Hot Sulphur residents angry with county’s lack of communication
January 18, 2009
In a word, Hot Sulphur Springs residents and board members felt “blindsided” with the news that a trash transfer station could be built at their town’s entrance.
Citizens of the town packed the Hot Sulphur Springs board room last Thursday evening to voice frustrations directed to county officials.
It became apparent that including the town’s mayor, no board member or citizen had been privy to the county’s transfer-station land deal prior to reading about it in the Sky-Hi Daily News two days after the deal closed on Jan. 30.
“I personally feel very betrayed by this,” said Hot Sulphur Mayor Hershal Deputy to a panel of county officials.
Deputy illustrated how the town has “truly tried to be good neighbors” with the county’s series of building projects of late, including a new judicial center and sheriff’s tower.
“We have done everything within our power to help. The last year-and-a-half or two years, communication between the commissioners, myself and the town board has been the best that it’s ever been in the last decade,” he said.
“I feel cheated.”
Later, Commissioner Gary Bumgarner delivered a personal apology to Deputy, saying he’d failed to inform him.
“My main objection is the way they proceeded in what seemed to be in secrecy about this project,” said Hot Sulphur Planning Commission Chairman Kevin Mitchell. “Most people here probably have good reason to be skeptical about what the county is proposing.”
The county is proposing is a 9,200 square-foot municipal solid waste containment building for trash and single-stream recycling, a 2,400 square-foot maintenance office and a small-scale house to be located on 6 acres of business-zoned property the county now owns at the east entrance of Hot Sulphur Springs.
Residents expressed worry of possible noise, light and water/river pollution, increased traffic and depreciation of home values.
“This makes me sick that we haven’t had any input about what is happening in our own community,” said resident Michelle Kloss ” to which she received a burst of applause.
“This is one of the very few towns where we have more full-time residents than any other place in this county, and I don’t understand why we have to deal with everyone else’s trash. I don’t understand why it has to be the first thing that people will see when people come to our town. We have a nice residential area with families and children.”
Road and Bridge Superintendent in charge of landfill operations Ken Haynes was the first to give the county’s explanation armed with visual aids of existing transfer stations in Cherry Creek and Basalt. Packets of information about the future project along with maps were generously supplied on a nearby table.
Many of the residents at the meeting voiced they weren’t necessarily opposed to the idea of a transfer station, but were opposed to the station’s chosen location and the covert process leading to that choice.
One Hot Sulphur resident, Jeff Green, was one willing to give the county a chance, saying everyone in the room was “over reacting” ” then adding “maybe deservedly so.”
Hot Sulphur resident Phil Shipman didn’t like the county’s response to his view that officials did not consider the county’s own master plan when making their decision.
The master plan cites the county’s responsibility to promote joint development review within a three-mile area of the town and consideration to maintain a “strong gateway image” into town.
Shipman was informed that the master plan is the planning commission’s “guiding document” and is not policy. County Attorney Jack Dicola told Shipman that the county’s responsibility to facilitate the basics of trash service in the county are also in the master plan.
A prudent expense of taxpayers’ money was the driving factor behind making what appeared to be a hasty decision to buy the Hot Sulphur Springs property, according to county officials, including Haynes, Dicola and Commissioners Gary Bumgarner and Nancy Stuart.
Dicola maintained there would be zero impacts to the town, even after Hot Sulphur Trustee Bob Shirley directly challenged that statement.
The county promised the transfer station would be clean, hardly audible, closed nightly and hidden by a large fence around its perimeter.
Garbage would be stored inside of a building and out of sight, county officials said. All measures would be taken to safeguard surface water and the Colorado River. Stuart pointed out that the county already spends a budgeted $1 million a year on river-water quality and quantity issues, illustrating that the county is and will continue to be a positive steward of the Colorado.
Prior to the Hot Sulphur property purchase, the county had been eyeing a 20-acre parcel of land in Granby it ultimately lost due to a first-right-of-refusal clause. When the parcel was re-offered to the county, the purchase price had increased from $300,000 to $700,000, they said.
The Hot Sulphur Property offered by C.J.S. Investments of the Granby Docheff family was one of four properties the county considered. County officials decidedly purchased the former gravel-pit land for $180,000 prior to Jan. 1, they said, because the seller wanted close at that time for federal-tax reasons.
During Hot Sulphur’s board meeting much later, Mayor Deputy said the county’s snap decision to rush the deal benefited one individual without consideration of an entire community.
Meanwhile, the town does not plan to stand “idly by,” the mayor had said. In the works is the town’s effort to establish a water-supply protection district that stretches beyond limits of town to further protect its water supply and the Colorado River. The ordinance would ensure town oversight of best water-protection practice measures.
” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail email@example.com.