Aspen Cove residents approach county with questions about security, services
|This section of road traverses the distance between the boy scout camp on the west side of Scofield Reservoir and the entrance to Aspen Cove Subdivision. The state says the county owns it and the county says the state owns it. Aspen Cove residents are asking who is supposed to take care of it.|
For the second time in one month, Carbon commissioners heard from mountain-area residents who have concerns about security and county services in the elevated locations.
At a May 19 public meeting, two men who own property in Spring Canyon complained to the commission about people trespassing on property and causing damage.
Last Wednesday, several residents of the Aspen Cove mountain home development northwest of Scofield Reservoir approched the commissioners to ask about services they receive from the county and to also voice similar complaints about people treating private property as they please because it is in a mountain area.
"Our homeowners association is only trying to get a handle on what services the taxes we pay to the county provides us," said Doug Cloward, a board member on the Aspen Cove Homeowners Association. "I have to say after the meeting and the positive reception we received from the commission, we are encouraged."
Cloward and other residents came into the meeting with a list of questions and concerns. A handful of full-time residents live in the development, but Cloward expects the number to grow as people finish retirement homes and move to the area. There are many homes in the development, but most of the people are part-time residents.
The list the association presented to the commissioners included fire protection, police protection, roads, cattle problems, access through the west entrance to the development, property and building inspections and property sale notifications.
The most prominent concern was fire protection.
"One of the homeowners in the area was checking on fire insurance and he was told he would have to get the fire official who was in charge of the area to sign off on the protection available. That official would not sign off, citing low water pressure in the area," explained Cloward. "Part of the problem is, apparently, a six-inch water line that was installed rather than an eight-inch that is required."
But according to county officials, a six-inch line was the code's standard when the structures were built.
Part of the problem in getting approvals from fire officials stem from a state standard that specifies water systems should be able to deliver 1,000 gallons per minute for proper fire control. But last week, the staff presented documents to the planning and zoning board indicating that level of flow probably could not be supported by water suppliers, even in the most developed part of Carbon County. The planning and zoning department has also presented a preliminary fire flow code to the board.
Response time by fire personnel and equipment was also of concern. Cloward expressed that residents are worried about the response time from Scofield and asked if some kind of equipment could be put in the area to support fire suppression until regular units arrive.
"Unfortunately, fire protection is one of those risks we all take when we live in the mountains," said Commissioner Mike Milovich, who has property in the Scofield area. "As for fire protection, it isn't like it used to be when volunteers would just turn out to fight fires. Today volunteers must have official training and be certified."
Commissioner Bill Krompel pointed out that the county recently supplied a new fire truck to Scofield for faster response. However, residents maintain that the time to travel the road around the reservoir and enter the Aspen Cove development through Madsen Bay is long enough that a log house fire could be nearly over before emergency crews could arrive.
"Actually, when you look at it the main units that would respond from Helper and the units from Scofield would arrive about the same time when going to that area," noted Milovich.
Response time, depending on conditions, would at best be about 40 minutes.
Cloward requested that a small unit be placed in the area to contain a fire so the blaze would not spread to surrounding forest and range areas or threaten other structures. He said full-time residents were willing to complete training to operate equipment and perform duties.
"The point is that we would like to be part of the solution on this," noted Cloward.
Commissioners asked the homeowners association to determine if the members have a piece of land where a garage could be placed to support a unit.
"The area will have a couple of older fire trucks in the next while and maybe we can do something with one of those," stated Milovich.
Two different concerns the group had involved a piece of road leading to the development that turns into a quagmire in the spring and a growing trespassing problem.
"The problem we have is with a short piece of road from the entrance to the Boy Scout camp on the west side of the reservoir to the Aspen Cove entrance," stated Cloward. "The state says that section of road is the county's and we are asking for some kind of maintenance to be done on that road to keep it from being such a mess at certain times of the year."
But commissioners question whether the road belonged to the county.
"When the state signed off on that development being constructed, they took over that road," said Milovich. "It was part of the agreement that pertained to the residents paying a fee to access the area through Madsen Bay. We had a lot of meetings over issues just like that."
The commission asked zoning and planning director Dave Levanger to find the development agreements and determine who owns the road.
The trespassing situation was also discussed briefly.
"I'm sure that some of the people who come into the area think it is public land because they probably came here for years to fish and hunt before it was developed," said Cloward. "But it isn't. Last fall, we had locks cut and fences damaged because of people wanting to get in here. We had hunters nearby our homes. We are going to start having residents check on people who don't belong and prosecute them for trespassing if we have to."
The commission agreed that the sheriff's department should get involved in the incidents. But officials stressed that people are responsible for the security of private property.
"We only have a few owners here year round right now," commented Cloward. "But that number will grow to over a dozen in a few years and there is another development going in on the west side of this one. I would expect the move in rate will be similar and there will be full time people there, too. We all look forward to being involved in solving the problems we presented to the commission."
Commissioner Steve Burge suggested the county may have to approach the situation near Scofield in a different way than has been done in the past.
"As I look at this list and look at the growth in that area, there are several areas of discussion that could take place on how to solve these problems," stated Burge. "We may have to look at expanding the purpose of the present special service district there or by creating another to solve some of these problems."
On some of the other items listed, Levanger pointed out that codes are in place to handle the situations or the homeowners association may need to go to other governmental entities to answer the questions.
"As for propane tank and septic tank placements, the county doesn't regulate those," said Levanger. "The propane tanks are regulated by the state fire marshal's office and the septic tanks are regulated by the health department. As for fencing for cattle, the county adopted a fence out code that says if residents want to keep animals out of the their property in areas where cattle have traditionally roamed, the property owner has the responsibility to fence them out."