Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Vicky Dorvee

County requests feedback on proposed farm land code changes


October 25, 2018

Earlier this year, the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) tasked Boulder County Land Use staff to review and amend present agricultural land use code. Last updated in 2012, several designated areas of the code were identified as being in need of revision.

In a letter to stakeholders and interested parties, Boulder County Land Use stated that several departments within the county “conducted an outreach project aimed at gaining a better understanding of the needs and issues of the agricultural community in Boulder County.” Based on the information gathered, changes have been proposed to the present land use code.

The county is asking for feedback by Oct. 25 on the suggested updates to the code. Late responses will be reviewed as permitted, the letter stated. There is a public hearing process through which changes will be considered. The hearings will be held in front of the Boulder County Planning Commission and later the BOCC, allowing for public comments. Times and dates of the public forums are yet to be announced.

Recommended changes fall under these categories: farm sales, farm events, demonstration events, season-extending agricultural structures and verified established farm use. The code changes are primarily to lift restrictions within the code.

Two of the most significant proposals would allow farm owners to build farm stands up to 500 square feet without requiring a site plan review and would reclassify season-extending structures, such as crop covering hoops/tunnels, so they would be permissible and exempt from undergoing a review process if the cumulative area of the hoops/tunnels are no more than 3,000 square feet and on a parcel of 5 acres or larger.

Restrictions on the number of allowable sales days per year would be lifted, as would limitations on particular products farms would be permitted to sell. Seventy percent of the products sold must be produce and the remaining 30 percent may be craft items under the proposed rules. Daily average visits would be expanded to 200, when there is a farm stand on the premises, versus the present allowable 150 visits per day.

With the intent to open up additional revenue opportunities, the code update proposes an increase in the number of allowable “secondary uses” each farm could hold to allow for 13 to 24 events per year, along with an increase in the allowable number of attendees to 150, up from the presently allowed 99. Secondary uses include weddings and farm to table dinners which were previously limited to six times per year or 12 times if the farm underwent a limited impact special review.

The new rules would also permit more attendees at farm camps, tours, and classes as well as more allowable sessions.

To learn more about the proposed agricultural land use changes, past and future public hearing dates, and to submit comments, visit http://www.bouldercounty.org/property-and-land/land-use/planning/land-use-code-update/dc-18-0003. Interested parties may also call 303-441-3930 or write to nwobus@bouldercounty.org.


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