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Crawford discusses long-term camper use

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Photo by Tamie Meck Crawford public works director Bruce Bair, second from left, and members of the Crawford Town Council (from left) Cameron Clark, Wanda Gofforth, Mike Tiedeman and Gill Saunders (standing), Larry Kontour and Hetty Todd consider a lot sp

During the Sept. 2 Crawford Town Council meeting, public works director Bruce Bair brought up a non-agenda issue regarding RVs and campers parked on in-town properties. The issue isn't the units themselves, but the fact some of them are currently occupied.

"We basically have nothing in our code that says anything about it," said Bair. However, because people are living in these units on lots with town water and sewer taps, it presents a dilemma.

The only town ordinance addressing campers, travel trailers and RVs parked on private property is contained in Section 9 of town code, titled "Separate Taps Required." The 1987 ordinance states that tap owners shall not allow use of water for more than one structure, and that an additional tap must be purchased from the town for each additional unit.

The ordinance does allow for temporary connection to an existing water tap by travel trailers or RVs for a period not to exceed 90 days per calendar year. The days do not have to be consecutive.

"What I'm getting from that," said Bair, "is if you have family or a friend that comes to visit and they're in an RV, that they can either park in the street or on your property, hook up to your water, and not your sewer, for 90 days." But if the unit is not hooked up to water or sewer, and no health laws are violated, that's a different matter and not specifically addressed.

A couple of situations have caused concern. Last winter, said Bair, a gentleman living in a camper had a full holding tank and he was unable to move the camper. As a result, said Bair, human waste ended up on the ground. Bair said he spoke to the property owner, who said the gentleman was a renter. He notified both parties that this situation was unacceptable due to public health issues, gave them 24 hours to clean up and disinfect the area, and they complied.

Since the town has no formal law enforcement agency, Bair said that had clean-up not occurred, this would become an issue for the sheriff's department.

Bair said he wants council to be aware of the issue. He knows of six such units where people are living long-term, including one property with people living in a bus and an RV. It appears they are not hooked up to water, or to sewer, but the fact that there are people living in the structures puts the issue in "kind of a gray area."

"We need to address this issue," said Mayor Susie Steckel, noting the problem could get out of hand if allowed to go on.

People living for months or years at a time aren't likely just visiting, said trustee Hetty Todd. "This is for 90 days. That's a long time for company to company to come in and stay."

Council perspectives varied. Steckel said she would like to see the council further address the issue and clarify the ordinance. Trustee Larry Kontour said he doesn't want to see the town over-regulate. If people aren't violating health laws and not hooked up to the tap, there is no problem, he said.

Bair said he wants to be clear that, as far as he knows, no laws are being broken, because the ordinance states that the unit must be hooked up to water to fall under the ordinance. Bair, who spends a lot of his time in town, said he would continue to monitor the units.

Also at the Sept. 2 meeting, the Town of Crawford has met the deadline requirements for placing the question of opting out of Senate Bill 05-152 on the November general election ballot. By opting out of the bill the town will have more freedom and options regarding ongoing efforts to build middle-mile infrastructure for high-speed broadband Internet access to the town limits. Trustees unanimously voted to approve ballot language and to pass the related resolution.

Also at the meeting, council unanimously approved a one-time annual payment of $4,173 to the state for Workers Compensation insurance for 2016. The preliminary quote before credits is $4,587, said town clerk Toby Stephenson. The approved payment includes the 2015 loss control audit credit of $106 and balance of loss control credit carried over from prior years of $308.

"We've got to have it, that's all there is to it," said Todd.

Council approved moving forward on the first sale in about five years of a sewer tap. The application was by out-of-town resident Gary Hess, who requested approval to tap into the main sewer line in front of the Desperado store south of town on Highway 92. Cost of an out-of-town tap is $5,000.

No maintenance of the line to the property is required by the town, said Bair, only the usual maintenance of the main line.

Council also approved a request from Ricki Cegielski for a permit to allow beer and wine to be served at Town Hall the evening of Sept. 21 during the Kids Pasta Project fundraiser dinner for Friends of Crawford Town Hall. Cegielski also urged council members to attend.

"The little kids work their hearts out making the food," said Mayor Steckel, who attended the last KPP meal at town hall and also urged members to attend. More information is available at kidspastaproject.org.

State-mandated testing of the town's water, which is piped from a spring near Land's End, continues to go well and is winding down, said Bair. He recently delivered the last analysis to the testing lab in Grand Junction. The microscopic particulate analysis tests are done. Tests are now required two times a week, and temperature and conductivity tests, and monthly bacterial testing will continue through October.

Bair said that that water flows are up about 25 gallons per minute in the last two weeks, due to lower temperatures and reductions in water usage. The town repaired three water leaks in the last month, and a couple more, which Bair described as "pinhole-sized," located on service lines, will be completed as soon as possible.

Also not on the agenda, the town is planning to do some work on F Street near Greenwood, on a section is very narrow and particularly tricky to drive in winter, said Bair.

The property line for an adjacent piece of property goes to about midway across Greenwood, and the owner expressed concern when the town began pruning trees in preparation for widening, said Bair. The owner reminded Bair that his property line is located in the street, and he addressed concern over continued access to his driveway. The owner was very cooperative, said Bair.

The road was originally cut in its current location due to the steepness of the terrain directly above. Bair said he believes it's in the best interest of the town to negotiate a right of way. While the owner is ok with widening, eventually the issue of ownership and rights of way will have to be addressed, said Bair.

Council also approved a lot split for the Jung Subdivision. The plat was originally filed in 2008. Approval allows Walt Junghee to split just under one acre of the 3.75-acre subdivision, now known as "Lot D," into a separate lot. As part of the approval, Junghee agreed to allow a utility easement on the lot, which he will write up and submit to the town.

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