Hot Sulphur Springs hires retains attorney, wants county to get permit for transfer station
January 25, 2009
With the aim of influencing county decisions about a proposed transfer station in Hot Sulphur Springs, an informal strategy and organizing session among residents took place early Saturday. The lone county representative at the meeting was east-end Commissioner James Newberry.Right off the bat, residents fired off questions directed to Newberry, such as Why Hot Sulphur?His reply was best location for the best price.Newberrys comments were not without his own apology, followed by his request for permission to be at the citizen meeting. I was going to ref middle-school basketball, but I can get yelled at here or yelled at there, said Newberry, followed by chuckles in the room. The Hot Sulphur board room had reached near capacity. In the 12 years Ive been doing this, this is the worst job of communicating that weve done, Newberry said. The county has been criticized for its secretive process leading up to the purchase of transfer-station property located two-tenths of a mile from the nearest house of a residential neighborhood in Hot Sulphur.And we made mistakes, and part of that was my responsibility. But thats where we are. If you have anything to say to me, I came for that today, Newberry continued.Residents agreed to have their strategies out in the open, contrary to how they felt the county had proceeded.Retained by the town of Hot Sulphur, attorney David Michel of Michel & McQuain LLC, Winter Park, explained Hot Sulphurs possible next step, which is to convince the county to apply for a special use permit for its own transfer station.Up until now, the county has claimed the transfer station is a use by right under the property zoned business. The zone allows for light manufacturing, warehouse facilities, heavy equipment storage areas and earth-moving businesses. A trash facility is not specifically mentioned.On behalf of Hot Sulphur, Michel maintains that a transfer station is not a use that fits into the business zone and should therefore require a special permit.Such a permit would allow public discourse on how the transfer station can meet certain standards to limit pollution, noise, vibration, traffic and so on. The transfer station requires a permit from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment. One of the things I find interesting, Michel said, is when you look at uses by right in the business zone, not a single one of those requires you to go get a permit from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment because of potential risks involved with the type of use. That is one of the reasons I think it should get a special use permit.The former owner of the six acres, property located next to Hot Sulphurs official growth area on Highway 40s Scenic Byway, achieved a property rezoning on Nov. 12, 2008, in order to place an automobile body shop on the property in the future. The property across from the Thompson Ranch entrance on the east end of Hot Sulphur and previously owned by rezoning applicant Suzanne Docheff of CJS Investments Inc. had been split-zoned both business and forestry & open. The county approved the rezone to business on Dec. 23.Shortly afterwards, the county made a decision to purchase the rezoned property for $180,000 with the intent to place a transfer station on it.The county closed on the property on Dec. 30.Residents and town officials learned about the purchase Dec. 31 in the Sky-Hi Daily News.But the countys first interest in Hot Sulphur Springs for a transfer station can be traced back to much earlier, according to Aug. 7, 2008, minutes from a Hot Sulphur Springs board meeting. Discussion items in the minutes include the heading Bauden/Bauden Subdivision, under which is a short description of the county approaching the town to consolidate lots for the use of a transfer site.The Hot Sulphur Springs board had rejected the countys request. The county later focused its attention on 25 acres of Flinstone Gravel Pit land just outside of Granbys perimeter for its transfer site. The county lost the land to a first right of refusal and in public meetings since has claimed that when the same property came up for sale again, the new owner had increased the price dramatically. However, that new owner, Dan Hahn, offers a different story. The original owner had offered the property for $350,000. Dan Hahn purchased it, he said, and when approached by the county for a possible land transaction, suggested the county have an appraisal done. The countys own appraiser appraised it at $800,000, at which point Hahn offered the 25 acres of property to the county at $700,000, according to Hahn.The county rejected this price and instead pursued the now-controversial Hot Sulphur property. Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.