County to work with two properties on blight issues

The Grand County Commissioners held two hearings related to blight on Tuesday.

The two properties in question happen to be neighboring locations off US Highway 40 and belong to Dennis and Kathy Johnson and Christopher Bergquist. The complaints related to cars and snowmobiles considered “junk vehicles,” tires and other debris visible on land zoned forestry, open space and tourism.

Neighborhood complaints and tension about the appearance of this strip of road have been a growing issue, according to a resident in the area. However, Dennis Johnson explained Tuesday that he operates a sawmill operation, so some level of mess is unavoidable. Beyond that, he added that he doesn’t consider the objects on his property rubbish.

“Some people’s idea of junk is bulls—,” Johnson told county commissioners.

He has also seen illegal dumping on his property, which allows public access to the Fraser to Granby Trail. This has created a mess that Johnson said he wants to dispose of anyway, and he was in the process of removing some of the vehicles.

“I like what I’m hearing,” Commissioner Rich Cimino responded. “I like that the property owners have made progress on vehicles. What I’m hearing the Johnsons say is that they intend to make further progress.”

One neighbor did speak out and asked for a solution to what she characterized as a long-term problem devaluing nearby properties. While the commissioners did not find any of the items on the Johnsons’ property blight, they did offer to help him clean the property up.

All commissioners expressed their enthusiasm at the voluntary efforts of the property owners. They asked the Johnsons to remove the cars, signs, snowmobiles and other debris, and will look to re-evaluate the issue on Oct. 15.

Commissioner Kris Manguso also pointed out the parcel has been a family property for over 60 years, and she said that it looks better than it ever has, thanks to the Johnsons’ voluntary efforts.

“Instead of hard feelings and instead of attacking, Dennis has agreed to get rid of the inoperable vehicles,” Manguso added. “We have private property rights as well.”

As for Bergquist’s property, he explained that most of the vehicles belong to various people that may be able to move them. He said the other objects, such as tires and oil barrels, are either in use or being saved for future use.

The commissioners asked that Bergquist move the tires back from the road and get rid of the vehicles if possible. He said this could be done by Oct. 1.

The board also thanked Bergquist for his cooperation in the matter.

In other business:

• A representative of Peak Materials addressed odor, air quality and other concerns that have recently come up related to its asphalt plant. The representative asked for clear communication as a way to ensure the problems get remedied. The more real-time the odor or air quality complaints are communicated to the company, the better it can isolate a cause, the representative explained.

The commissioners also brought up some issues with trucks operating outside of permitted hours. The representative promised that if such things are happening, that they would not happen again. The board thanked the company for its efforts and expressed hope any issues would soon be under control.

• Cimino announced that he has been named a member of Colorado’s Geographic Naming Advisory Board. He and 11 other members from across Colorado will evaluate possible name changes for public monuments and places following increased awareness from the Black Lives Matter movement.

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