City councilor seeks city, county cooperation


— Craig City Councilor Gene Bilodeau said he intends to find out whether perception is reality.

"I have people ask me if the perceived lack of communication and cooperation between Moffat County and the city of Craig is a reality," he said. "My belief is, if I go out there and ask city councilmen and county commissioners, and then if I ask the citizenry, those two groups are going to have a different perspective.

"What I want to try and do is get my hands around that in a more meaningful context."

As Craig grows, the issue of planning and zoning will become more important, Bilodeau said, and local government needs to get a handle on what its plans are going to be before it's too late.

"I think we owe it to the people to work through this," he said, pointing to a recent series of interviews conducted by Darcy Trask, Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership director.

Trask reported that some local business owners think the city and county planning processes don't work well together, which hinders any business that wants to relocate near Craig or expand out of the city.

She said most of the specific problems businesses had were with getting city utilities to properties in the county.

Utilities are one part of what Bilodeau would like to investigate.

City Manager Jim Ferree said city officials are concerned about new developments near Craig city limits.

"The taxpayers of the city of Craig have spent a lot of money correcting inadequate infrastructure in a lot of these developments that occurred during the boom" in the 1970s, he said. "If we're not diligent about development occurring around the city, every taxpayer of the city will end up correcting more problems."

Ferree pointed to a recent development north of the County Road 7 bypass that started drainage problems for city property owners.

Problems from poor infrastructure have been a part of Ferree's job as city manager since he started about 10 years ago, he said.

One of the first things he did with the city was pursue grants to fix water system issues in residential subdivisions on Craig's east side.

It turned out to be a $700,000 project, with Craig taxpayers covering half the cost.

Officials have tried to come together before.

City staff drafted an Intergovernmental Agreement in 2007 that, had it been signed by the Moffat County Commission, would have let city building officials inspect developments within a short distance from the city and make recommendations to the commission for site and building plan approvals.

The commission would retain final authority.

Since the agreement was drafted and sent to the county, there has been no formal communication in favor or in opposition to the ideas presented, Ferree said.

It's not necessarily because of bad communication, he added.

"There have been other things that take priority for us and the county," Ferree said. "And, for many years up until about two years ago, this wasn't a dire issue because the city wasn't growing that much.

"Now that we are seeing development, it's probably a good idea to come back to it."

Commissioner Saed Tayyara ran for election in 2004 under the slogan "Unity for a better community," directly addressing he perceived hostility between city and county officials.

He said he doesn't think there are obstacles preventing the Council and Commission working together, but did see one area that could work better.

"We have to give and take," he said. "We have to accept and we have to compromise. It can't be all for one group and nothing for the other. We work together great, like we worked together to fund the (Moffat County Regional Airport) this week.

One thing Tayyara and Bilodeau agree on: any discussion of changing the planning and zoning process for properties in the county that are close to city limits must include those property owners.

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or


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