Subdivision policy changes in El Paso County part of colonia prevention effort


POSTED: Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 6:44pm

UPDATED: Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 6:59pm

Changes to El Paso County's Subdivision Variance police were proposed during special County Commissioners meeting Thursday.

According to Commissioner Perez, Precinct 3, the policy has not been updated for thirty years, and an update is necessary to accommodate the growth in rural parts of the county.

"That way we don't have irresponsible development that doesn't make sense because, ultimately, that's more costly for us in the future as we have sprawl, as our roads become more congested. So, tackling these issues now, making sure that we have policies that make sense, making sure that development is growing in a responsible way is ultimately going to help everyone in the future," said Perez.

In the county, the standard lot size for a home is 6,000 square feet.  However, developers can ask for a variance to build on smaller lots.  Under the existing subdivision variance policy, there is no set standard for granting variance.

Variance requests are approved by Commissioner's Court, and about 9 months ago, commissioners noticed an unusual increase in the number of variance requests.  More developers wanted to build on smaller lots.  Commissioners were concerned because they believe smaller lots compromise quality of life.

Under the updated policy, only 85-percent of the new subdivision can be below the 6,000 square foot standard.  The other 15-percent of the subdivision has to meet the 6,000 square foot standard lot size.

One of the biggest quality of life issues was park space, because smaller lots mean smaller backyards.

"If you want to be able to throw a football with your son or play frisbee in your backyard, your yards are going to be small so we think it's the best to be able to have a park within walking distance," said Gilbert Saldana, Senior Civil Engineer and member of the El Paso County Subdivision Variance Committee.

Lots that are less than 5,500 square feet must be within a quarter mile of a park to accommodate for the smaller backyard.  The minimum park size is one acre. 

New subdivisions must also be maintained by a Utility District. It is part of an effort to prevent colonias from popping up in parts of the county.

The changes will only be required for subdivisions of more than 50 homes.  The changes would also not apply to subdivisions that meet the 6,000 square foot lot requirement and do not need to request a variance.

El Paso County Commissioners will vote on the proposed changes during the regularly scheduled meeting on Monday.





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