Western La Plata may face growth moratorium

Lack of water is on the verge of pushing a moratorium on new development in
western La Plata County. The Colorado Division of Water Resources forwarded a
letter to county officials Monday urging them not to approve any developments that would rely on Lake Durango water. The Board of County Commissioners is presently awaiting legal advice prior to making a decision, said Juanita Sauvage, planner II of the La Plata County current planning office.

Lake Durango Water Co. provides water to 1,000 customers in Durango West I and II, Rafter J, Trapper’s Crossing, Shenandoah Highlands, Lake Durango North,
Longhollow II and La Plata Vista subdivisions. According to the Division of Water
Resources’ letter, Lake Durango is within 10 percent of having all of its water allocated, a problem exacerbated by drought.

Last Tuesday, concerned citizens packed the county meeting room, and county commissioners took testimony on the full realm of issues surrounding Lake Durango Water Co. Kicking off the meeting, county staff recommended that the commissioners heed the state’s recommendation. Clarifying the recommendation, Sauvage said, “We have never recommended that they prevent build-out of existing permits.” The moratorium would instead pertain only to five active proposals for subdivisions west of town.

The sticking point seems to be with the Lake Durango Water Co. and whether it is,
indeed, tapped out or if there is available water. The facts coming out of the company
have been mixed, though Sauvage reports progress with a new plant manager.

“Really our goal is to get this resolved, not to argue, but to go to the board with the facts,” said Sauvage.

The commissioners will make a decision on any moratoriums after county staffers make their report.

Schaff fire contained

The most recent of La Plata County’s wildland fires was fully contained last Friday, and crews working the blaze were demobilized. Although the 556-acre fire is fully surrounded by fire line, the San Juan National Forest will continue to monitor the area by air, according to a news release.

Incident Commander Ron Klatt said heavy fuel may smolder within the containment
lines for some time if the weather continues to be warm and dry. The public should not be alarmed to see isolated smoke in the Lime Creek drainage, visible from Highway 550 between Durango Mountain Resort and Coal Bank Pass.

The fire began Aug. 16 in a remote area of the Animas River canyon. During the course of its spread uphill to the Lime Creek side of the West Needles, no populated areas were threatened and no structures were destroyed.

An investigator determined that the fire was started by the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge train, and train service to Silverton was suspended temporarily but resumed in time for last weekend’s Railfest. On Monday, a county task force determined that D&SNG had taken appropriate precautions to prevent fires and allowed the train
to make one Silverton run per day.

Resort takes first step toward expansion

Late last week, Durango Mountain Resort took its first steps toward its anticipated
expansion by filing two plans with La Plata County, said Nancy Lauro, manager of La Plata County Planning Services.

While Lauro noted that the plans “are pretty technical,” she said that they are significant because they kick off the expansion’s planning process. The expansion is anticipated to take place for more than 20 years and include 1,649 residential units and 410,000 square feet of commercial space to be spread out over six villages along Highway 550 near the ski resort.

Thus far, the county has received master plans for the development’s water, drainage and sewage. Lauro said she expects master plans on trails, snow storage and other issues this week. “For a development this size, these kinds of plans are fairly standard,” she said. “But they’re not standard for us because we’ve never done a development of this size.”

Following this step, Lauro said the Planning Department will get into the “exciting steps,” which include conceptual plans where planners and the public will get a glimpse of what the villages will look like.

More arrests made in crystal meth case

Last Friday, additional arrests were made in connection with the Aug. 17 methamphetamine bust in Ignacio, according to the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office. Jamie Lynn Montano of Kirtland, N.M., and Yolanda Yazzie, of Farmington, were apprehended in connection with the arrest of Felix Trujillo and seizure of more than a quarter pound of methamphetamine.

Yazzie and Montano, Trujillo’s girlfriend, were arrested after they sat in on Trujillo’s advisement hearing in La Plata County Court. At that time, both Yazzie and Montano were in possession of controlled substances. A half ounce of methamphetamine and a small amount of cocaine were seized upon their arrest.

The Southwest Drug Task Force, a multijurisdictional group comprised of investigators
from the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office, Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Durango Police Department and Ignacio Police Department, made the arrests.

Two local teens arrested in Escalante break-in

Two boys have been arrested in connection with last week’s break-in at Escalante Middle School, according to the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office. It’s suspected that a 15-year-old Durango High School student and a 16-year-old Bayfield High School student were responsible for the nearly $2,000 in damage and were intoxicated during the incident.

The school was broken into over the weekend of Aug. 17, and several unusual items such as dice, yarn and tools were reported missing. More significantly, three computer monitors were smashed. As of Wednesday, no one had been apprehended for similar incidents at Riverview Elementary and Ignacio Middle School.

-Compiled by Will Sands




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