If you were in downtown Durango on Tuesday morning and confused about people protesting something called “1041 Powers,” you’re not alone.
“The community hardly knows anything about it,” said Dan Percell, one of the protesters.
For the past year, La Plata County has been considering adopting some 1041 Regulations. The Board of County Commissioners held a hearing Tuesday on the proposed regulations, where residents who showed up voiced overwhelming opposition.
1041 Regulations are a Colorado law enacted in 1974 that allow local governments to have more control over large-scale projects in their jurisdiction. The state created the law at the request of counties, said County Commissioner Julie Westendorff.
“Counties felt like the state was not making decisions with local input,” she said.
Now, 60 of Colorado’s 64 counties have adopted some part of the 1041 Regulations, which essentially function like a permitting process.
La Plata County currently has none, and instead uses a Class 2 permitting process for large projects, which county officials say is inadequate. Megan Graham, spokeswoman for the county, said current codes are more geared toward rural areas and subdivisions, not large-scale development.
1041 Regulations have two main working points. First, they allow local governments more say over projects proposed from outside entities, including state and federal organizations, which doesn’t exist now. And, they allow for a wider range of considerations for proposed large-scale developments, like airports or major water-treatment plants.
1041 Regulations do not apply to small-scale or residential properties, county officials stressed Tuesday. And, because the regulations apply only to large-scale developments, they are rarely used. Summit County, for instance, has used 1041 Regulations only six times in the past couple decades.
Sheryl Rogers, county attorney, said one good example is the Colorado Department of Transportation’s realignment of the U.S. Highway 550 interchange. As it stands under current code, the county was able to provide only input and suggestions, but CDOT doesn’t have to take them into consideration.
1041 Regulations, however, would have required a process at the local level, where officials could have more oversight over the particulars of the project, like site location or potential impacts to businesses.
In another example, Rogers said Eagle County, through the use of 1041 Regulations, was able to stop Colorado Springs from diverting and taking water out of the county.
Westendorff added that during the permitting of GCC Energy’s King II coal mine a few years ago, county officials were not able to take into account the economic benefit continuing the mine would have on the community under current code.
1041 Regulations, she said, would change that.
“The majority of what these proposed regulations talk about … is to allow for local residents’ voices to be heard,” she said.
1041 Regulations have 10 types of land-use activities that can be adopted. La Plata County officials proposed adopting eight, which include:
Major new domestic and sewage treatment systems.Major extensions of existing domestic water and sewage treatment systems.Site selection and construction of major facilities of public utility.Efficient use of municipal and industrial water projects.Site selection and development of solid-waste disposal sites.Site selection of airports.Site selection of highways, interchanges and collector highways.Site selection and development of new communities.Protesters took to the streets an hour before Tuesday’s meeting, saying the regulations are a form of government overreach.
“It’s not legal and it’s not constitutional,” said Dewey Baird, a rancher who lives near Ignacio.
Dave Peters, a Durango resident, said 1041 Regulations would have a negative impact on new businesses and development in the county. And Lorene Bonds, whose family are longtime La Plata County ranchers, said the proposed rules are an example of county overreach.
“It violates our private properties,” she said. “Period.”
About 100 people packed into the county Administration Building for the hearing.
During public comment, residents stressed the 1041 Regulations should be tightened and language made clearer so it applies only to large-scale development. Residents also called for more time to review the proposed regulations and a larger community meeting.
“We generally are in favor of the concept for large-scale projects,” said Brittany Vogenthaler, executive officer for Home Builders of Southwest Colorado. “But as we read it now, these regulations are not friendly to business and development.”
Others who spoke during public comment were outright against the new regulations.
“This is just insane,” said Brett Wells, a county resident. “The people of this county are not going to be subjected to this kind of stuff.”
Terah Kelsey, who lives in Ignacio, said some county residents want fewer regulations in general.
“More regulation is not what’s desired,” she said. “That adds more cost, more fees, more red tape.”
Some residents also criticized the county for not being transparent in drafting the 1041 Regulations. Graham, however, said there have been three public meetings since February and said the draft codes were made public in July.
Westendorff said county officials will take a couple of weeks to consider residents’ concerns and tweak the proposed regulations. The matter is expected to be taken up again at 10 a.m. Oct. 1.