Genah Burditt: Spur countywide issue
September 5, 2007
Steamboat Springs — An important date for our community is quickly approaching. On Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Routt County Courthouse Annex, the Regional Planning Commission will hold a special use permit hearing to discuss whether or not it is in the best interest of the Routt County community to allow Xcel Energy to build a railroad spur consisting of two solid concrete retaining walls, 3,000 feet long and 27 feet high, across the nature preserve at Carpenter Ranch in Hayden.
This is not a Hayden-only issue; it is a countywide issue. The nature preserve at Carpenter Ranch is one of the most unique, and therefore precious and protected resources in Routt County. However, due to poor media exposure, most citizens of Routt County, outside Hayden, are unaware that this is even a possibility, and worse, it has been portrayed as inevitable. It is not.
While Xcel does have a right of way, when granted the use was intended to be limited and reasonable. And, primary studies by Xcel Energy, and a third-party feasibility report conducted by an independent consultant, cite several other options for locating the railroad spur.
As a citizen, I want to know more about these other options and their potential impacts so I can make an informed choice; and I want my choice to be heard by the Planning Commission.
It is our right as citizens of Routt County to choose the best long-term use of our lands. I personally have a voice to remind the Planning Commission that to put a concrete bridge of this magnitude across agricultural land with a permanent conservation easement seems unreasonable and inappropriate. The habitat, wildlife and sustainable agricultural practices at Carpenter Ranch are infinite resources to be enjoyed by our community for the long term. This has already been recognized by our community, and that is why the land was preserved.
The community as a whole also has a voice, but we can only become informed and voice our opinions if we show up. Please note that the commission is generally inclined to grant permits unless there is strong evidence and/or community sentiment to do otherwise.