South Routt Medical Center faces challenges to expansion | SteamboatToday.com

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South Routt Medical Center faces challenges to expansion

— The South Routt Medical Center has reached capacity. With the addition of dental services from the Northwest Dental Coalition earlier this year, its 1960s-era stone building on Main Street in Oak Creek is running out of space and thus running out of services it can offer the South Routt community.

In considering an expansion, the center commissioned a survey to see where it had space to grow. South Routt Medical Center officials then discovered that the center’s existing building is about a foot-and-a-half into Oak Creek’s right-of-way on the west side of the building in what was once planned to be a part of Lincoln Avenue.

On Wednesday night, the medical center officials brought the situation and the preapproval for its expansion to the Oak Creek Planning Commission and requested that the town vacate its 60-foot-wide right-of-way on the area currently used for parking.

The process for a town to vacate its right-of-way is determined by state statue and leaves the parties on the edges of the vacated area to negotiate their shares. Ken Rossi owns the parcel to the west of the right-of-way. In an email to Oak Creek Town Administrator Mary Alice Page-Allen, Rossi wrote that he would prefer the town vacate an even larger portion of the right-of-way, extending the area north to his property line.

The building’s current encroachment onto the town’s right-of-way could potentially hamper the medical center’s ability to secure grant funding for its expansion. At Wednesday’s meeting, Ann Trout, a South Routt Medical Center board member, said the center is seeking an Impact Energy grant that has a deadline of Dec. 3. Before the center could finalize plans to apply for the grant, the issue of the building’s encroachment and ownership of the land in question needs to be resolved.

The center wants to expand its building to the east but also needs a support structure to ease the load on its current roof, furthering expanding its footprint and encroachment on the building’s west side.

Other options, such as a license for the building’s encroachment, which would be revokable at the town’s discretion, were dismissed as likely unacceptable for the medical center to secure funding and because ownership would remain an issue for construction plans.

Planning Commission members also expressed concerns about how the Colorado Department of Transportation’s interests would be affected — the stretch of Main Street on the northern border is its right-of-way — and how the division of the vacated land would affect the medical center’s driveway and potential expansion if the land was vacated.

Planning Commission member Gerry Greenwood expressed skepticism about vacating the land.

“We could be opening up a can of worms here,” he said.

Greenwood cautioned that without a prearranged agreement on how the vacated land would be split, the town wouldn’t know if its interests were being served.

Gustafson said he would prefer the commission recommend vacating the land “and let the board and (the center) sort it out.” Recommending the town vacate the land would bring the matter before the Town Board and give the medical center about a month to potentially modify its request or reach an agreement about how to split the area among interested parties.

“Figure out ownership, figure out what footprint is needed, figure out highway monumentation,” Page-Allen said.

The commission approved recommending the area be vacated to the Town Board, 2-1, with Greenwood voting against.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206 or email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com