BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Only 23 housing permits to rebuild have been approved in unincorporated Boulder County, nearly a year after 250 homes were destroyed by the Marshall Fire in that area.
Nearly 1,100 homes and structures were lost in the Marshall Fire that also engulfed parts of Superior and Louisville on Dec. 30, 2021.
Now Boulder County commissioners hope to encourage more rebuilds by agreeing to reduce permit fees by a flat rate of $4,400 for new single-family homes.
The Problem Solvers spoke with one resident who spent $16,000 for a permit to build a 2,400-square-foot ranch home. Under the new plan, his permit cost will be reduced to $11,600.
Permit fees vary based on the value of the new project. Boulder County staff believe a $4,400 reduction will reduce overall fees anywhere from 19% to 40% based on the property. Smaller-scale projects will get a greater percentage of their total fees compared to larger rebuilds.
The new fee structure will apply to anyone who lost their home in either the Calwood Fire on Oct. 17, 2020 (28 structures destroyed) or the Marshall Fire.
According to the agenda item from Tuesday’s board of county commissioners meeting, the county has only issued 23 permits for new homes and 10 permits for accessory structures, such as a barn.
County staff recommended the reduced fees because so many residents have been unable to rebuild because they were underinsured.
According to the agenda item, “The increased materials and labor costs have left most individuals with insufficient insurance coverage. As a result, many people who would choose to rebuild are left without enough money to do so and feel forced to move on. It is essential to the County and these local communities that efforts continue to get people back who want to rebuild.”
Building permits have to be filed within three years of the loss for impacted properties. Homeowners who seek a permit for an accessory structure will receive a 25% reduction in permit fees.
Property owners who meet the criteria and already paid the fees will be refunded the difference.
County staff estimated that Boulder County could lose up to $600,000 in revenue but said the reduced revenues will be offset by “higher construction valuations calculations this past year and working to keep our costs down through review efficiencies.”
The plan approved by Boulder County commissioners only applies to homes in unincorporated Boulder County.
Louisville and Superior each set their own permit fee structure.