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Commissioners deny Bowie land use change application

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On Dec. 4 Delta County Commissioners Doug Atchley, Mark Roeber and Don Suppes denied the application of Paonia Holdings, LLC for a change of land use for the property at 41322 Highway 133, with an adjacent residence at 41402 Highway 133 and an ancillary property at 16180 Stevens Gulch Road.

The property is owned by Bowie Resources, LLC, and was formerly used as a coal load-out site.

Applicant Mark Levin, Paonia Holdings, LLC submitted the request under the Delta County Specific Development Regulations. He asked for a change to commercial, light industrial and agricultural uses for the property.

On Nov. 20 the commissioners heard three hours of presentation by Levin, his attorney Aaron Clay, and response from citizens who filled the hearing room, with some standing.

Levin made presentations at several other meetings which were widely attended.

At the end of the Nov. 20 hearing, the commissioners noted that response to the application has been contentious and the request isn't a matter to be taken lightly. All three expressed the need to review the Nov. 20 testimony and earlier communication from the Delta County Planning Commission, which voted 6-1 to recommend denial of the application.

At the Dec. 4 commissioners' meeting chairman Doug Atchley asked staff members Kelly Yeager, contract planner, Elyse Casselberry, community and economic development director, and John Baier, county attorney, if they had anything to add regarding the application of Paonia Holdings, LLC. All three said they did not.

Baier said public comments were received in the open hearing. It was now time for the BOCC to discuss and decide the issue of Paonia Holdings, LLC.

"The application was full of many opinions, an interesting one to go through," said Roeber. "There were questions in a lot of the testimony we have read and heard, things that concerned me from both sides.

"We need business, we need revenue, but we need to consider where the business is placed," he said.

Suppes said, "I have equal concern from both sides. We heard 'move the business to Delta.' As a county we can't have different regulations for different parts of the county. My greatest concern is Farmers Ditch."

Atchley noted, "In hearing the testimony, we heard evidence for and against the application. The Board of County Commissioners represents the three branches of government. In this instant the BoCC is acting as the judicial review board. To make a land use decision is fully within the BoCC's realm.

"The county planning commission voted to not approve the application. The staff has no further comments. We have had a lot of information pro and con. It's time to get through this."

Roeber said there would be adverse impact on neighboring property and proposed screening for Farmers Ditch was not adequate. Farmers Ditch provides water to many North Fork Valley properties. He also noted potential impact to views.

Suppes agreed that the Farmers Ditch is too important to the North Fork to allow it to be put at risk, although the business model and site plan were sound.

Roeber added the uncertainty of the reclamation efforts needs to be nailed down more soundly. Atchley said the Colorado Department of Reclamation, Mining and Safety states the property has not been fully reclaimed.

The vote to deny the application was unanimous.

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