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El Paso County urges homeowners to research property before buying

Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 3:15 PM MDT
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EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KKTV) - While investigating a story about county construction, 11 News learned an important lesson all homeowners need to hear.

Darin DeBow reached out to the 11 Call For Action team with concerns about county construction near his property in Falcon. He lives at the corner of Meridian and Eastonville. Across the street, a new King Soopers and other shops are going in.

“In March, early March, they started construction here on Eastonville but didn’t notify us that there was anything going on,” DeBow said.

The county said Eastonville will be widened to meet increased traffic expectations with the new shops being built across the street. That means crews dug up county land right next to DeBow’s property for a new turn lane.

“We’re worried because it’s so close to our property line,” he said.

DeBow said he’s also upset because he can no longer use his side gate, which connects to his backyard, because it now opens up to a 2-foot-deep trench.

“I can’t even get things out of my backyard,” he said. “We have a couple of UTVs that, you know, I don’t have room for here, and we also have plans to make a garage in the backyard to utilize that space, and now, I have no access point.”

DeBow said the county project manager came out and saw his gate but gave the crews the go-ahead to dig the turn lane anyway.

“What frustrates me the most as a homeowner and also being impacted by the construction here, there’s no communication whatsoever,” DeBow said. “Just the lack of communication; any type of resolution whatsoever is not being worked on.”

11 News reached out to El Paso County for comment. Nina Ruiz, a county planning manager, said El Paso County has no record of DeBow’s gate.

“This situation is unfortunate, and we see it happen throughout the county. So what he has is what we consider an illegal access. So he created an access onto the county roadway without making any kind of request for approval from the county, and therefore, not receiving any approval from the county,” she said. “We did have them proceed with the project because that access point was never made legal.”

DeBow said the gate was already there when he bought the house. Ruiz said this is a problem a lot of homeowners run into.

“What we see far too often is that people assume that when they purchased their property, everything is up to code, everything has been permitted when, in a lot of instances, that’s not the case,” she said “So I would encourage all homeowners to do their research prior to purchasing their property to find out what permits have been obtained so they can confirm that everything is legal, everything is up to code. So they aren’t in this difficult situation where, you know, maybe somebody else put the access point in, it was never legalized, and they’re having to take care of it many years after the fact.”

If you live in the county, you can search for your parcel number on the El Paso County Assessor’s website and then look the parcel number up on the county’s website.

People who live anywhere in the Pikes Peak region can also search their address on the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department’s website to see what, if any, permits have been pulled for their property.

A list of what work does and does not need a permit can also be found on PPRBD’s website.

From DeBow’s perspective, he says this mainly comes down to communication. DeBow told 11 News he understands the area in dispute is county property, but he wishes he would have been given a heads up so he could work something out.

“I’ve been a taxpaying citizen and homeowner here for a long time,” he said. “I’m in the military, active duty, and I would think they would have some type of consideration for homeowners out in this area.”

People who live in the county and have questions about their property can call El Paso County Planning and Development at 719-520-6300.

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