Tuesday, November 16, 2004
The town of Oak Creek is to be commended for its project to provide shelter for the town's ice rink.
We just wish the town hadn't moved ahead with construction before securing a building permit for the project. That decision sets a bad precedent for the town and could compromise its ability to effectively enforce its zoning and building requirements.
The ice rink project embodies tremendous volunteer spirit that should be applauded. The outdoor rink will have a metal structure that will protect it from sun and snow and allow the rink to be used for longer periods of time.
The bulk of the funding for the roughly $300,000 project is coming from Great Outdoors Colorado, but smaller organizations have donated time and money, as well, including the Oak Creek Hockey Association, Upper Yampa Realty and the Stagecoach Property Owners Association. Contractors have worked vigorously and voluntarily to erect the structure before the start of snowfall to ensure the covered rink can be used this winter.
Oak Creek town officials have said the project should be finished by Thanksgiving. To meet this time frame, Mayor Kathy "Cargo" Rodeman said, the town had to start construction before all of the paperwork, including the permit, had been completed. The contractors who volunteered to help with the project had only a certain time frame of availability.
The town submitted plans for the hockey rink structure to the Routt County Regional Building Department, but the department has yet to issue a permit. The problem is that the town of Oak Creek needs to acquire a 20-foot-by-200-foot piece of property adjacent to the rink to ensure that the snow slide from the new structure stays on town property.
Rodeman has said the adjacent property owner, Joe Foreman, verbally agreed to sell the property to the town, but town officials said they have been unable to close the deal. So, the Town Board plans to pass a resolution Thursday night seeking condemnation of the land for $2,000. A condemnation hearing would follow.
Town officials have said that acquisition of the property is the final step in securing a building permit.
Technically, the town has done nothing wrong. In essence, the town contracts oversight of building projects in Oak Creek to the Regional Building Department. As such, the town has the final say in allowing a project that is not properly permitted to go forward or in granting variances to its codes. But it's wrong for the town intentionally to ignore its own rules and then to expect individuals in the community to adhere to those same rules.
Ironically, Oak Creek recently stepped up enforcement of its nuisance ordinance, issuing fines of $400 to $500 for cleaning properties that violate the ordinance. Such aggressive enforcement seems a little hypocritical when the town is skirting its own building requirements.
We think the ice rink structure will benefit the community of Oak Creek enormously. No doubt, it would not have happened without the leadership of Rodeman and other town officials. But the decision to start construction without first securing a building permit leaves an unfortunate stain on an otherwise worthwhile endeavor.