Steamboat Springs The Routt County Board of Commissioners agreed this week that they want to see the site of a metal recycling operation just south of Oak Creek cleaned up. However, they say they would wait until they knew the outcome of an upcoming eviction hearing before they turn to code enforcement measures to have large pieces of scrap metal removed from the property.
The recycling yard is visible from Colorado Highway 131 and is not screened from the view of passing drivers.
The commissioners voted unanimously Aug. 11 to grant operators Kelly and Dixie Lipsie a special-use permit, but they stopped short of issuing the permit until the owners took steps to mitigate the visual impacts of their operation.
The Lipsies had started operating their business on the site before seeking the required permit.
Two different deadlines came and passed, and the commissioners gave the Lipsies more time to clear their site in order for them to build an earthen berm and install landscaping on the perimeter of the equipment yard. Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush dissented Sept. 28, when Commissioners Nancy Stahoviak and Doug Monger voted to extend the deadline to Oct. 15.
And although they made progress, County Planning Director Chad Phillips said, the couple didn’t get all the way there. Phillips said Kelly Lipsie contacted his office early this year to say he was withdrawing his permit application.
County Planner Jake Rosenberg has documented the current condition of the site and is ready to write a letter requiring the cleanup.
If the county were to take action to have the site cleaned up now, Phillips said, it would work with property owners and the Lipsies’ landlords, Jack and Andrea Brunton. But before they take that step, Monger said, they’ll wait to see the outcome of a July 12 eviction hearing in front of Routt County Judge James Garrecht.
Documents on file with the Routt County Court reflect that the Bruntons have begun proceedings seeking to have their tenants bring current all past-due accounts, and failing that, to have the Routt County Sheriff’s Office enforce eviction from the property. Kelly Lipsie has responded in writing, saying his landlords owe him money exceeding the amount he owes them.
Monger said enforcing a code violation involves a lengthy civil process.
“They have due-process rights,” he said. “You have to get a court order. It’s a long, drawn-out process.”
Asked whether they had second thoughts about voting to grant a permit to a business that operated without one to begin with, Monger and Stahoviak said they did not.
“We were trying to give some latitude and develop a business in Routt County,” Stahoviak said.
Phillips pointed out that more people attended the public hearings over the recycling yard to support it than to oppose it.
However, Mitsch Bush said she didn’t approve of the way events unfolded with the Lipsies’ business.
It was “do it first, ask permission afterward. That’s not the way we should do business in Routt County,” she said.
— To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com