New Rio Blanco planner on the job |

New Rio Blanco planner on the job

Lois Wymore

MEEKER — The Rio Blanco County planning office is open and fully staffed.

Mike Neumann, the new county planner has been on the job since Dec. 1. Michele Carrother, his assistant, has been on the job for about three months. Both said they have spent a great deal of their time familiarizing themselves with current county regulations and getting to know each other.

“Although the county had an interim planner, there are a lot of things going on in this office, especially with all the oil and gas exploration,” Neumann said

Neumann has lived in the region for 15 years and most recently was the open-space planner for Steamboat Springs. His education and background are in environmental engineering.

He said he was excited to land the job and looked forward to getting to know people in the community. He also predicted a lot of growth for the future.

“I know there are a lot of people out there that say they’ve heard it before, but it is more a question of when than if, now,” he said. “I am glad to be a part of the process.”

Carrother and her family moved from the Glenwood Springs area three years ago.

“It was just getting too crowded, too busy and we wanted to raise our kids in a more peaceful atmosphere,” she said.

Both said they are enjoying the learning process associated with the business of the planning office. Neumann said the county’s current development plan is in need of some fine-tuning.

“The skeleton is a great framework to build on, but there are some things that need updating,” he said.

One area Neumann is currently working on with the commissioners is a program that will reimburse the county for road maintenance on roads used by the oil companies.

“There are over a dozen companies and some will use the roads more than others so the fees must be fair,” he said.

He said it is important for the planning office to work closely with the use tax office on permits and make sure companies are following county guidelines.

“It has been kind of hit and miss until now,” he said. “We need always be on top of what is going on.”

To reach Lois Wymore, call 826-2904.

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