December 8, 2021

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Ordinance firms up prohibited uses at Shavano Gateway Recreation site | Local News Stories

Under an ordinance approved Wednesday, no overnight use or camping will be allowed on the public land the county is leasing to create the Shavano Gateway Recreation Area.

After hearing from a community member, Montrose County commissioners decided to address for-profit uses on the to-be-developed site as they come up, rather than amend the ordinance right now.

The recreation area will be developed on 44 acres on 90 Road, under a lease agreement with the Bureau of Land Management. The development is to consist of a formal parking area, trailhead, obstacle and training course for off-highway vehicles and single-track bike trails.

Wednesday’s ordinance, which passed on second reading, addresses prohibited activities on the county-leased property. It does “not prohibited lawful recreation activities” on neighboring BLM-administered lands.

Montrose County resident Scott Riba told commissioners he was glad to see the ban on camping and overnight uses at the Shavano Gateway, which is consistent with federal law.

He also wanted to limit for-profit and commercial events, because the recreation site was identified as being for public recreational use.

“It should not be an area where vendors or individuals can come set up events and utilize the public facilities for profit. I think that would be an appropriate restriction, also, on the property,” Riba said.

He also asked for the ordinance to include signage requirements governing alcohol use and explicitly banning the consumption of marijuana.

Commissioners would be able to take up additional restrictions and amend the ordinance down the road, if necessary, it was said.

Commissioner Roger Rash also said the county, in approving any events at the property, could make stipulations at that time.

The ordinance at hand is essentially a list of what people can and cannot do at the Shavano Gateway, Deputy County Manager Jon Waschbusch said. The list of Do’s and Don’ts are matters enforceable by the Montrose County Sheriff’s Office.

Rash reiterated that the county controls what events might be allowed and that permission is required to hold them. It may well be that a for-profit vendor is bringing an event that will be beneficial to the community and tourism, which the county would certainly want to allow, he said.

“We do it with the fairgrounds and we do it with the event center,” Rash said. He said he understood Riba’s point “but I think we want to leave ourselves some leeway on these things so we can at least entertain the idea, if it’s a good idea.”

The commissioner added he would hesitate on adding restrictions that would “hamstring” the county.

Commissioner Keith Caddy said vendors are allowed at other county facilities and pay a use fee.

“We can take it on a case-by-case basis, and if it makes sense to have a vendor there, then we have a vendor and we charge them,” he said.

Because the Shavano site is yet to be developed, the county does not know what kinds of events it might ultimately attract, Commissioner Sue Hansen, board chairwoman, said. Hansen supported leaving the ordinance as-is, for now.

Riba clarified he was concerned about a commercial operation being able to rent the facility or hold events that would be for that operation’s profit only.

Hansen said the county could consider that in the future, as well as Riba’s request concerning an alcohol use party, but right now, the facilities at Shavano are still in the works.

The commission then voted unanimously to pass the ordinance as written.

In addition to prohibiting camping and overnight uses, shooting is not allowed on the property. Nor are excavation, disturbance or other alterations unless with written approval; fireworks; campfires and open burning. Grills and contained cooking devices might be allowed, subject to fire restrictions.

The county may also enact seasonal winter closures to protect big game.

The ordinance as written “shall not” interfere with valid access rights, such as grazing permit holders, irrigators and utility providers.

Those who violate the ordinance are subject to fines and prosecution of a class-2 misdemeanor. The fine on first offense is $100 and climbs to $250 upon the second offense. Third and subsequent violations will see the violator summonsed into court and subjected to a fine of between $400 and $1,000.

People found to have damaged the property, or whose conduct requires the county to engage in clean-up or repairs, may be ordered to pay restitution.

Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter, @kathMDP.

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