Mindful Land Use Solutions

Heart-based planning for an appropriate technology era.


Our intention with the Saguache County Mindful Land Use Project is to support the home owner / builder /renter and keep housing affordable in Saguache County. This is a new journey to create more collaborative relationships between government and regulatory agencies and the community. We believe we all deserve a place to call home and diversity in housing and economic levels creates a healthy, thriving community.


The Saguache County Mindful Land Use Solutions group & KV Estates HOA shared a presentation on Sanitation Solutions with the Saguache County Commissioners on Tuesday, October 11 at 9:30AM. We are aware that many residents in our County are not in compliance with Regulation 43- Onsite Wastewater Treatment System, but we also see this as a complex issue that deserves time, respect of each resident’s situation and innovative thinking to create solutions together. 

  • If you are concerned about our County’s sanitation situation please join us.
  • If you are concerned that residents are receiving cease & desist letters and threats of eviction please join us.  
  • If you have applied for, installed or are considering a variance for an alternative sanitation system other than conventional septic systems, please join us.

This was an educational presentation to begin a dialogue on how we can work together to bring residents into compliance with Regulation 43- Onsite Wastewater Treatment System Regulation without displacing people from their homes who are property owners in Saguache County.  Please enjoy below. Comments can be emailed to crestoneenergyexchange@gmail.com.


Saguache County  Mindful Land Use Solutions Group presentation March 31, 2022

4/8/22 UPDATE on Land Use Codes
The Mindful Land Use Solutions group hosted a presentation at the 3/31 Planning Commissioner’s meeting.  This turned out to be a great opportunity for all of us to explore the complexity of issues surrounding housing, construction and rising costs.  We are all concerned about the healthy growth of our County and how land use and code enforcement can be supportive of residents and new solutions created to mitigate current problems.  We are very encouraged by the Planning Commission’s decisions on the following codes:

XIII.4.14. There shall be a minimum square footage of 900 square feet for a residence. (The Planning Commission voted 5-3 to adopt the State’s minimum square footage requirements which are 150 sq. ft. The County Commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday, April 19 to adopt this recommendation.)
XIII.4.15. Accessory structures are not permitted on vacant parcels until a permitted residence is completed. (i.e. greenhouses, hoop houses, garages, storage sheds, shipping containers, outbuildings of any type, studio, carports, etc.).  Agricultural structures being used strictly for agricultural use may be exempt. (The Planning Commissioners voted unanimously to change this code to allow accessory structures with a permit, once construction and sewage disposal permits are in place. The County Commissioners voted to adopt this code.)
XIII.4.10. A sewage disposal permit must be acquired and installed in accordance with approval by the appropriate government agency and finalized with the Saguache County Land Use Office before applying for a construction permit. Composting toilets, incinerating toilets, and vault systems are not permittable or allowed in Saguache County.  (The County Commissioners voted to adopt this code. It has come to our attention that an Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS) must be in place to install composting toilets.  This is a longer term project to look at viable options that can be NSF certified.)

K-V HOA Support for Cease & Desist Letters 7/1/22

Dear Saguache County Residents:

Thank you for all of the support and collaboration you have provided the Mindful Land Use Solutions group over the last 7 months as we navigated County Land Codes together. Our intention is to create positive solutions that address current issues, but do not involve threats to or displacement of any of our community members.

It has come to our attention that many property owners in Saguache County have recently received letters regarding blight, illegal residences and/or septic system violations. The K-V Home Owners Association (HOA) Board would like to offer any K-V resident or unincorporated Saguache County resident support in responding back to the county collectively if you have received a letter. These letters do not appear to comply with current local and state regulations. If you would like to support navigating this process, please feel free to reach out in one of the following ways.

1) Please come to the K-V HOA office to share your information so that you can be a part of the legal response to this situation. The K-V HOA office is open from 9am to 3pm Monday through Thursday. If possible please bring a copy of your letter, though that’s not required to be included in this legal response.

2) Complete the attached form and email it back to Mae Folsom, K-V President at maefolsom@gmail.com OR email the form to crestoneenergyexchange@gmail.com and we will forward to the K-V HOA.

The Crestone Energy Exchange is not affiliated with any government agencies nor are we an enforcement group, we simply want to build bridges between residents and our local government and create solutions that allow everyone to stay in their homes and on their property.

If you have questions please contact Mae Folsom, K-V HOA President at 970-428-2950 or join our Facebook group.


Upcoming Meetings

Solution Session

No upcoming solution sessions


Saguache County Commissioner Meetings

Saguache County Courthouse
501 4th St Saguache, CO 81149

Please visit the County’s website for agendas & Zoom links: https://saguachecounty.colorado.gov/board-of-county-commissioners-agendas


Saguache County Planning Commission

Work Sessions


Regular Meetings


Stay In Touch

Strategy

1) Continue to let the County Commissioners know how you feel about the proposed Land Use Code changes.
2) Call Amber at 719-655-2321 to get a spot on the agenda during either County or Planning Commissioner meetings.
3) Write a compelling story to the following:

Amber Wilson – Land Use Administrator
atorrez@saguachecounty-co.gov

Tom McCracken – Commissioner
tmccracken@saguachecounty-co.gov

Lynne Thompson – Commissioner
lthompson@saguachecounty-co.gov

Tim Lovato – Commissioner
tlovato@saguachecounty-co.gov

Mailing address:

Saguache County Land Use
PO BOX 326
Saguache CO, 81149



What areas do the Saguache County Planning Commissioners represent? 

  1. Town of Saguache& surrounding area
  2. La Garita/Center area
  3. Town of Center and surrounding area
  4. Cochetopa area
  5. Moffat and surrounding area
  6. Hooper and surrounding area
  7. Villa Grove and surrounding area
  8. At Large for All of Saguache County
  9. Crestone and surrounding area

The representative must be a property owner or property manager and reside in the area they are interested in representing. Regular member terms are for three years and the alternate terms are for one year. 

Saguache County Planning Commission meets on the last Thursday of each month in the Road and Bridge meeting room. The Planning Commission may also have work sessions throughout each month to work on the Saguache County Master Plan and different items. 

If you are interested, please send a brief letter of interest stating qualifications and interest to:
Saguache County Land Use, Attn: Amber Wilson, PO Box 326, Saguache, CO 81149.
Should you have any questions please call Amber Wilson at 719-655-2321. 


Housing Stories

Share your housing or building experience.

We are looking for stories from Saguache County residents who have creatively built small / simple / off-grid / alternative construction / natural material homes, in an effort to conserve water, keep costs manageable, and inspire future home builders.

We are collecting stories and crafting solutions to address the concerns of our Planning Commission and County Commissioners regarding alternative housing and lifestyles. Together we can create building codes which support all economic classes, protect our natural resources, and offer innovative building, energy, heating and sanitation systems.

The Crestone Energy Exchange is collecting written stories about your experiences with housing – good or bad. Please email us and let us know what led you to Saguache County and the problems or solutions you’ve faced; how the Land Use Code has affected you; what kind of house and systems you want to build or have built; etc.

crestoneenergyexchange@gmail.com
Use subject: Housing Story

Northern Saguache County Library District is starting a podcast series: Saguache County Stories: Exploring the evolution and history of land and people in the Northern San Luis Valley.  The first theme: Finding Home will be stories collected through personal recorded interviews of Saguache County residents.

Join us in sharing your story. Check out our upcoming events – see below.

Listen to Recorded Stories Here!


Written Stories

A Story by Suzanne Rouge

It was the Energy Fair in 1993 that first brought me to the San Luis Valley. I was interested in learning more about sustainable living. I helped a friend work on their straw bale round house and it was then, that my dream home began to take shape in my imagination. Almost 30 years later I have returned to make that dream come true.

Beyond the grandeur of the Sacred and astounding views, there is the magnificence of the minute. I experience it just driving around the Baca looking at all the detail that goes into building structures from the earth. There is something admirable, as well as affordable, about building your own abode.

A value for independence and freedom prevails here in the Valley. Part of preserving that pioneering spirit is by bioneering an interconnected local community. One that advocates for the very things called into question with these proposed amendments to Land Use.

We are at the precipice of change in which our local values could serve as a national model.

Down sizing our lives with off grid harmony in nature is the wave of the future.
I live comfortably within 450 sq feet. To double that amount is to drastically increase the initial expense of building at a time when inflation is sky rocketing the price of materials. It also means more space to maintain as I age and it involves more effort and expense to heat. These changes could put my retirement home out of reach.

Affordable housing, for displaced people, is a rapidly increasing reality of climate change. The fall out from lock downs has only just begun. A shortage of housing for migrant workers is already a problem. There is a proposal to create a tiny house hempcrete village near Center to address this basic need.

What is the purpose for increasing the square foot requirement?

Living in a high desert alpine valley requires conservation of resources. Gray water, composting, solar, wind and hydro energy efficiency is what we could be striving for to maintain balance. There are viable composting and incinerator toilets that close a permaculture loop and eliminate problems with expensive septic systems. Why waste water on waste?

Rather than limiting their use, we could be educating people about clean up codes. Perhaps funding from grants would help implement new technologies and assist people in coming up to code. Proactive education is key as more people choose to carve out a life for themselves here. Responsibility through education can be embraced rather than enforced.

I’ve been experiencing the cooperative homesteading vision of a former County Commissioner, Linda Joseph, at EarthArt Village. There is so much untapped potential to illustrate this philosophy of a way of life. These proposed amendments violate those 23 year old intentions.

What happens to people who have lived here many years who would now find themselves out of compliance?

I’m planning to purchase land near Villa Grove in 2022 in order to build an Earth Ship featuring hempcrete. I will need a shed to store materials and provide a workspace out of the elements. I am intending to turn it into an attached garage with a sculpting studio. The proposal to eliminate this option makes no sense to me. The idea of living in a tiny house or RV on site is also necessary in order for me to complete the project in a timely manner.

How many people have done this before me? Are we looking at the glass half empty to see this as a problem? For every delayed project or eye sore there are many beautifully completed homes.

Compassion, as demonstrated by many neighbors, has been a solution for a few people I know in need of assistance in finishing their places.

It seems I’ve been one step behind gentrification my whole life. I have seen areas be consumed by greed and slapstick, over priced housing. I love the character of this Valley. Independent, self sufficient, innovative, solution oriented community is what is needed, not reactive rules and regulations.