Hamilton vote center closed for 2008

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Other action

At its meeting Tuesday, the Moffat County Commission:

• Signed the Northwest Colorado Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation Plan.

• Signed a Recreational Public Purposes Lease with the Bureau of Land Management for the land surrounding the Browns Park School, which no longer is used. The lease is for five years, but if the BLM deems the use is positive at the lease's set termination date, the land will be turned over to the county.

• Awarded a bid for six belly dump trailers to Transwest Trailers of Commerce City for the Road and Bridge Department, totaling about $193,000. The bid was roughly $26,000 more than the only other bid received, but Transwest was the only company to bid trailers that met requested specifications. The purchase from Transwest is about $44,000 more than the county budgeted for trailers. However, other Road and Bridge capital expenses totaled $43,000 less than budgeted, leaving the department's capital expense budget $1,000 more than budgeted.

• Entered into executive session to discuss "maintenance of county road right of way." No details were available after the meeting.

• Approved a resolution correcting the certificate of designation for the Moffat County Landfill to operate on 210 acres instead of 89 acres. A previous Commission and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment approved the landfill to expand from 89 acres to 210 acres in 1996. However, the Commission never held a public hearing to amend the landfill's certificate of designation.

• Approved sketch/preliminary plans for the Wilhite minor subdivision on state Highway 394. The subdivision will be across 70 acres, with three, 25.7-acre lots and one 44-acre lot.

• Approved final plans for the Davidson minor subdivision on Ninth Street, northeast of Craig. The project will separate one, 5-acre lot from another 151 acres on the parcel.

• Approved final plans for Fox Point major subdivision on state Highway 13 south of Craig. The roughly 177-acre subdivision will have roughly 30, two-acre lots and 100 acres of open space.

• Approved sketch plans for Eagle Rock Ridge major subdivision on Box Canyon Road, north of Craig. A 35-acre parcel will be subdivided into seven, 5-acre lots.

• Approved a conditional use permit for Breeze Basin Sand and Gravel Pit on a 62-acre site off Highway 394 going east of Craig. The mine will have a 20-year life cycle. The permit was predicated on developers reaching a written agreement with adjacent landowners concerning damage possibilities to a deep-cut flood ditch close to the mine site.

• Approved a temporary use permit for CH2MHILL Trigon EPC to store piping on property owned by Bill Mack, Road and Bridge director.

• Signed a Colorado Discretionary Aviation Grant Agreement, through which the Colorado Department of Transportation pledges a $58,125 grant for the Moffat County Regional Airport terminal project.

• Approved a conditional use permit for a 3B Enterprises gravel mine between First Street and U.S. Highway 40. The Commission added the following conditions: 3B Enterprises will construct a dirt burm along Highway 40 to hide unattractive sight and sound; the mine will not violate any state regulations or permits; and the mine will not alter any working culverts near the property.

• Approved Moffat County Social Services' core services contracts for 2008.

• Approved Social Services request to look for a replacement copy machine, to lease or buy.

— The Hamilton vote center will be closed for the 2008 primaries and general election, the Moffat County Commission decided Tuesday.

Lila Herod, chief deputy clerk and recorder, said she did not make the recommendation without careful consideration.

"I don't want to diminish at all the 30 people who do come out to vote" at the Hamilton vote center, she said. "I would suggest maybe we try it for this year."

The Moffat County Clerk and Recorder's Office is under direction from the Colorado Secretary of State's Office to make sure Moffat County's polling places meet U.S. Department of Justice access criteria as described on a federal survey form, Herod said.

The form includes specific standards for parking spaces, building entrances and interiors for all polling places.

Many of the access codes are in place to ensure handicapped residents are able to cast their vote, Herod said.

Herod's recent check at the Hamilton center showed problems with the entrance way and parking lot that she said would be near impossible to fix by the August primaries and November elections.

For one, the entrance way needs to be widened for wheelchair accessibility. The parking lot also is too close to a thoroughfare, does not have enough parking spaces and should be paved.

The Secretary of State's Office did offer to come to Hamilton and look through its budget to see if it could pay for some or all of the project costs, Herod said.

However, she added, to get the state in Hamilton, apply for a grant, go through a required bid process and get the work done seems unfeasible given the short timeline.

Compounding that time crunch, vote centers have to be established across the state for the primaries by today, which Herod said prevents any extra time to consider other options.

Stephanie Jeffcoat, Hamilton's election judge, and other Hamilton residents attended Tuesday's meeting.

They said they were not pleased with the decision, but understood it was necessary and were glad Hamilton's vote center wouldn't be closed for good.

Hamilton resident Marjorie Forbes said other residents had asked her why the Hamilton vote center has to close because of handicap access when there are no handicapped residents in Hamilton.

"The feeling of these people is that (the closure) is being pushed because we don't fight," Forbes said.

Whether there are handicapped residents in Hamilton doesn't apply because any state resident can use any vote center, Herod said. As well, if one vote center doesn't comply with regulations, it puts the whole state at risk for losing federal funding.

Herod added she did not see this as the beginning of the end for Hamilton's polling place.

"This is by no means a permanent decision," she said.

Jeffcoat said she understood, but voters she represents still were concerned.

"Hamilton just doesn't want to be cut out of the county," she said.

Herod said they shouldn't worry, and possible state grants could turn out to be a benefit for Hamilton.

"If we look at it positively," she said, "it could be a real benefit for the community center to have that parking lot worked on."

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