New Grandview push raises hackles

Last week, the city of Durango announced that it would not fast-track its analysis of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe's proposed Grandview development to accommodate Mercy Medical Center's timeline. However, last Monday, the city changed its tune and lined up a vote on annexation of 682 acres for Nov. 4. Friends of Grandview, a recently formed watch-dog group, is outraged by the move. City Planner Greg Hoch argues that the proposed 2,211-unit development will not get any shortcuts and will be carefully analyzed.

A central component of the tribe's Grandview development is the donation of land to Mercy Medical Center, which plans to leave its undersized building in downtown Durango and relocate to an expanded facility. However, the hospital faces a looming construction deadline in order to receive funding. Consequently, last Monday, the city forwarded what it thought would be a compromise.

"The annexation petitions will be forwarded to the council, and the council will decide whether to allow the hospital to do excavation and grading," Hoch said.

Hoch said that this doesn't mean that the tribe's development will not be properly planned. He said zoning would still have to be applied to the development. "The area plan is being continued to Dec. 4, and the tribe's and hospital's plans are going to go to neighborhood information meetings to allow for a public understanding without the process seeming rushed," Hoch said.

Wally White, spokesman for the Friends of Grandview, took a different view of the decision to push the annexation, saying that the development of Grandview is now a foregone conclusion. "This is a done deal," he said. "We weren't even allowed public input on Monday and now this is on a supersonic track."

White also said that it appears that Hoch is advocating for the hospital and the tribe and as a city staff member it presents some legal issues.

"We feel really strongly that there may be some legal issues here, and we feel very strongly that Hoch has overstepped his bounds and is advocating on the behalf of the hospital," he said. "I'd like to see him fired. I think he has no place doing what he's doing and advocating for these projects."

White added, "People ought to be fired up about this. This is circumventing public process."

The Durango City Council will consider the annexation petition at what promises to be a hot Nov. 4 meeting. Discussion of Grandview will join an anticipated vote on River Trails Ranch. Discussion of River Trails Ranch is currently set for 7:30 p.m.

County sues Division of Wildlife

Last Thursday, La Plata County filed suit against the Colorado Division of Wildlife and others over the ownership of Dry Fork and Dry Gulch roads. The roads each comprise a portion of County Road 208, which crosses the Perins Peak State Wildlife Area southwest of town.

According to Michael Goldman, La Plata County attorney, a longstanding dispute has existed between La Plata County and the Colorado Division of Wildlife as to the ownership of the roads. "We have tried for the past number of years to cooperatively resolve the question of road ownership with the Colorado Division of Wildlife, but have been unsuccessful in our efforts," he explained. "Use of these roads has been enjoyed by the public for decades as county roads, and we have well-documented evidence of county ownership. Therefore, the county feels it has a duty to preserve public access on these historically designated county roads."

The lawsuit is particularly interesting in light of a recent push to extend the Colorado Trail through the wildlife area and into downtown Durango. The DOW rejected a proposed land swap with the Forest Service that would allow the extension of the trail. Nancy Jacques, of the Coalition to Save Perins Peak, said that the coalition does not believe Goldman's statement.

"The county wants access into Perins Peak State Wildlife Area to serve a special interest," she said. "The county is using this expensive lawsuit maneuver to, in the coalition's opinion, serve interests like Trails 2000, who have not been shy about wanting the convenience and marketing value of extending the Colorado Trail into town."

The lawsuit asks the court to adjudge and declare La Plata County the owner of Dry Fork and Dry Gulch roads.

LPEA election results questioned

The results of La Plata Electric Association's September election have been questioned, and the board will decide how to proceed during its Nov. 19 meeting. However, LPEA spokesman David Waller said that the electric cooperative stands behind the results.

Charges has been filed that only 5,186 votes were tallied even though 5,236 were received, and that security for the election was lacking. The numbers could be particularly vital in the case of incumbent Herb Brodsky who won re-election by only six votes over Thorn Mayes. Waller countered that the ballots that were not counted were not filled out correctly.

"We really don't think the result would change with a recount," Waller said. "We stand by it 100 percent. Everything that was supposed to be counted was counted."

Waller said that state-of-the-art counting machines were used to speed the election and get a more accurate count. Whether a machine recount or a hand recount will happen will be determined Nov. 19.

Little Molas Lake field trip offered

Those interested in viewing the areas at Little Molas Lake proposed for upgrades by the San Juan National Forest are invited to attend a field trip to the area on Thursday, Nov. 6.

The purpose of the field trip is to help people better understand the issues and proposals by viewing conditions on the ground.Although public input will not be recorded during the field trip, there will be many opportunities to submit public comments into the official record later in the public involvement process. Meetings will be held in the next fewmonths to allow citizens to offer input on solving natural-resource and recreational issues at the popular alpine lake.

The San Juan National Forest had made an earlier decision to approve rehabilitation of areas damaged by unregulated camping at Little Molas Lake and to construct a Forest Service fee campground and picnic area.However, public concerns late in the planning process caused the Forest Service to withdraw its original decision so that public input can be more thoroughly evaluated.

Participants should meet at the turn-off to Little Molas Lake at its intersection with U.S. Highway 550 on Molas Pass on Nov. 4 at 1 p.m. For more information, call 375-3308 or 884-1414.

City puts pinch on unusual vehicles

The city of Durango is taking a stand against the parking of unusual vehicles on city streets. The city is reminding residents that recreational vehicles, campers, boats, trailers and other similar vehicles must be stored off city streets.

"Historically, we've had a number of large vehicles on the streets, and it really poses a safety concern throughout the year," said Greg Caton, assistant city manager. "We also have a maintenance issue during the winter with snow removal and storage."

Residents are encouraged to make arrangements for storage at off-street locations. Caton said that right now the city is asking rather than telling.

"We didn't want to go out and just start enforcing this," Caton said. "It's more of an education effort at this point."

For additional information call 385-2981.

- compiled by Will Sands





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