Last Tuesday’s forum for statements regarding the Visual Impact Regulations was a reflection of the sad times we find ourselves in in our society today. The concept was stellar...give both sides another chance to voice their views. I arrived with a strongly supportive opinion of the measures and left feeling much the same. But I did listen and learn and have a couple minor points that I think could reasonably be changed. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do as a democracy? Isn’t voicing our differences in a calm and respectful way and then finding areas of compromise the whole point? In contrast, shouldn’t I be shocked to hear people yelling “shut up” when an opinion different from theirs’ is expressed? Or shocked when people openly laugh and wave a handkerchief when their opponent gets a bit emotional over the rancor she sees in our community? Should I be disappointed when a developer labels the regs as borderline Communism? That one really got the adrenaline pumping from the opponents. Really? You think some common rules around building standards aligns us with, say, North Korea? These changes in the rules are not about religion, politics or elitism. Making them about those emotional issues is feeding the fear and inability to be civil and that is a much bigger loss to our society than all the paint color choices one could make.
I saw highly paid attorneys give lengthy powerpoint presentations projecting all sorts of catastrophes as if slides made them true. Funny thing was that two of them, both speaking in opposition to the VIRs, argued diametrically opposed positions on growth and thereby demand for permits and expense to the county. They can’t both be true, but, because they were negative, they got the crowd excited. I heard the story of a person ,whom I respect greatly, who decided to sell her house because her horse trailer isn’t welcomed within her HOA guidelines. When you buy a home within an HOA those are the rules you sign up for...no one makes us buy in those neighborhoods and we should really read the rules before we put our money down. The VIRs are not turning Ouray County into an HOA! In fact, I live in an area already within the boundaries of the current VIRs and I look at that trailer every day from my porch...no problem...no complaints. It is perfectly legal where it is now parked smack dab in the middle of the Visual Impact Corridor. That is where it has been moved from her HOA property.
Since I did listen to the opposition, I have two points that I think can be addressed as unfair in the new regulations;
1. If my house is 3,000 square feet and my neighbors’ is 1,000 square feet, it isn’t fair to limit the expansion to 20 percent. It seems more equitable to define a total footprint that is the same for each before a variance is required.
2.Much was made of the potential of home replacement after a fire . I think it should be clear that one can rebuild their home just as it was on the original foundation, even if it is in a VIR corridor and would not comply under the new version. Not doing so might incur great expense.
The fact that these regulations do not affect existing structures because they are grandfathered in, seemed to be lost on so many people it was ludicrous. If that wasn’t the case we should all be up in arms. Trying to make people think their current homes or structures are threatened is just fear mongering to rile up as many people as possible.
And that brings me back to my original sentiment. Our society has now replaced fact with power point glitz from those with the most money and replaced dialogue with fear mongering. The result is a bitterness that is more destructive than any purple building or HOA. It destroys our freedom to be civil neighbors which, once gone, will be extremely difficult to recreate.
– Barb Steele