Transfer station: Too many unanswered questions, too much haste
January 21, 2009
Hot Sulphur Springs is steaming ” and not just at the town’s namesake springs ” over Grand County’s decision to buy land for a transfer station at the east entrance to town.
Can’t say we blame town officials and residents for being a tad torched.
The county’s failure to consult with Hot Sulphur officials before making a decision of this magnitude on the town’s doorstep was, at best, a breach of trust. Ditto for not soliciting countywide public input about a transfer station.
As one Hot Sulphur resident pointed out last week, the Grand County Master Plan urges county officials to cooperate with town planners on development issues within three miles of town limits in order to give towns a voice about what takes place at their entrances.
Splitting hairs about where Hot Sulphur’s Urban Growth Area ends is not the point. It’s reasonable to expect that county officials would have the common courtesy to inform officials they were planning to locate a trash transfer station within spitting distance of their town.
Contrast this with the county’s deference toward the Town of Fraser when it came time to review the new sledding hill proposal last August. County officials practically begged the town to conduct the review based on concerns the property might soon be annexed.
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What’s so different about Hot Sulphur Springs? Is there much doubt whether development anywhere in that valley affects the town?
In fact, these are but a few of the questions that arise about this entire process. For instance:
– What’s the hurry? Securing a tax break for one individual, as suggested by county officials, is a poor excuse for not making the process more public or more deliberate.
– Precisely how does the arrangement with Waste Management work? The county has already chosen them as the site operator and has already committed itself to the transfer station by buying the property, so what leverage is left to negotiate a good deal with Waste Management?
– Will operation of the site be put out to bid in the future or is that Waste Management’s prerogative in perpetuity? If so, how does that best serve the public interest?
– Does granting Waste Management an exclusive contract to operate the station put other trash haulers at a competitive disadvantage, thereby reducing competition and options for residents?
– How does a centralized transfer station advance the recycling issue? Or does it? How will it affect recycling in Kremmling?
We could go on. But here’s the bottom line at this juncture: Too many unanswered questions, too much of a hurry, too little information released prior to this decision, and too little public input is not a recipe for sound public policy.
The county would do well to pause this process long enough to allow these and other questions to be answered. Otherwise, county officials can count on ill will among constituents, particularly in Hot Sulphur Springs, for some time to come.