Wednesday, February 13, 2002
Steamboat Springs Routt County Sheriff John Warner is frustrated with a neighborhood dispute involving Steamboat Lake Outfitters and neighbors in North Routt County.
One day after the Routt County Board of Commissioners declined to take action on a petition submitted by neighbors of Steamboat Lake Outfitters, Warner said his office is willing to help with the situation.
Warner said he wants neighbors to understand his office has no control over the company's use of a private trail that meanders through residential property.
What his office can do is cite snowmobilers who get off the private easement and track up property owned by neighbors.
"If snowmobilers are off the easement, and we can determine they are on the resident's property, we will file a trespassing charge," Warner said Wednesday.
Warner said some neighborhood residents have a misconception of what his office can enforce when it comes to the trail that connects Steamboat Lake Outfitters to Forest Service Road 409.
Because the county has granted the company a conditional-use permit, unguided snowmobilers can use the easement to access the Columbine area.
Neighboring residents, who include Robert and Doris Newton, Mike Weber, Patti Bobonich and Tom and Mary Corbett, are concerned Steamboat Lake Outfitters is not controlling who is using the easement.
The neighbors contend the company is not following the conditions the county has imposed for the easement.
According to Steamboat Lake Outfitters' county permit, the company is to limit the number of unguided snowmobilers using the easement to 24 per day.
The neighbors claim because the company can't monitor who uses the easement, the public is using the trail to access the Columbine area.
If the easement were gated off, snowmobilers would have to go an extra 15 miles to access the area popular with snowmobilers.
Warner said because the county allows unguided snowmobiles to travel on the easement, his office does not have the authority to monitor the company's use of the easement.
"I have no authority over the regulations imposed by the Planning Commission and the county," Warner said.
"We are not willing to respond. If snowmobilers are on a residential property, call and we will come."
The agency that is to ensure Steamboat Lake Outfitters is using the easement within the terms of the permit is the county's planning department.
County Planning Director Caryn Fox said her staff has spent several hours taking complaints from residents. To address the problem, the neighbors are requesting the county commissioners not allow Steamboat Lake Outfitters to let unguided snowmobilers use the easement. The three-member panel has held off on making a decision until Feb. 26.
If the county decides to let the company use its easement for guided snowmobile tours only, Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said Warner's office could then go after snowmobilers who are not customers of the business.
Stahoviak said unguided snowmobilers would be using the easement illegally and could be cited for trespassing.
Until the board makes a decision, Warner said he is hopeful the residents and Steamboat Lake Outfitters can work together.
"I'm frustrated," Warner said.