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Crested Butte Horse Park process taking step backward

Public hearing to be reopened

by Mark Reaman

In an unusual move, the Gunnison County Planning Commission will reopen the public hearing on the proposed Crested Butte Horse Park development at its meeting on Friday, June 2 at 11 a.m. in Gunnison.

The commission had closed the hearing and instructed staff on May 12 to prepare a positive recommendation to forward to the county commissioners for a final decision.

The Planning Commission members all appeared in favor of the proposed equine facility—which will provide lessons, boarding facilities, clinics and competitions—located near the entrance to Crested Butte South on Highway 135.

But after receiving a letter from attorneys representing neighbors of the proposed Horse Park, the county decided to reopen the public hearing process at the June 2 meeting.

Gunnison County community and economic development director Cathie Pagano informed the Planning Commission members about the decision at the May 19 meeting. She said that while there should be no discussion among the commission members since the topic was not publicly noticed, she had received two letters from lawyers representing Mary Ann Fore, John Gallowich and Patricia Doll, who all own property neighboring the Horse Park.

After reading the correspondence and consulting with county attorney David Baumgarten, it was decided to reopen the public hearing process.

The letters from attorney Austin Rueschhoff of Holsinger Law, LLC state that his clients have not had an opportunity to evaluate the drainage plan proposed for the Horse Park. He said the drainage plan was a “foremost concern” to his clients because their property is situated “downhill from the proposed CBHP. Any storm water or drainage from the CBHP—including animal waste—will flow downhill toward our clients’ properties. We seek an opportunity and additional time to retain a licensed hydrologic engineer to review the drainage plan and provide an independent opinion to address our concerns.”

The letter also raises concerns about the proposed development having adequate water to deal with fire suppression. The Rueschhoff letter noted too that the official Planning Commission notice for the May 12 meeting stated it would take “no action” at the hearing but the Planning Commission in fact took action by closing the public comment hearing and requesting the staff to formulate a draft recommendation.

In a separate letter from the same attorney representing the same neighbors, Rueschhoff requested that more detailed information be provided to the public and his clients concerning conversations between Pagano and the county sheriff’s and Colorado State Patrol regarding traffic issues.

Pagano had indicated at the May 12 meeting that she had reached out to the county sheriff’s department and Colorado State Patrol about potential traffic concerns, and neither department said they had any major concerns with the anticipated Horse Park traffic.

The Colorado Department of Transportation has said the development would not meet the threshold to put in additional turning lanes to the property.

“We believe the increase in traffic attributable to the CBHP will further endanger drivers,” the Rueschhoff letter stated. “As this is a significant public health and safety issue, the public has a right to know the details of Ms. Pagano’s communications with law enforcement officials.”

The Planning Commission did not discuss the requests or the letters, but the public hearing on the proposed Crested Butte Horse Park will be held Friday, June 2 at 11 a.m. in Gunnison.

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