Property owner disputes violations

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Routt County landowner L.A. "Butch" Dougherty told county officials Monday that he was not in violation of zoning regulations. Monday was the deadline the county set for Dougherty to bring his land into compliance with county rules.

Dougherty's letter, written by his attorney Ralph Cantafio, stated that none of the violations for which the county recently cited Dougherty was valid.

"Mr. Dougherty has been nothing but cooperative with all individuals and organizations with whom he has interacted in attempting to resolve numerous complex issues affecting this real property," the letter reads.

Routt County Planner John Eastman said he could not comment on the letter because the issue could end up in court, but that the county will be meeting with Cantafio in the very near future and hopes that Dougherty can resolve all of his zoning violations.

The county cited several major issues with Dougherty's 9.5-acre site just outside the city's southeast limits off U.S. Highway 40, Eastman said.

First, Dougherty never obtained final permits for uses on the land zoned as a planned unit development. In essence, no uses are allowed on the land currently, including a landscaping business that has been leasing part of the property, Eastman said. That business recently gave the county a proposed schedule for moving to a different site.

To that, Dougherty's letter stated that the county already has allowed the use to continue for eight years, so the use should not be considered a violation now, and that Dougherty was working to annex the property to the city.

However, Eastman said that since 1995, the county has worked "diligently for years to try to bring this property into compliance in a cooperative manner."

According to Dougherty's permit application from August, a timeline indicates various meetings and contacts since 1995 about the lack of proper permits.

Another violation, county officials said, is that fill has been put in the floodplain and floodway of the Yampa River, which could push floodwater onto other properties during a flood. Dougherty's letter disputes that point and states that maps of floodplains and floodways could be inaccurate.

A final key violation was outdoor storage of old equipment, which Dougherty's letter states was the responsibility of the landscaping company.

Cantafio said that Dougherty would not concede to any violations, but that to the extent that violations are present, he thinks those are merely technical issues.

"At the end of the day, what we're really attempting to do is fashion some kind of collaborative resolution of all these various issues," Cantafio said.

Dougherty plans to file an application to annex the property into the city of Steamboat Springs as early as this spring, his letter states.

Eastman said that the county rarely resorts to legal action to enforce complaints, and has an "excellent record" of working with landowners for compliance with zoning regulations.

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

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