Commissioners move on next PDR agreement

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— Routt County commissioners instructed the Purchase of Development Rights Citizens Advisory Board to move ahead with a deal to buy the building rights on 80 acres of land using $80,000 of county money.

"They want to go rapidly to tier two because they want to get this done quickly," Routt County Commissioner Ben Beall said.

In other business, the Routt County Commissioners on Monday: Renewed fire district ambulance licenses for Steamboat Springs Rural, North Routt, Oak Creek, West Routt and Yampa and for the ambulance at Twentymile Coal Co. Signed an agreement the for musical services for the Routt County Christmas Party. Heard a report from local district rangers Kim Vogel and Howard Sargent of the U.S Forest Service who gave an update from the agency. It included informing the commissioners that a five-person fire crew will be added to the local office for next summer. Passed a resolution to adopt the Routt County Records and Retention Guide and the Computer Records Retention Policy. The guide tells how long records need to be kept and the retention policy includes that all e-mail messages of county employees and elected officials are public record. Heard an update from Routt County public school districts, Colorado Mountain College and Colorado Northern Community College. Heard an update from Director of Routt County Road and Bridge Paul Draper. He concluded that the three-mile stretch of phase two of the County Road 27 reconstruction project is finished. It was a $2.1 million project. About $600,000 of that was paid by a state grant and at least $400,000 was paid by Twentymile Coal Co. because it uses the road. Another section of the road will be reconstructed next summer. Gave a historical designation to the Redmond Ranch District and a portion of the Pleasant Valley Ranch. The two properties will be added to the county historic register and be eligible for state historic grants.

Tier two of the process is when the legal work is done in the deal and the purchase is officially made.

Commissioners would not say who owned the land or where the land was located because of a confidentiality agreement between the advisory board and the property owner.

The PDR program uses property tax revenues to buy development rights on private land to preserve open spaces. A conservation easement is put on the land, limiting the number of structures that can be built there. Landowners usually donate a portion of the building rights in the deal.

In this case, the landowner donated more than 50 percent of building rights, Beall said.

In 1996, voters in Routt County narrowly passed a one mill increase on property taxes to dedicate to the PDR program.

That equals one cent for every residential property tax dollar and three cents for every commercial property tax dollar going to the PDR fund.

In 1997, the first year the program collected the tax money, $350,000 was put into the fund. With an increase in assessed value of the county, now the fund generates $500,000 a year.

The program most recently committed $500,000 to help preserve 1,590 acres of the Warren Ranch, which is off Routt County Road 129. That deal was finalized in November.

PDR board member Doug Monger said the $500,000 deal didn't bust the fund and the $80,000 for the 80 acres is money that has accumulated since 1997.

He said since the deal is small the board would be able to move quickly.

Monger was elected as county commissioner in November to replace Beall and will step down from the board when he begins his new job. The board is searching for candidates from west Routt County with an agricultural background to replace him.

To reach Doug Crowl call 871-4206 or e-mail dcrowl@amigo.net

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