Proposed Flood Recovery And Rebuilding Regulations

The Boulder County Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioners will be considering interim development regulations for homes and other structures damaged or destroyed by the historic rains, mudslides and flooding of September. Two upcoming Public Hearings have been scheduled:

A Planning Commission Public Hearing on Wednesday, October 16, 4:30 p.m., in the Commissioners’ Hearing Room, third floor, Boulder County Courthouse, 1325 Pearl Street, Boulder; and a Board of County Commissioners Public Hearing on Wednesday, October 23, 4:30 p.m., again in the Commissioners’ Hearing Room, third floor, Boulder County Courthouse, at the above address.

Boulder County is planning for the need and desire to rebuild quickly and restore the community while implementing measures to protect public safety and investments through hazard mitigation and avoidance. “The goal is rebuilding resilient communities which can better withstand extreme events and maintain the community fabric of these impacted areas,” said Land Use Director Dale Case. “Wise, sustainable rebuilding regulations are a vital part of the recovery process.”

In the aftermath of the unprecedented destruction and the magnitude of extreme weather experienced in September, county staff have closely examined existing regulations dating back to the 1990s and determined that they don’t sufficiently meet public safety standards in all circumstances. For example, current regulations allow property owners to replace structures in some cases without a review and in other cases a review, which would require a floodplain development permit, which may not adequately address currently known flooding behavior. 

Given the community’s recent extreme weather experience, county officials believe is counterproductive for individuals, insurance companies and the public to invest the time, money, and energy into rebuilding in a location that is known to be hazardous.

In many cases the regulations will allow rebuilding to occur within existing lot lines, but require that structures be raised up out of the flood hazard areas or relocated out of hazard areas to a safer location on the property. The current regulations also require structures to be rebuilt at the same height as the old structures. The proposed regulations will allow changes in height to accommodate flood-proofing, such as raising the height of the structure to avoid future flood damage.

These interim regulations are proposed to be in effect until April 30, 2014. During this time, property owners can rebuild destroyed or substantially damaged structures in safer locations, in a way that meets the floodplain development requirements (if the new structure is proposed to be located in a floodplain) without going through Site Plan Review. Land Use staff will work with property owners and representatives from other county departments to perform a Hazard Mitigation Review. The goal of this review is to help property owners rebuild in a way that is more resilient to future disasters.

During this interim period staff is committed to reaching out to the communities to understand the needs and issues of residents who are facing complex issues to restore their homes, property and lives. As part of the effort to assist property owners and residents impacted by the flood the county has set up a Flood Recovery Center at the county’s Land Use Department staffed by functional experts in onsite wastewater (septic) systems, floodplain regulations, planning and building code. The center and the county will also pursue other restoration resources and hazard mitigation programs to assist those impacted.

The staff recommendation and proposed regulations have been posted to the Land Use Department’s website (www.bouldercounty.org/property/build/pages/lucodeupdatedc130003.aspx) for public review and comment. Residents are encouraged to read the draft, call us at 720-564-2623 if you have questions, email your comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , attend the upcoming public hearings, and make your opinion known.

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