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Council sides with residents to favor 9 p.m. limit on snowcats

It’s a lot louder and brighter than a bus

By Mark Reaman

Commercial snowcats operating in Crested Butte will likely still have to be done running on town streets by 9 p.m. A request by Eleven to extend the evening operational hour until 11 p.m. has come up against some resistance with neighbors and residents of Whiterock Avenue, so the Town Council appears inclined to keep the current 9 p.m. cutoff. An ordinance dealing with snowcat routes will be reviewed on November 20.

The town received several emails before the November 6 council meeting opposing the request.

Cathy Sporcich, who lives on Whiterock Avenue, said the 9 p.m. limit appears to have worked. “Whiterock often seems to get forgotten as a neighborhood,” she told the council. “We get a lot of traffic over there. Going from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. seems to have worked well. It’s not too late at night but I don’t understand the reasoning of extending it to 11. If [Eleven] want their guests to stay up at Irwin longer, they could park the snowcat at the trailhead and transport the guests back to town in a van so as not to have the noise and disturbance of the snowcat that late at night.”

Crested Butte Nordic executive director Christie Hicks said they use their snowcat to groom trails at night so it sometimes uses town streets after 9 p.m. She requested that an exception for their organization be recognized in any regulation changes.

“After talking to the neighbors I am okay with keeping the hours to the 9 p.m. limit,” said councilman Jim Schmidt.

“I’d suggest a 10 p.m. compromise,” suggested councilman Chris Ladoulis. “That’s when the town noise ordinance limits noise. Mountain Express buses run until midnight. The Nordic snowcat is operating. If they leave the cat at the trailhead it will require more idling to warm it up and that’s not good for the environment. They want to get it back inside.”

“Compromise? The neighbors did compromise already, going from the 7 to the 9 p.m. cutoff,” said councilman Paul Merck. “I think the 9 o’clock number is good.”

Councilwoman Laura Mitchell said she was in favor of the 9 o’clock limit.

“I’ve heard from the neighbors that the snowcat is much louder than a bus and it has the rotating yellow light flashing on top,” said councilman Jackson Petito. “It is much more impactful than a bus to the neighbors.”

Councilman Roland Mason said the 9 p.m. hour seems to have worked and Eleven stepped up to make that happen.

The council will consider a few other changes to the snowcat ordinance on November 20. The main change would allow the snowcat routes to be approved by the town manager instead of the Town Council. As for timing, it appears most snowcat activity in town will be prohibited after 9 o’clock.

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