Friday, September 10, 2004
City officials were as surprised as many residents to see a white, dome-like structure erected near U.S. Highway 40 and Elk River Road last week.
"We were surprised ourselves when we saw it going up," City Manager Paul Hughes said.
The Colorado Department of Transportation built the structure, which will store road sand, on its property at the northwest corner of the intersection.
State agencies, as well as the federal government and school districts, are exempt from city review and approval processes, city Planning Director Steve Stamey said.
The dome, which is about 3,000 square feet, will store between 1,500 and 2,000 tons of sand and will prevent salt in the sand from leaching into the ground, said Ed Fink, a regional transportation director based in Grand Junction.
Two more domes have been or will be erected in Hayden and Kremmling within the next week.
The dome is temporary and designed to be moved, however, Fink expects it will be at its present location for "quite a while," he said.
Eventually, CDOT officials want to construct formal buildings on concrete foundations to store the sand, but that will come at a cost of about $41 million statewide -- money the agency doesn't have.
"It's no secret that we are pretty much strapped for cash, so we are trying to stretch dollars as much as we can," Fink said, adding that the three domes cost much less than building one regular structure.
Hughes said City Council members and city departments have received complaints and inquiries regarding the building.
"It's pretty big, and it's pretty white," he said.
People calling the planning department mostly were concerned about the stark appearance of the structure and its location at a prominent city intersection, Stamey said.
Typically, someone wanting to build a commercial structure must submit a development plan to the City Council and Planning Commission for site review. The city reviews final development plans to ensure buildings meet minimum standards of design and appearance, Stamey said.
The city has had a cordial relationship with CDOT in the past, said Hughes, adding that the agency replaced a dilapidated fence at the city's request.
But even though the state was not required to inform the city of its plans, Hughes would have liked to have known about it so city officials knew how to answer residents' inquiries, he said.
"It would've been nice to know when it would be built, what it would be used for and what it would look like," Hughes said.
Fink responded that the lack of communication was an oversight and that CDOT officials consider the dome a temporary structure and not a typical construction process.
"We do try to generally keep them informed when we are going to do something," he said, adding that though the agency's plans do not require city review, CDOT typically works with city governments to make sure buildings are up to code.
-- To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org