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Paonia, Hawks Haven reach agreement

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Photo by Tamie Meck The Town of Paonia recently entered into an agreement with the developers of the Hawks Haven Subdivision for emergency and pedestrian access to a section of private road, right, extending from Pan American Avenue to Vista Drive. The ag

On Valentine's Day evening the Town of Paonia and the recreational community got a sweet deal when Paonia trustees approved an agreement between the town and the developers of the Hawks Haven subdivision.

The agreement amends a 2005 agreement between the town, Hawks Haven LLC, and Harold Brill and Allison Elliot over a 400-foot-long, 24-foot wide section of private road stretching between Pan American Avenue and Vista Drive east of the Pan American Subdivision. It also creates permanent recreational access to the hiking and biking trails of Jumbo Mountain.

Representatives of both parties said they are satisfied with the agreement.

Mayor Charles Stewart said the agreement clears up several issues that the current board had inherited from prior boards. Under the 2005 agreement the town demanded that Hawks Haven LLC pave the unfinished portion of Vista Drive. The LLC, which was established in 2002, dissolved in 2013, leaving Hawks Haven in default of the contract.

Brill said he and Elliot have always agreed that the town should have emergency access to the road. But due to the high cost of materials and the unstable Mancos shale beneath it, they didn't agree it should be paved. Because the ground is unstable, said Brill, the road base would need constant maintenance, while only being used by the residents of Hawks Haven.

Under the amended agreement the road will remain private. Brill and Elliot agree to improve the road to engineering standards by Sept. 31, gravel it, and maintain it year round. The town will have a perpetual 24-foot-wide easement from the top of Pan American Avenue to the end of the pavement on Vista Drive for emergency vehicle access and utilities. It will also be open to pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

The town agrees to maintain fencing, provide appropriate signage, and ensure that the area is being properly used.

At 11:30 p.m., following a roughly hour-long executive session, the board voted, 5-1, to approve the agreement. Trustee Suzanne Watson cast the dissenting vote, telling the DCI that she would prefer that the town own the road. Like all the other roads in town, said Watson, she wants it made public, which would give the town more options in the future.

Brill called the agreement "fair and appropriate ... I think it's the best possible outcome for everybody and a win/win for both the town and the residents of Hawk's Haven." It was Valentine's Day night, said Brill. With no one in the audience and to no fanfare, "Twelve years of drama suddenly ended."

The Hawks Haven Homeowners Association also owns the property at the trailhead to the Bureau of Land Management Jumbo Mountain area at the top of Pan American Avenue. Under the agreement the town will be granted a perpetual recreational easement through the private property for pedestrians and cyclists.

Brill said he and Elliot are particularly happy about the benefits to the recreational community. While the Jumbo trailhead has been accessible to hikers and mountain bikers, until now, access could be revoked by the homeowners association, said Brill. The Jumbo area was recently removed by the BLM from oil and gas leasing and is under consideration for designation as a Special Resource Management Area for recreational use under the BLM's draft Resource Management Plan. "That's a good thing," said Brill, as ensured public access to the area is necessary for that to happen.

Brill said he and Elliot appreciate the efforts by Stewart and Marek to see this situation through in a professional manner and bring it to a positive outcome.

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