Costilla County Residents Clash With Newcomers Living Off-Grid

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Photo: Hyrum Jensen sets up solar panel
Costilla County resident Hyrum Jensen, right, sets up a solar panel with help from a friend on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015.

An influx of new residents looking to live off the grid in Costilla County is causing friction in the southern end of the San Luis Valley.

Longtime residents and county officials say the newcomers are stealing water and aren't following standards for building on the land. New arrivals say the county is unfairly enforcing land use codes that violate their property rights.

Meanwhile, new proposed code changes -- and the coming winter -- could make it even harder to live off the grid.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this audio story stated that Hyrum Jensen was at the meeting in mid September which ended in the streets. He was actually at an earlier meeting in September in which he voiced his concerns.