Regional Governmental Affairs Monthly Update by Barbara Koelzer

Submitted by AaronLore on Thu, 12/12/2013 - 14:33.


Every month I get these monthly updates that will influence how Home Inspectors and Realtors do their business. As laws change we have to keep up with them so we can be the best for our customers. If there is a new law going into effect that will change building codes, Zoning issues or what's going on with the school that you children will be going to don't you think the customer would want to know? If you want someone who has lived in the area for over 30 years to fill you in on what's going on give me a call at 970-590-9197 or email me at alore14074@aol.com.

Regional Governmental Affairs Monthly Update

 by Barbara Koelzer


 


 



In this issue...

LOCAL
Larimer County
County Revising Regulations in Wake of Flood
Berthoud
Group Pressuring Town to Revoke Annexation
Loveland
City Ready to Implement New Concealed Construction Policy
Weld County
Greeley
Council Sets 2014 Priorities
COLORADO ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS
CAR Encourages Sunrise Process for Home Inspector Licensing
STATE
Legislators Recommend Credit for Wildfire Mitigation
NATION (from NAR)
NAR Pushes for Quick Congressional Action


LOCAL
Larimer County
County Revising Regulations in Wake of Flood: The September flood significantly changed the topography of the land and in some cases even the location of the Big Thompson river. The physical floodplain that exists today is much different than what is shown on the effective FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps. 
 
The County is preparing to adopt an amendment to the Land Use Code in the newly adopted Disaster Re-Build Program. The ordinance will allow the County Flood Plain Administrator to utilize ‘best available information’ rather than FEMA maps. This means that owners wishing to rebuild homes damaged by the flood will likely be required to elevate new construction building in areas that are now at risk, but not shown on the FEMA maps.
 
County staff says that FEMA is likely to remap the floodplains in these areas and the new topography and new hydrology will likely show an increased floodplain compared to the maps that are in effect today. Staff hopes that
the requirement to elevate the building based on best available data today will reduce the chance that this construction will be considered non-conforming when FEMA’s new maps are completed
 
Staff also noted that the Biggert Waters Flood Insurance Reform legislation --which NAR is trying to delay -- would result in enormous increases in flood insurance policy prices for homeowners whose properties sit below the base flood elevation. Staff says it will greatly benefit the property owner to elevate their buildings now rather than after the maps are redrawn. 
 
Examples of ‘best available data’ would be the effective FIRM map, the high water mark of the flood, depth of the profile compared to the existing elevation.  It is assumed that staff will eventually receive approximate floodplain limits based on the new topography. As time goes on, they hope to gather better and more accurate data to help homeowners build at an appropriate elevation. This item is scheduled for a hearing with the Board of County Commissioners and the Planning Commission at 6 pm on Dec. 11.
 
Berthoud
Group Pressuring Town to Revoke Annexation: A citizens’ group behind a referendum petition seeking to repeal the Haworth annexation has enough signatures to move forward. The group supporting the petition, Citizens for a Better Berthoud (CBB), says it acquired nearly 400 signatures, more than double the amount needed, to get the referendum on a future ballot where voters would decide if the Haworth annexation would remain, or be repealed.
 
The Town Clerk has 30 days to validate the signatures. After that the Board of Trustees has 20 days to make a decision. The Board can accept the petition and reverse the decision to annex the property, or they can allow the electorate to decide the issue. If the Town Board doesn’t repeal the annexation, an election must be set within 60-150 days of approval of the signatures.
 
CBB also has a “nuclear” option that it may put into play if it doesn’t like the Trustees decision. The group has already gathered enough signatures to support an initiative petition that would require a public vote on
all future annexations outside of Berthoud’s Growth Management Area (GMA) as it existed on Dec. 31, 2012.
 
Putting land use decisions in the hands of the voters rather than elected officials is bad public policy. Blackmailing elected officials to reverse land use decisions is a dangerous strategy. If the Trustees succumb to the threat and reverse the annexation it could result in a lawsuit. If they put the question to the voters, they have abrogated their responsibility and the town will have to pay for the election.
 
About the Haworth Annexation
The Haworth annexation was approved by the Berthoud Board of Trustees at its Oct. 22 meeting by a 5-2 vote. The property is located northwest of the Larimer County Road 19 and Highway 56 intersection, west of Berthoud. CBB opposes a density higher than what would be allowed by Larimer County (35 lots on a section of the property). The annexation into Berthoud could allow up to 55 lots on the approximately 80-acre parcel. Many of the citizens who spoke in opposition to the annexation live near it, including Senator Kevin Lundberg.
 
Loveland
City Ready to Implement New Concealed Construction Policy: Thanks to two years of hard work by the LBAR Government Affairs Committee, REALTORS and the clients they serve will now have a new option when working on transactions involving properties that have concealed construction. According to Chief Building Inspector Tom Hawkinson, the City’s new as-built construction policy will be implemented on Jan. 1, 2014.
 
Loveland’s policy of requiring all concealed construction to be completely opened and inspected has caused problems for property owners and complicated real estate transactions. The as-built policy assures safety for home occupants without requiring unnecessary and expensive deconstruction and rebuilding. Information about the as-built policy is now available on the City’s website: http://www.ci.loveland.co.us/index.aspx?page=121 under the section titled, “Building Division Changes/Notifications.”  
 
In essence, the program will work just like Larimer County’s program. In lieu of tearing out drywall, etc., the County requires that a Colorado licensed master electrician and Colorado licensed master plumber evaluate the work completed and provide certification letters along with a completed building permit application form. If the construction involves structural work, a Colorado registered structural engineer must evaluate the work for compliance with minimum building code requirements and provide a certification letter as well.  
 
Detailed building plans are not typically required, however, a floor layout plan showing how the space is used, and a plot plan may be requested (if the work changed the footprint of an existing structure or the structure is new).  The certification letters, floor and plot plan are reviewed by Building Department staff and other departments where applicable (e.g., planning staff for setbacks from roads, waterways and property lines,) depending on the type of construction completed. 
 
Once all approvals are obtained to issue the permit and permit fees are paid, the County issues a permit and schedules a final inspection by staff for life-safety issues like carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, stairways, handrails, etc.  When all inspection approvals have been obtained, an "As-Built Certificate of Observable Compliance" is issued.  Please note that if the property owner wishes to obtain a regular Certificate of Occupancy or Letter of Completion, all concealed construction must be exposed and fully inspected. Contact the City’s building division for more information, (970) 962-2505.
 
Weld County
Greeley
Council Sets 2014 Priorities: The City Council has decided to keep working on the priorities it established in 2013 for another year in order to keep the momentum going. Image, economic development, public safety and infrastructure are once again the top items on the Council’s work plan for 2014.
 
For example, the Greeley Unexpected campaign, entryway improvements and dedicated police enforcement teams will be continued. With the improvement in the local economy, staff and Council believe the City can renew its efforts related to these projects and increased revenues will help meet the demand generated by the economic growth.
 
Staff also noted that the re-election of three incumbents and election of a new representative for Ward II shows public support for these priorities, as does a recent public survey. The staff is scheduled to present a more detailed action plan for the year on Jan. 14, 2014.
 
COLORADO ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS
CAR Encourages Sunrise Process for Home Inspector Licensing: Some real estate industry stakeholders, including home inspectors, have been discussing the prospect of licensing home inspectors.  Sen. Todd, from Aurora, is prepared to run some sort of legislation to this end. 
 
In the last meeting that CAR lobbyist, Rachel Nance, attended with the stakeholders and Sen. Todd, the idea of running the matter through DORA’s Sunrise Review process was discussed.  DORA is prohibited from supporting licensure that has not undergone the Sunrise Review process.  It is also an issue that does not currently have consensus among all inspectors.  Certain stakeholders would like to pursue legislation without first going through the Sunrise process. 
 
CAR staff has discussed this matter with LPC leadership and believes it is more appropriate to go through Sunrise.  Moreover, in the event that CAR would ever support licensure, the Sunrise process would make the issue substantially more viable in the view of policymakers and legislators. 
 
Of course, this will be an issue in which CAR will remain active. To this end CAR’s leadership approved the following position:
CAR believes the issue of whether home inspectors should be licensed should go through DORA’s Sunrise Review process so state policymakers and stakeholders can gain an understanding about whether licensure is in the best interest of consumers and the industry. 
 
STATE
Legislators Recommend Credit for Wildfire Mitigation: An interim legislative committee supports tax credits to encourage wildfire mitigation and more assistance to firefighters. The committee voted to introduce a series of 9 bills during the 2014 legislative session. For real estate, only one is of great significance for property owners -- a proposed tax credit that would cover half of the costs of fire mitigation done by homeowners.
The interim committee known as the Wildfire Matters Review Committee is compromised of 10 legislators, including Perry Buck (Larimer County) Claire Levy (Boulder County) and Matt Jones (Boulder County). Unlike the wildfire task force created by Gov. Hickenlooper earlier this year, the legislative committee opted to focus on incentives rather than mandates for property owners.
 
As envisioned by the committee, the tax credit would allow a landowner a credit of 50 percent of the costs incurred in performing wildfire mitigation measures, not to exceed $2,500. Any amount in excess of the landowner's tax liability in the year the credit is first claimed may be carried forward to offset the landowner's future tax liability for 5 years. The committee also recommends the creation of a wildfire information and resource center in the division of fire prevention and control in the department of public safety. The center would be an online source of wildfire information for homeowners, fire professionals, the media and educators.
 
NATION (from NAR)
NAR Pushes for Quick Congressional Action: NAR is continuing to pressure Congress to pass three major pieces of legislation before the year is over:
 
Flood Insurance: H.R. 3370 / S. 1610. There are currently 142 cosponsors in the House & 24 cosponsors in the Senate.  The call for action is still live so if you have not responded, please do! Our local response rates are below 10 percent. www.realtoractioncenter.com
Mortgage Cancellation Debt Relief:  H.R. 2994 / S. 1187. The current provision is set to expire at the end of December without congressional action. There are currently 29 cosponsors in the House and 15 cosponsors in the Senate.
Mortgage Choice Act: H.R. 3211 / S. 1577. This legislation would amend the QM rule to treat affiliated closing costs the same as non-affiliated closing costs. There are currently 26 cosponsors in the House and 7 cosponsors in the Senate.
 
NAR is also urging Congress to support patent reform legislation. Apparently REALTORS have received threatening patent infringement letters from patent trolls seeking settlements for allegedly violating a license on commonly used products or technologies.  The patent reform legislation will likely receive a floor vote very soon.

 

Submitted by AaronLore on Thu, 12/12/2013 - 14:33.