City to revamp parking rules
The City of Durango wants local residents to get in the drivers seat when it comes to mapping out new parking rules and regulations. Now in the process of updating its Land Use and Development Code, the city is asking local residents for feedback on proposed changes to the existing parking regulations. A public overview and comment session on the new rules takes place next Mon., Sept. 10, from 6 - 8 p.m. in the Windom and Sunlight rooms at the Durango Recreation Center.  

Durango Senior Planner Vicki Vandegrift said a technical committee has been working on recommendations that residents have expressed interest in or said they wanted to see addressed. The issues are many, she said. Topics include an overview of the parking regulations, how parking requirements will be calculated, how parking credits could be applied, and how the proposed regulations affect parking lot design.
She said one of the big topics that has arisen lately is over the number of spots that are required of multifamily or accessory dwelling units. “That’s one of the questions that came up during the Boker Lumber development,” she said. “People were asking if the current parking regulations were adequate. Are they too strict? Or are they enough?”

Although the City has yet to approve accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, if approved, the City will also have to figure out how many spots, if any, to require of them.

Another idea in the new plan deals with lowering regulations in other areas, such as where there is shared parking, i.e. an office by day and residential by night. “We are also looking to lowering the standards in certain areas,” she said. “We’re looking for opportunities to be more creative.”
The proposal calls for dividing the city into three “parking districts:” downtown; dense/mixed-use areas where people tend to walk, bike or ride transit in larger numbers; and “other” areas. In addition to the shared parking idea, the new rules outline options for reducing parking requirements, including the use of remote parking and on-street credits. The new rules will also address bicycle parking and parking design.

Vandegrift said the proposed rules do not cover the recently talked about parking meter increases, which falls under another city department.
Overall, the new parking regulations would make it easier to understand what city requirements are; allow for less parking in areas that tend to have less demand and/or shared parking; and allow flexibility in re-use of existing buildings and infill.

Vandegrift said public comment is welcomed. “We would love for people to come that have an interest and tell us what they think,” she said.

Horses rescued after longterm neglect
Two Red Mesa horses have moved on to greener pastures as a result of a nearly yearlong animal cruelty investigation.

The La Plata County Humane Society announced last week that it had taken two horses, both mares, to Spring Creek Horse Rescue, after the owners agreed to surrender the horses in a plea deal with the District Attorney’s office.

The couple were no strangers to Animal Protection Services. Over the last few years, officers had received numerous complaints about the poor state of the four horses belonging to the couple. “We’ve had multiple run-ins with them in the past, not necessarily with horse cruelty, but they were pretty well known,” said Animal Protection Field Supervisor Vanessa Rushing, who declined to identify the couple.

Upon following up on the most recent complaints and making a welfare visit in August 2011, Animal Protection arrived to find one of the four horses had died. “A diagnosis could not be reached on what killed the horse,” said Rushing. “No vets could agree on what was going on.”

Regardless, the couple was cited with animal cruelty for lack of water, food and proper care, which carried a possible jail sentence. For the next several months, Animal Protection, as well as two equine cruelty investigators, attempted to help and educate the owners on proper horse care.
However, in April, it became clear that those attempts had failed, with two horses in need of immediate food and medical attention. For the next three months, an Animal Protection officer made daily, 50-mile trips to feed and check on the horses’ welfare. A veterinarian also visited to tend to an injury on one of the horses.

Finally, in August, the couple struck a plea deal with District Attorney Todd Risberg to surrender the horses and pay $1,500 to Animal Protection in exchange for the charges being dropped. The money will help defray the costs for travel, feed and vet bills.

Rushing said when officers went to retrieve the surrendered horses in August, only two remained, with owners alleging that one had been sold. One, a 25- to 30-year-old bay in poorer health, will likely end out her life at Spring Creek. However, it is hoped the other, a 3- to 6-year-old sorrel, will be a prime candidate for adoption.

Director of Animal Protection Jon Patla said while he’s not sure if the fine will ever be paid, let alone make a difference, he is satisfied with the outcome. “We were hoping for a stiffer penalty for the defendant, but our No. 1 priority is the wellbeing of those neglected horses,” he said.

Brodsky tapped to fill LPEA seat
Former La Plata Electric Association board member Herb Brodsky will be returning to his seat on the local co-op’s Board of Directors.  Brodsky will be assuming the seat in District 4 vacated last month by Pam Patton, who resigned to join the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.

District 4, which covers north and eastern La Plata County, has three seats which have staggered elections. Brodsky narrowly lost his seat in May 2012 to newcomer Heather Erb. As Patton was due for re-election spring of 2013, Brodsky, in assuming her seat, also will be up for re-election at that time.

A 21-year veteran of the LPEA Board, Brodsky was chosen from a field of five candidates based on his former experience. “Herb’s years of service to La Plata Electric have provided him with in-depth knowledge of our company and the electric industry as a whole,” said Jerry McCaw, LPEA Board president. McCaw noted that complex issues will be facing the LPEA and all rural electric cooperatives in years to come.

A Southwest Colorado resident since 1980, Brodsky is a business consultant who has also been active with the Southwest Land Alliance, Community Foundation, American Cancer Society, Durango Natural Foods, La Plata County Community Development Corp. and Durango Repertory Theatre.

Energy makeover winner No. 2 named
One more Durango family can look forward to a cozier and cheaper winter. Last week, Dale and Drea Shumate were named second place winners in the Four Corners Office for Resource Efficiency (4CORE) HomeRx Energy Makeover Contest. The couple will receive not only a free energy audit but air sealing services and insulation, valued at $950.

“We heat our home solely with electricity, which gets expensive in the winter,” said Drea Shumate. “This home energy makeover will help us identify what we can do to get costs under control and provide some of the tools we need for saving energy.”

The contest is meant to raise awareness of 4CORE’s new HomeRx program, a fee-based program that provides homeowners opportunities and resources for reducing energy usage, saving money and addressing common health and safety risks. 4CORE works local contractors to identify air and gas leaks, furnaces and appliances in need of replacement, and other energy saving measures.

The grand prize HomeRx winner will be announced Sept. 29 at the Farmer’s Market. That winner will receive a free energy audit, insulation and weatherization services, valued at $1,500. Interested residents can still sign up at

The nonprofit 4CORE works in conjunction with local governments as well as the Governor’s Energy Office, Empire Electric Association and La Plata Electric Association.
– Missy Votel