Marabou asks county to allow gated community | SteamboatToday.com
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Marabou asks county to allow gated community

Despite the fact that the property beyond this sign is private, the Marabou ranch subdivision is required to keep its gate open. However, the subdivision is seeking relief from a 2005 requirement that its entry gate remain unlocked.

— Citing increasing issues with trespassing and vandalism, the homeowners' association of the luxury ranch subdivision, Marabou, west of Steamboat Springs, is asking Routt County for relief from a condition of its original 2005 conditional use permit that specifies: "The main entry gate shall not be locked."

The matter goes before the Routt County Planning Commission May 5, and commissioners have received a letter signed by 20 residents expressing their opposition to changing Marabou's permit.

Gary and Holly Nelson, who authored the letter to the county, also wrote to Steamboat Today saying they feel that gated communities are "not in keeping with the friendliness of Routt County."

Steamboat Springs attorney Daniel Berkey wrote a letter to the Routt County Planning Department stating the Marabou HOA has reached the conclusion that installing a new coded entry gate would ensure a higher level of security.

"Since the development of Marabou was completed, members of the public have unlawfully accessed the area, despite the large signs at the entries informing the public that Marabou Ranch is private property," Berkey wrote in a letter to the Routt County Planning Department. "These trespassers are most commonly road and mountain bikers and fishermen. Regrettably, the signs have not been enough to prevent trespass. Further, there have been several burglary incidents at the main lodge."

Marabou has played host to both road cycling and mountain biking competitions in recent years. However, its internal road system is not part of the county road system and is privately maintained.

And late in the last decade, including in 2009, Marabou served barbecue at a number of community picnics.

The Nelsons, however, along with other residents who signed the letter, say a locked gate conveys a message of exclusivity.

"To turn developments like Marabou and others into gated subdivisions would send the implicit signal a gate sends out, 'keep out, our kind only' and would demonstrate a total disregard of what living in this area is all about," the letter to the Planning Commission reads.

County Planning Director Chad Phillips said Routt does not have specific language in its regulations regarding locked entry gates at rural subdivisions, but it does regulate the distance ranch gates are set back from public byways. The condition of approval that requires Marabou's gate to be unlocked was suggested by a former planning commissioner and ultimately approved.

There is precedent for gated rural subdivisions here; Storm Mountain Ranch residents enter through a gate that is opened by punching in a numeral code. And Phillips said he has learned that nearby Alpine Mountain Ranch, whose permit hearings did not include a discussion of a locked entry gate, has since installed one.

The Nelsons concluded their letter with the statement: "Let's keep Routt County friendly, welcoming and participative, and not allow a culture of exclusion and elitism to take hold and grow. Say 'no' to a gate for Marabou and prevent the widespread incursion of gated communities in Routt County."

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1