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By Ed Fincher
At a Sept. 6 meeting, the Pagosa Springs Town Council approved the second reading of Ordinance 775, accepting ownership of a portion of Alpha Drive through a quit claim deed from Archuleta County, and even though the final decision was unanimous, there was quite a bit of discussion leading up to it concerning the promise to improve the road to town standards.
“The town will require Wal-Mart to improve the gravel road to town standards as a condition of that development,” Town Manager David Mitchem stated. “As part of the Wal-Mart development permit, the town will require full bonding for the construction of the road, and then 25 percent of the original construction cost will sit there as a bond to ensure that that road is of appropriate quality for three years.”
The controversy stemmed from the definition of town standards and how much Wal-Mart will be required to set aside for the bond.
Council member David Schanzenbaker said, “It has recently come to my attention that the developer plans to put in their improvement of the road a curb and gutter on the east side only and not on the west side, and also a sidewalk on the east side only and not on the west side.”
“That is correct,” Mitchem replied.
Schanzenbaker pressed, “That appears to me to be contrary to the LUDC (Land Use and Development Code), so I’m wondering how we come up with a definition of bringing the road up to town standards.”
“This is an access road,” Mitchem explained. “It is not part of an internal road system for the development. You have a property owner, Wyndham, on the west side who will, in theory, eventually develop and will be responsible for the curb and gutter on that west side, once they develop and decide where their curb cuts are going to be and how their drainage is going to work.”
Mitchem went on to explain that the issue of putting a curb and gutter on the west side of Alpha Drive could be discussed later, either when the town discusses annexation of the road or during an appeal of the Design Review Board decision by Steven and Vivian Rader (see related story), and didn’t need to hold up the town’s acceptance of the quit claim deed.
Schanzenbaker responded, “I see what you’re saying, except that part of the quit claim ordinance is making it contingent upon bringing the road up to town standards, so it seems like as good a time as any to talk about how we are defining town standards in this case.
“That entire development, the Aspen Village Subdivision,” Schanzenbaker continued, “it all has sidewalks and curb and gutter on both sides of the street, and Alpha Drive will become a major, heavily trafficked road, so I just wanted to bring it to the attention of the rest of the council that it seems a little disjointed to not require curb and gutter and sidewalks on both sides of that street.”
When pressed about the definition of improving the road to town standards, Mitchem replied, “Well, your design review board has taken that under consideration and accepted the design that was proposed, which, by the way, provided three lanes of traffic rather than what is required in town code as only two lanes of traffic, so Wal-Mart has already increased the width of that road considerably.”
“Was that a concession to not have to apply the curb and gutter and sidewalk standard to the road?” Schanzenbaker asked.
“I don’t believe that there is a requirement to apply curb and gutter on the west side of that road,” Mitchem claimed.
Schanzenbaker then referred to table 6.6-2 on page 126 of the LUDC, which shows that minor collector streets (which is how Alpha Drive is defined) do require a curb and gutter, and a sidewalk.
Mitchem continued to stand his ground on the issue. “I would say again that the way this property is designed, I believe the anticipation that the property owner to the west would be responsible for the curb and gutter and sidewalk on the west side of that road is quite reasonable.”
“Is there a development pending on that side of the road?” Schanzenbaker asked. When Mitchem confirmed that there are no plans to develop the west side of the road, Schanzenbaker said, “It seems a little much to accept the condition of a future development when we have no idea when that will ever happen.”
Council member Clint Alley chimed in, “For the sake of getting things done properly, I would personally like to see at some point we discuss that we at least put a curb and gutter up on the other side just to keep the road up maintenance-wise. It would be a lot better than allowing people to drive off the other side and tear up the asphalt and drainage.
“It’s kind of like the situation we discussed earlier. I am excited to see that we want to put the sidewalk and curb and gutter on Piedra Street, so I think we would want to get the same thing done on Alpha Drive.”
Alley was referring to a discussion the town council had earlier in the meeting concerning an offer from Strohecker Asphalt & Paving to pave the section of Piedra Street between 8th and 10th streets for $30,450 less than what the town had budgeted for the project (see related story).
The council then went on to approve the second reading of the ordinance with the condition the issue will discussed at a later time.