County relents, lets couple set home on old foundation despite tight setback
By LE ROY STANDISH
After a January fire destroyed Marty and Tammara Stafford’s double-wide modular trailer in the 900 block of 20 Road, Mesa County wasn’t going to let them move back home.
The county’s Planning and Economic Development Department, citing county code that calls for a home to be a minimum of 50 feet from a neighboring property line, would not let the Staffords place their new home on their old foundation. The old foundation is seven feet from the fence line.
But after a July 11 Daily Sentinel article detailing the Stafford’s plight, the county backed down, according to the Staffords.
Today, the Staffords will place their new home exactly where the old one was for 18 years.
“We beat ’em,” said Marty Stafford.
Tammara Stafford said she got a phone call from Commissioner Craig Meis one day after the article appeared in The Daily Sentinel.
“He said, ‘Put your house there,’ ” Tammara said, adding the commissioner called the county’s previous stance on the issue ridiculous.
The Staffords said they had been working with Code Enforcement to clean their property and with county planning to make sure they had all proper approvals for months. But no county official told them their new home could not be placed on the old foundation until a day before the home arrived, they said.
Jessica Peterson, spokeswoman for the county, said the Code Enforcement case against the Staffords, for junk and junk cars, was started in June 2008, and the Planning Department does not review development applications or site plans for properties that are under Code Enforcement action. The Staffords cleared their case with Code Enforcement in early July, Peterson said.
“That’s when the setback was discovered,” she said.
The Staffords’ old home had been standing since 1991 before the fire destroyed the structure.
The county held the line with the Staffords even though the Mesa County Commission was planning to modify the distance requirement, possibly later this year, to something less than 50 feet, Ross said.
“They kind of killed us, waiting until the last minute (to tell them of the code), and then they said they were going to change the code, but it will be too late for you,” Marty Stafford said. “It’s ridiculous.”
The code says when 50 percent or more of a building is replaced, it must meet current code, including setbacks.
However, County Administrator Jon Peacock said the Staffords were exempt because the concrete foundation and the anticipated cost of providing utility and septic service to the manufactured home in a new location amounted to more than 50 percent of its structural value.