Friday, October 18, 2019

Crested Butte Horse Park neighbors express several concerns in second public hearing

“I would ask the board to slow this process down.”

By Crystal Kotowski

In the second public hearing for the Crested Butte Horse Park (CBHP), neighbors to the development, the Gallowich family, presented their concerns to the Gunnison County Planning Commission.

Longtime residents of Crested Butte, the Gallowich family had extensive concerns over the proposed 70-acre park, which would span two parcels of land off of Highway 135 across from the entrance to Crested Butte South. The family’s concerns focused on potential water quality impacts, dangerous traffic congestion on Highway 135, and the commercialization of the Crested Butte South neighborhood.

The Planning Commission held the first public hearing for the CBHP on February 17, with Heath Hansens, the project developer, sharing updates on such environmental health concerns as dust and manure mitigation. The Gallowich family was present at the first public hearing, but chose to defer their comments until the second public hearing due to the extent of their comments and the 13 citizens present at the hearing eager to share their thoughts on CBHP.

On March 3, John Gallowich first addressed the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) traffic study, which did not require the CBHP to include an acceleration or de-acceleration lane on Highway 135 in its development.

“When I review the traffic study submitted under this plan, I have some serious concerns,” Gallowich said, noting that he thought the estimations for additional traffic from CBHP’s special events, longer camping stays, and proposed sale of compost were conservative.

Further, he inquired about the logistics of special event management. “How is CBHP going to determine for the event whether or not they need traffic control—where is the traffic control coming from and who is going to pay for it? … I’m not sure what kind of traffic control they’re talking about… I don’t think we can overlook this,” Gallowich concluded, requesting a review of the traffic study with more accurate data.

Gallowich is also concerned about potential water quality impacts on his well and on the East River.

“My concern would be running contaminated water within 85 feet of my well, and I don’t believe that is acceptable… Horses are coming in from all parts of the country; we don’t know what they’re bringing in,” Gallowich said.

The Planning Commission’s discussion revolved around what it had the capacity to do with the reports and information received. The commission agreed that it would be imperative to contact the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to determine the classification of relevant water contaminants—and what the CBHP development must mitigate.

Community and economic development director Cathy Pagano assured Gallowich that the county’s on-site wastewater regulations would ensure environmental health. Hansens confirmed that he is working on a stormwater management plan that would address Gallowich’s water concerns.

“There are setbacks… Our environmental health coordinator would take a look at those setbacks,” Pagano noted, concerning Gallowich’s well.

As CDOT manages the highways, there is only so much the county can request of the traffic study.

“We can ask CDOT to confirm what they’ve done and ask for clarifications… CDOT has control of the highway. We have to listen to what CDOT tells us,” commissioner chair Kent Fulton said.

“We can ask the applicant’s traffic engineers to respond to our questions,” added Pagano.

“We need to ensure the data in the study is accurate… as the plan has evolved,” agreed county commissioner John Messner.

“I would ask the board to slow the process down… I’m the kind of guy who would want to hammer it out… but communication just broke down,” Gallowich concluded.

The Planning Commission agreed that they did not have sufficient information to make a decision on the CBHP. The public hearing will continue on Friday, March 17 at 9 a.m. in the Blackstock Government Center.

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