Monday, February 25, 2002
Steamboat Springs The Routt County Board of Commissioners will decide today whether to limit snowmobile use on a private trail in North Routt County.
Neighbors Robert and Doris Newton, Mike Weber, Patti Bobonich and Tom and Mary Corbett are requesting the commissioners limit Steamboat Lake Outfitters' use of the trail to snowmobilers who have paid for one of the company's guided tours or are staying at the company's guest ranch.
The company maintains it is monitoring the use of the mile-long trail as best as it can and the company opposes any changes to its county-issued permit. The Routt County Planning Commission renewed Steamboat Lake Outfitters' permit in December.
Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said he is hopeful the board can come up with a compromise for today's 3:30 p.m. hearing.
"We will give some direction," Monger said Monday. "We will work out the issues and come up with something for both parties."
As a condition of the permit issued in 1999, Steamboat Lake Outfitters is allowed to let unguided snowmobilers use the trail. A person who rents a snowmobile from the business or is staying at a guest ranch has access to the private trail without a guide present.
The residents brought up the issue with the county commissioners after the Planning Commission's decision to renew the company's application. The residents contend the company is not adequately monitoring who uses the trail, which connects to Forest Service Road 409.
The residents also claim parking has become an issue for the neighborhood because of public use. And neighbors are also concerned a majority of the unguided snowmobilers are exceeding the trail's 15 mph speed limit.
The company counters there has been a long history of snowmobilers using the trail because it provides quick access to the Columbine area, which is popular with snowmobilers.
The company also said residents' concerns can be addressed easily.
Gary Engle, an attorney representing the business, said there is an ongoing feud between neighbors and the company.
Commissioners originally broached the issue at a meeting Feb. 12 but did not make a decision because Commissioners Dan Ellison and Monger wanted two weeks to get additional information about the conflict.
During the hearing, Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak was in favor of pulling the plug on the company's use of the trail for unguided snowmobilers.
Stahoviak said public use of the private easement should not be allowed and the way to stop public use is to ban unguided tours.
When asked Monday if her positioned has changed, Stahoviak said, "I guess you will find out tomorrow."
Last Thursday, Monger and Ellison met with company officials and neighbors at the site.
"It helped some," Ellison said of the two-hour walk through. "Both groups were there to point out what the issues are."