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Gunnison County seeks to address winter snowplowing concerns

Meridian Lake subdivision snow storage issues require management changes 

by Crystal Kotowski

This winter’s heavy snow compounded existing snow removal budget difficulties, prompting Gunnison County to consider updating current snow plowing procedures and to analyze inconsistencies in the services provided to incorporated municipalities.

Compiling cost information from the previous four plowing seasons for some of these areas, including the Meridian Lake subdivision, the public works department outlined succinct recommendations for the Board of County Commissioners. Public works director Marlene Crosby and the county are setting up meetings with affected parties to change the snowplowing agreements for next winter.

“A problem that is going to have to be addressed in the near future is the issue of private property owners plowing snow into the county road in areas where there is no room for snow storage,” Crosby’s letter to the Board of County Commissioners reads.

The letter notes the significant financial costs and labor plowing snow from the Meridian Lake subdivision required this year. Since 2013-2014, costs for Meridian Lake and Meridian Lake Park have increased to $48,440 from $36,989.

The Meridian Lake subdivision has historically had snow storage issues in the cul-de-sacs, but the continued development of houses and driveways—and subsequently less room for snow—have exacerbated the issues.

Crosby noted that cul-de-sacs not being constructed as platted by the developer has caused significant confusion. The public works department will have some of the private property corners and the cul-de-sacs located and pinned by a surveyor this summer in efforts to resolve some of the questions about the locations of the right of way.

“We can find a way to manage ‘our’ snow, but the homeowners often landscape their lot so they plow their snow into the cul-de-sac,” Crosby’s letter reads. “In some cases, they do not have an alternative because their driveway is too steep to plow uphill, but in most cases it is a matter of convenience. As a result, we spend hours of labor and equipment time pushing back banks to get ready for the next storm.”

After the surveyor physically locates the cul-de-sacs, the county recommends that the Board of County Commissioners direct staff to work with homeowners in areas where snow storage is limited to eliminate residents from plowing snow from their property into the right of way.

County concerns also include CR 75, from the intersection with Highway 50 to the main ranch area at Green Mesa Ranch. It is only a total of .62 of a mile, but is time-consuming due to vehicles, ranch equipment and working around the plowing by the private property owner.

Costs for plowing the section have increased to $2,053.31 in 2016-2017 from $789.72 in 2013-2014. The county recommendation noted reducing the plow route to avoid plowing into the ranch and subdivision headquarters.

County concerns also include the self-help-build portion of the Rock Creek Homes. The county agreed to plow the roads of the areas until the homeowners association was finalized, but the county is still plowing the area. Costs for plowing the section have increased to $3,523.71 in 2016-2017 from $817.49 in 2013-2014. The county recommends that the HOA assume the responsibility for plowing.

Further, issues in Pitkin have catalyzed the county into reviewing the roads being plowed within the incorporated town boundaries and the comparative costs of the services provided. Assessing the differences in services led the county to recommend limiting their plowing services to the Main Street of Pitkin through town to the trailhead on Forest Service land, as well as State Street from the Silver Plume to the intersection of Second Street and Main. Such changes will reduce costs significantly.

The presentation with the board was the first step in the process of addressing concerns. The next step will be to talk to folks affected by potential decisions.

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