County Commission determines Spanish Valley citizen petition is referable
The San Juan County Commission held a relatively quick and quiet meeting on December 3 in Monticello.
There was no public comment at the meeting for the first time in several months.
Commissioners determined that a citizen petition for a referendum on Spanish Valley zoning ordinances is referable.
This was not a statement on whether the county supports or doesn’t support the referendum, simply that the core question meets the requirements of the law.
The Commission had approved ten Spanish Valley zoning ordinances on November 17.
County Attorney Kendall Laws stated that the item under consideration met state code for a referendum petition and recommended that it be referable.
The next step will be the collection of a certain number of signatures that would need to be collected by the sponsors.
If the process moves forward, the referendum could put the issue on a future ballot.
Commissioners approved a letter to the federal Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the Gunnison sage grouse recovery plan.
County Planner Nick Sandberg said there are serious concerns that the species can recover at all because of the habitat in San Juan County.
The sage grouse habitat was sage brush range land historically. Large portions were cleared for dry land farming after World War I.
The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) has returned some of the land to a better sage brush habitat over the past 30 years.
However, over the last four years, the count of male birds has been declining. There were 31 before, and now there are less than ten. Many suspect there may be no birds in the near future.
Commissioner Bruce Adams said that the Commission should not support a recovery plan that transplants or relocates birds from out of the area to San Juan County.
“It is like bringing a lamb to the slaughter when you bring them to San Juan County,” said Adams. “There are so many predators, there are such harsh conditions, …that within a year or two they will be dead.”
Commissioners discussed an explosion of growth in traffic through the Geyser Pass area in the La Sal Mountains.
Possible projects include widening the entire road to 20 feet, building bathroom facilities in several locations, and expanding parking lots to accommodate the traffic.
Jerry McNeely reports that the Forest Service put a counter on the road and found that 20,000 cars went over the pass in a three-month period of time.
“No one realized that was the number of cars going over Geyser Pass until they put in the counter,” said McNeely. “It keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger.”
Commissioners discussed the possible use of county road equipment to help move dirt on the isolated Dark Canyon Airstrip in the western portion of the county. The partnership would be with the Backcountry Pilots Association.
There were questions about the protocols for an unclaimed body. San Juan Mortuary is having trouble finding next of kin of a local resident who recently passed away.
County Attorney Kendall Laws says that the county may need to pay for the interment of the body. Cremation is an option.
Commissioners approved a franchise agreement for Emery Telcom for a communication system. The project will extend telecommunications infrastructure to portions of San Juan County.
The commissioners also approved an inter-governmental agreement with Dolores County, Colorado.
Commission Chairman Kenneth Maryboy reported on continued efforts to work with the Navajo Nation to address road maintenance issues. An agreement may be reached in the near future.