'It's been a long process'

Developer for 187-acre parcel to enter two-year waiting period for Pence Drive

In other action

At its Tuesday meeting, the Moffat County Commission:

• Approved a request for the El Mexico Soccer Club to charge a $2 entry fee to Loudy-Simpson Park soccer fields for soccer tournaments.

• Approved appointment of K.C. Hume to Juvenile Services Planning Commission.

• Held an executive session for conference with County Attorney Kathleen Taylor for legal advice on specific legal questions regarding mineral lease interests in Rio Blanco County owned by the Museum of Northwest Colorado. Museum director Dan Davidson said he could not comment on how much the interests are worth.

• Approved a quote for a fiduciary liability insurance policy. The policy will cost $2,098 for a year's time and will cover any liability the county may encounter when county employees manage their retirement and health insurance accounts account directly through the company that provides the employees' benefits program.

The Moffat County Commission gave the green light for the next phase in one subdivision but not for a road in a similar parcel.

In their decision, Commissioners chose policy consistency rather than making special accommodations for what those involved call a miscommunication.

The land that garnered two of three county commissioners' approval is a 187-acre parcel developed by Craig resident John Stehle.

Commissioners Tom Gray and Tom Mathers voted in favor of the approval of the development's final phase. Commissioner Saed Tayyara voted against the measure.

His opposition concerned Pence Drive, a road on the first of Stehle's two subdivisions that Stehle intends to give to the county.

Pence Drive hasn't officially gone through the required two-year waiting period for roads submitted to the county. Tayyara voted against the measure because, during the 1970s and '80s, similar issues regarding subdivisions in Craig have "created major headaches to the people who own the land, who own the houses and the city that maintains it," he said.

However, until recently, Stehle said he thought he had entered the trial period in May 2006. To that end, Stehle said, he spent about $165,000 to bring the road up to county specifications.

"Basically, I had two years of waiting for nothing," Stehle said.

Still, the next two years won't be a complete loss for Stehle.

The County performs winter maintenance on the road, including snowplow services, during the trial period.

"That would give time for us to see if there are soft spots and see if the road holds up under maintenance for two years," Gray said.

Stehle will be responsible for fixing any flaws found in the road during that period, as well as maintaining the road during the nonwinter months.

At Tuesday's meeting, Stehle and county officials attempted to unravel the cause of confusion.

Stehle said County Road and Bridge officials examined the road two years ago, adding that he thought passing the examination began the two-year trial period required of all roads submitted to the county.

However, Stehle said, the official application never reached the County Commissioners.

Stehle "has never submitted an application," Gray said. "He talked about he wanted it to become a county road, eventually, but he never did officially apply for it to become a county road."

County Road and Bridge director Bill Mack was unavailable for comment.

Gray and Mathers agreed that a miscommunication likely occurred somewhere within the road approval process.

Stehle "fell through the cracks because somebody dropped the ball and never brought it to the Commissioners" to begin the two-year trial period, Mathers said.

However, Tayyara asserted the county's two-year waiting policy must remain in effect for all cases, including Stehle's.

The two-year trial period allows the county to monitor the road for flaws, even in roads originally built to county specifications.

"If we have so called engineering (specifications) but if the road falls apart in one area, and then who's going to be responsible?" Tayyara said. "The county, the subdivider, what?"

Stehle can come before the Commission and formally request the two-year trial period begin on Pence Drive.

However, that will add another two years to work on the subdivisions that Stehle began in 2005.

"It's been a long process," Stehle said after the Commissioners had made their decision.

Maintaining the road during what he thought was the required trial period has cost Stehle money out of his own pocket.

Stehle's other option is to ask a local homeowner's association to take over the road instead.

It's an option Stehle said he'd be willing to consider.

For other actions at Tuesday's County Commission meeting, see Thursday's edition of the Craig Daily Press.

Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1795 or bmanley@craigdailypress.com

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