By Beth Dodd:
On Tuesday, November 5 at 6:30 p.m. there was an open house at the Ute Pass Cultural Center for local building professionals and the general public to learn more about Woodland Park’s new partner for building services, the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department. Woodland Park City Planner, Sally Riley, and a representative from Teller County was in attendance to answer questions.
The new partnership follows the announcement in mid-August by Teller County that for economic reasons it would discontinue its intergovernmental agreement with the City of Woodland Park for building services. In other words, Woodland Park would have to find a new way to provide the services offered by the Teller County Building Department in the past. The change becomes effective on November 30.
According to Teller County Administrator, Sheryl Decker, the downturn in the construction industry the past few years has resulted in lower revenues than the county anticipated. To help keep a positive balance in the budget, the county has been reducing staffing through attrition, or by not replacing workers that have departed voluntarily. This has been the case with most of the departments in the county. For example in addition to the building department, Teller’s transportation, parks, finance, and facilities departments are also reducing staff through attrition. No lay-offs are planned.
“When we looked at our building department’s revenues and finances, the way to address our issues was to work with the City of Woodland Park to have them assume their own building services,” said Decker. However, the Teller County Building Department will continue to handle building services within other parts of the county as before.
In order to fill the gap left by the departure of the Teller County Building Department, Woodland Park will now partner with the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department. The PPRBD already provides services to the City of Colorado Springs and El Paso County as well as several other jurisdictions including the cities of Fountain, Manitou Springs, Green Mountain Falls, Monument, and Palmer Lake.
Starting at the end of November, PPRBD will begin working with Woodland Park. In addition to managing the building permit process, their services will include building plan review, building inspection services, and assistance with the administration of building codes. The Pikes Peak Regional Building Department was created by an intergovernmental agreement between the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners and the City Council of Colorado Springs in 1966. The Department is designed to be self-supporting and nonprofit.
The City of Woodland Park is presently in the process of transitioning to their new system. All open building permits will be assumed by Woodland Park in partnership with the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department by the end of November, and they will be ready to begin accepting new permits by November 30. It is expected that building professionals who already have permits or plan to apply for them in the near future will experience a seamless transition.
Jim Olson, the president of the Home Builders Association of Teller County, was part of a citizen committee that worked with Woodland Park City Planner, Sally Riley, to help select the city’s new building services partner and offer input and ideas during the process. The committee also made recommendations on code amendments.
The Teller County building code differs from the one used in El Paso County by the PPRBD. The entire new code had to be reviewed and adapted to Woodland Park as needed. For instance, the flood plain management plan for El Paso County in the building codes used by PPRBD did not need to be adopted by the city of Woodland Park, which already has its own community flood plan. The new building codes will need to be adopted by the city council at their November meeting for the transition to move forward.
“A lot of our local builders already deal with the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department on their jobs in Green Mountain Falls and Manitou Springs. They already know their processes. There are no negatives at this point. The only issues are temporary ones related to working out the logistics. PPRBD has been extremely helpful with getting this transition off the ground by providing Woodland Park with the tools they need at a minimal cost to the city. They are professionally run and we expect a great transition,” said Olson.
The Pikes Peak Regional Building Department’s main offices are located at 2880 International Circle in Colorado Springs. However, there will be someone available locally at Woodland Park City Hall to process building permits and meet other local needs. They can be contacted at (719) 327-2880 or online at www.pprbd.org.