'DONE DEAL'I am a many year resident of Routt County and am becoming more and more dissatisfied with the representation by our county commissioners. Their decisions appear to be discriminatory and arbitrary. The master plan and zoning resolution are interpreted to confirm what they want passed. They ask for input from the community but rarely listen or heed our words. County commissioners and staff do not seem to understand that taxpayers pay their salaries and that all residents deserve respect and equal treatment. Our little community is being discriminated against in the worst way and we say it should stop. We want to be treated fairly. Is litigation the only resource for County citizens when they are subjected to discrimination by those in power? If it is, then so be it.
We live about twelve miles outside of Steamboat Springs in one of the most pristine valleys you can imagine. A wealthy landowner is proposing a gravel pit in the midst of some 300 people in this environmentally sensitive area. He has 7500 acres and has another location much more suitable for a gravel operation.
Many issues have been brought to the Commissioners' attention but they only have one interest to approve this pit at any cost.
Safety issues are being ignored. County Road 179 is not fit for the number of heavy trucks that will travel on it.
Health issues are being pushed aside. The gravel pit applicant will take 750,000 gallons of water per day from the water table when the pit is in operation. There has been no discussion of what will happen to the water wells of residents in Milner. Two hundred individuals in the Milner Trailer Park share a municipal well and in the summer they must already ration the amount they use. The Commissioners do not seem to care about the welfare of the people.
In the previous two meetings I heard comments from the county commissioners to the effect that we should be grateful to Mr. Camilletti for providing the views and vistas that we enjoy. This is belittling and condescending. Another commissioner told us that he lives between the airport and the power plant and doesn't understand this "visual thing". Our view is not the issue; the issue is why they are following the Routt County Zoning Resolution on visual mitigation in other areas but not here.
My point is that the Milner residents are being mistreated and ignored. They have consciously been made to feel that they are unimportant and without rights. The Board uses their professional environment and their working atmosphere to humiliate and degrade. I saw the Planning Commission sleeping, reading, and holding private conversations while the Milner group presented its case. This all indicates their predetermined intentions.
The worst example is how the person chosen to study the effects on the cottonwood trees and riparian area of taking 750,000 gallons of water a day from the water table was selected. Did the commissioners choose the most qualified person who is at the top of his field? No. Instead they chose someone, just two years out of college, who has minimal qualifications in the field of hydrology. He has promised that someone with "very high qualifications" will oversee his work. Now we find that his overseer is no better as her experience is in environmental health and fisheries biology. Currently she is an aquatic toxicology consultant. She is ill prepared to oversee this study.
In time, Mr. Gertson may progress to the same level of expertise and recognition as Dr Cooper, but now his credentials are not even close. I am not saying that Mr. Gertson cannot be fair. I am saying that he does not have the experience to do the job. The county claims the cost of hiring a real expert is too high. Meanwhile, the applicant is required to bear the cost of the study. The county is actually not paying a dime. If the cost of obtaining the information that would insure that the pit does not have a disastrous impact on the surrounding area is prohibitive, then the county needs to deny the proposal. At what cost is this pit to the residents of Milner and the surrounding area? What price is put on drying up a person's well? Is this project so pressed for time that we can't do it right? Why do it at all, if the commissioners have already determined the outcome? At this point, the entire arrangement has been tarnished. In my mind, the results will be in doubt and we will have truly wasted our money.
I feel the decision to put a gravel pit here was "a done deal" before any meetings ever took place. If you are not "a good old boy" who owns or controls large amounts of land, if you do not own a construction business or construction related business, or if you live in a poor area, you will likely be ignored. Dakota Ridge residents are listened to but Milner residents are not.
We are not happy with our representation and feel we have born the brunt of blatant abusive discrimination.
In Routt County, it appears if you are a wealthy landowner with a vast amount of property, you have more rights than a small landowner. There are many people living in houses on small parcels of land, but their homes are still their castles, their area of safety and comfort, and their property should be as important as any. Yet, if this is passed, it will be based on the rights of the large landowner and the little guy will be ignored. I am sorry to learn that in Routt County the average citizen has very few protected rights in comparison to those the commissioners seem to need to appease.
Henry A. Kebodeaux
CHILD CARE TAXThis is a letter in support of the half-cent tax issue that has been presented to the city council.
My husband and I are now senior citizens of Steamboat and have been here for 28 years. I know that up until that last five years we probably would not have been in support of this tax as our feelings then were that parents must accept responsibility of all aspects of raising their children. I am sure our thoughts come from the time of raising our children.
We do feel in today's world that care of pre-schooled children has certainly changed.
Too many parents seem to have no choice in being working parents/parent. It is imperative that those people who have chosen to be the caregivers during the parents absence of these precious gifts, must be treated/paid as the very important persons they are.
We encourage the city council to put this referendum on the November ballot.
Jeri and Walt Taylor