Master plan schedule slips

By Hank Lohmeyer


Delta County's contractor for the master plan rewrite, RPI of Durango, has said it needs an additional month of collecting information from county staff and others before the "public input phase" of the rewrite begins, according to a report given to the county commissioners on Monday.

Also, the company has not completed work on a public access website that's been promised.

RPI's original schedule called for completion of the entire rewrite process by January of next year. The public input phase was originally to be completed "within the first two quarters of this year," according to a presentation made by the company in January.

The public input phase will start with a series of interviews between planners and selected individuals in the county, just as the EDA/Better City study did.

• Interviews will be conducted this week for the position of county community and economic development director. The three-quarter time position is not a new one, but takes on roles that a full-time planner would have, plus grant writing, the county administrator explained.

In business at its Monday, March 20, regular meeting, the Board of County Commissioners dealt with the following matters:

• The county commissioners re-appointed members to the Cedaredge and Paonia Cemetery District boards.

Mike Street was reappointed to his post on the Cedaredge board, and Wayne Wiitanen was returned to his post on the Paonia board.

After commissioners named others to fill the men's posts earlier this month, the county learned that the men had not received notification of their terms expiring. Both indicated their wish to continue serving. Others who had seen the county's advertisement for open positions had applied.

The replacements who had already been appointed agreed to step down.

• Trish Thibodo of Delta County Economic Development told commissioners there is a "sense of urgency" from a Grand Junction businessman who wants to buy and occupy the former ISI industrial facility in Delta. Commissioners noted there has been no formal application or proposal to justify granting his request for property tax advantaged treatment from the county, and that his plans are "pretty vague."

• Commissioners approved a letter in support of Gunnison Energy LLC and its North Fork Mancos Master Development Plan. The county's local designee for oil and gas issues, Bruce Bertram, told the BoCC the area involved has been studied and reviewed under volumes of oil and gas regulations "more than just about any other." The area comprises about 200 square miles total in the northeast part of the county along the Gunnison County line in the Muddy Creek area, he said.

The project could still require an environmental assessment (EA) process if BLM so determines. "Delta County would hope these earlier diligent efforts are recognized when reviewing the EA process for [this project]," states the commissioners' letter.

The two-phase plan envisages 35 horizontal wells into the Mancos shale from four well pads.

• The county commissioners heard from two constituents on Monday:

Patrick McLoughlin of Hotchkiss complained that his recently bought retirement home built in 2004 "is a nightmare." He blamed the county for not having building codes. "It will cost me $20,000 to fix this mess," he told the commissioners.

Specifically, he noted 10-gauge electrical wire was used wiring two bedrooms together on a single 15-amp circuit causing breakers to constantly trip. He noted electrical and plumbing are state inspected items, and he also complained about inadequate water supply to his retirement home. He said he moved here recently from Phoenix.

Constituent JoAnn Kalenak of Hotchkiss said the commissioners need to set up a "community group" to oversee the commissioners' spending of Lottery/GOCO monies. Commissioners said the trail master plan process will serve just such a function. Money in the accounts is being accumulated for expensive projects expected to come out of the trails master plan process, commissioners explained.

• Commissioner Don Suppes was named as the county commissioners' representative to the Delta Urban Renewal Authority board.