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Laws of the Land

Laws of the Land

Mountain Life
By Jennie Lay
posted: 10/17/2001

You moved to the mountains to be king of your castle? Well, the height, stonework and exterior lighting of that castle just might be governed by a byzantine web of regulations. Mountain zoning boards, homeowners associations and local governments have found that it takes a lot of rules to balance the needs of wildlife, historic preservation, economic vitality and small-town character. Here's a sampling of real estate restrictions from ski towns across the country.

Where the buffalo roam The town of Winter Park, Colo., is attempting to mend fences with its resident wildlife. Deer and elk have the right to pass through town freely: No fences or walls are allowed around property boundaries, since the barriers might block migration trails.

Ready...Aim...Call the HOA! Shoot a marauding bear within leafy Bachelor Gulch near Beaver Creek, Colo., and the sheriff might not file charges-but the neighbors are prepared to issue a stiff fine anyway. Neighborhood covenants prohibit discharging a firearm, no matter what the circumstance. One homeowner was fined last fall when he shot a 175-pound bear that had repeatedly peered through his windows, entered his home and charged him.

Starry, starry night Leave the bright lights in the big city. To keep its night sky nice and dark, Winter Park restricts exterior lights to a maximum of 75 watts and prohibits exposed bulbs. All the better to see the twinkling stars.

Oh, say can't you see? Public patriotism is a daytime act in Ketchum, Idaho. Flagpole illumination is restricted. Only flags at government buildings may be lighted.

Straight living More than just movie stars align in Aspen, Colo. Buildings and homes must conform to the town's gridwork as well. Each structure must sit parallel to the street, with corner buildings required to be parallel to both intersecting streets.

Y'all come by and set a spell Aspen keeps the neighborly tradition of front-stoop lingering (or at least the image) alive. Every house must have a front porch of at least 50 square feet. Lemonade and rocking chairs are not required.

So much for your Colonial-Tudor A-frame ski chalet "Fairy tale" and "castle" architecture are prohibited in Park City, Utah, along with other thematic styles, which include Rustic Frontier, Tudor, Colonial, Nouveau-Chateau, French Provincial and Swiss Chalet. Park City does, however, allow discrete towers and turrets.

I can see for miles In Shelburne, N.H., near Wildcat Mountain, no construction is allowed above 1,400 feet, and buildings cannot be taller than 35 feet. From a skier's-eye view, it keeps the ridgelines looking great.

Instant gratification Not patient enough to watch mighty oaks from tiny acorns grow? Head to Lake Tahoe, Calif. New trees are required to stand at least six feet tall or measure one inch thick at shoulder height. And don't think about leaving the Christmas lights on all year: Lighted trees are only allowed during the holidays.

Fewer cookie-cutters, please New Hampshire craftsmen can give thanks to Shelburne. The town has capped modular home construction at one per every six dwellings.

Put it in gear, pal Ski bums who want to save rent money for the beer fund by sleeping in Winnebagos should drive past Stowe, Vt. Trailers, campers and motor homes may not be occupied for more than two continuous weeks per year-unless they're in an approved campground.

MOUNTAIN HOME SPRING 2005

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