Justice center decision may come soon

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could have a decision about Routt County's requested permit to fill wetlands at the site of the proposed justice center by next week.

"That's where we're headed -- to resolve this and wrap it up," said Tony Curtis, the Frisco Regulatory Office chief for the Sacramento District of the Army Corps of Engineers.

Not having the permit to fill 1.4 acres at the site has stalled all work on the justice center, leaving the county to take a wait-and-see approach.

The Army Corps gave the county a preliminary denial of the permit in a June phone conversation, but allowed the county to submit additional studies before making a final decision.

Curtis said he has reviewed those studies and has issued a decision that is being reviewed by officials at the district level. He said he could not give specifics about the decision, but he stressed that it could be a final decision or another request for more information. In the case of an approval, there could be more discussions on what sort of conditions would be imposed.

"(It) could be a final document, or it could actually be one that sort of opens the door for additional negotiations," Curtis said.

Routt County has proposed its new justice center on a site west of downtown, adjacent to the county jail.

The proposal has faced controversy, with residents organizing to form the Friends of the Justice Center, a group that opposes moving the courts and associated offices from the current downtown location because it would have negative effects such as taking investment away from downtown.

Because the permit request has been controversial, Curtis said the Army Corps' decisions have to go through stages of review.

"These decisions -- because this project has some controversy associated with it -- aren't taken lightly, so it gets reviewed by a lot of people," Curtis said.

The decision the Army Corps could issue next week or soon after should inform the county on "where we stand on their project," he said.

"We're wrapping up, we're coming to the tail end of the process," he said.

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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