. Reed also noted that the current regulations took effect in February and at a minimum he had three years to comply with inspection requirements, if they in fact apply. The Board agreed that before determining if a complaint hearing is necessary several steps should be taken. All property owners with alternate treatment systems need to be notified that the new regulations require periodic inspection of their systems. The Board needs to gain a better understanding of alternate systems and identify inspection criteria to assure they are functioning properly. In the interim, the Board proposed, and Mr. Reed agreed, that the Town Sanitarian Rand Makowski visit 702 State Street to inventory the system components and review the specific complaint points in relation to what type of system exists. The Board of Health will discuss these issues at its next meeting and proceed as necessary depending on the information provided by the Town Sanitarian.

You may listen to the audio recording of this meeting by following this Link.

Zoning Board Meeting

On July 16 the Board of Zoning Adjustment met to consider a variance request from John Wise for a setback reduction on the 7th Street frontage of his property. Mr. Wise desires to install a weather port between his house and the street, to be located adjacent to the right-of-way. The street right-of-way is 66’ and his property line is approximately 18’ from the improved street surface. Mr. Wise indicated that he would remove the weather port at such time as the Town had a need to use the full 66’ right-of-way. After discussing the request and the criteria for approval of a variance, the Zoning Board failed to approve the request on a 2-2 vote as one member was absent. Mr. Wise acknowledged the decision and indicated he would not appeal the decision to the Town Council and that he would abide by the decision of the Zoning Board.

You may listen to the audio recording of the ZBA meeting by following this Link.