Wolf Driveway Earthmoving Approved – The Mountain-Ear

Boulder County Commissioners approved the Wolf Driveway earthworks off Caribou Road during a 1 p.m. meeting on Thursday, September 22, 2022. Sam Walker of the Community Planning and Permitting Department introduced a review of limited impact special use to authorize 8,000 cubic yards of non-basic earthworks for the improvement of an existing access road at 834 Caribou Road.

The proposal submitted by Emily Wolf is in the Forest Zoning District, about a mile west of the intersection of Caribou Road and Highway 72.

Commission Chair Marta Loachamin was unable to attend, so Commissioner Claire Levy chaired the meeting and said it was a quasi-judicial hearing.

A special use review is required for this non-fundamental earthwork as it exceeds 500 cubic yards of fill; this earthwork is analyzed in accordance with special use standards outlined in a Boulder County land use code. The parcel in question is legal building land because it exceeds the minimum size of 35 acres required in the forest zoning district. It is developed including an Earthship residence and two unauthorized accessory structures.

According to the story submitted with the application documents, the existing driveway was created by following the route of an old mining road that existed when the current owner purchased the property. A building permit was issued for the Earthship in 1993, but the owner was never able to close the permit because the driveway did not meet county access standards.

Walker said the site is north of Caribou Road. The area will have impacts but department staff have no concerns. The existing driveway is steep, has geohazards and is within a rural preservation planning area. It is adjacent to the county open space.

According to the engineer, the project will involve 4,000 cubic yards of cut and fill. A small branch of the driveway will remain as it is. The southern portion goes to the Earthship, and the proposed alignment of the driveway alters the grades to meet multimodal standards. The portion of the parcel where the proposed driveway improvements will take place is entirely on the north side of Caribou Road.

Although Earthship’s building permit has now expired, the applicants intend to have the building permit re-opened once improvements to the driveway have been completed so that the permit can be finalized and the Earthship can receive a certificate of completion. ‘occupation.

The upgraded driveway will follow the path of the existing driveway in sections, but deviate from that route as it approaches the Earthship location. The topography of the plots is steeply sloping upwards from Caribou Road, requiring long stretches of road and several switchbacks to gain enough elevation to reach the Earthship’s current location.

The proposed driveway reconfiguration is the result of several discussions between staff and the owner that formally began with an on-site pre-application conference in 2019.

Following a second pre-application conference in early 2022, the Director determined that a new site plan review was not required to approve the Earthship as a new residence and that the existing permit may instead be reopened once approval for a new driveway is granted. Therefore, this review only considers the proposed realignment of the driveway.

Staff advised that the majority of the driveway design submitted appears to meet multimodal standards (MMTS) and recommended a condition of approval that the driveway must be built to meet these standards. Staff therefore recommend conditions of approval requiring that the access road be built to meet the MMTS and any portion of the access road not meeting the MMTS should be given an individual design exception.

In addition, an access permit will be issued for the Caribou Road access point at the time of the building permit review. Staff have determined that, meeting all conditions, the proposal can meet all applicable Boulder County Land Use Code criteria for a limited impact special review. Therefore, staff recommend that County Commissioners conditionally approve the Wolf Driveway earthworks.

Candidate Emily Wolf and her engineer, Dana Smyly, said the Earthship had electricity and a septic tank. It is a habitable house. They’ve worked with the fire department on the hill and they’ve worked with Planning and Permits staff to make sure everyone is comfortable with the changes.

The Commissioners approved the Special Use Review Permit.

The Commission met on October 4, 2022, at 10:30 a.m., and meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays. For more information on the meetings, go to pub-bouldercounty. writemeetings.com/

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