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GarCo report: Civil issue may have broader impact

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The Garfield County Commissioners held their first regular meeting of the month on Monday, March 7. For the full agenda and an audio/video recording of the meeting, visit www.garfield-county.com 

Checking oil and gas

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The commissioners started the meeting by opting in as a cooperating agency for a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) process headed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to assess the Colorado River Valley and Grand Junction field offices’ resource management plans. The purpose of the SEIS, according to a letter from the Department of Interior to the county, is to address a U.S. District Court for Colorado’s determination of two deficiencies regarding oil and gas development.

“The deficiencies identified…are that ‘BLM failed to consider reasonable alternatives to oil and gas leasing and development,’” the letter reads, “and that ‘BLM failed, in part, to take a hard look at the severity and impacts of greenhouse gas pollution. Namely, it failed to take a hard look at the reasonably foreseeable indirect impacts of oil and gas.” 

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Pinyon Mesa drainage

Deputy County Manager Fred Jarman submitted a report to the commissioners regarding a drainage issue stemming from the Pinyon Mesa Subdivision and affecting businesses along Highway 82 at the Van Rand Park commercial subdivision east of Thunder River Market — namely, Roaring Fork Rentals. 

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In 2019, a significant amount of water and debris flowed from what was assumed to be a seasonal retention pond and through an embankment onto Roaring Fork Rental’s property.  

“They’re [Pinyon Mesa] relying on the natural lay of the land, which before this second addition, worked perfectly because the water came down across the flat ground and dissipated before it ever got to Roaring Fork Rentals or to the county,” explained Roaring Fork Rentals owner Fran Orosz. “Then, they added that second part of that subdivision and it wasn’t long after that that we ran into this problem.” 

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Orosz further explained that at that time, his brother, and business partner, found an 18-inch culvert that goes under Highway 82, unplugged it of debris and, “it actually went across 82 and into Habitat’s yard.” 

Orosz takes issue with developer Ron Norman, who sold his last holdings within the subdivision. “When we had this meeting three years ago, when this all went down, Ron Norman made it pretty clear that he wasn’t interested in doing anything … and, in my opinion, he got away with it.” 

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Jeff Conklin appeared on behalf of Pinyon Mesa Homeowners Association (HOA). “I just wanted to attend and add our support for the county taking a closer look at this,” Conklin began.

“The HOA is in a position where they’ve inherited this problem that has been exacerbated over decades. This is an embankment that is part of the drainage plan for the entire Los Amigos subdivision,” explained Conklin, who also noted Ron Norman’s departure. 

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“There is a goal and a hope to render that structure safe,” Conklin said. However, he added, “the skope and magnitude of that problem is one that probably exceeds the capacity of the HOA and those neighboring property owners.” 

Commissioner Mike Samson asked for thoughts from Tari Williams, the county attorney. Williams advised, “I’ll just make my observation that there’s no justification to spend public funds to benefit private entities when the private entities have some things they can do.” However, she added, “This may not be that case … I’ll give my standard warning and let you do what you’re going to do.” 

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Commissioner Tom Jankovsky stated that when the plat was approved by the county, “this was probably considered a retention pond.” He also added that Garfield County owns the property south of Roaring Fork Rentals. 

“That embankment has been compromised,” said Jankovsky, who recently visited the site. “That pool of water is about three-to-four feet deep, maybe 50 feet across … you could hear the water running through the embankment. It had a gurgle to it like it was a creek.” 

Jankovsky continued, “This is a situation that needs to be fixed before we have that whole hillside come down into the Roaring Fork Rentals driveway or shop.” 

The commissioners agreed that short-term remedies would have to be done for this year, but a larger engineering solution is likely in the future.

Tags: #Garfield County Commissioners #Pinyon Mesa Subdivision #Roaring Fork Rentals
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