If Moffat County commissioners want property in the county cleaned up, they should develop a policy for doing so, Craig City Council members said Tuesday when asked to help tear down the abandoned drive-in theater located at the east entrance of Craig.
At their meeting Monday, Moffat County commissioners asked the city and fire district to partner in an effort to demolish the drive-in and its concession building, mow the weeds and level the ground.
"It goes back to economic development, establishing a welcoming environment for businesses looking to move to Craig," Moffat County Commissioner Les Hampton said Monday.
Property owner Stan Dewsnup was not contacted prior to the discussion and has not given his consent to have any work done.
City officials are worried they will set a bad precedent by paying for the cleanup of private property without assessing the owner.
The city has a policy to either make the property owner pay the costs of demolition and cleanup or pay for it using tax dollars, if available, and place a lien on the property.
In the first of the two most recent cases of the city condemning property, the city placed a lien and now owns the property, which used to be the Cosgriff Hotel on Victory Way. In the second, the owner of the White Horse in on Yampa Avenue paid demolition costs.
"I don't think we want to let property owners off free and clear," Mayor Dave DeRose said.
The county has no such recourse for dealing with junk or abandoned buildings.
"I'm all for beautifying our community but I think the county should develop a policy," Councilor Kent Nielson said.
Ferree said he thinks that participating in a cleanup of private property without assessing the owner could also result in the owners of formerly condemned properties to request reimbursement for their costs or for people asking the city to pay the costs in the future.
Councilor Bill Johnston said he was concerned about the proposed partnership on another level.
"We should be more cautious in the balance of these partnerships than we have in the past," he said.
Johnston said the county didn't offer assistance when the city demolished the Cosgriff Hotel.
The city did not ask the county for assistance on the matter.
The theatre has been closed for nearly 20 years.
Dewsnup is also the owner of the Craig West Theater.
Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, Ext. 210 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.