BOCC extends disaster relief to tornado victims

By John Gardner
The Surveyor

The Larimer County Board of Commissioners voted to extend disaster relief assistance through the county’s Disaster Rebuild Program to residents affected by the June 4 tornado.

The resolution, reached at the BOCC’s June 16 meeting, gives property owners three years to utilize the assistance within the Larimer County Rebuild Program to rebuild homes and structures damaged or destroyed in the June 4 tornado.

The purpose of the rebuild program is to assist those affected by disasters in their rebuilding efforts. For more than a dozen properties in Larimer County affected by the tornado, the program will help them rebuild by offering flexibility to the county’s land use code and building requirements, according to Lori Hodges, Larimer County’s director of emergency management.

According to the ordinance: “The program offers flexibility through amendments to adopted land use regulations, including modified permitting and approval procedures, and assists owners of legally established buildings, uses and structures in existence prior to the disaster who may desire to rebuild and/or continue their uses in the same manner that such structures and uses have historically existed.”

However, the program typically only applies to structures and or uses that have been destroyed or damaged in a declared “disaster area” by the Larimer County board of County Commissioners. Commissioners Lew Gaiter III, Tom Donnelly, and Steve Johnson passed a resolution to include the June 4 tornado victims these same benefits despite the area not being officially declared a disaster area.

“While the extreme weather did not cause widespread damage sufficient to trigger a local disaster declaration, the homes of many residents were damaged or destroyed; and it is the desire of Larimer County to allow residents with homes damaged by the tornado, hail and flooding, to avail themselves of the Disaster Re-Build program,” the resolution states.

“Typically, a local declaration would trigger the Disaster Rebuild Program,” Hodges clarified. “Since a declaration was not necessary in this case, the BOCC still wanted to activate this policy to allow people more flexibility in the building process.”

Hodges was uncertain when, if ever, this type of circumstance has occurred in the past but said that the BOCC has the ability to enact local codes and/or policies as needed to manage an event.

“This board recognized the need quickly and made the decision to assist,” Hodges said.

For the duration of the program, Larimer County allows or provides assistance for temporary emergency housing, temporary emergency accessory structures, documentation of a nonconforming structure or use, rebuilding of nonconforming buildings and structures, reestablishing a nonconforming use, setback requirements, rebuilding and re-establishment of structures and uses not legally permitted or constructed, and impact fees.