Briefs Gunnison County
Written by Alissa Johnson   
Wednesday, 06 March 2013
Possible extension for sage grouse comments
The county received word from Senator Michael Bennett’s office that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is going to extend the comment period by three weeks for the listing of the Gunnison sage grouse as an endangered species. The county itself has not yet received word from the agency, however, so the details of what that means are not fully known. According to county manager Matthew Birnie, the county had hoped for more time but it was better than no extension at all.

Riverland batching operation upheld
The Board of County Commissioners held a public hearing regarding an appeal of a Planning Commission decision allowing John Nichols to run a concrete batching operation in Riverland Industrial Park.
Marcus J Locke, attorney at Wilderson, Locke & Hill, LLC, filed the appeal on behalf of local rancher Bill Lacy. Locke made several arguments against the decision, suggesting that a full minor review should have been conducted, and that allowing outdoor storage changed Riverland’s covenants through an improper process. He also raised concerns about the visibility of the operation from Highway 135.
The commissioners, however, did not feel that the Planning Commission had acted improperly or made a decision inconsistent with the evidence. The one sticking point was new evidence submitted on behalf of local rancher John Rozman suggesting that Nichols does not have legal access to Riverland’s south entrance from his lot. Without that, he has to use Buckley Drive—the impacts of which on noise, dust and traffic had not been considered by the Planning Commission.
Local rancher John Rozman attended the hearing and said the road Nichols uses to access the southern entrance from his lot was private. “[It] was not put in to serve that lot, it was to meet obligations with United and the Industrial Park… I had no plans for anyone to use the road other than United.”
That didn’t match Nichols’ understanding of the situation, and the commissioners singled out the dispute as a condition when they voted to uphold the Planning Commission’s decision with modifications. “Until the dispute for the access entrance is resolved, the access is only from Buckley Drive to this property,” Commissioner Paula Swenson said.
The commissioners also asked for better documentation that the Riverland Property Owner’s Association had approved outdoor storage on that lot, and documentation that High Altitude Building & Auto—which owns a third of the lot in question—supports the batching operation.
County to chip seal around Nicholson Lake
The county will spend about $14,000 to help chip seal the Slate River Road where it goes around Nicholson Lake. In 2011 and 2012, the county hard-surfaced half of the Slate River Road and will complete the remainder with help from the Alpine Meadows Homeowners Association.
The HOA has agreed to pay for about $33,000 of materials because the work will help reduce sedimentation in Nicholson Lake. The county’s portion of the cost comes from the labor and equipment use.