A back way into Durango from Grandview is officially on the negotiating table.
La Plata County commissioners on Tuesday approved a letter of intent to begin negotiating a possible deal with
Oakridge Energy Inc., which is offering free rights of way across its Ewing Mesa property if the county builds the
The proposal has faced opposition from city officials, who complained they have been excluded from early discussions, and from some mountain bikers and hikers who fear the passage will negatively affect the expansive Telegraph trail
The proposed roads, which would be built in phases, would connect the roundabout at the so-called Bridge to Nowhere"
with Colorado Highway 3 in two places: near the Walmart intersection on South Camino del Rio and at the existing
Ewing Mesa Road, south of downtown.
The county has argued that the road is needed to alleviate congestion along the U.S. Highway 160/550 corridor and to
provide an alternate route to the hospital in case of an emergency.
Responding to recreationists' concerns, the county altered its original proposal, nixing a connector to County Road
237 at Horse Gulch.
The city, in a letter from Mayor Leigh Meigs, requested that action on the letter of intent be delayed until after
The proposed letter of intent potentially impacts numerous long-range planning issues, some of which are complex.
The council needs to meet with city staff in a study session context to review these various issues in greater depth
before formulating any detailed response to the proposed letter of intent," the letter read.
City staff attended but did not speak at the meeting.
Commissioners Kellie Hotter and Wally White voted to approve the letter of intent while Commissioner Joelle Riddle
voted against it.
Riddle said that while she supports the negotiations, she voted against the letter because she worried it would cause
irreparable harm to the county's relationship with the city.
She said there are too many important issues for the two entities to work through to jeopardize the relationship.
I'm committed to finding out what's going on with this relationship and improving it," she said on a break during
In early 2008, Oakridge Energy President Sandra Pautsky had the land platted into 54 parcels of just more than 35
Under state law, subdividing into parcels 35 acres or greater does not require local governmental approval.
Hotter argued working on the roads with Pautsky could prevent a sprawling 35-acre development so close to town.
It could incentivize this property to develop to a higher, better use," she said.
White for 30 years has lived on High Llama Lane, where the proposed road would connect with the new interchange on
160 near Mercy Regional Medical Center.
This option of the road going up High Llama Lane does not please me," he said. It will destroy my way of life."
But he said he accepts it as an inevitable reality.
Geographically, it probably is one of the only places we can put a connector road and have it be affordable," he
He agreed with Butch Knowlton, director of emergency management for the county, that it is a matter of public safety.
We're trying to take a proactive stance," he said.
County officials have argued that building the roads after development gets under way on the mesa will be
Mountain biker Adam Howell told commissioners building the road will lead to sprawl.
A road to Ewing Mesa is going to encourage and accelerate the development of all Oakridge properties," he said at
He said that, left alone, the 35-acre parcels won't be developed anytime soon because of the slow real estate market, remote location, lack of infrastructure and location on the Fruitland Outcrop, which seeps methane and other gases.
We would be better off with 35-acre parcels, much of which wouldn't be developed," he said.
Mary Monroe, head of Trails 2000, said planning will help ensure the best result.
I don't want a road through the Telegraph system. But what I really don't want are 18 roads through the Telegraph
system," she said.
County Manager Shawn Nau emphasized that the letter of intent is only the beginning of a process in which the public
will be key in determining the outcome.
This is not a contract in and of itself," he said.