Larimer County reduces fees to rebuild for High Park Fire survivors who are uninsured or underinsured

The Board of Larimer County Commissioners on Aug. 7 approved reducing building permit fees for replacement structures destroyed and/or damaged in the High Park and Woodland Heights fires as part of the County’s three-year “Rebuild Program” for these areas.

Specifically, the Commissioners approved a one-time, per property reduction in building permit fees in the amount of $1,000 upon submission and approval of a fee reduction application to the Larimer County Planning Director, conditional upon the following:

1. The property owner benefiting from the fee reduction must be the property owner of record at the time of the disaster—does not apply to persons later acquiring properties.

2. Applies only to structures partially or fully constructed under a valid building permit or determined to be “grandfathered” or “nonconforming.”

3. Only applies to structures damaged or destroyed in the fires (the structures must be located within fire boundaries as shown on the High Park Fire map attached to the “Resolution Establishing a Three-Year High Park Fire Rebuilding Program” approved by the Commissioners on July 30, 2012 (“Rebuild Program”) and on the Woodland Heights Fire map on file with the Estes Park Community Development Department).

4. Available to High Park and Woodland Heights fire survivors who are uninsured or underinsured. If insured, the owner will certify on the reduced fee application that insurance coverage does not adequately cover costs to rebuild, including payment of building permit fees. The Planning Director has the authority to request documentation if there is a question concerning levels of insurance coverage.

5. Applicants may appeal the Planning Director’s determination to the Board of County Commissioners pursuant to Section 22 of the Larimer County Land Use Code.

6. Applies only to Building Department fee portion of total permit fees, i.e., the building fee and plan check fee. Use tax fees associated with building permits cannot be waived or reduced and must be paid by the applicant/owner; transportation capital expansion fees (TCEFs), Planning plot plan review and district fees are not subject to the fee reduction.

7. If building permit and review fees (less use tax fees, TCEF fees, district fees and Planning plot plan fees) are not more than $1,000 per parcel, the lesser amount shall apply.

8. Maximum reduction in building permit fees for each parcel is $1,000.

9. Building permits are valid for 18 months. At the owner’s request, a one-time extension for another 18 months to complete the work can be granted without a fee. If an owner needs an extension beyond the second 18-month period, the owner is responsible for paying the applicable extension fee (one-half the building fee portion of total permit fee).

10. Reduced fees will be reimbursed to the Larimer County Building Department from the Larimer County General Fund upon receipt of a copy of the approved fee reduction application form together with confirmation of building permits identifying rebuilds.

11. The County understands property owners may not be in a position to obtain a building permit to replace damaged or destroyed structures immediately. If a fee reduction request is granted, the approval will remain in effect for the duration of the Rebuild Program.

The total impact from the County’s general fund will be based on the percentage of homes and outbuildings rebuilt. A total of 284 homes were destroyed and assuming 60 percent of the properties (170-/+) are rebuilt, with a total possible credit of $ 1,000 per parcel, for example, a total of $170,000 will be paid out of the general fund to the Building Department for the reduced permit fees.

Larimer County is anxious to be supportive of citizens impacted by the fires while being fair and responsible with County resources. Insurance policies should cover building permit fees in many cases while today’s approval addresses a process for those owners who are not insured or are underinsured. A reduction of building permit fees also provides an incentive for rebuilding which will provide economic and community support in fire areas.

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