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Crested Butte tightening up right-of-way regulations Print
Written by Mark Reaman   
Wednesday, 31 July 2013
Grass or gravel in front of residences?

The Crested Butte Town Council will consider an ordinance that formally regulates activity on town rights-of-way. It will address everything from utility companies digging ditches in the alleys to citizens planting grass near the town streets. The ordinance will be up for public hearing at the August 6 meeting.


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Town attorney John Belkin presented the proposed ordinance to the council at the July 15 meeting. In a memo to the council, Belkin explained that the current town code “contains limited regulations regarding occupancy, construction and excavation in the public rights-of-way. The existing regulations address only very basic notice, permitting and bonding requirements.” Belkin made it clear the town regulations need updating and “lack the depth of issue coverage such as bonding, warranty, indemnification and insurance.
“I feel strongly about putting an updated rule set in the town code,” Belkin said.
Town public works director Rodney Due told the council it has been his intent to “get a lot of this into ordinance form since much of the rules in place have been done administratively” or even passed down by word-of-mouth. He said while franchise agreements make working with utility companies easier, some, like Century Link telecommunications, need more strict regulations to make the partnership between the town and utility understandable

“As it gets busier in town, we need to have rules in place to work efficiently within the town rights-of-way,” said Belkin. “I don’t see any of this as a block but as a way to work more efficiently. A good rule set can help avoid conflicts.”
Due said he has felt squeezed by the lack of codified regulation in the past. “A lot of things around town are based on policies that aren’t written down,” said Due. “We are trying to fill gaps and have a consistent policy.”
“We are trying to keep it pretty basic,” added Belkin.
But local citizen Mike Haney pointed out that some of the proposed policies might go counter to stated town goals. He supported allowing homeowners to put in grass to the street if they desired, especially in the no-parking areas located within 30 feet of any town intersection.
“Green is good and gravel works against the stated goal of the town and carbon reduction,” Haney pointed out. “Evaluate the ordinance in the context of stated town goals and values. That includes the financial, the environmental stewardship aspect and the carbon reduction in town. The town is going to remove 1,600 feet of grass at my house and replace it with gravel. I accept the staff’s professionalism but disagree with their call.”
Haney suggested the council ask the staff to wait to remove the grass until the final ordinance is passed.
Due pointed out that the town right-of-way extends 26-and-a-half feet past the curb on Third Street and 18-and-a-half feet past the curb on Teocalli Avenue by Haney’s home. Due said a nearby neighbor had complained when snowplows tore up some of his grass in the town right-of-way. And then he spotted a landscaper planting sod at Haney’s house after a water line break.
“I don’t go out looking for these situations,” said Due. “But I deal with them when we have to. The fact is that it is the town’s property. Under the regs, if a resident disturbs any of that right-of-way, they can be fined. But we try to find a balance.
“The fact is we need at least ten feet for parking,” continued Due. “I’d say go ahead and plant grass on the other 16-and-a-half feet but understand if it gets damaged by something like a plow, it is not the town’s responsibility to fix it. Look, grass looks nice but people won’t park on grass. We need to be consistent through town and we need at least ten feet of gravel and road base. If we let one person go, everyone will do it.”
Haney said he just wanted to know what the rules were. “If you have a rule set, we can both make a good investment on how to treat that section of property,” he said. “We’ll understand the rules. Knowing the rules and working together makes sense.”
Town manager Todd Crossett asked if the council wanted to allow grass up to the curb. The council members all gave a resounding no to the question.
“To me, the ten feet is hard,” said councilperson Glenn Michel. “It’s not negotiable. It’s the people’s land. The town will require more parking as it gets busier. Gravel signifies where people can park. No one will park on grass.”
So the council agreed to let people do some landscaping on part of the town right-of-way but not within ten feet of the curb. They will consider the entire ordinance addressing rights-of-way at the August 6 meeting.

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