BOULDER -- A set of proposed regulations about repairing or rebuilding homes in unincorporated parts of Boulder County that were substantially damaged by last month's floods gained the approval of the Board of County Commissioners on Wednesday.

The regulations are intended to allow the owners of houses, cabins and other buildings to work with the county staff to come up with ways to mitigate potential hazards, while not requiring those property owners to submit to a more lengthy site-plan review process.

County commissioners applauded the interim rules and decided against setting a six-month deadline for homeowners to begin the hazard-mitigation review process.

"I don't want to create angst" with a six-month requirement, said Commissioner Deb Gardner. "There's enough angst out there already."

Gardner said she wants "to create an environment that's open and welcoming and helpful" to homeowners wanting to rebuild on their properties after the September disaster.

Land Use Department planner Abby Shannon said officials estimate that about 200 unincorporated Boulder County homes were destroyed or significantly damaged by floods and the related debris flows, mudslides, rockslides and land subsidence. That's down from earlier estimates of 500.

Previously, county regulations allowed for rebuilding after a disaster as long as the new home would occupy the same square footage, be of the same height and be located on the same part of the property as the destroyed home.


The new rules will give more flexibility. A replacement house could be located on a different part of the property that's believed to be safer than where the floods flowed, for example, and the house's height could be increased if that helps flood-proof the structure.

As was the case during a County Planning Commission review of the regulations last week, though, several homeowners expressed concerns about remaining uncertainties that could affect their decisions about where, when or whether to rebuild.

"There's a lot of confusion," said James Canyon Drive resident Greg Ansbaugh.

Ansbaugh said his wife had been told they might not be able to get a building permit because their property is considered to be in a floodplain. He told the commissioners that property owners like them still need "a lot of clarification" from local and federal officials.

John Fryar can be reached at 303-684-5211 or