Commissionersfix road issues

Disputes resolved; landowner claims rejected

By RYAN SHERIDAN
Daily Press writer
In two public hearings on Tuesday, the Moffat County Commissioners resolved two road issues.
The Commissioners deliberated over hearings concerning the Bakers Peak Association's request for a second access to its subdivision and an access dispute over Moffat County Road 60A.
Following lengthy discussion, the Moffat County Board of Commissioners rejected the claim from the Bakers Peak Association that the county is responsible for providing secondary access to the subdivision.
In addition, the Commissioners found that a road on the property belonging to Jim Bassett is in fact a Moffat County Road and must be open for public use.
The Bakers Peak Association had first approached the county over access two years ago.
Don Grooms had contacted the Moffat County Road and Bridge Department about the possibility of the county improving and then taking over maintenance of Jack Rabbit Creek road, said Road and Bridge Department Director Dennis Jones.
The most recent request was that a road be built across a strip of state-owned land, connecting the residents to Moffat County Road 38. The previous access to County Road 38 had been lost when a private landowner had closed the access last year.
Both the northern and southern access routes have been closed over the last two years, and the Baker's Peak Association is in litigation with private landowners to have those accesses reopened.
County Attorney Kathleen Taylor reviewed her findings that had been discussed in workshop in September.
She concluded that the Baker's Peak subdivision did not have a claim that the county must provide a second access for a mountain subdivision since Baker's Peak wasn't registered as a mountain subdivision, nor did it qualify as one
because the plots were larger than 35 acres.
"In my opinion, for the question of whether the Baker's Peak subdivision requires a second ingress and egress from the county as a mountain subdivision is no," she said. "There are no records of the subdivision in the County Clerk and Recorder's Office, the Assessor's Office or the Planning olfice.
"The subdivision was built through individual deals from the developer to the landowner, so no plat was done."
The Commissioners offered the Baker's Peak Association the option of having the county apply for the permits to build the road across state-owned and Bureau of Land Management land if the group were willing to pay the bill.
"There is precedent for this. The county has done this before and I feel comfortable in treating this situation in the same way," said Moffat County Commissioner T. Wright Dickinson. "The county will ask for these permits from the state and the BLM, if the owners are willing to pay the costs of the permits and of building the road. "If the road is built to county specs, it's possible that after two years, the county would claim that road as a County Road. The pro is you would have access that cannot be denied by anyone. The con is the cost, but that might be reasonable considering what the costs of going to court are."
The board approved a motion that the county would act to submit the applications to the state and the BLM for a permit to build a road to County Road 38, if so requested.
The motion also included the stipulation that the county will not provide winter maintenance on the road, if it is built.
Dennis Garrison, a Baker's Peak resident, said that the homeowners in the subdivision would want to exercise the option presented by the county, but when that decision would be made was unclear.
"We're going to have to decide if we want to go on with that," Garrison said. "Money is really skinny in Baker's Peak. It's hard to come by - we're already involved in litigation. "
The second road issue was the dispute over Moffat County Road 60A, and whether that road was actually a county road. Bassett, who owns the land the road cuts across to provide access to the Bowers Ranch from Moffat County Road 12, contended that the road was never legally added to the county roster and did not appear on his deed.
Dr. James Tempesta, represented by Chris McAnany at the hearings, contended that the road was a Moffat County Road 60A, and that his access could not be closed down.
Moffat County Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos abstained from the hearing and the decision because her husband, John Raftopoulos, is a leasee of Dr. Tempesta.
Raftopoulos conducted the hearing, but did not participate.
The board ruled that the road was in fact Moffat County Road 60A, and that any obstruction needed to be removed in 48 hours, or the county attorney would begin to adjudicate the matter.
The motion also stipulated that the road have a berm or guardrail added to protect Bassett's property, and that a Dead End sign be added.
"I take no pleasure in this decision, or that this dispute is going on," Dickinson said. "These are good folks that live there, good folks that have moved in. No matter what, we are still neighbors, and still friends.
"We have to recognize that each of us needs to access and use our property in a manner that's least disruptive to our neighbors and friends.
"I can't tell how these thing came out in '76 or '60, but we have to look at the evidence," he said. "I've listened to both sides, and seen the evidence before us, and the evidence says this is a county road. Jim, I fully support your right to defend your property [in court]. I would hope not is this case, but I do support your right."
Moffat County Commissioner Les Hampton also found the matter a disturbing one.
"I've lost sleep over County Road 60A. I've woken up at 3 o'clock in the morning with this issue on my mind," he said. "When I was first elected, I was told that road issues would be the hardest part of my job, and today has proven that true."
Bassett said he would put up a hard gate, unlocked at the entrance to the Bower Ranch.
McAnany said that this would be satisfactory.

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