County Beat: November 15, 2018

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RBC | One man’s junk is another man’s treasure, or so the saying goes. Legally defining “junk” is again before the commissioners, as they tackled complaints about abandoned vehicles on County Road 7 during a workshop Tuesday, Nov. 13.
County residents Pete Kiser and Cathy Smith have submitted complaints about “rubbish, junk and abandoned vehicles” to the commissioners about half a dozen vehicles parked in a field owned by Luke and Starla Pelloni on County Road 7.
According to building inspector Jeff Kummer, the property in question is zoned agricultural, and what meets code requirements on ag land “depends on what fits the definition.”
The Pellonis said they hold the titles on all of the vehicles, which are not abandoned, and said the vehicles are for personal, not commercial use.
“The definition of a junkyard is a collection of cars for commercial use,” Starla Pelloni said. “That is our property and we pay taxes on it. I think we should be able to place them on our property where we want.”
Asked how many cars constitutes a landfill, RBC Planner Rachel Gates said, “We don’t have a set number. It’s all based on interpretation.”
“For those of us who have tried to improve our property, I think you owe it to us to uphold the codes,” said county resident David Luzmoor. “There is a philosophy in this county that if it’s on private property you can do whatever you want.”
“Everything is too vague to make a decision on,” said Commissioner Shawn Bolton. “Here we are again walking that line of private property rights versus what people think should be happening on someone else’s property.”
The commissioners agreed that the current Land Use Regulations are “pretty vague” and need to be more clearly defined.
Gates said the process of amending the regulations would take a couple months, but would be a public process, with comments accepted. Residents who have an interest in the process are encouraged to watch the public notice section of the paper, where hearings and comment periods will be announced.

RBC Economic Development Coordination Katelin Cook reviewed her department’s accomplishments in 2018, including a new business coming to town thanks to “headhunting” by the Better City organization, promotional videos for marketing, three weeks of “Nick’s Wild Ride” on the Outdoor Channel marketing Rio Blanco County, and CSU grad students working in Rangely to develop an outdoor recreation master plan.
There are currently 579 active businesses listed under the Colorado Secretary of State’s website for Rio Blanco County. Of those 432 are in Meeker and 137 are in Rangely, which is, according to Cook, consistent with the historic 1:3 ratio.

Dispatch fees will remain the same for Meeker’s Fire Department, but will increase for the Meeker Police Department. The fire department is “using about half what Meeker PD does.”
The Meeker Police Department will owe $45,000 for the year, compared to $36,000 for the fire department.
Meeker Fire and Rescue Board President Doug Overton updated the commissioners. “Since we put Luke [Pelloni] in the chief’s position, a lot of our problems have gone away. Things are working out and we’re really happy with how things are going.”
The addition to the fire department is done, with an open house planned next spring. Meeker Fire is planning a remodel of the current facilities, and has ordered a new ambulance and a new brush truck.
Sheriff Anthony Mazzola said the change in leadership has aided his department “Working with Luke, it’s day and night difference.”

Ninth Judicial District District Attorney Jeff Cheney and staff visited the commissioners to request funding for the DA’s office in 2019. As part of the district, RBC’s share (based on population) is 7.56 percent of the DA’s $3 million budget.
Cheney asked the commissioners to consider authorizing participation in House Bill 17-1221, which addresses the gray/black marijuana market. “It’s the moonshine of marijuana,” Cheney said.
Support of the bill would aid with obtaining grant funding for law enforcement and the DA’s office.
Additionally, Cheney said Jessica King has come in as the new assistant district attorney for Rio Blanco County.
“She’s an experienced prosecutor,” Cheney said.

Chuck Vale, Northwest Region Field Manager for the Office of Emergency Management, met with the BOCC Tuesday afternoon and encouraged the board to keep the line of communication with RBC Emergency Manager Ty Gates clear and open. According to Vale, some counties “bury” the emergency manager’s position under layers of bureaucracy, thus hindering communication and progress.
“If we get into a large-scale event, I need access to you, as the board. The last thing I need is for your emergency manager to be so buried in some department they can’t speak to me,” Vale said, later adding, “Your current program is working well.”
Sheriff Mazzola agreed, stating, “Ty and I work well as a team. This last fire season shows the strength of our [county] program.”
In regular business items, the board:
Approved what they believe are final payments to contractors for the Fairfield Center remodel to the tune of $28,108. The offices at the Fairfield are now home to RBC Public Health and the Department of Human Services, formerly housed at Meeker Town Hall.
Approved Colorado Department of Transportation surveys for crosswalks in Rangely.

The county’s road and bridge department continues to respond to regulations from BLM and Army Corps of Engineers before it can repair water erosion damage to County Road 27 which has created a dangerous section of road.