County Beat: October 17, 2019

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RBC | The Rio Blanco County Board of Commissioners heard from Jim Paul, the director for the Tank Center for Sonic Arts in Rangely, on Tuesday in Rangely. The Tank, a non-profit organization, is hoping to make some major improvements to the landscape around the concert and recording venue in 2020.

Plans include leveling the big hill east of the Tank so that they can fill the valley behind it and add additional space for the outside audience. Paul says they would also like to place a stage outside and terrace the slope into three levels. They envision a walking trail that goes to the top of the hill north of the Tank with five skyboxes for viewing concerts. Paul spoke about digital mappings ability to project images and films onto different surfaces such as the Tank. They would like to have a camera inside the venue so that they can project concerts for the outdoor audiences. The 49-seat Tank is not considered a viable tourist destination for several reasons, but with space for more outdoor seating and other additions he thinks it can become a nice multipurpose area. The proposed $150,000 improvement campaign also includes much needed road signage. The requested grant amount from the county is $5,000 towards this project. The commissioners will act on the request when they adopt the 2020 budget.

Support for Proposition DD 

After some discussion, the board approved a letter in support of Proposition DD. Rector said he has some issues supporting this and he is solely supporting this proposition because of the water conservancy district and the potential positive impact on the proposed Wolf Creek Reservoir project. The problem with Proposition DD, Rector said, is that it is stealing from severance tax. Moyer agreed with Rector saying, “My thoughts are that it would be hypocritical for us to be a strong proponent of the Wolf Creek Reservoir and looking for the funding that is necessary and not supporting this. My reservations are more centered on giving the state water conservation board $29 million with no real enforceable guidance on how they spend that.” County resident James Dearman also expressed concerns for proposition DD, questioning who will hold the conservation board accountable for the spending of the funds.

Building Code Resolution Passes

RBC Planning Director Leif Joy read a prepared statement during public comment following a motion to approve a resolution to amend the building code “to recognize the importance of private property rights.”

In his statement, Joy read: “It is important to note that there is no precedent in which to measure the resolution presented here today. Therefore, the recommendation below is based solely on the opinion and good intent of the Rio Blanco County Planning Director. It is the opinion of such Director that the intent of this resolution is in the best interest of the citizens of Rio Blanco County. It is also the opinion of the Planning Director that the current Board of County Commissioners are attempting to create more options, opportunities, and legal means with which to complete projects in Rio Blanco County. It is not overlooked that the rules and regulations are intended to secure the health, safety, and well being of the citizens that they govern. It is also not overlooked that such rules and regulations can create undo hardships upon the very citizens that they are intended to govern. With that said, there is a balance between freedoms, rights, rules, and regulations. It is the opinion of said Director that the balance will be achieved in the resolutions governing implementation of rules and regulations.”

The Planning Commission voted three out of four in favor to approve the resolution with the following recommendations: the word primary be stricken from the entire document; the implementation, rules and regulations governing this resolution be heard before the Rio Blanco County Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioners during appropriate public hearings; and that a group of no more than six individuals be involved in the scripting of the previously mentioned implementation rules and regulations governing this resolution, three individuals from a construction and building industry and three individuals from outside the construction and building industry. The group will be given a set time frame at which to complete this implementation designated by the Board of County Commissioners. Joy will chair the group, choose the members and be the deciding vote in case of a tie. He will not be a voting member.

Moyer moved to amend his previous motion to strike the word “primary” from the existing document. Woodruff seconded the motion. The resolution, as amended, passed with Woodruff voting nay and Rector and Moyer voting for its approval. 

Rector to chair Alliance

Commissioner Jeff Rector has been asked to chair the Western District for Energy Alliance. The Alliance includes Utah, Western Colorado, Montana, Idaho, Baja Mexico and Alberta Canada and is trying trying to create avenues export natural gas out of the country. Rector said his “gut feeling” is that Jordan Cove is not going to happen.

“For us to help out our community we have to find a marketability for this gas. What pays the bills in Rio Blanco County and Western Colorado is natural resources,” Rector said.

Dearman asked about the proposed Uinta Basin Railway, Rector said that the railway will go into Vernal but is uncertain if it will ever advance into Colorado.

The next Board of County Commissioners meeting will be held in Meeker at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 22.

By Roxie Fromang | Special to the Herald Times