Residents want trucks out | CraigDailyPress.com

Residents want trucks out

Brandon Johnson

John Ponikvar and his family moved to Thompson Hill south of Craig six years ago for the peace and quiet.

“I love it up here,” Ponikvar said Tuesday from his home in the Estey Subdivision.

But for the past six months, Ponikvar’s home hasn’t been so quiet.

In February, an oil field service company bought property in Ponikvar’s neighborhood.

Shortly after buying the property, R & S Tong Service of Odessa, Texas, started storing heavy equipment there. The equipment, which includes boom trucks and pickups, is used to service oil wells throughout Northwest Colorado and parts of Utah and Wyoming.

Ponikvar said R & S crews drive their boom trucks down his street all day and all night, kicking up dust and making a lot of noise.

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“We’re used to just the neighbors coming in and out,” Ponikvar said. He estimates traffic to and from the R & S facility has increased traffic on the gravel road 10 fold.

Moffat County Road and Bridge director Bill Mack said the county roads in the subdivision were not designed for heavy truck traffic.

“You start having heavy loads on an everyday basis, we would have to go in and beef up that road,” Mack said.

Ponikvar said he and his neighbors didn’t mind the traffic at first because they thought the crews would be gone in a few months. R & S Vice President Robert Howsey told the neighbors the Thompson Hill site was only temporary because he owns commercial property on Shadow Mountain that he planned to move to.

But in July, after traffic increased and the dust got worse from the dry weather, Ponikvar and six other households in the neighborhood sent a letter to the Moffat County commissioners asking them to look into any possible zoning violations at the R & S facility.

After hearing from the residents of the subdivision, Commissioner Saed Tayyara visited the site July 8.

Tayyara said Tuesday he was shocked to see a commercial operation in the middle of a neighborhood zoned residential and agricultural.

“I wasn’t expecting to see what I saw,” Tayyara said.

Tayyara counted five boom trucks with Texas plates and several pickups parked in front of a large shop on the property. He also saw mobile homes housing R & S employees on the property.

In the 10 minutes Tayyara was there, two trucks pulled into the property.

“It looked like they were here to stay,” Tayyara said.

County zoning regulations say R & S is not allowed to have a commercial operation on agricultural property without a conditional-use permit. The mobile homes and trailers are not allowed without a temporary housing permit.

The county never issued a conditional use or temporary housing permit for the property.

Howsey was given until Aug. 21 to get a permit for the commercial operations.

The commissioners tabled the discussion about the permit Tuesday because they didn’t have documentation proving Howsey was allowed to make a permit request on behalf of Co-Odessa Properties, whose name the property is under.

Moffat County Planner Ben Crippen said if Howsey doesn’t present documentation to the county and get a permit by Aug. 21, the county can issue a $1,000 a day fine.

“They definitely need a conditional-use permit,” Crippen said.

Howsey said Tuesday he hoped to have the trucks off the property by now, but he was slowed down because of his wife’s death.

“We’ll be out of there as soon as we can get moved,” Howsey said.

He has property near Shadow Mountain is under construction, but said he doesn’t have a timetable for when it will be ready.

Howsey’s conditional-use permit application asks the county to let him park his trucks and store equipment there until 2006.

“I’m not trying to cause no trouble in Craig whatsoever,” Howsey said.

Howsey plans to live on the property after moving his equipment.

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031 or bjohansson@craigdailypress.com

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