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Request for 20-mph zone denied

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A request by residents of Creek Vista Crossing for the Paonia Board of Trustees to consider lowering the recently approved speed limit of 25 mph along Vista Drive was recently denied.

Vista Drive is a curvy section of town street that begins where Minnesota Avenue ends and dead-ends at the entrance to Hawks Haven Subdivision. The Creek Vista Senior Living Apartments are located right in the middle. The street does not have a posted speed limit. When the town's new speed limit ordinance goes into effect Aug. 1, the legal limit on Vista Drive and most of Paonia's streets, unless otherwise marked, will be set at 25 mph.

Creek Vista residents think that's too fast.

Vista Homeowners Association president Steve Gulick came before the board on July 11 to request that the speed limit be posted at 20 mph. Gulick explained that at their annual meetings the HOA and the board of directors unanimously agreed that the new limit is unsafe. The street presents some "special hazards," explained Gulick. For one, "It's frequently used by the elderly residents, who are often walking a pet."

Throughout the day, said Gulick, children play in the neighborhood, bicyclists ride through, service providers visit residents, and delivery trucks making deliveries tend to drive at unsafe speeds. The problem, said Gulick, are two "blind curves on the road. It's quite dangerous."

"I do feel that 25 is a little fast," said trustee Suzanne Watson. The street is "poorly banked," and there is no buffer between the street and sidewalks, putting pedestrians "...right on the side of the road."

At the entrance to Hawks Haven, a private drive located just beyond a third blind curve, there is nowhere to turn around, which is also a hazard, said Watson.

Hawks Haven resident Elaine Brett called the request "truly justified, and particularly with the senior home" located on Vista Drive.

"To go 25 in Vista Drive is absurd," said resident John Scofield. "You can't really do it safely because of the S curves... You have to slow down to 20 anyway, so let's just post it as 20."

Creek Vista HOA board member Dave Knutson urged trustees to hold off on voting no until they've all driven Vista Drive. He said that as a Grand Mesa Nordic Council board member he fought with the Colorado Department of Transportation to move the trailhead parking lot off of Highway 65. It took the deaths of two people to make that happen, he said. "This feels like a similar thing."

Trustees voted, 4-1, to deny the request, with Watson dissenting. Mayor Pro Tempore David Bradford said he sees it as an enforcement issue, and trustee Chelsea Bookout reminded Creek Vista residents that public discussion has already occurred.

In his absence Police Chief Neil Ferguson submitted a written comment urging the board to "move forward with what has already been discussed, approved, and is underway..." and that the request be denied "at this time."

Mayor Charles Stewart pointed out that the new speed limit ordinance was approved in June, public notices have been published in the DCI, and the new signs have already been delivered. In order to correctly make the requested change, the board would have to approve and publish a new ordinance, and wait another 30 days past the publication of the new ordinance.

Added Stewart, the board has the option of re-visiting the issue after the new limits go into effect Aug. 1.

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