Mountain West request denied

Landscaping operation could be closed at current location

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Routt County commissioners on Tuesday denied a landowner's request that would have let a landscaping business on his property expand and could have brought it into compliance with county rules.

With that denial, the county's next step will be to ask the landscaping business -- Mountain West Environments -- to stop its operation until it can comply with local, state and federal regulations.

County planning officials will give landowner L.A. "Butch" Dougherty 30 days to stop all activity on his land, Routt County Planner John Eastman said.

After the commissioners' denial Tuesday, planning staff found a fax that Dougherty had sent withdrawing the request. The fax was received an hour before the county meeting.

Whether the proposal was withdrawn or denied, the end result is, in effect, the same, Eastman said.

The request was recommended for denial by the Routt County Regional Planning Commission in August for various reasons, including concerns about fuel storage, oil changes and illegal sewage disposal on the site, which is less than 100 feet from the infiltration galleries used to collect water for city residents.

Also, there are developments on the land, such as a storage facility and offices, that have not been approved and are not allowed without approval. Much of the land is within the Yampa River's 100-year floodplain.

County commissioners had given Dougherty an extension until Tuesday to get more information. No new information was supplied.

Because Dougherty's land has been out of compliance since 1996, Eastman said the county had exhausted its options of working with the landowner and that it was time to enforce the code.

Dougherty's 9.5-acre site is just outside the city's southeast limits, off U.S. Highway 40. Through the county planning process, he was asking for a zone change and approval of a conceptual plan.

Dougherty and his attorney, Mark Fischer, said they had no comment about what their next steps would be.

John Sherrill, president and general manager of Mountain West Environments, said the company does not have a long-term lease with Dougherty and is exploring options for their future.

"Mountain West will continue going," Sherrill said. "Our future isn't contingent on this property."

He emphasized that the company was not asking for the permits, but that Dougherty was the petitioner.

"Mountain West regrets that we weren't in the position to be the petitioner, because we would have addressed the situation completely differently," Sherrill said.

Dougherty could petition the city to annex his property, but Tim McHarg, assistant planning director, said the city has the same concerns about the operation on the property that the county does.

"All of those would need to be resolved" before the city considers formally annexing the property, McHarg said.

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